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Why death penalty for child rape doesn’t mean swifter, better justice

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Rape protest

Mumbai, April 24: About 90 percent of child rape cases were pending trial in India in 2016, no more than 28 percent of such cases ended in conviction, and there is a 20-year backlog in bringing cases to trial, the latest available national crime data show.

These data indicate the government move to prioritise a change to legislation that allows courts to grant the death penalty to rapists of children younger than 12 will not bring quicker or better justice because there is no plan to address conviction failures and court delays.

The new ordinance also adds a minimum punishment of 20 years to anyone who rapes a woman below 16.

Of 39,068 rape victims — including women and girls — in 2016, 43 per cent (16,863) of the girls raped were minor, below the age of 18, while, five per cent (2,116) were less than 12 years old, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.

The Union cabinet on April 21 approved an ordinance to the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Indian Evidence Act, Code of Criminal Procedure and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), allowing for harsher punishments to those committing sexual crimes against women and children.

The amendments, known as the Criminal Law Ordinance 2018, come during a period of national uproar. April 2018 was a month where the high-profile rape cases of an eight-year-old in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district, and the alleged rape of a minor in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, allegedly by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator, dominated the national media and fuelled much politicised debate along religious and ethnic lines.

There were 19,765 reported child rapes in India in 2016, or 54 every day, under section 376 of the IPC and section 4 and 6 of the POCSO Act — an increase of almost six per cent compared to 2014 when 18,661 cases were reported.

It may be noted that child rape cases in 2016 were recorded under section 376 of the IPC and section 4 and 6 of the POCSO Act. In 2014 and 2015, these cases were recorded separately under IPC crimes and POCSO Act. Cases reported in 2012 and 2013 were only under section 376 of the IPC.

Madhya Pradesh reported the most 13 per cent (2,467) child rapes nationwide in 2016, followed by Maharashtra (12 per cent, 2,292 cases) and Uttar Pradesh (11 per cent, 2,115 cases).

Sikkim reported the highest rate of rape, 32.5 rapes per 100,000 children, followed by Mizoram (26.7) and Delhi (14.5), as against the national average of 4.4 child rapes.

About 18-20 per cent of child rapes occur in the family and 50 per cent in an institutionalised setting, according to a 2013 paper published in the journal Psychological Studies.

Offenders were known to the victims — including both women and girl child — in 94 per cent of the rape cases reported in 2016, NCRB data show. Most of them (29 per cent) were neighbours, followed by “known persons on promise to marry the victim” (27 per cent) and relatives (six per cent); 30 per cent were other known people.

The introduction of a death penalty for those accused of raping a child under 12 years could have a negative effect on reporting, as families fear ostracisation and legal consequence for family members.

“The introduction of the death penalty is not a great move. In the family these cases will not be reported, so many of these things happen by known people, the community will protect them,” Flavia Agnes, a women’s rights lawyer and co-founder of MAJLIS, a Mumbai-based organisation that provides legal initiatives for women, told IndiaSpend.

“Reporting rates were definitely increasing, but now I believe more people will not report (rapes) for fear of the consequences,” she said.

Up to 90 per cent of rape cases reported were pending trial at the end of 2016. The conviction rate for child rape was 28 per cent — inclusive of cases reported under section 376 of IPC and section 4 and 6 of POCSO Act — in 2016, compared to 34 per cent in the previous year under section 376 of IPC, and 41 per cent and 32 per cent under section 4 and 6 of the POCSO act in 2015, respectively.

“Expedited trials are just not happening in India, it will take 20-30 years to improve the system,” said Agnes. “Just one or two special courts is not enough; this is why so many cases are pending. Plus trials take too long.”

Six fast-track courts were set up in Delhi in 2013 after the gang rape of 23-year-old paramedic student “Nirbhaya”, to address the high rate of unfinished investigations and encourage swifter convictions. However, in 2012, regular courts resolved 500 cases compared to 400 in fast track courts, which failed to serve their inherent purpose.

The last person to receive capital punishment in India for reasons other than terrorism was Dhananjoy Chatterjee who raped and murdered 14-year-old schoolgirl. Chatterjee was hanged in August 2004.

(In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform. The views expressed are those of IndiaSpend. Feedback at [email protected])

(IANS/IndiaSpend)

India

Don’t want food from Badal’s supporter: Farmers tells Sirsa at Tikri

As the situation tensed up a bit, Shiromani Akali Dal’s (SAD) leader Sirsa beat a hasty retreat. The protesters soon calmed down and got busy with their other activities.

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Farmers Delegation

New Delhi: SAD’s Delhi leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa on Saturday faced embarrassing situation when he went to offer ‘langar’ or community kitchen food to farmers rallying at Tikri on the Delhi-Haryana border, as protesters dubbed him a ‘chamcha’ or obsequious supporter of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

As soon as Sirsa, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) President, moved towards the protesting farmers, they protested his presence and climbed on the concrete block and police barricades to raise slogans against him as he stood there with folded hands.

