The conviction rate in rape cases registered in Maharashtra is less than 20%, reveal the latest government data, raising worrying questions against the backdrop of the rise in the incidence of rape and molestation in Mumbai, reported by Hindustan Times in its Tuesday edition.
A judicial verdict was given in only 283 of the 1,483 rape cases registered in the state in 2009, reveal the latest figures available with the government. In the remaining 1,200 cases, either the accused have been acquitted or the victim is still waiting for justice.
At 19.1%, the conviction rate in the state is way below the national average of 26.9% (in 2009), show data obtained from the National Crime Record Bureau and the state home department.
The poor conviction rate could explain the rise in the number of offences against women. "The low conviction rate is a matter of concern and is one of the main reasons for a rise in [rape] cases. We need to make the process, from approaching the police to conviction, more stringent to improve the scenario," Satej Patil, minister of state for home, told HT.
On Tuesday, in an exclusive report, Hindustan Times published the latest data that shows a 15% rise in the- number of rape and molestation cases in the city from November 2010 to April 2011, compared to the previous six months.
Advocate Manisha Tulpule, who has handled several rape cases, blames both the police and the government. "As per a Supreme Court directive, rape victims should be given immediate free legal, medical aid, counselling and compensation, which is absent in majority of the cases," said Tulpule.
Shirish Gupte, a Bombay high court advocate, suggests that the huge case backlog is the problem. "We follow all the norms put down for tackling rape cases, but sometimes they get delayed because of a huge backlog," he said. "Also, in several cases women backtrack because of lack of medical evidence or because they get married."
Brinda Karat, who heads the All India Democratic Women's Association, said making fine promises is not good enough. "Only promises, but no action has led to this. A poor legal system, inconsiderate police who question the victim a million times, doing court rounds are reasons for low convictions and high number of rapes," she said.