7 yrs after Dec 16 case, shortage of women officers hurts rape probes in Delhi
According to police data, Delhi reported 572 rape cases in 2011. This grew to 2,135 cases in 2018. At the same time, the city police had around 67,000 personnel in 2011, and the current strength is around 80,000.Updated: Dec 16, 2019 07:10 IST
Seven years after the gang rape and murder of a paramedical student in Delhi led to a widespread agitation and major changes in rape laws, police in the national capital are still grappling with a shortage of personnel to investigate such cases, according to several people familiar with the matter who spoke to HT.
The major problem, the people said, is that while reporting of crimes against women has risen fourfold in the last seven years, the increase in the number of investigating officers (IO) — all of them women — has not kept pace, leading to IOs being burdened with a heavy workload that leads to weak investigation and mounting backlog.
According to police data, Delhi reported 572 rape cases in 2011. This grew to 2,135 cases in 2018. At the same time, the city police had around 67,000 personnel in 2011, and the current strength is around 80,000.
Of these, 9,793 are women, of which only 928 sub-inspectors are eligible to investigate rape cases.
“There are only one or two women officers in each police station who are eligible to probe rape cases . The truth is Delhi police needs more women investigating officers,” said a woman IO who asked not to be named.
According to several women IOs HT spoke to, the quality of investigation suffers because of the workload. Public prosecutors, who have to argue the case in court, concurred, saying that the investigators are not fully prepared, and are often unable to find the time to make it to court.
As per Delhi Police data, the police managed to get convictions in 31.7% of the 2,146 rape cases registered in 2017. In 2012, the conviction rate was 49.3%.
At CR Park police station, sub-inspector Romi Kanojia is the IO in 20 cases of crimes against women at the moment. Sub-inspector Chanchal Tamar in Kalindi Kunj police station is currently handling 15 such crimes, while sub-inspector Priyanka Gupta of Sarita Vihar is probing 12 cases.This is a common trend in many police stations in Delhi.
Delhi Police commissioner Amulya Patnaik said: “In rape, sexual harassment, and POCSO cases, to a large extent we try to ensure that these are investigated by women officers only. But if women officers are not immediately available then we at least ensure that women staff of lower rank are roped in to complete initial formalities such as getting the survivors medically examined and assisting her in the counselling sessions. Once the woman IO is available, she can take the case forward.”
On the issue of shortage of women IOs, he said: “On our part, over the last few years, there have been persistent efforts to enhance the strength of women personnel. Every recruitment which we do, we stick to the mandatory 33% quota for women. New proposals that we send to the home ministry for fresh recruitments also contain the 33% seats reserved for women. Even in the last two years, we have seen that the percentage of women who were somewhere around 9% has increased to 11%.”
According to Vikram Singh, former DGP of Uttar Pradesh, an IO should not be probing more than seven rape cases at once, and a minimum of 90 days should be given to them for filing a charge sheet in each case. “Investigating a rape case involves a lot of different kinds of works. Since they are required to file charge sheets in such short periods of time, they are unable not put in the necessary effort. This is an important reason why the conviction rate is low,” said Singh.