New Delhi: In a first, the government on Thursday came out with a National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO), containing a list of 4.5 lakh convicts with photos of about 3.5 lakh of them available.
The offenders face charges of rape, gangrape and eve-teasing.
The database, which was rolled out by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) along with Women and Child Development Ministry (WCD) here, will be maintained by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
The NDSO which is accessible only to law enforcement agencies will assist in effectively tracking and investigating cases of sexual offences and employee verification.
The registry which was approved by the Cabinet in April 2018 makes India the ninth country in the world to set up and maintain a national database of sexual offenders.
According to MHA, the state police have been requested to regularly update the database from 2005 onwards. The database includes name, address, photograph and fingerprint details for each entry. However, the database will not compromise any individual's privacy.
MHA has already released a grant of Rs. 94.5 crore to states/UTs for establishing cyber forensic-cum-training laboratories to strengthen cybercrime investigation and conduct training programmes to enhance capabilities of police officers, public prosecutors and judicial officers.
According to the WCD ministry, the sex offenders listed in the database will be classified on the basis of criminal history to ascertain if they pose a serious danger to the community.
"It is a matter of great pride and joy as two initiatives that my Ministry (WCD) and I had been pursuing for three years have been executed. The launch of National Registry of Sexual Offenders and Cybercrime Reporting Portal is one more step taken by our government for the safety of our women and children," Union WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi said.
Another web portal, "Cyber Crime Prevention Against Women and Children (CCPWC)", an initiative under the Nirbhaya Fund was also launched which will enable complainants in reporting cases without disclosing their identity.
"Government has taken several measures to check crime against Women and Children, including provision of stringent punishment and creation of modern forensics facilities to improve investigation, creation of the Women's Safety Division in the MHA and launching of Safe City projects for Women's Safety," Union MHA minister Rajnath Singh said.
The complaints registered through this portal will be handled by police authorities of respective State/UTs and complainants can also upload the objectionable content and URL to assist in the investigation by the state police.
The NCRB will proactively identify such objectionable content and take up with intermediaries for its removal. For this NCRB has already been notified as the Government of India agency to issue notices under the IT Act.
"A positive aspect of this portal is the provision for anonymous reporting, which will encourage more people to come forward with such complaints. This portal comes as a relief by providing time-bound solutions to a huge number of women and children who are being exploited in cyber space," Gandhi added.