Amid AAP government’s standoff with the police on a range of issues, the Delhi Assembly recommended setting up of an inquiry commission to probe alleged police inaction in cases of sexual harassment, stalking and voyeurism since February 2013 when a stringent anti-rape law had come into force. A resolution providing for the appointment of the Commission of Inquiry to be headed by a retired Judge was passed in the one-day Special Session, called to discuss threadbare the issue of women security in the city.
The House, in the resolution, expressed “anguish and deep sense of regret over the ever increasing incidents of crime against women and perceived negligence and inability on the part of law enforcing agency in dealing with this grave situation”. The terms of reference for the Commission will be to receive “unheeded complaints regarding crimes such as violence, sexual harassment, stalking and voyeurism” since February, 2013 when stringent provisions were made in CrPC and IPC based on the recommendations of Justice J S Verma committee.
The Verma committee was formed in the aftermath of the Delhi gangrape case of December 16, 2012. According to the resolution, a Commission of Inquiry, consisting of not more than three members to be headed by a retired judge will be constituted pursuant to Section 3 of The Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952. Participating in the discussion, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “Our first attempt is to make women feel safer in Delhi so that they can walk freely till late in the night.
“There are various cities in the world where women walk on the streets till midnight. This is why we are setting up this commission of enquiry”. The Commission will suggest necessary amendments to the relevant laws, if any and to recommend to Delhi government whether any case of negligence or collusion is made out prima facie in the cases examined. It will also recommend measures to expedite all the proceedings in such criminal cases.
The Commission will also propose measures to be taken to properly implement the provisions of existing laws as well as the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee and to prevent recurrence of such incidents. The House “wholly authorised” Delhi Government to enlarge the scope of inquiry to be conducted by the Commission if the circumstances so warrant.
Kejriwal said, “I have spoken to Chief Justice of India and we will open many courts in Delhi to ensure speedy trial. We want disposal of cases of crime against women in 3-6 months”. The government had decided to hold the Special Session following escalation in its confrontation with Delhi Police in the wake of the brutal murder of 19-year-old girl in Anand Parbat area on July 16.
The session was called on July 28 but no business was transacted by the House as it was adjourned as mark of respect to A P J Abdul Kalam who died last Monday. The three BJP MLAs opposed the resolution and staged a walk-out. The AAP government has been accusing the police of taking the case “lightly”, saying her life could have been saved if her complaint against the accused was taken seriously.
According to the terms of reference, the Commission will recommend welfare measures for improving the working conditions of the “real foot soldiers in the law enforcing agencies and address any other issues that the Commission may find relevant. The Chief Minister said the Commission will find out the cases in which FIRs were not registered and the cases where FIRs were registered but no action was taken.
“It will give recommendation on changing the system and law. It will also determine negligence of the officers and give recommendations accordingly. How is this against the Constitution,” he asked. Kejriwal said junior officers of Delhi Police are brave hearts and are hard working. “But some seniors are working as agents of BJP and Modi government.”
“I am proud of those cops who risk their life to ensure safety of the citizen. After becoming Chief Minister, I wrote a letter to Delhi Police commissioner on April 10 and gave support to repair house of police staff,” he said. “We got a letter from Maneka Gandhi in which she said that more than 30 per cent police officers should be women. When she has written, then we believe it is Central Government’s decision. We welcome this decision and request Home Ministry to ensure that 30 per cent of police force is women,” said the Chief Minister.
“Women in Delhi are not feeling secured. If a daughter goes out for college then parents are scared till she returns. Any untoward incident can take place anywhere.” Kejriwal said the law-and-order situation in the capital was on the decline and that as per National Crime Record Bureau, five per cent of country’s total rape cases are registered in Delhi. “Similarly, 7 per cent of kidnapping takes places in Delhi. Cases of crime in Delhi are 2.5, 4.5 and 5 times more than Bangalore, Mumbai and Kolkata respectively,” he said.
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