Odishatv Bureau

New Delhi: Eight years after the Nirbhaya case of gang-rape and murder of a physiotherapy student shook the conscience of the nation and led to hanging of four rapists earlier this year, the conviction rate in rape cases still remains abysmal despite stringent anti-rape laws in place.

As per the recent National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, the conviction rate for rape cases remained at 27.8 per cent in 2019. Out of a total of 1,62,741 rape cases which went to trial in 2019, the court convicted people in only 4,640 cases.

In 2018, however, the rate was 27.2 per cent, down from 32.2 per cent in 2017 and 23.9 per cent the year before that. According to legal experts, one of the reasons why criminals do not get convicted is poor investigation by the police, family pressure on victims, hostility of witnesses and complainants, absence of forensic labs and fast-track courts.

Advocate Aparna Bhatt, former member of Delhi's rape crisis cell, said that the conviction rate will go up only when a support system is created for complainants. "They should be able to complain in a proper way. Thereafter, support should be given through a medical examination and in the court," she emphasised.

Advocate Geeta Luthra, however, said, "It is low because the investigation is very poorly conducted without any scientific tools, forensic and medical evidence of the victim or the accused. As a result, because of the risk of false implication in cases where the investigation is not being done with scientific tools, the rate of conviction in all cases in India gets lower."

The United Nations Children's Fund on Monday revealed that Dalit girls and women face multiple barriers to justice in India, with conviction rate for rapes against Dalit women being under two per cent as compared to a much higher conviction rate in rape cases against all women.

The Nirbhaya case is one such case in which not only were the culprits convicted but were also hanged by the noose. Condemned convicts -- Vinay, Akshay, Pawan and Mukesh were executed on March 20 at 5:30 a.m., over seven years after the crime took place in the national capital.

The case pertains to the gruesome rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, later dubbed 'Nirbhaya', by six men in a moving bus on December 16, 2012. She had succumbed to her injuries 13 days later.

The attackers inserted rods inside her vagina and ripped her intestines apart. The brutality of the crime shook the nation to the core, leading to widespread protests and a drastic change in the country's rape laws.

After the Nirbhaya incident, Justice J.S. Verma Committee formed the basis of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2013 to set the maximum punishment for rape as death penalty rather than life imprisonment.

In 2013, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 was promulgated by then President Pranab Mukherjee which provided for the death penalty in cases of rape. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 was also passed, allowing for juveniles in conflict with law, involved in heinous offences, to be tried as adults.

(With IANS Inputes)

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