Stricter punishment for gang-rape, denial of bail for crime against women and lowering juvenile age limit to 16 are among the key recommendations made by top bureaucrats and police brass to the government.
The conference of Chief Secretaries and Director Generals of Police held in New Delhi on Friday has suggested increase in punishment for gang rape, setting up of Fast Track Courts, National data base for sexual offenders and amendments to CrPC, IPC and Juvenile Justice Act.
The conference also came out with the suggestions for gender sensitisation of police force, more recruitment of women in police, deployment of women police in every police station, single help line for women across the country, strengthening of forensic capabilities and community policing.
The top bureaucrats and police chief of all states have recommended that CrPC be amended to aim at speedy trials and when there is presumption of offence having been committed, discretion in grant of bail should be done away with.
They suggested that punishment for gang rape should be higher and Section 509 of IPC needs to be amended, besides amendment to Juvenile Justice Act to lower the age to 16 years and grading based on the magnitude of offence is necessary.
Placement agencies need to be brought under law.
The conference, convened by the Home Ministry in the wake of December 16 gang-rape of a girl in Delhi, recommended that fast track courts are necessary which should hold day to day hearing. It said the right of the victims should be defined and protected during the trial.
"Court procedure should prevent humiliation of the victim and character assassination must be stopped. There should be no adjournments once trial starts with day to day hearing. Rights of the victims should be defined. Judges and prosecutors should be women. Discretion in grant of bail for heinous offences should be removed. Prosecutor should be of the choice of the victim," the conference suggested.
It was suggested that there is a need to increase the number of response vehicles (Police Control Rooms) and Women PCRs could be started.
Women help desk need to be established in all police stations. Women help line should be toll free. Security of women in the trains should be ensured.
GPS system should be installed in buses. There should be single helpline number across the country. More women Police Stations need to be opened. Care centres for women who have no place to go at night should be started with the help of NGOs.
The senior civil and police officers suggested that investigation process is delayed mainly because of delay in forensic science reports and hence forensic capabilities needs to be strengthened. There is need for more Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for investigation.
Depending on the crime, investigation should be completed within 30 to 90 days and a time frame for filing charge sheet should be defined. Prosecution needs to be supported. Cases need to be registered as and when women reach a police station.
Recording of information should be only by women and if necessary by audio/video recording. Medical practitioner who examines a rape victim must be a woman. Police protection for the victim till the trial ends should be given, they sugested.
The conference emphasised that prevention is most important and there should be zero tolerance for petty offences as the offender can escalate in the crime ladder and especially for cases under section 509 of IPC.
Community policing should be introduced. National data base of sexual offenders should be initiated. Preventive sections of Cr PC should be used more and coordination between police and citizens needs to be ensured.
They recommended that accountability of police is essential, gender sensitisation to be made a part of the curriculum, if not done in Police Training Schools and Colleges.
"Awareness programmes are necessary. Expansion of civil Police is necessary and reluctance of women to join should be reduced by reserving posts for them in Police. Deputy Superintendent of Police should be the nodal officer for crime against women in every district," according to the recommendations.
One Additional Director General of Police should be designated as nodal officer in every state, they sugested.
The day-long conference was attended by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Union Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Kumari Selja, Union Ministers of State for Home RPN Singh and M Ramachandran and senior officers from the Center and State governments.
Earlier, Shinde had said that the recommendations of the conference will be placed for consideration before the Justice Verma Committe which was set up to review the law and suggested its amendment for enhanced punishment for crime against women and speedier justice.
The Committee was constituted on December 23 and given one month time to come out with the recommendations.