Recently, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) published the annual Crime in India Report 2018. It was published with provisional data, as five States — West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Sikkim — did not send clarifications sought by the NCRB despite repeated reminders.
- The 2017 annual crime report was published on October 21 last year, after a delay of two years.
Salient features of the report
- Crime on the rise: According to the bureau, overall crime in India increased by 1.3% in 2018 compared to 2017, with more than 50 lakh cognisable crimes getting registered.
- Crime rate per lakh population was down to 383.5 in 2018 from 388.6 the year before.
- Crime against women: Cruelty by husband or his relatives (31.9%) followed by an assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty (27.6%) constituted the major share of crimes against women, the report said.
- Registration of crime: A total of 50,74,634 cognisable crimes — 31,32,954 Indian Penal Code (IPC) crimes and 19,41,680 Special & Local Laws (SLL) crimes — were registered in 2018, showing an increase of 1.3% in registration of cases compared to 2017 (50,07,044 cases).
- Crime against SC/STs: The incidents registered under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes related Acts saw a decline from 6729 incidents reported in 2017 to 4816 in 2018.
- More women were killed after being raped in 2018 than in 2017: There was a 31% spurt in cases of rape with murder in 2018 as compared to 2017. This is the first time NCRB has out such comparative data.
- Women and children among the more vulnerable: rate of crimes against women rose from 57.9 to 58.8, and crime rate against children from 28.9 to 31.8.
- ‘Crime Against Children’ during 2018 was Kidnapping & Abduction (44.2%) and cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (34.7%) including child rape. The crime rate per lakh children population is 31.8 in 2018 in comparison with 28.9 in 2017.”
- Among the convicts, 1,04,017 (85%) had committed various offences affecting the human body while over 12,939 (10%) had committed offences against property.
- Among those convicted of offences against the human body, the highest number of inmates were convicted of murder (66%, 69,165 convicts) followed by convicts of rape (12%, 12,076) and convicts of an attempt to murder (8%, 8,341).
- Nearly 20,000 convicts had committed offences against women. These offences include rape, which is also included among offences against the human body. In the category for offences against women, the 12,076 rape convicts represented 61%.
Key data of the report:
Crime against women:
- Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 59,445 cases, followed by Maharashtra (35,497) and West Bengal (30,394).
- The conviction rate in rape-related cases stood at 27.2% even though the rate of filing charge sheets was 85.3% in such cases.
- Among union territories, Delhi recorded the highest number of rapes at 1,217 in 2018.
- NCRB data also points to offenders being known to victims in a whopping 94% of cases.
From 223 cases of rape with murder in 2017, the count increased to 291 in 2018.
- Reasons: It is possible that inclusion of the death penalty for punishment against rape encourages the perpetrator to kill the victim.
- Farm suicides: The NCRB’s Accidental Death and Suicides in India 2018 report said that 10,349 people working in the farm sector ended their lives in 2018, accounting for 7.7 % of the total number of suicides in the country.
- The total number of people who committed suicide in 2018 has increased by 3.6% from 2017.
More murder cases: A total of 29,017 cases of murder were registered in 2018, showing an increase of 1.3% over 2017 (28,653 cases).
Offences against public tranquillity: A total of 76,851 cases of offences against public tranquillity were registered in 2018, out of which rioting, 57,828 cases, accounted for 75.2% of total such cases, the report said.
- While riot cases due to communal, political, agrarian and student issues declined over 2017, riots arising out of industrial and water disputes rose sharply.
- Cases of attempts at inciting passions and stoking hatred: The data show offences promoting enmity different groups have been constantly rising.
- Riots perpetrated by vigilante groups have also been recorded by NCRB this time. However, it shows either a poor recording of such crimes or poor furnishing and categorisation of such data by State Crime Records Bureaus.
Cybercrimes: As many as 27,248 cases of cybercrimes were registered in 2018, up from 21796 cases in 2017.
The number of sedition cases has doubled across the country, as compared to 2016, while civilian deaths due to police action, according to the data, have dropped drastically from 786 in 2017 to 112 in 2018.
- In 2018, 1,182 cases were registered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) as compared to 901 cases in 2017. Similarly, 40 cases were registered under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) in 2018 as compared to 18 cases in 2017.
- Offences under the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act: They have seen a decline of over 10%. In 2018, UP topped the charts for offences under the Act.
Violent protests: until at least 2018 compared with 2017, public concerns were become more about economic issues than about politics. Almost 90% of all such offences were associated with rioting while the rest were under “Unlawful Assembly” (popularly known as Section 144).
- Unrest has grown among India’s youth: Protests led by students nearly doubled between 2014 and 2018, and a lot of it moved to north Indian states. Kerala continued to lead the charts with 214 incidents of “rioting” by students alleged by the police under Sections 147-151 of the Indian Penal Code.
