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Data: Number of registered Cognizable crimes increase marginally in 2019


The 2019 Crime in India report was recently released by the NCRB. The data from the report indicates that the total number of registered crimes in the country increased only marginally in 2019 compared to 2018. Violent Crimes accounted for 8.1% of all the crimes.

The Crime in India report of 2019 was released recently by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The report is important as it is the only report that comprehensively covers a wide range of crime statistics across all States/UTs in the country, representing the state of crime registration, disposal etc. Data for the report is collated by the State Crime Records Bureaux (SCRB) which in turn comes from the District Crime Records Bureaux at the end of every year based on a predefined format (template). Data is collected & reported for each calendar year unlike other reports which follow the financial year cycle.  What this means is that the 2019 report deals with the crime data from 01 January 2019 to 31 December 2019. 

In 2019, a total of 51.56 lakh cognizable crimes were registered in India. When compared to 2018, the number of cognizable crimes went up by around 1.6%. In 2018, a total of 50.7 lakh cognizable crimes were registered in 2018.  

16 States/UTs report more than a lakh Cognizable crimes each

Among the states, Uttar Pradesh (UP) continues to register the highest number of cognizable crimes with over 6.28 lakh cases, accounting for more than 12.2% of the national total. This is understandable as UP is the most populous state.  The number of cases registered in Uttar Pradesh is higher than that registered in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Odisha put together.

After UP,  Maharashtra is next in line with over 5.09 lakh registered cases accounting for nearly 10% of the crimes in India followed by Tamil Nadu (4.55 lakh cases) and Kerala (4.53 Lakh cases) contributing to around 8.8% of the crimes each. Gujarat with over 4.31 lakh cases accounts for 8.4% of the crimes. Together, these five states alone have contributed to around 48% of the cases registered in India in 2019. Meanwhile, the smaller states of Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, and Sikkim, combined have registered only 45,436 cases- one percent of all the crimes registered in India in 2019. 

Crime rate increased marginally in 2019

‘Crime Rate’ is the incidence of crime per one lakh of population. Crime rate is a better & normalized marker to compare crimes in various states because of the differences in population. The NCRB report uses the population estimates for 2019 on the basis of 2011 Census for this calculation. 

The Crime rate in 2019 has increased marginally to 385.5 from 383.5 in 2018. State wise crime rate reveals that Delhi was on the top with a crime rate of 1586.1 followed by Kerala with 1287.7 crimes per lakh persons. Kerala is the only state to have reported a crime rate of more than 1000. Gujarat has the second highest crime rate among states- 631.6 while Tamil Nadu has reported 600.3 crimes per lakh population. Haryana (577.4) and Madhya Pradesh (478.9) have reported the fourth and fifth highest crime rate among states. 

Even though Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have reported the highest number of crimes, the crime rates of the two states are 278.2 and 415.8 respectively. Uttar Pradesh’s crime rate is lower than the national crime rate. Bihar’s crime rate is 224 while Jharkhand has reported a crime rate of 165.5 per lakh population. 

Higher Crime Rate may not mean ineffectiveness of the Police

The NCRB report adds a word of caution with respect to understanding crime rates. The report says, ‘as crime increases with population, Crime per lakh population (Crime Rate) may be a better indicator to assess increase or decrease in crime. However, a word of caution here! The primary presumption that the upward swing in police data indicates an increase in crime and thus a reflection of the ineffectiveness of the police is fallacious. ‘Rise in crime’ and ‘increase in registration of crime by police’ are clearly two different things, a fact which is often confused. Thus an oft-repeated expectation from certain quarters that an effective police administration will be able to keep the crime figures low is misplaced. Increase in crime numbers in a State police data may in fact be on account of certain citizen centric police initiatives, like launching of e-FIR facility or women Helpdesks, etc. The increase or decrease in crime numbers, however, does call for a professional investigation of underlying factors jointly with local communities to suitably address the issues involved’.

Source: NCRB Crime in India Report – 2019

What this means is that a lower crime rate may not mean a better working police system and a higher crime rate the opposite. For instance, Kerala’s overall higher crime rate and UP’s lower crime rate may not be a useful marker to conclude about the law & order situation in these states. 

Nearly 2/3rds of the crimes registered in India are under IPC

Crimes are classified into two broad categories, cognizable and non-cognizable crimes, according to the Code of Criminal Procedure. Cognizable crimes are those under which an officer in-charge of a police station may investigate upon receiving the complaint or information, without the order of a magistrate and effect arrest without warrant. Non cognizable crimes are those which cannot be investigated by police without the order of a competent magistrate.

Cognizable crimes can be registered under sections of the Indian Penal Code(IPC) like Crime against body, crime against property, sexual offences, crimes against state, etc. or under provisions of various Special and Local Laws (SLL) like Arms Act -1959SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act-1989, Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006, Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986, etc. 

In 2019, 32.25 lakh crimes (62.6%) were registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) while 19.3 lakh (37.4%) under the Special & Local Laws (SLL). Compared to 2018, the share of IPC crimes has increased by 3.0% whereas SLL crimes have reduced by 0.6%. 

Uttar Pradesh accounts for the highest number of cases booked under IPC

Uttar Pradesh reported the highest number of cases under IPC in 2019. Around 56% of the cases in UP, i.e. 3.53 lakh cases were registered under IPC.  In Maharashtra, two-thirds of the cases registered are under IPC (3.41 lakh cases), closely followed by Delhi with over 3.41 lakh cases under IPC. In Delhi, 95% of the cases registered are under IPC. Meanwhile, in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat, the percentage of IPC cases is only 39%, 37% and 32% respectively. The same states have recorded the largest number of SLL cases as well. Gujarat has registered 2.91 lakh cases, followed by Tamil Nadu with 2.87 Lakh cases, Kerala with 2.77 lakh cases and Uttar Pradesh with 2.75 Lakh cases under SLL.

Around 8% of the cases registered in India are violent crimes

Violent crimes are an important category of crimes as categorized by the NCRB due to their grave nature. NCRB classifies crimes like Murder, Culpable Homicide not amounting to murder, Dowry Deaths, Attempt to Commit Murder, Grievous Hurt, Rape, Rioting etc. as violent crimes. 

Of all crimes registered in the country, 8.1% are violent crimes. Around 13.3% of the violent crimes in India have been reported from Uttar Pradesh. About 55,519 such violent crimes were registered there, accounting for 8.8% of all the crimes in Uttar Pradesh. Bihar accounts for 10.8% of the violent crimes in India with more than 45,000 cases. Maharashtra and West Bengal each contribute around 10.6% of the violent crimes in India. More than 45% of the violent crimes registered in India are from these four states. 

The number of crimes or violent crimes do not reveal anything when looked at in isolation. In the following stories, we would look at the numbers to understand if the incidence of violent crimes in a state matches with the overall crime incidence and if there are any outliers.  

Featured Image: Cognizable crimes


About Author

A bachelor’s degree in mathematics and master’s in social science, she is driven by ardent desire to work with this unique combination to create her own path instead of following the herd. Having served a stint as the college union chairperson, she is a strategist who is also passionate about nature conservation, art and loves solving Sudoku.

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