In a first-of-its-kind, Indian Government has released a ‘registry of sex offenders’ which contain complete information of convicted sex offenders across the country.
KEY-HIGHLIGHTS OF THE REGISTRY
- Sex Offender Registry is basically a theory through which a database is maintained to help aid officials track and monitor sex offenders
- Nodal Agency: The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will be the nodal agency to maintain the sex-offenders’ registry.
- Data storage: The offenders will be classified by their criminal history to ascertain if they pose a serious danger to the society. This registry will store data for:
- 15 years in the case of those classified as posing “low danger”.
- 25 years for those presenting “moderate danger”.
- Through the lifetime for “habitual offenders”, violent criminals, convicts in the gang rape and custodial rapes.
WHAT DOES IT CONTAIN
- This national sex offenders’ registry contains names, photographs, residential addresses, fingerprints, DNA samples, Aadhaar and PAN numbers of those convicted sexual offenders.
- The database will contain more than 4.5 lakh cases, including profiles of first time and repeat offenders, based on the details compiled from prisons across the country.
- The “Registry of Sex Offender” will store information on arrested and charge-sheeted offenders but with a clause that limits access to officers with the requisite clearance. At a later stage, juvenile offenders are also likely to be included in the database.
- This crucial decision to set up such a database was taken in April this year following nationwide outrage over cases of sexual assault on minors, including the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu & Kashmir’s Kathua.
- The Union Cabinet has subsequently promulgated the Criminal Law Ordinance 2018, for the death penalty to be handed out to those convicted of raping children below 12 years of age.
SEX OFFENCES IN INDIA
- India has one-fifth of the world’s child population and unfortunately, the country also has the largest number of child sexual abuse cases registered in the world.
- In December 2017, a government study had revealed that a child is sexually abused every five minutes in the country.
- According to the National Crime Records Bureau, there has been a 3 percent increase in crimes against women and a 12 percent rise in rapes in 2016, as compared to 2015.
- As many as 38,947 rape cases were registered in 2016, up from 34,651 in 2015.
- Overall, cases of crimes against women rose from 3,29,243 in 2015 to 3,38,954 in 2016.
WHAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS DONE SO FAR
The Government has made changes to the present rape law in place under the criminal law including the IPC, Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc), Evidence Act and POCSO Act.
- Minimum punishment in case of rape of women has been increased from the rigorous imprisonment of 7 years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.
- In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of life, which shall mean imprisonment till that person’s natural life.
- Gang rape (under 16 years of age): The punishment for the gang-rape of a girl under 16 years of age will invariably be imprisonment for the rest of life of the convicts.
- Stringent punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years has been provided – minimum 20 years’ imprisonment or imprisonment for rest of life or with death.
- Gang rape(under 12 years of age): In the case of gang rape of a girl below 12 years, punishment will be imprisonment for the rest of life or death sentence.
- In India, executions are rarely carried out here, with just three recorded in the last decade. In the Nirbhaya case, the four men convicted were sentenced to death, though this has not been carried out yet.
- Hanging is the main method of execution in the country. The last person to be executed in India (2015) was a man convicted of financing the deadly 1993 bombings.
NEED BEHIND THE REGISTRY
- In India, there have been instances in the past where the convicted sex offenders have committed the sexual crime multiple times.
- They have done the crime fearlessly as there was no central registry maintaining their records.
A MAJOR ACHIEVEMENT
- With the implementation of this registry, India has become the 9th such country in the world to do so.
- In the United States (US), the sex offender registry is available to the public, whereas, in India, Australia, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom (UK), New Zealand, Trinidad & Tobago, and South Africa, the registry will be available only to the law enforcement agencies of the country.
BENEFITS FOR INDIA
- Having such a database in the country, will not only act as a deterrent but also help the law enforcement agencies nab the offenders. This decision is certainly a major step in the right direction.
- It will help the law-enforcement agencies in identifying the repeat offenders, while people, would be aware of those involved in the sexual offence.
After the Nirbhaya rape case, the country was up in arms about the safety of women in the country. Though in the past 6 years, little has changed. Being a working woman, I also feel horrified by the fact that every 20 minutes, a woman is getting raped somewhere in the country. Well, if there will a list with all records of convicted sex offenders, it will ensure that rapists and sexual offenders are not employed by schools and other such institution where they can repeat their crime and are tracked throughout their life. The country really needed such a centralized record which will make it a lot easier for the police to track and apprehend serial offenders.