Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Standing Firm on Criminal Justice

By The Editorial Team Updated: Sep 21, 2021 11:12 pm

The crime data in India for the year 2020 recently published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) showed a 28% increase in the number of cognisable crimes from 51,56,158 in 2019 to 66,01,285 in 2020. Nagaland registered a marginal decline, recording 1511 criminal cases during the period against 1661 the previous year. The country also recorded 3,71,503 cases of crime against women in 2020 against 4,05,326 cases reported in 2019, showing an 8.3% decline. While the drop in crime against women is a welcome sign, the NCRB data still shows that 77 rape cases are still reported on an average every day in India, a stark reminder that women are still far from being safe.

Meanwhile, Nagaland reported 39 crimes against women in 2020, a marginal decline from 43 cases in the previous year. Of the total crimes against women in the state, six were of kidnapping and abduction, four rape cases and a dowry death. This figure is a matter of worry for a small state that takes pride in championing gender equality and women’s safety. The state may be still safer for women compared to its counterparts in other parts of the country but that doesn’t mean the menace doesn’t exist. A few reports about crime against women, including rape cases against minors have hit the headlines this year. Sadly, as expected, it was heard no more after some civil society organisations came forward to condemn the alleged act. Activists have been highlighting time and again about the possibility of underreporting of such cases in Naga society because of various reasons such as social stigma associated with it and victims’ families choosing not to report to police. They have also been expressing concern over the Naga customary law disrupting the justice delivery system and discouraging victims from coming forward and filing complaints. Then there are also cases that are swept under the carpet, especially those involving high profile personalities and close family members of the victims.

How are we as a society going to fight crimes against women when the victims are often victimised by not punishing the criminals and letting them roam around freely? Will the victims come forward to file complaints if rape cases are settled by paying fines? Should criminal cases involving high profile personalities be allowed to be swept under the carpet? Whilst the judiciary can be blamed for delay in delivering justice, the society is also responsible for unaccounted cases. Besides change of mindset, there has to be social support system for the victims and robust community participation to curb the menace. Criminals should be treated as one and not treated based on social status. Anything that disrupts justice delivery system or denies justice to victims should be done away with. Worryingly, new forms of crime like dowry death and cyber crime, which were unheard of in Naga society until recently have surfaced, indicating the evolving nature of crime. Our society should ensure criminals are punished according to the law of the land, irrespective of their status. If justice is denied for crimes as heinous as rape, seeking justice for new forms of offences is a far cry.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Sep 21, 2021 11:12:44 pm