Political killings: West Bengal is the state that recorded the maximum political killings in 2018.
Encounter deaths: Among states, the most number of civilian deaths, too were reported from Jammu and Kashmir in 2018 unlike in 2017, when the highest number of deaths were reported from Haryana (431 deaths), followed by Chhattisgarh (51 deaths) and then J&K.
Lodging of FIR:
- Court routed complaints: Ninety-nine per cent of complaints that are routed through a court are registered as FIRs, the data show.
- A written complaint has a better chance of being registered: The data show that 53% of written complaints were registered, while only 5% of oral complaints saw legal action by police. Complaints made through Dial 100 had only a 1% success rate.
- Complaints filed online, a new initiative by police in some states such as Delhi and UP, to have a very slim chance. In 2018, only 3% of complaints filed online were converted into FIRs.
- Reasons: While it is true that people with influence and contacts have better chances of getting their complaints registered, many complaints are not converted into FIRs because they are either not worth investigating or are found patently false on verification. Often the uneducated and unlettered are unable to get their complaints registered.
Toothless central commissions
- Only 4% of complaints sent to the National Human Rights Commission or State Human Rights Commissions ended up being converted into FIRs.
- The Commissions for Scheduled Castes (both in the states and at the Centre) fare no better. Only 7% of complaints registered with them were converted into FIRs.
- For the Commissions for Scheduled Tribes, the number was worse — only 5%. In 2018, a total of 880 complaints were received by these Commissions, but only 48 were converted into FIRs.
- Only 5% of complaints received by National and State Commissions for Women were converted into FIRs in 2018.
- Children Welfare Boards/Commission had a success rate of 20%.
- In contrast, complaints of which police took suo moto cognizance had a success rate of 80%.
- Overall, complaints sent to police through various sources had a success rate (of turning into an FIR) of just 26%.
Offences under liquor and narcotics drugs-related acts: Punjab has the maximum (3574) convicts lodged in its jails for committing offences under liquor and narcotics drugs-related acts under Special and Local Laws (SLL) as per the Prison Statistics India 2018 report.
Corruption Cases: Maharashtra recorded the highest number of corruption cases for three years in a row—2016 to 2018 but the conviction rate in 2018 was abysmally low at 15%.
- Pendency of corruption and vigilance cases in court was as high as 93%.
- Lenient Departmental action: NCRB data shows that 18 officials were dismissed from service and only two awarded major punishment in 2018.
- Freedom of reporting corruption cases: Over 930 cases were registered in 2018 in Maharashtra, while Uttar Pradesh registered just 84 cases.
Delay in forensic reports: if the report gets delayed, the charge sheet is delayed.
Prison statistics: Of the 4,66,084 prisoners as of December 31, 2018, 1,39,488 (30%) were convicts and over 69% (3,23,537) were undertrials. Less than 1% comprised detenues and other inmates.
- Overcrowded jails: The occupancy rate in prisons has grown from 113.7% to 117.6%. This is largely due to the increase in the number of undertrials.
- Undertrials: Of the 4,66,084 prisoners as of December 31, 2018, 1,39,488 (30%) were convicts and over 69% (3,23,537) were undertrials. Less than 1% comprised detenues and other inmates.
- The number of undertrial prisoners increased from 2,93,058 in 2016 to 3,23,537 in 2018, or 10.4%.
- Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of undertrials at 75,206, followed by Bihar (31,488) and Maharashtra (26,898) at the end of 2018.
- Nearly 2,000 children were living in jails in India along with their imprisoned mothers, as of December 31, 2018.
- While 1,732 women prisoners had children with them, the total number of women prisoners in India was 19,242.
- Convicts: Among the states, UP had the highest number of convicts, at 28,660 or 20.5% of the total in 2018.
Pendency in police investigation: National average is 28%. Pendency rate is calculated as cases pending investigation at the end of the year as a percentage of total cases registered for investigation in the same year.
Among Special and Local Laws (SLL), that includes various acts related to forest, excise, pollution, food and drugs, passport etc, with 44% pendency rates, among big states, Punjab ranks before states like Assam (60.9%), Jharkhand (51.1%) and Jammu and Kashmir (50.9%).
Judicial pendency-Justice delayed: The conviction rate in Indian Penal Code crimes has touched 50?ter three decades.
- But the criminal justice system is still failing to up its game when it comes to crimes against women. In rape cases, the conviction rate is just 27%.
- Police have claimed a high charge sheeting rate of 85% in rape cases. But courts are failing rape survivors by being able to dispose of just 11.3% of cases brought to trial.
Analysis of the report
- The crime rate is a better indicator as it takes the size of the population into account. A state like UP would always have a higher number of crimes, but its rate is low because of the high population.
