Government initiates time-bound action plan to strengthen the police and administration to combat sexual crimes against women
The Government has initiated a time bound action plan to combat crimes against women. A number of steps have been outlined to improve and strengthen the police and administrative system to ensure that crimes against the women are prevented through quick action, a gender sensitive response mechanism and greater accountability of the enforcement agencies.
The Ordinance promulgated by the President on February 3, 2013 deals with the amendments in the criminal law. These measures are in addition to the Ordinance and cut across various ministries.
The Cabinet Secretary has held a series of meetings recently with senior officials of the concerned Ministries to formulate an action plan within an indicated time frame. Secretaries of seven key ministries have been directed to personally monitor the implementation of these measures and report every month to the Cabinet Secretary and the Prime Minister’s Office. The measures outlined deal with changes in the police system, a review of the Motor Vehicles Act, measures to make responses to crimes against women efficient and sensitive and other administrative measures.
The steps outlined include the following:
1. NCRB will compile a database of persons convicted of criminal offences. The details of criminals convicted of crimes against women will be displayed on their website.
2. Action will be taken to provide the facility of registering an FIR in any police station irrespective of the jurisdiction or area of the time. The FIR may thereafter be transferred to the concerned police station for investigation. This will pertain to serious crimes including issues against women.
3. It is important that citizens should not face any harassment when they come forward to assist women in distress. For this, such citizens should be protected to enable them to freely report a crime and assist the victim/police without being subjected to any interrogation or being forced to become witnesses.
4. ‘Women Only’ buses should be pressed into service. A programme is proposed to be undertaken for encouraging more women driven buses/taxis all over the country.
5. The existing Motor Vehicle Regulations will be reviewed.
6. It has been reported that in some instances vehicles have factory-fitted glasses wherein the tint is more than the permissible limit. Secretary, MoRT&H, in consultation with technical experts and police representatives, will examine what should be the maximum permissible level of tinting in the glasses in public transport buses. The use of curtains will be reviewed taking into account the need for passenger comfort and visibility required for security purposes. MoRT&H proposes to appropriately revise the standards and ensure compliance by the manufacturers of these buses.
7. There is need for 100% verification for drivers/conductors/helpers (the entire crew) of the public transport vehicles, plying in Delhi in a time bound programme which will include collecting bio-metrics of all such persons as well. For this, action will be taken to review the relevant Rules for mandating the same. Ministry of Home Affairs would develop a protocol over a defined time frame, for verification of the crew of public transport vehicles and suitable advise the State Governments also to undertake the same. After the stipulated time frame, no public transport vehicle will be allowed to be driven/manned by any driver/conductor/helper or other crew member unless such a person has been verified and carries the verification certificate/identity permit.
8. Owners of buses will be held responsible for compliance of the steps outlined. It is also necessary to debar owners of vehicles involved in repeat offences from retaining existing permits/obtaining any fresh permits for plying public transport vehicles and for impounding of vehicles involved in repeat offences. MoRT&H/State Governments will initiate action in this regard. The particulars of the bus owner/drivers and details of permit and license shall be prominently displayed in the buses both inside and outside, at places where it is prominently visible in easily readable fonts. Use of GPS devices in all public transport vehicles is necessary along with setting up of a control room to monitor movement of buses. Ministry of Road Transport & Highways would issue an appropriate advisory to all the States in this regard.
9. There is need to increase the quantum of fines leviable on violation of permit conditions and to disallow compounding of offences beyond a certain number
10. Delhi Government will issue a draft notification for revising the permit for public transport vehicle incorporating provisions for disallowing use of inappropriate films and tinted glasses, higher punishment for repeat offences and other necessary measures. The final notification will be issued within a month.
11. Secretary, MoRT&H will write to all the States regarding the revision/changes in the Permit conditions being made by the Government of Delhi and request them to take similar measures.
12. At the time of inspection of police stations, it should be mandatory for the inspecting officer to specifically record his findings regarding the gender sensitivity of the personnel posted in the police station as well as the record of the police station/SHO in registering/investigating complaints of crimes against women, and for checking whether women are being discouraged from lodging complaints in the police stations.
13. Strict action will be taken against police personnel and officers found to be either displaying bias against women or neglecting their supervisory responsibilities in this regard.
