The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (PoA, Act) has been amended in 2015 to make it more effective. The amendments include new offences, re-phrased existing sections, expanded scope of presumptions, institutional strengthening which inter-alia includes establishment of Exclusive Special Courts and specification of Exclusive Special Public Prosecutors to exclusively try the offences under the PoA Act to enable expeditious disposal of cases, power of Special Courts and Exclusive Special Courts to take direct cognizance of offence and as far as possible, completion of trial within two months from the date of filing of the charge sheet, establishing rights of victims and witnesses, and strengthening preventive measures.
Several steps have been taken for increasing safety of women, which include, inter-alia:
- The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018 prescribes stringent punishment against rapes, including death penalty for offence of rape and gang rape as a woman below age of 12 years.
- Government has undertaken a project for developing an Emergency Response Support System based on a Pan-India 24X7 Helpline Number 112, which is accessible through call/SMS/email/panic button etc.
iii. Government has issued advisories to States/UTs to take measures for prevention of crimes against women, mandatory registration of FIRs, providing on-line complaint filing system, increasing representation of women in Police, gender sensitization of police, deployment of Special Mahila Police Volunteers, activating victim compensation fund, setting up of Anti-human Trafficking units, etc. Details of these advisories issued are available on website of Ministry of Home Affairs at https://mha.gov.in.
- A separate portal for Cyber-Crime against women and children has been commenced.
- In order to facilitate better investigation and prosecution in rape cases, modernization and capacity building of forensic labs has been undertaken.
- Government has approved safe-city projects for 8 cities to put in place comprehensive infrastructure, technological and community based interventions for women safety.
vii. Government has commenced development of a National Database on Sexual Offenders to facilitate investigation and tracking of sexual offenders across the country.
‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects under the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India. The responsibilities to maintain law and order, protection of life and property of the citizens rest primarily with the respective State Governments.
The State Governments are competent to deal with such offences under the extant provisions of laws. Recently Ministry of Home Affairs has issued advisories in this regard, which are available at www.mha.gov.in.
This was stated by the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Hansraj Gangaram Ahir in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha today.>