Prosecuting juveniles aged above 15 years as adults for heinous crimes, setting up of ‘special police stations’ and ensuring death penalty or life term to those accused of raping minors were among a host of proposals mooted by the CM Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government today to deal with cases of sexual violence.
A meeting of the Delhi Cabinet, presided over by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, discussed the law and order situation in the city in the wake of rape of two minors, and appointed a Group of Ministers (GoM) to come up with a report within 15 days recommending appropriate amendments to the existing criminal law.
If the government chooses to go ahead with the proposals, it could mark flashpoint in its already turbulent relationship with the Centre.
Briefing reporters after the Cabinet meeting, Kejriwal said a Commission of Inquiry will be set up within a week to examine issues relating to women safety, in accordance with the resolution passed by the Delhi Legislative Assembly.
He also took a swipe at Narendra Modi saying the Prime Minister should “stop his foreign tours” and instead “focus” on improving Delhi’s administration.
“Since CrPC and IPC are subjects in concurrent list over which Delhi Government has executive powers, GoM will examine and submit a report on whether Delhi Government can set up special police stations to register and investigate crime against women in those cases where women do not get satisfactory response from local police stations,” said Kejriwal.
He said the “GoM will also further examine and recommend that those committing heinous crimes like rape and murder and are above 15 years of age should be treated as adults and not juveniles under the law for being tried in these cases.”
The GoM, headed by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, will prepare a list of rape cases pending in various courts in Delhi in order to fast-track them.
The proposal to prosecute juveniles aged above 15 years of age as adults came as two boys, aged 16 and 17, were accused of raping a two-and-a-half year old girl in west Delhi’s Nihal Vihar last week.
A senior government official said after the GoM submits its report to the Cabinet, a decision on whether to forward it to the Centre or not will be taken by the government.
The Chief Minister said Delhi government was ready to spend funds to increase the number of courts, judges and improve the existing infrastructure in this regard for expeditious delivery of justice.
Attacking the police, the Chief Minister said law and order situation has deteriorated significantly and women do not feel secure in the city.
“There is no fear among those who commit such crimes. The sense of security is over,” the Chief Minister said.
He claimed there have been more than 1,500 rapes in Delhi since January 1, 2015 but only 1 person has been punished, adding it would be good if media raises these issues instead of “abusing” him.
Sisodia, assisted by Home Minister Satyendar Jain, has been tasked with preparing “suitable amendments in appropriate criminal laws” for providing harsh punishments to those guilty of committing heinous crimes against women.
“The GoM has been asked to furnish its report within a fortnight, so that the cabinet can consider these and bring an amendment bill in relevant criminal laws during the next session of assembly,” an official said.
The GoM, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, will also examine whether the investigating teams or forensic experts can be held accountable in case of delay in filing charge sheets relating to cases of sexual violence against women, he said.
In May, the Lok Sabha had passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2014 which will allow children in the 16-18 age group to be tried as adults if they commit heinous crimes.
The bill did not get through in Rajya Sabha. The amendments were prepared in the backdrop of public outcry over the Delhi gangrape case of 2012 in which a juvenile accused escaped with a lighter punishment because of his age.
Kejriwal said a list of pending rape cases in which special prosecutors are required is being prepared. He said it will be ensured that samples in rape cases are sent to forensic labs at the earliest so that the investigation is not hampered.
He said government will expeditiously instal CCTV cameras across the city and light up the dark spots which have already been identified.
Kejriwal has been targeting the Centre following the rape of a toddler and a five-year-old girl in the capital on Friday and even demanded control over the Delhi Police for at least one year.
Yesterday, Kejriwal had a meeting with Lt Governor Najeeb Jung following which he stepped up attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying he will not let him sleep “peacefully” if “jungle raj prevails”.