Home Minister Amit Shah to chair Eastern Zonal Council meeting in Bhubaneswar
Union home minister Amit Shah will on Friday chair a meeting of chief ministers of four eastern states on Friday to discuss the speedy probe into cases of sexual offences and rape against women and children and prevention of cattle smuggling through the India-Bangladesh border.
Amit Shah will discuss these issues with the chief ministers of Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand and the officials of his ministry during the 24th meeting of the Eastern Zonal Council.
Odisha government officials said the Centre had in 2018 approved the Criminal Law Amendment Act, prescribing stringent provisions for a sexual offence, including awarding of the death penalty in cases of rape of a girl below 12 years of age.
The amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) prescribed a time limit of two months for completion of investigations.
The government also brought in amendments to section 173 of CrPC and sections 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA, 376DB or 376DE of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) making it mandatory for the completion of investigation within two months.
To ensure that the amendments to the act are effectively translated into action at the ground level, the government following a multi-pronged strategy initiated a series of measures and programmes.
“In order to ensure compliance to the two-month timeline for completion of an investigation under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2018, advisories are being sent to all states along with the compliance report from the Investigations Tracking System for Sexual Offences(ITSSO) portal,” said a senior home department official.
“However, the states are yet to comply with the provision of investigation such cases within two months,” the official said.
In Odisha, where there is a 16.5% rise in molestation cases and 18% rise in cases of rape between 2018 and 2019, police have been lagging.
In the recent meeting of Western Zonal Council and Northern Zonal Council held in Goa and Chandigarh respectively, the Union home minister had directed the chief secretaries and the directors general of police to review such cases personally and ensure that both trial and investigation is completed within the stipulated period of two months.
Officials said Friday’s meeting would also discuss on adhering to the time limit of two months for investigation and inquiry and more use of the Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences (ITSSO) portal.
ITSSO, an online analytics portal, has drills down feature up to first information report (FIR) level starting from the national to police station level that allows states to undertake real-time monitoring and management for completion of investigation in rape cases in two months.
It generates reports based on the ageing of cases and states can use it for real-time monitoring of resolutions in sexual offence cases. It supports decisions on augmentation of best practices. ITSSO leverages the existing Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) database, which covers nearly 15,000 police stations in the country.
Another area that the meeting would discuss how to prevent cattle smuggling through the India-Bangladesh border. India shares 496km border with Bangladesh.
Due to the huge demand of cattle in Bangladesh and availability of unwanted cattle in India, the border is susceptible to cattle smuggling. Cattle from Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, UP, Jharkhand, Odisha and Bihar reach the Bangladesh border without any major hindrance.
Although the Border Security Force (BSF) has been trying to stop cattle smuggling, the riverine and charland patches help smugglers from both the countries.
As state police do not accept the seized cattle at most of the places, BSF is compelled to keep them at border outposts.
Resultantly, BSF’s attention has been diverted from border patrolling to feeding and safekeeping the seized cattle leading to problems of hygiene and sanitation at the outposts which are essentially equipped to cater to the needs of its troopers.
Officials said at the meeting a procedure would be devised for implementation of the recommendations of the Supreme Court order from August 2017 for ensuring prevention of cattle smuggling and their illegal transportation.