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After a delay of two years, the Crime in India Report for the year 2017 was finally released by the National Crime Records Bureau

  • However, data of death due to mob lynching, murder by influential people, killing ordered by khap panchayat and murder committed for religious reason have not been published.

About National Crime Records Bureau

  • The NCRB is an Indian government agency responsible for collecting and analysing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Special and Local Laws (SLL).
  • NCRB is headquartered in New Delhi and is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
  • NCRB was set-up in 1986 to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators.
  • It was set up based on the recommendations of the National Police Commission (1977-1981) and the MHA's Task Force (1985). 

About the report

    • The annual data for 'Crime in India' is furnished by the 36 states and UTs and 53 metropolitan cities, which have a population of 1 million (10 lakh or more as per population census 2011) by respective State Crime Records Bureau's (SCRBs) or Crime Investigation Departments (CIDs).
    • The NCRB compiles and collates the data and presents it in the form of this report.
  • The idea is that such data collection would help the government formulate its policies better in tackling crimes.

Why delay in the report: Govt.’s reply

  • New data collection, making of compilation software and training of officials from states and UTs on the revised pro forma took time. 

Why lynching crimes/farmer suicides were not reported?

    • The zero figure assumes significance when seen against the backdrop of 21 deaths in the Jharkhand state alone in the past three years due to mob violence over suspicion of animal slaughter, theft, child-lifting rumours, among others. Also, data on farmer suicides after 2015 are yet to be published.
  • The decision to collect data on lynchings had been taken in the wake of a spate of lynching incidents across the country through 2015-16. 
  • The idea was that such data collection would help the government formulate its policies better in tackling these crimes. 
  • Govt.’s reply: 
    • It was observed that data received for certain newly created additional parameters/crime heads was unreliable and its definitions were also prone to misinterpretation. Accordingly, data related to certain parameters/crime heads has not been published.
    • The Home Ministry issued a list of 13 parameters or crime heads which consisted of vague or unreliable data including crimes against RTI activists. 

Features of the report:

    • It included 88 new categories including sexual harassment of women at the workplace/public transport, offences relating to elections, obscene acts at public places, circulation of fake news, chit funds, cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act and Mental Health Act, noise pollution and defacement of public property.
  • Significant diversification of data can be seen are crimes against women and children, atrocities against Dalits, cases of corruption, and time taken by police and courts to take cases to their conclusion. 
  • A new category called “anti-national elements” has been added which includes details of “jihadi terrorists, Left Wing Extremism and North East insurgents.”
  • For the first time, the NCRB has introduced categories of cyber crimes against women and children.
  • The NCRB has for the first time published data on offences registered solely under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act with the further categorisation of insult, land grab and social ostracism.
  • More importantly, for the first time, the NCRB has not merely dwelt on the pendency of cases with the police and courts but also the period of such pendency, which has thrown up some rather counter-intuitive data.

Key findings: Crime Registration:

    • India witnessed a 3.6% rise in crimes in 2017 compared to 2016.
    • Kerala topped the list followed by Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.
  • Delhi topped among metros in criminal activities, with 1,050 Indian Penal Code (IPC) crime incidents per lakh of the city’s population. This was over four times the national average of 238.
  • Delhi Police’s reply on increasing crimes:
  • In Delhi, there is a facility to register First Information Reports online in cases of motor vehicle theft and other thefts, which may have increased the number of criminal cases under these heads. 

The crime rate in India:

  • The “crime rate" is defined as “offences registered per one lakh people".
  • Assam recorded the highest crime rate of 143 in the country in 2017. 
  • Odisha and Telangana came in second followed by Haryana and Rajasthan.

Offences against the State

  • There has been a 30 per cent rise in incidents of offences against the state as compared to 2016. 
  • This category includes offences such as sedition, waging war against the country and damage to public property among others. 
  • A new category of offences committed by various categories of “Anti-National Elements” showed that the maximum offences were committed by Left Wing Extremist (LWE) operatives, followed by North-East insurgents and Terrorists (Jihadi and other elements).

Crime against Women

    • The definition of ‘crime against women’ includes murder, rape, dowry death, suicide abetment, acid attack, cruelty against women and kidnapping, according to the report.
    • Uttar Pradesh was followed by Maharashtra and West Bengal.
    • Delhi saw a decline in crime against women for the third straight year, with 13,076 FIRs being registered in 2017.
    • Madhya Pradesh registered a maximum number of rape cases at 5562, 97.5% of which were committed by known persons.
  • As many as 32,559 rapes were reported in India in 2017 and the accused were known to the victims in 93.1% of the cases.

Why the rise in figures:

  • Experts said the rising figures and the fact that as compared to 2016, were due to more cases being registered, with families sidestepping the social stigma around rape and bringing the matter to the notice of the police.
  • Also, the definition of rape now has a broader ambit.

