In the year since a brutal gang rape took the life of a young woman and made the entire country stand up and say enough is enough, there has been a 125% jump in the number of rape cases in Delhi. Molestation cases are up a massive 417%.
That may not necessarily be a bad thing.
It’s because more and more cases are being reported and registered, the police say. A tough new law now holds the cops directly accountable, with refusal to lodge a case inviting a two-year jail sentence.
But how long can the police sustain this, that’s the big question. The force deals with very real constraints - a severe manpower crunch that has sees one cop handling as many as 18-20 cases at a time, and a lack of forensic testing facilities that is crucial for evidence collection and analysis.
These constraints impact the quality of investigation. "An internal examination showed that only 60% of such complaints could withstand judicial scrutiny," an officer admitted.
Till November this year, the Delhi Police registered 1,493 cases of rape against 661 in the corresponding period last year, 3,237 cases of molestation against 625 in the same period, 852 cases of harassment against 165.
Read: A year after December 16, more rapes, biased courts
"Safety of women is our top priority and all necessary measures to ensure it are being taken," said commissioner BS Bassi.
Every complaint is converted into a first information report, each of which is then taken up for scrutiny on a regular basis for the filing of a charge sheet.
"All cases of sexual assault are monitored on a monthly basis," said Deepak Mishra, special commissioner of police (law and order). "Our endeavour is to file charge sheets in every single case within a month of its being reported."
But with just one forensic facility currently at their disposal, supplementary charge sheets are the best the police can do in most cases, they say. The 80,000-strong city force already has a backlog of 10,000 cases with new ones coming in at an alarming rate.
Read: Two other rape cases on Dec 16 that were never reported
Lawyers, however, feel differently. "The police are duty-bound to register cases as and when received and the total number of complaints does not matter under the criminal procedure code. A closure report can be filed if investigation proves a false complaint. However, there’s enough manpower in the form of personnel serving in district lines who can be utilised for patrolling, if not investigation," said high court advocate Vikas Garg.
Full Coverage | How the dreadful night unfolded