At the outset, the Chief Secretary while welcoming the members in the meeting informed the gathering about the meeting held on 04 January in New Delhi between the Home Ministry and the Chief Secretaries and Director Generals of Police of all the states wherein the participants suggested that punishment for gangrape should be stronger and there should be an amendment to the Juvenile Justice Act to lower the age to 16 years and grading should be based on the magnitude of offence.
He informed that the participating states also suggested that crime prevention is very important and there should be zero tolerance for petty offences as the offender can escalate in crime ladder and especially for cases under section 509 of IPC, which deals with sexual harassment of women.
Further detailing the meeting held at in New Delhi, the Chief Secretary added that the states have also suggested that cases need to be registered as and when women reach a police station. Recording of information should be only by women and if necessary by audio/video recording. Medical practitioner who examines a rape victim must be a woman. Police protection for the victim till the trial ends should be given.
The participating states have also suggested that fast track courts are necessary and court procedure should prevent humiliation of the victims and character assassination must be stopped. There should be no adjournments once trial starts with day-to-day hearing and the rights of the victims should be defined. Judges and prosecutors should be women. Discretion in grant of bail for heinous offences should be removed and prosecutor should be of the victim’s choice.
The Chief Secretary said that the Centre has pointed out that accountability of police is essential and gender sensitization needs to be made a part of the curriculum, if not done in police training schools and colleges. Awareness programmes are necessary. Expansion of civil police is necessary and reluctance of women to join should be reduced by reserving posts for them in police. Deputy Superintendent of Police should be the nodal officer for crime against women in every district. One additional Director General of Police should be designated as nodal officer in every state.
The CS during the meeting urged everyone to be very serious on this issue and cooperate with each other to prevent such types of crimes in the state. The meeting which was actively participated discussed threadbare the crimes committed against women and strategies to eliminate Crime against women/children in the state. The meeting also outlined the necessity of awareness programmes and councelling from the village level. The Chairpersons of various commissions also suggested the identification of vulnerable areas and sensitization of the people of such areas. Establishment of one all women Police Station, posting of at least one lady cop in every police station were also suggested during the meeting.
The meeting also suggested that as almost all labourers in the state are coming from outside the state proper registration of labourers should be done by the labour department. The meeting also discussed substance abuse and alcoholism as the main reasons behind such crimes therefore proper mechanism and legal procedure has to be adopted to prevent substance abuse and alcoholism. Engaging the children in a positive way through various extracurricular activities will also keep them occupied thereby preventing negative thoughts in their mind, it was suggested.
The Chairpersons of various commissions and boards while appreciating the cooperation rendered by the state police in combating such crimes suggested that people-friendly policing plays a pivotal role in encouraging the victims to be more open with the police whenever such crimes occur. Establishment of Forensic Lab in the state will also help in speeding up the trial process it was suggested in which the Director General of Police informed the meeting that the Regional Forensic Lab will be functional by February 2013.
Representative from State Legal Services Authority, Matilda Rai, informed the meeting that the SLSA is clearing all the cases speedily with regard to the victims’ compensation scheme and also conducting various awareness programmes with welfare officials, commissions and police officials. She further informed that free legal aid is also being provided to the victims of such crimes.
The Additional Chief Secretary, R. Ongmu during the meeting said that the government is fully aware of the problem and has taken steps for welfare and protection of the women and children and the weaker sections of the society. In this regard she sought report from the District Collectors about the activities of the various committees set up by the government to look into matters relating to crimes against women and children.
The District Collectors and the Superintendent of Police also highlighted about the activities taken up at the district level on this issue.
The Chief Secretary while concluding the meeting appreciated the manner in which every participant registered concern against such crimes in the society. He said that substantial and concrete opinion came out in the meeting which shows the commitment of the society towards this issue. He further thanked all the participants for attending the meeting which he said is a step taken by the state administration to prevent such crimes in our society.