“Badal de chamcheyan da langar nahi chahida (we don’t want to eat langar handed over by Badal’s obsequious follower),” the farmers shouted amid sloganeering against the Centre’s farm policies.

As the situation tensed up a bit, Shiromani Akali Dal’s (SAD) leader Sirsa beat a hasty retreat. The protesters soon calmed down and got busy with their other activities.

On Saturday, a day after their stand-off with security forces over entry into Delhi, farmers from Punjab and Haryana continued to rally and shout slogans at the Tikri interstate border entry/exit point, without any interference from the policemen who preferred to look on.

Various farmer leaders addressed the protesters even as the situation was more relaxed compared with what was witnessed on Friday, as policemen armed with a water cannon and tear-gas shells remained stationed in vicinity.

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Business

Manufacturing GVA growth in Q2 ‘surprising’: SBI Report

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Manufacturing

New Delhi, Nov 28 : The manufacturing sector played a major role in narrowing down the India’s GDP contraction in Q2 of FY21. An SBI Ecowrap report, however, dubbed the growth in manufacturing GVA as “astonishing” as the IIP manufacturing for the same period declined by 6.7 per cent.

India’s GDP in the July-September period contracted 7.5 per cent, compared with 23.9 per cent in the preceding quarter.

The GVA in Q2 2020-21 from the manufacturing sector grew 0.6 per cent, as compared with a degrowth of 0.6 per cent in the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal.

The report by Soumya Kanti Ghosh, Group Chief Economic Adviser, State Bank of India, said: “Though the whole press release is full of surprising numbers, the most astonishing number is the positive growth in manufacturing in Q2.”

He noted that despite being the worst affected sector in Q1 (due to lockdown), it is quite puzzling how manufacturing turned itself around.

The IIP manufacturing and manufacturing GVA growth are highly correlated (almost more than 0.90) and this correlation collapsed in Q2 when IIP manufacturing declined by 6.7 per cent (average of July/August/September) while manufacturing GVA grew by 0.6 per cent.

He said that one possible reason for this could be stellar corporate GVA numbers in Q2 on the back of massive purge in costs.

Further, he said that small companies, with turnover of up to Rs 500 crore, are more aggressive in cutting cost, displaying reduction in employee cost by 10-12 per cent.

“This could turn a potential headwind in future in terms of a drag on consumption. Additionally, there is evidence of inventory build-up that could act as a drag on future manufacturing growth,” said the report.

“Interestingly, government consumption expenditure has also nosedived in Q2, that is difficult to explain, as such expenditures are typically pro cyclical.”

During the July-September period, agriculture sector continued to perform well with its growth pegged at 3.4 per cent. Services remained in the negative territory, although the decline was contained as trade, hotels, transport, communication and services related to broadcasting showed recovery.

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Cities

We’ve resources to undertake coronavirus vaccination within 3-4 weeks: Delhi govt

Health and Family Welfare Minister Satyendar Jain made this announcement in at a press conference called to update Delhi’s daily health bulletin.

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Vaccine Covid

The Delhi government on Saturday said it has infrastructure to undertake coronavirus vaccination among all city residents within three-four weeks, adding that it was only waiting for the vaccine to be made available.

Health and Family Welfare Minister Satyendar Jain made this announcement in at a press conference called to update Delhi’s daily health bulletin. He gave the updates on Covid-19, decreasing positivity rate, availability of beds, and preparations for vaccination.

He said that the government had enough resources like Mohalla Clinics, polyclinics, dispensaries and hospitals to administer coronavirus vaccine across Delhi. Jain asserted that there will be no issues about the optimal storage of the vaccine as well.

“We are only waiting for the vaccine to be made available. Delhi has the infrastructure to roll it out and make it accessible to all city residents within 3-4 weeks. Delhi is equipped with the latest infrastructure to facilitate the rollout of the vaccine to Delhi’s population.

“For application, there are Mohalla Clinics, hospitals etc. It depends on how soon we get it from the central government. As far as storage is concerned, all amenities have been taken care of,” Jain said.

The Delhi government’s response comes amid Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Saturday visit to Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Pune where vaccine development process is going on.

Modi had recently held discussions with states and union territories on vaccine distribution once it is formulated.

Pointing out that there were 5,482 new cases in Delhi on Friday, the Minister said that the positivity rate had however come down to 8.51 per cent from 15.26 per cent. It has become less than half since November 7, 2020.

The Minister said that more than 50 per cent beds for coronavirus patients are available in Delhi hospitals at present. “Total bed available is more than 9,500. The occupancy rate is therefore steadily decreasing. In terms of ICU beds, more than 1,200 are available.”

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