The Delhi High Court has expressed dismay over the rise in sexual offence cases despite a new law providing for harsher punishment and rapped the Centre and the state government for not taking steps to create mass awareness among victims and others.
"Despite the recent mass protest after the Nirbhaya murder case, which led to the setting up of Justice J S Verma Committee and consequent amendments introduced by Parliament through the Criminal Amendment Bill 2013 to make (laws against) sex-related offences more stringent, yet no deterrence can be seen to bring down the ratio of such sexual crimes being perpetuated on women and children.
"There is thus an urgent and imperative need to sensitise the people through various mass awareness campaigns and social programmes to make them aware about the stringent laws and severity of the punishments provided for committing such ghastly crimes. This would ensure the confidence of women in the system and they would be in a better position to voice their concern," a bench of justices Kailash Gambhir and Sunita Gupta said.
The court also said despite its earlier order, neither Delhi government nor the central ministries of Home Affairs, Woman and Child Development and Information and Broadcasting has come out with the specific answer on creating awareness and sensitivity with regard to sexual offences. "Considering the fact that nothing specific has been pointed out either by the central government...and this clearly reflects that none of these government bodies has paid any heed to the suggestions given by this Bench as stated above and it is quite disturbing to find that government agencies are themselves not sensitized to take up these issues effectively, then how they will create sensitivity among the public," it said.
It asked Delhi government and central ministries to file reports in four weeks clearly spelling out the measures they have taken to create mass awareness through various means of communication.
The court's direction came while hearing a plea of a victim who was not paid Rs 3 lakh compensation till April 30.
The court had earlier asked the government agencies to take some effective steps to create mass awareness so that "the common masses get to know about all the relevant laws and statutes concerning women and children."
"There is a total revolution in the field of communication and through various means every individual can be easily accessed to make him aware about sex-related offences and the severity of punishment provided in such offences.
"We are disappointed to note that none of the government bodies has come forward to give a proper response to our suggestions," it said.
The bench also appointed senior advocate K K Sharma as an amicus curiae to assist it in future proceedings in the case.