14. There is a continual need for gender sensitization among the police force, particularly at the level of the constabulary on beat duty or at the police stations. There is need for impressing that there has to be a complete cessation of gender insensitive comments. For this, training courses need to be organized on a regular basis by the police. Strict disciplinary action will be taken against any official indulging in gender bias. Action taken in this regard has to be reported at every level. If action is not found to be taken against an erring official, the supervisory officer will be held accountable. Instructions in this regard will be issued and compliance ensured.
15. At all levels, it will be made mandatory for a reporting officer to comment upon on the gender sensitivity of the police personnel reported upon in the Annual Performance Appraisal Report. It will be emphasized and ensured that remarks in this regard are based on specific instances of behavior and are not reduced to a ritualistic yes/no. When considering postings or promotions of police personnel, the attitude towards women should specifically be taken into account.
16. There is an imperative need to recruit more women in the police force. Women will need to be recruited in large numbers in the Delhi Police. MHA will take necessary action to obtain necessary approvals within this financial year. Action would, similarly, need to be taken in the States as well, to recruit more women in the police force. In order to incentivize the States in this regard, MHA will formulate a suitable proposal/scheme within four weeks and obtain necessary approvals.
17. There is need for additional PCR vans in Delhi. A proposal for 370 such vans has been sent by Delhi Police. Approval in this regard is proposed to be expedited within this financial year.
18. It would be proposed to have lady police personnel in at least some PCR vans, such as those deployed in the vicinity of educational institutions, cinema halls, malls and markets, as also the routes frequented by women employees of BPOs returning from work at night. Over time, it is planned to have some more ‘all women’ police stations.
19. It is also planned to further develop and promote community policing. This would not only augment the effectiveness of the police force but would also motivate the responsible persons in each locality to perform their duty as citizens.
20. A number of cameras are in the process of being installed and at present a CCTV system is functional at 34 markets and 4 border check posts in Delhi. There is, however, an imperative need to further increase the number of CCTVs in public places. For this, the police will elicit the cooperation of all stakeholders, such as traders’ associations, RWAs, managers of commercial/office buildings, malls, cinemas, NGOs, etc. who will be encouraged to install and maintain CCTVs of approved specifications in an outside their premises. Similar action also needs to be taken in all States.
21. There is a need for increased focus on street lighting in public places. Civic bodies must undertake a review of the existing facilities and strengthen these wherever required.
22. Department of Women and Child Development will implement a scheme to provide compensation to victims of sexual assault and also a scheme for setting up Crisis Response Centres in select hospitals to provide psychological and other assistance to the victims of sexual assault. The proposed scheme will be implemented in a pilot phase in 100 districts from 2013-14.
23. The Government proposes to put in place a countrywide three-digit number (such as 100) to respond to all emergency situations. This would be similar like 911 or 990 Emergency Management Systems in vogue in many developed countries. Such a service would be available to subscribers of all telecom service providers as at present there are different telephone numbers being used for responding to different situations or target groups. It is, therefore, proposed to have a system where there is a one point of contact available to a person in distress of any kind. Also, once a call is made to this number, the caller should not be asked to contact some other special/emergency number. Instead, the call should seamlessly be transferred from the single point of contact to the appropriate distress line. Ministry of Home Affairs in coordination with the D/o Telecom will, by the end of February 2013, come up with a basic concept note on how the system will be established and will operate.
24. In addition to the general emergency response helpline, there would be a helpline dedicated to responding to women in distress. This helpline should have a unique three digit number across the country. For this purpose, the number 181 may be operationalized all over the country.
25. The negative, stereotyped and/or indecent portrayal of women in movies, television shows and advertisements has been a matter of concern for long. It would be helpful if all stakeholders were to be continuously engaged with in this regard. There is also a need to have a sustained media campaign of public interest advertisements.
26. The role of value education in schools is recognized as being very important. However, merely prescribing it in the curricula/syllabus is not adequate. Teachers should be given training in value education. Sustained awareness campaigns on gender equality need to be undertaken in all schools and colleges and gender modules need to be integrated in the curriculum at every level.
27. It would be useful to impart training to girls in educational institutions in self defence/martial arts.