The number of domestic violence cases in Gujarat rose by 1154 to 7812 in 2013 with the conviction rate of just 2.30% which is far below the national average in this category, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
Gujarat now ranks seventh with 7812 cases of domestic violence (DV) while 25th among 28 states in terms of conviction rate.
As per the NCRB data, the cases registered under section 498-A (offence by husband or relatives of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) of IPC rose by 17.3% in 2013 from 6658 in 2012.
Ironically, the state recorded the conviction rate of just 2.30% in 2013 against the national average of 16% in the DV category.
As per the data, 12283 cases of 'crime against women' were registered in Gujarat in 2013 and 64% of them were under the Domestic Violence Act. However, the conviction rate in DV cases fell by 1.2% to 2.30% against 3.50% in 2012.
In 2013, the country registered 1,18,866 cases of domestic violence with a rise of 11.6% from 1,06,527 cases in 2012, while the conviction rate rose from 15% in 2012 to 16%. Activists fighting for the rights of men and women have blamed a "slow pace of judiciary" and "discrepancies in the women-oriented laws" for the low conviction rate.
Amit Gupta, a men's rights activists and chairman of umbrella organisation, National Coalition of Men, said the low conviction rate is the fallout of lack of a "gender-neutral" law. "Gujarat falls amongst the five states who are lowest in terms of conviction rate. Most of the cases filed against men and their family members under section 498-A are false and are settled by extorting hefty sum from them. There is a pressing need to bring a 'gender-neutral' law to protect men from unnecessary harassment," Gupta said.
"A legal proceeding would take five to 15 years to wind up. Most of the people falling prey to such abuse of law are bread-winners and their families are left with no other options but to fall victim to this nexus of police, lawyers and wives," Gupta alleged.
A leading activist and city-based lawyer, Meena Jagtap blamed the "slow-paced" judicial system for the low conviction rate despite increase in the number of cases of domestic violence. "Judicial system is very slow which reduces the rate of conviction. In many incidents (domestic violence), compromises take place between parties concerned due to snail's pace at which the trials progress," Jagtap said.
She downplayed the allegations of misuse of section 498-A. "There may be false cases, but they exist under every law. This does not mean that each and every case of domestic violence is a false one," she added.