In 2012, we had the horrific incident in Pipili of rape and murder of a dalit woman.
The Police had refused to register an F.I.R. and the doctors had
declined to provide medical care going against the basic
Hippocratic Oath till the Odisha High Court forced the
Government to act, but only after a month of the attack.
succumbed to the assault finally. Imagine if the incident had taken
place in Delhi and Police had refused to act, arrest the accused and
doctors had refused to treat the victim. As per NCRB statistics the
conviction rate in crimes in Odisha is the lowest among major states in
the country. The last White Paper presented by the Government in the
state Assembly show that out of the cases of rape registered in a year
less than 1% ends in conviction.
Policing is a
state subject. Also, the setting up of courts, including special courts
to expedite prosecution is entirely the responsibility of the state
Governments. Unless Policing improves and there are more courts
dispensing justice, both of which are responsibilities of the state
Governments under the constitution, the scenario can hardly transform
Let me list
out some changes that I would like to see in 2013.
the recommendations of the National Police Commission and the Supreme
Court Directive without any further delay. Form a State Security
Commission with the Chief Minister as the Chairman and the Leader of the
Opposition as a Member and DGP as convener. Appoint Police Chiefs
following instructions of the Supreme Court and for a minimum period of
two years. Debar Police Chiefs from occupying post-retirement positions
for three years after retirement. Substitute the Police Act, 1861 by a
new Police Act. Odisha is one of the states refusing to implement the
orders of the Supreme Court for the simple reason that the state
Government wants to continue misusing the police and does not want to
loosen its vice like grip. Naveen Pattnaik wants a political police, a
police that he can misuse and that is why he refuses to carry out basic
police reform. Unless we stop gross politicization of the police, hardly
will they be able to enforce the law without fear or favour.
· Improve the
Police to Population ratio to align closer to international standards.
The state has seen a rise in the strength of armed police to deal with
Naxal problem. But, what is needed is improving the strength of police
personnel in Police Stations and on the street.
Police training and resources to come up with a professional police
police performance to social audit to improve accountability to society
rather than to powerful people.
CCTV coverage of public space and a suitable patrolling and
first-response mechanism to enhance current level of policing and for
reassuring the community generally and women specifically.
specialized units consisting of well-trained lady police officers to
investigate all cases of violence against women efficiently and in a
time bound manner. We had started all women police stations when in
power. Let the BJD Government take our efforts forward.
Government has failed to come up with a DNA lab and its forensic
laboratories are among the worst managed in the country. With better
forensic evidence many more cases can end in conviction.
· Ask the
police to stop eve teasing and molestation and provide better security
cover for women in the public space so that women are not scared to come
out in the public.
counseling and financial support to rape victims and bring them under a
witness protection programme.
· The next
Parliament Session should pass the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 2012
with modifications as may be recommended by the Justice Verma Committee.
· Rape with
murder should be statutorily defined as a crime in the category of
‘rarest of the rare’ for imposition of death sentence.
changes in the procedural law to make it difficult for adjournment of
proceedings in rape trials so that trial takes place on a day-to-day
· For violent
rapes, chemical castration should be the punishment.
Government should set up special courts presided by women judges to make
sure that trials end within a month of submission of charge sheet by the
well-trained non-political Public Prosecutors.
· Start a
special drive to dispose of all pending rape cases.
playing a more active role in public today than any time in the past
altering power structures and there has been some backlash. The
challenge is to continue with the progressive changes while reinforcing
the traditional Indian value of respecting the feminine. Our boys have
to grow with the understanding that society expects men and women to be
treated equally and with respect.
Let us judge ourselves as society at the end of 2013 by the changes that we are
able to bring about during the year to secure the future of our daughters. The
State Congress is willing to support any initiative of the State Government in
bringing about changes that I have demanded here. Our MLAs will vote with the
Government for these changes. Equally, we will stand by any civil society
initiative or demand for these changes in any manner requested and possible. We
have to provide better quality policing and speedier justice, otherwise the
level of public anger will justifiably keep growing and our society can
disintegrate into chaos. The time to act is now.
[Author is a former minister of Odisha and, at present, is the President
of Pradesh Congress Committee, Odisha. Views expressed in the piece are