Is the Karnataka government serious about studying crimes against women?

Ugrappa said that he had taken it up against his will and that he was ready to quit
Is the Karnataka government serious about studying crimes against women?
Is the Karnataka government serious about studying crimes against women?
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The resignation of a member of a committee formed to study crimes against women and children has exposed a lack of clarity of purpose in the committee. 

On Saturday, BJP MLC Tara Anuradha resigned from the committee, over alleged delay in the release of the draft report.

The committee, which was formed in August 2014 under the chairmanship of JD (S) leader MC Nanaiah, was supposed to study crimes against women and children and submit a report containing its findings, also suggest amendments to laws related to sexual assault cases and propose an increase in quantum of punishment.  It was formed against the backdrop of a spate of sexual assaults children in the state. However, the deadline for the report was postponed by several months.

A comprehensive report was never brought out for various reasons which included the resignation M C Nanaiah for personal reasons said member of the committee Vimala KS.

An uninterested chairperson

Following this, the government appointed Congress MLC VS Ugrappa at the end of May 2015. He assumed office on June 4, 2015.

Ugrappa told The News Minute that he that the committee faced several problems.

“In my appointment order in May 2015, there was neither a time limit for the committee (to do its work) and nor were there any directions as to what the government was expecting from the committee. Sky is the limit for the terms and conditions given by the government for the committee. They are very vague. They have not given us a boundary as to what our research should exactly constitute,” he claimed.

Ugrappa also claimed that he was asked to take up the position because nobody in the cabinet was interested, and because no one had a legal background in the committee except him. He said that he had taken it up against his will and that he was ready to quit.

Government has been vague about its intent

 Vague intentions

Ugrappa said, “This committee was not constituted under any provision of law. On the decision of the committee members, a few months ago I asked for a clarification from the government on which legal provision this committee was constituted, what its powers were and as to what exactly they wanted the committee to do?” 

However, the reply from the government was very vague, because of which the committee itself lacked focus, he said.

“They said it is just a committee constituted and you have to give a report as per the terms and conditions. They also mentioned that they would want a report on or before December 31, 2015,” he said.

Ugrappa’s role as chairman and findings

Based on the government’s reply, Ugrappa decided to visit every district in the state instead of all 160 taluks. There were many lapses that he spotted at several levels.

“My plan was to collect information from the Deputy Commissioners and other district level officers and bring out a report. This would require some time. In any case I plan to submit an interim report that would address selected issues, like education department, private vehicles, watchmen etc., by December 2015,” he said.

“Basically people appoint teachers, watchmen, drivers without checking their antecedents. The reason being they are available for meagre salaries. We are asking for a proper system to be set up in which the police would give a certificate for these people coming from other states for these jobs,” he said.

According to Ugrappa, the members have visited about seven districts in the last five months. Their findings are:

In every district, the conviction rate of rape cases under is less than 5 percent and many are pending since 2005. Most witnesses turn hostile, which is also an offence, but the police just close the case. In many cases, compensation has not been given to the victims.

No police station has maintained a proper record of missing, kidnapped and trafficked children.

The committees to study the prevention of crimes against women and children formed in the departments of women and child development, police or the prosecution are now defunct, he added.

The question that now arises is how a committee, which has no proper focus and one that is headed by a reluctant chairman, going to suggest workable measures to prevent crimes against women and children in the state. 

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