Maharashtra recorded 21,786 crimes against women in 2014, more than any other state, according to statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Madhya Pradesh was second with 19,300 and Uttar Pradesh third with 18,347 crimes against women (these comprise rape, molestation, sexual harassment, using criminal force against a woman, voyeurism, stalking and “outraging the modesty of a woman”).
Of the 21,786 cases, 10,001 were registered under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (outraging modesty). Madhya Pradesh, where 9,609 such cases were registered, was a close second. In all, 77,747 such cases were registered across the country last year. On sexual harassment – Section 354(A) of the IPC – Maharashtra, with 4,052 cases, was second to Uttar Pradesh (4,435).
The state didn’t fare much better when it came to murders. With 2,670 cases, it was third behind Uttar Pradesh (5,150) and Bihar (3,403).
Maharashtra was the worse state for robberies by some distance, accounting for 9,466 of the 31,527 robberies registered across India. Uttar Pradesh, in comparison, saw 3,920 robbery cases in the same period. The state with the fewest robberies in 2014 was Mizoram, with just six.
Maharashtra also saw 59 crimes against foreigners and was third behind Goa (73) and UP (66). Of these, 34 cases involved foreigners who live or work in the state, as opposed to tourists – the highest of any state. The remaining 25 were against foreign tourists, which again put Maharashtra in third behind Goa (66) and UP (64).
Prof Vijay Raghavan from the Centre for Criminology and Justice at the Tata Institute for Social Sciences (TISS) said, "One of the ways to tackle rising crime is to implement police reforms proposed by the National Police Commission (NPC), as the Supreme Court has directed state governments to do. According to the NPC, separating the investigation wing of a police force from its law and order wing and curtailing political interference will help curb crime.
He added, “We need to increase the number of policemen and also improve the judges-to-citizens ratio to create a more efficient and prompt justice system. One of the reasons cases pile up in our courts is that the judges-to-citizens ratio is 14 judges for ever one million citizens. This ratio is in the region of 35-50 judges per million citizens in western countries. We also need to invest in social services to improve access to justice for marginalised sections of society. The absence of social security, an increasing gap between the rich and poor, and a market society spurred by consumerism create the conditions for crime to become a defining feature of our times.”