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NEW DELHI: A 19-year-old allegedly abducted and raped by four men in Bhopal last week is not the only woman to have been turned away by police instead of registering a case immediately.
Around 75 per cent of the population avoids reporting a crime as they feel unhappy with the way cops behave with complainants, especially women and marginalised sections, a study on “Non-registration of crimes: Problems and solutions” has stated.
The study conducted by a team led by Dr Arvind Tiwari of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, for the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), concludes that treatment of women complainants needs considerable improvement and that the poor do not get a fair shake.
Police seems to be “overlooking” illiterate and poor people and 33 per cent of their complaints were either registered as non-cognisable offences and 25 per cent as daily diary (DD) entries. They were not apprised of fate of their complaints either.
The study says management of crime statistics by police functionaries is linked to performance appraisals and this was an important reason for non-registration of crimes. “Burking (smothering) of crime is rampant all over,” it says, adding that if non-registration of crimes is computed, it may mean that less than 10 per cent crimes are being registered.
About political influence as a reason for the reluctance of the police to register cases, the study says, “The crime graphs have had negative impact on the performance of not only the police but also governments in power. In certain states, the political executives openly insisted on burking of crime in order to show lowering of crime.” The research cites the example of BSP leader Mayawati stating that as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, she suspended senior officers for inability to control crime.
The study particularly comments on Uttar Pradesh that there is a lot of interference from local-level politicians and duty officers (in police stations) are vocal about their discontent. It adds that “there was a tradition to touch feet of a person in authority or senior in rank (in UP police). In police stations also, generally complainants as well as accused were found touching feet of sub-inspector and SHO”.
Another major problem highlighted in the study is dilemma of cognisable and non-cognisable nature of offences and general public’s ignorance about the difference between them.
After talking to several police officers, general public, lawyers, judges, NGOs and media persons, researchers found that “victims usually nurse a grudge against the police that gravity of their cases were either reduced or made into non-cognisable, in a bid to control the crime graph”.
The non-cognisable and cognisable offences are classified separately according to Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). The study says the nicety of this classification is not known to an average citizen and sometimes even educated ones, leading to police minimising the complaint.
Another major problem cited for non-registration of crimes is lack of adequate manpower and heavy workload in police stations, which prompted the cops to avoid more work by registering all the crimes.
“Strangely, but as a matter of fact, police continue to be under ‘non-plan’ budget and governments are always less inclined to spend more money on police,” the study says. Shortages of staff, infrastructure and transport impact crime registration, investigation and filing of charge-sheets resulting in almost 50 per cent cases ending in acquittals.