Bhubaneswar, Jan. 11: A day after the state government’s decision to expedite investigations into rape and molestation cases and complete them within 60 days, citizens from all walks of life have upheld it, while some members of the intelligentsia not only suggested some valuable measures but pointed out loopholes also.
Additional commissioner of police Santosh Bala said: “The fast trails will make sure that cases are closed earlier. The decision to create women-specific cells and more sub-inspector posts is a welcome move. The visible change will be the brisk-paced trials but in the long run it will have a positive impact on society.”
Youngsters see a gleam of hope in the decision. “A quick disposal of such cases is definitely a crucial step for bringing justice to hundreds of rape victims,” said Tanima Banerjee, a blogger on social issues.
Sanjay Kumar Mohanty, a civil service aspirant, echoes same sentiments. “This decision will go a long way not only in ensuring justice to the victims but also acting as a deterrent to crimes as heinous as rape. A round-the-clock helpline for women, establishment of women police station in every block and police patrolling in civil dress in vulnerable areas are a few measures that can instil a sense of safety and security.”
Ridhima Shukla, a journalism student of IIMC, Dhenkanal, championed the decision. She said: “Setting up fast-track courts to look into violence against women will help solve the cases that drag on indefinitely. Also, soliciting woman sub-inspectors at police stations would relieve the victims of at least some of the psychological trauma.”
She suggested introduction of gender sensitisation modules in institutes and colleges and launch of a helpline for women in trouble among other steps the government could take.
Actress Anu Choudhury believes that the feeling of impunity is one reason such crimes take place. “These criminals think they can get away with anything. Stringent laws and speedy trials will ensure these dastardly acts don’t go unpunished,” she said.
Lipsa Das, a corporate employee, feels that even though 60 days is quite long, it is definitely faster compared to the years that a case can stretch to. “Until the entire process of probe and then the sentence is made fast, women will feel unsafe to come out of their houses,” said Das.
The motion has brought police and judiciary at loggerheads. Former director general of police Gopal Nanda said: “The cases that are delayed are not because of the investigations but dragging trials. Earlier, rape cases were charge sheeted in seven to eight months; presently it is done in two months. But, expediting probe has no use till the trials are expedited.”
Advocate Saswati Mohapatra countered that imposing a time on the trial would be pressuring the courts.
“A trial cannot be done in a hurried manner. We must look to convict the guilty and not increase the conviction rate,” said Mohapatra.
Both Nanda and Saswati highlighted the staff crunch in their sectors.
While Nanda said until the law and order wing is separated from the investigation wing, the move seems far-fetched, Saswati pointed out there was no adequate staff in fast-track courts.