In the wake of growing outrage over a recent spurt in sexual assault cases, Karnataka government today decided to strengthen the Goonda Act to book rape accused under it and to set up 10 more fast track courts.
The decision came as a Police inspector was arrested today on charge of trying to dilute the case of alleged rape of a woman in a car here on July 10, as the issue of recent sexual assaults here rocked both the Houses of Legislature.
The outrage grew in intensity after the July 2 alleged rape of a six-year old girl student in a public school came to light on Tuesday, with Opposition BJP and other parties putting the government in the line of fire over the incidents.
"Government has decided to further strengthen the existing Goonda Act by way of amendment to book the accused who have committed rape in different cases in different places," Home Minister K J George told reporters after a high-level meeting of top police officers called by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
George said a proposal to amend the Goonda Act has been submitted to the Law Department and strict instructions issued to police officers to immediately file FIRs against the offenders allegedly involved in sexual assaults.
The government has decided to set up 10 more fast track courts in addition to the existing as many courts, he said adding Law Minister T B Jayachandra is already in talks with the Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court D H Waghela. "This will help in speedy disposal of rape cases," he added.
A Police inspector was meanwhile arrested on charge of trying to dilute the case of alleged rape of a 22-year-old woman in a car, invoking the amended relevant section in the IPC for the first time in the state.
Mohammad Rafique attached to Pulikeshinagar police station had been arrested, Siddaramaiah said, as the opposition BJP stepped up attack on government in the Assembly accusing it of trying to shield the policeman.
"It is a clear case of omission. He is arrested today," Sidddaramaiah said, adding it was for the first time that an Investigating Officer had been arrested in such a case.
The inspector was booked under section 166 (A) of the Indian Penal Code relating to non-recording of FIR regarding sexual offences as complained by the rape victim. The provision is stated to have been invoked for the first time in the state since an amendment was made to IPC after the rape and fatal assault of a 23-year-old woman physiotherapy intern in Delhi in 2012.
In the July 10 midnight incident, the woman who was sitting in a car with her friend near her apartment was allegedly abducted and raped by one of the four men who forcibly got into their car and took them away in the same vehicle to a nearby railway track and committed the crime.
In the Assembly, BJP members staged a walkout after they were dis-satisfied with the Chief Minister's reply on the recent sexual assault incidents.
The alleged rape of the minor girl by "unknown persons" at Vibgyor High School continued to evoke protests today by parents, who alleged involvement of its staffers, and some local pro-Kannada organisations in front of the institution.
He said government will take action against the school management as they disclosed the incident after a delay of 12 days. "It happened on July 2 and complaint was lodged on July 14. The school is also responsible," he said.
George said government had also decided to set up 10 more women police stations in the state by next year in addition to as many existing ones."We also intend to set up women's police stations in all districts," he said.
The government has instructed all senior police officers to conduct review meetings by visiting all police stations to tone up police responsibilities, George said.