Cyber Crimes

    • There is an increase of 77% over the previous year’s number.
    • Countrywide, the rate of cyber-crime — that is, the number of cyber-crimes committed per 1,00,000 population — in 2017 was 1.7.
  • More than half the incidents of cybercrime were motivated by fraud.
  • The most cyber-crimes per 1,00,000 population were committed in Karnataka, followed by Telangana, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.
  • About 19.5% — were committed against women, and 88 against children. 
  • The cyber crimes against women were related to cyber blackmail or threats, cyber pornography or hosting or publishing obscene sexual materials, cyberstalking or cyberbullying of women, defamation, or morphing and indecent representation of women, etc.
  • Cyber-Crimes against children included Internet crimes committed through online games, etc. 

Riots:

  • Out of the total 58,880 incidents of rioting reported, communal and sectarian riots accounted for 723 and 183 incidents respectively.
  • There were 805 riots due to caste conflict and 1909 riots due to political reasons.
  • Maximum incidents were reported from Bihar, followed by Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. 

Crime against SC/STs

  • The incidents registered under the Scheduled Caste Prevention of Atrocities Act saw an increase from 5,082 incidents reported in 2016 to 5,775 in 2017. 
  • Incidents of crime related to Scheduled Tribes dipped from 844 in 2016 to 720 in 2017.

Fake news:

  • Under the category, maximum incidents were reported from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala.

Corruption:

  • A total of 4062 cases were registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act and related sections. 
  • The highest numbers of cases were reported from Maharashtra. However, the maximum increase was witnessed in Karnataka. Sikkim remained the only state where not even a single case was registered.
  • The data also indicated a gradual dip in the registration of offences.

More corruption cases in Maharashtra is a good sign

  • Experts say the numbers are reflective of the rise in awareness
  • Maharashtra anti-corruption bureau (ACB) has introduced a universal number to register complaints about the entire state — 1064.

Prisoners’ state

  • The highest number of complaints by prisoners to their respective State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) in 2017 was received by the Punjab SHRC.
  • Punjab also recorded the highest number of suicides in prisons.
  • The number of graduates lodged in prisons across the country increased alarmingly in 2017.
  • On the other hand, the number of prisoners availing education inside jails has gone down.

Justice delayed

    • For IPC crimes, police are supposed to file a charge sheet within 90 days. But data show that in certain cases such as rioting, which includes communal riots, police delayed the filing of charge sheet in 60% of the cases. 
    • It says there are more than 3 lakh cases pending investigations for more than one year.
  • The report says in more than 40% of cases with fast-track courts, these courts have taken more than three years to finish the trial. 
  • Of the 38,000-odd cases that fast-track courts completed in 2017, over 4,500 cases had been running for 5-10 years. In only around 11,500 cases was the trial completed within one year.
  • In courts as a whole, 2,71,779 cases were pending trial at the end of 2017.

Crime against children

  • Major crime heads under ‘crime against children’ during 2017 were kidnapping and abduction (42.0%) and 25.3?ses under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, including child rape.
  • Among the cities, Delhi ranked the highest in crimes against followed by Mumbai.

Concerns: Without methodological clarity, policymaking is a challenge: 

  • There is opacity surrounding the methodology for collection and compilation makes the data. 
  • The rate of calculating charge-sheeting, which has been measured based on the total number of cases disposed of by the police, and not the total number of cases for investigation.

Non-disclosure of socio-economic reasons

  • The report does not state  “socio-economic causative factors or reasons of crimes” 
  • Also, the non-legislative parameters for classifying some offences have not been adequately explained.
  • Socio-economically marginalised people are known to repeatedly come in conflict with the law and are routinely arrested and released on mere suspicion. Even for those who were arrested and convicted previously, the data do not speak of the nature of crimes.

Reformation and rehabilitation of prisoners

  • In the absence of information on the quality and impact of reformation programmes, ensuring successful reintegration of prisoners and provide those serving life-term imprisonment (52.6% of all convicts) an opportunity to reform. 
  • Prison statistics do not provide offence-wise data on undertrials and convicts.
  • The rehabilitation policies are especially important since 94.4% of those entering the criminal justice system were arrested for the first time.

Concerns about corruption cases: 

    • The NCRB report also noted that while 1,288 people were arrested by law enforcement agencies in complaints of taking a bribe, the departments employing them had dismissed only eight offenders in spite of recommendations to do so by the prosecuting agencies. 
  • State police officials have blamed this on the refusal of some state government departments to grant sanction for prosecution.

Way forward:

  • In order to explore more precise and effective solutions to criminal justice issues, NCRB must first take steps towards ensuring the accuracy, reliability and comprehensiveness of these reports

Also read: Crimes in India NCRB Annual Reports To Be Out Soon