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Use Nirbhaya fund to provide security to women, Delhi HC asks chief secretary

By HT Correspondent
PUBLISHED ON NOV 29, 2019 09:25 PM IST

New Delhi:

The Delhi High Court on Friday directed that the unused Nirbhaya fund should be used to provide security to women and children and help the overburdened Delhi Police.

The fund, launched in 2013 after the 2012 December 16 gang rape case that sparked outrage across India, had R3,000 crore earmarked in 2017, which is lying used.

A bench of Justice G S Sistani and Justice AJ Bhambhani asked Delhi’s chief secretary to examine how the funds could be utilised and suggested deployment of women police officers in plainclothes at crowded markets.

“Since a large sum is available in the fund, we direct that the chief secretary shall examine as to how this fund can be utilised for providing uniformed security to women and children in the city,” the bench said.

“This exercise will also ensure use of the fund, which is lying unutilised, and help to curb crimes against women and children, which is going unchecked,” the court said.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) it had initiated itself after the December 2012 gang rape, when a paramedic student was sexually assaulted in a moving bus by six people. She later died of injuries at a Singapore hospital.

On Friday, advocate Rahul Mehra, standing counsel of Delhi government (Criminal), along with advocate Chaitanya Gosain, told the court that they would not be able to constitute a special unit for women as sought by amicus curiae advocate Meera Bhatia, who was appointed to assist the court.

Mehra told the court that it is practically not possible to form a cell because of lack of manpower. Highlighting the status report filed by the police, Mehra said that after the December 16 rape, more women have come forward to register cases of sexual assault on them and as a result there has been a manifold rise in the number of cases since 2012.

While the number of cases registered by women in 2012 was 1,648, in 2017 it went up to 6,797.

The police, through Mehra, said it would become extremely difficult for a single unit to probe 6,000 cases. He submitted that four years ago, there was a shortage of 61,000 personnel in the department and now the vacancy is around 52,000. He said the duty hours of police personnel are inhuman, they are overburdened, they are not appreciated and they are even paid less.

Noting the shortage in Delhi police, the court said the chief secretary may consider employing manpower from the Directorate General Resettlement (DGR), comprising ex-servicemen from the armed forces and other agencies, to help and assist the local police.

It asked the additional solicitor general to re-examine the issue of increasing manpower in Delhi Police as vacancies are required to be created and filled up expeditiously to curb crime in the city and give some relief to the tiring and highly overburdened police force.

The court noted that incidents of chain, mobile snatching and others are increasing, making the lives of people, especially women, children and aged people difficult. The matter would be now heard on January 16.

Convicts summoned by Delhi court

Meanwhile, a Delhi court on Friday directed the Tihar jail officials to produce the four convicts in the December 16 rape case so that they can inform about legal remedies they are pursuing, including the status of the mercy and curative petitions.

Additional Sessions Judge Satish Arora directed the Tihar Jail authorities to produce the four convicts on December 13 so that they can inform the court about the status of their petitions.

The court was hearing a plea by the parents of the deceased who had sought a direction to the jail authorities to expedite the execution of the convicts.

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