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Data: Huge Pendency & Low Conviction – the story of Crimes against Women

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The data from the NCRB Crime in India report paints a very grim picture as far as crimes against women are concerned. Data indicates that the pendency in courts is more than 90% while the conviction rate is less than 25%. 

More than 4.05 lakh cases of crimes against women were registered in 2019, an increase of 7.3% compared to the year 2018, reveals the National Crime Records Bureau Crime in India 2019 report. The crime rate (cases registered per lakh women population) has also increased from 58.8 in 2018 to 62.4 in 2019. Of all the registered crimes against women, close to 31% were registered under ‘Cruelty by Husband or His Relatives’ followed by ‘Assault on Women with Intent to Outrage her Modesty’ which accounted for about 22% of the registered cases. ‘Rape’ accounted for nearly 8% of the registered crimes against women. 

An average of 87 cases of rape were registered per day in 2019

As per the 2019 figures, an average of 87 cases of rape were registered across the country. With 32,033 registered rape cases,  2019 marks the seventh year in a row where the number of registered rape cases has crossed 30,000. In 2013, there was a major spike of more than 30% in the number of registered rape cases following the gruesome Nirbhaya incident in the national capital that shook the nation in 2012. The number of registered rape cases touched almost 39,000 in 2016, the highest in over 20 years. Since then,  the number has dropped to around 32000. 

85% of the rape cases registered in 14 States/UTs

A total of 5997 rape cases were registered in Rajasthan in 2019, the highest for any state. Rajasthan accounted for 19% of all the registered rape cases in the country in 2019. Uttar Pradesh, which recorded the highest number of crimes against women in the same year had reported 3,065 cases of rape, the second highest in the country. Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, and Maharashtra had reported more than 2000 cases each. 13 states and Delhi reported more than 1000 cases each in 2019, and together accounted for more than 85% of the rape cases registered in India in 2019. These 13 states & Delhi together account for around 69% of India’s population. 

Cases registered in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh has doubled since 2010

The trend in the number of registered cases of rape since 2010 indicates that, in the states of Haryana, Jharkhand, Kerala, Punjab, and Rajasthan, there has been a steady increase in the number of registered cases of rape. In Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh, the number of registered cases has doubled since 2010 while in Kerala it has increased by 219% and in Rajasthan, it has increased by almost 282%. However, this increase cannot be directly linked to the increase in the occurrence of the crime. It could also be because of improved reporting and registration of cases in certain states. 

Meanwhile, in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, there has been a sharp decrease in the number of registered rape cases in the last few years. Madhya Pradesh which used to report  the highest number of cases at around 4000-5000 up to 2018, has reported less than 2500 cases in 2019, a drop of more than 50% in just one year. Similarly, Chhattisgarh too witnessed a sharp dip of more than 50% in the number of registered cases in 2019. Assam, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal have reported more than 1000 cases in every year since 2010. Uttar Pradesh and Delhi witnessed a significant increase in the registration of rape cases from 2013 to 2016. However, the numbers have dropped significantly since then. 

Conviction rate in cases of rape has not improved in the last 20 years

While the number of registered rape cases has doubled in the last 20 years, there has been no significant change in the conviction rate in these cases. Conviction rate in cases of rape refers to the percentage of cases which resulted in conviction among those cases whose trials were complete in that particular year. In the past 20 years, it was only in 2017 that the conviction rate went beyond 30%. In all the other years, it has hovered around 26 to 27%. 

Conviction rate in cases of Crimes against women is 23.7% in 2019

The overall conviction rate in cases of crimes against women, including both IPC and SLL crimes in India was the highest in 2010 (at 27.8%) over the last 10 years. The conviction rate dropped to a low of 18.9% in 2016. Since 2017, the rate has been between 23 to 24%. The major reason behind this is the lower conviction rate in cases registered under section 498A, ‘Cruelty by husband and relatives’  (domestic violence cases) which, as already noted, accounts for almost one-third of the cases of crime against women. It has to be noted that the overall conviction rate of all cognizable IPC crimes in 2019 was 50.4%, almost twice the conviction rate in cases of crimes against women. 

The NCRB report does not give details of state wise conviction rate in cases of rape in specific. The state wise conviction rate for overall crimes against women is available. Among the states, it is observed that Mizoram has reported a conviction rate of 88% in 2019, the highest among states. However, it has to be noted that only 111 cases completed trials in Mizoram in 2019. 

Only six states, including Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh, and Nagaland had reported a conviction rate of more than 50% in 2019. In fact, Uttar Pradesh, which also is among the states with a high number of registered crimes against women, has consistently reported a  conviction rate of more than 50%. The conviction rate in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Telangana is below the national average. In fact, the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal, Karnataka, and Assam reported a conviction rate of less than 10% in 2019. 

Huge Pendency & Low Conviction – the story of Crimes against Women

Despite the widespread public outcry in multiple cases of crimes against women such as the Nirbhaya incident in 2012, the veterinary Doctor’s rape and murder in Telangana in 2019, and the recent Hathras incident in Uttar Pradesh, the situation doesn’t seem to have changed much. There is very high pendency rate in the case of crimes against women, of more than 90%. This means that the courts are able to dispose less than 10% of the cases that come for trial every year. Even among the disposed cases, the conviction rate is less than 25%. All in all, huge pendency & low conviction rate seem to define the status of crimes against women in the country. 

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