- Higher crime rate may not always indicate poor law and order: A police force registering a higher number of crimes will show a higher rate on its books than a force refusing to register FIRs.
- Shifting trends in causes of riots: The overall number of cases has dropped, driven by a decline in riot cases over communal and political issues. On the other hand, cases due to industrial and water disputes have multiplied.
- The economic slowdown and a recurring water crisis in rural belts: it is generally seen that stressed sectors see more law and order issues. In 2016 there was a massive spike in agrarian riots which had a backdrop of the farm crisis.
- Some states are better than others in tracking and registering crimes: It is also a reflection of the fact that crime reporting, follow-up and subsequent steps in trial and punishment are much better undertaken in these states like Kerala.
- Better reporting could also perhaps explain why there is a 15% increase in the total crimes against women across all States, but the fact that this number went up by 66% in a large State such as Uttar Pradesh must be cause for concern.
- Crimes against women fell 20.8% in Delhi: The fall in these numbers, corresponding to the general increase in crimes, could reflect the outcomes of better gender sensitisation in the capital region.
- In the capital city region, the number of cognisable crimes has steadily increased.
- The low conviction rate of 27% in rape cases: If those accused of rape are being acquitted in seven out of ten cases, it hints at police and prosecutors failing to put up a convincing case before judges.
- As cases get delayed during the trial, it becomes harder for rape survivors and their families to resist pressures mounted by the accused.
- The ‘Crime in India’ reports released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2017 and 2018 continue to fail in providing data on cases filed under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (PEMSR) Act of 2013.
- Even the NCRB report of 2015 listed The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act of 1993 instead of the PEMSR Act that came into force in 2013.
- 282 deaths in three years: the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment said that 282 deaths while cleaning sewers were reported in the country from 2016 till the first week of November 2019 as per data available with National Commission for Safai Karamcharis.
- Tamil Nadu topped the list with 40 deaths.
- The unavailability of data on manual scavenging was in conflict with the transparency in governance.
- The increase in the number of murders across States: The finding in the 2017 NCRB report that northeastern States such as Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya have a relatively higher murder rate compared to most States bears itself out in 2018 as well.
- The other States which have a worrisome record here include Jharkhand (4.6 murders per one lakh population, the highest in the country) and Haryana (3.9). Among cities, Patna (4.4) has an egregious murder rate.
- Delay in prosecution in corruption cases: In graft-trap cases, the competent authority for the sanction depends upon the class of the officer trapped. If it’s a class I officer, the sanction is required from the government, which either takes a really long time or may even be rejected. This makes it tough to prosecute.
- Undertrials and overcrowding of jails: Concerned that as many as 69 per cent prisoners in the "overcrowded" jails across India are undertrials, the Supreme Court has sought urgent steps for early conclusion of cases against them.
- Rampant corruption at the grass-roots level in the police and political interference in police functioning is the main reason behind such a poor show of disposal of cases registered under the IPC.
- Protests: Such protests regularly highlight crucial issues of students’ rights, inclusive education, women’s empowerment, discrimination in higher education and concerns over employment.
- Judicial pendency: Unfortunately, fast track courts could dispose of just 21.5% of cases in less than a year while 42.5% of cases took over three years and 17% over five years. The idea wasn’t bad but the execution failed: too few courts were initially set up and pendency multiplied.
- Without methodological clarity, policymaking is a challenge: There is opacity surrounding the methodology for collection and compilation makes the data.
- Non-disclosure of socio-economic reasons: Socio-economically marginalised people are known to repeatedly come in conflict with the law and are routinely arrested and released on mere suspicion.
- 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.
- No offence-wise data on undertrials and convicts: This data is important for the rehabilitation policies are especially important since 94.4% of those entering the criminal justice system were arrested for the first time.
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.
- Disclosure of concealed data: The government must proactively provide data on important issues instead of furnishing data under unnecessary crime heads.
- Handling student activism: They indicate a failure by the Centre and the states in addressing the concerns of those in the 18-30 years age group. Notably, the National Youth Policy, launched in February 2014, proposed a holistic ‘vision’ for the youth to help them achieve their full potential.
- Handling corruption: The only dampener for a corrupt public servant is his naming and shaming in the media following arrest. It would bring down his morale from indulging in corruption.
- Strengthening undertrial review committees (UTRCs) for undertrials: Set up in every district, UTRCs deliberate and recommend the release of undertrial prisoners as also of those convicts who have undergone the sentence or are entitled to be released due to bail or remission granted to them.
- Tackling Rape cases: the degree of legal punishment must be calibrated to correspond with the degree of crime to achieve the best results. Punishment must be speedy for deterrent effect.
- Judicial reforms, if taken seriously, expeditious and effective justice can see alleviate the plight of the victims.
The goal of the government should be better governance and crime prevention.
About the 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.
Also read: NCRB Report On Crime In India