As Maharashtra battles a steep rise in molestation cases, but a poor conviction rate, DGP Praveen Dixit has asked commissionerates and the district police to file the charge sheet in such cases within 24 hours. This, in effect, will push the cases to trial sooner and ensure justice is served quickly.
Maharashtra had recorded the most number of molestation cases in the country in 2014, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), followed by Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal.
Dixit had marked women’s safety as a priority, when he took charge of the state police on October 1 this year. His order, which the Hindustan Times has accessed, points out how the negligent approach towards acting on molestation cases is increasing the possibility of serious crimes such as rape, murder and acid attacks taking place.
The DGP said the conviction rate in molestation cases was falling because of many factors, including a delay in the survivor appearing in court, the case being withdrawn and the witness turning hostile or not turning up during the trial, among other reasons. The drop in the conviction rate has got the top brass in the force to sit up and take notice.
Dixit said the move will help victims get justice as conviction will automatically increase when the accused is presented in court, in front of the survivor and her family.
The DGP, however, has also included clauses in his order to ensure it is not misused and has asked the police to verify the complaints thoroughly before filing an FIR.
“If the verification (of a complaint) is done and no further investigation is pending, the charge sheet should be sent (to the court). No complainant will be interested in coming again and again. In fact, if the process is delayed, she may feel she should not even go to court, for various reasons. This is affecting possible conviction,” Dixit said.