728 OSC centres to deal with crime against women: MHA to LS

NEW DELHI:

A total of 728 One Stop Centres (OSCs) have been approved by the government to assist women affected by violence and and 2.27 lakh women have been benefited by these centres across the country so far, Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy informed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

In a written reply, Reddy said 595 OSC centres are operational in the country under the scheme being implemented across the country since April 1, 2015 which is exclusively designed to provide integrated services such as medical aid, police assistance, legal counselling or court case management, psycho-social counselling and temporary shelter to women affected by violence under one roof.

The Minister replied to a question raised by Biju Janata Dal's Bhartruhari Mahtab and BJP's former ally Shiv Sena's Rahul Ramesh Shewale.

Reddy said that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in its publication "Crime in India-2017" had showed that there was "no trend" regarding increased rate of crime against women and minor girls in the country during each of the last three years and the current year.

The Minister said that the government has taken a number of other initiatives for prevention and speedy investigation relating to cases of sexual assault like "The Criminal Law (Amendment), Act 2013" which was enacted for effective deterrence against sexual offences.

Further, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 was enacted to prescribe even more stringent penal provisions including death penalty for rape of a girl below the age of 12 years, said Reddy, adding, the act also inter alia mandates completion of investigation and trials within two months each.

Other Centre's step include Emergency Response Support System which provides a pan-India, single, internationally recognized number (112) based system for all emergencies, with computer aided dispatch of field resources to the location of distress, he said.

Using technology to aid smart policing and safety management, the Minister said Safe City Projects have been sanctioned in the first phase in eight cities (Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow and Mumbai).

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had also launched a cyber-crime portal on September 20, 2018 for citizens to report obscene content," said the Minister.

"The MHA had also launched the "National Database on Sexual Offenders" (NDSO) on September 20, 2018 to facilitate investigation and tracking of sexual offenders across the country by law enforcement agencies."

In order to facilitate states and Union Territories, the MHA on February 19, 2019 launched an online analytic tool for police called "Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences" to monitor and track time-bound investigation in sexual assault cases in accordance with the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2018, Reddy mentioned.

To improve investigation, the Minister said, the MHA has taken steps to strengthen DNA analysis units in Central and state forensic science laboratories which includes setting up of a state-of-the art DNA analysis unit in Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Chandigarh.

"MHA has also sanctioned setting-up and upgrading of DNA analysis units in state forensic science laboratories in 13 states and Union Territories," he said.

MHA has notified guidelines for collection of forensic evidence in sexual assault cases and the standard composition in a sexual assault evidence collection kit, Reddy said.

To facilitate adequate capacity in manpower, training and skill building programs for investigation officers, prosecution officers and medical officers has commenced, said the Minister, adding 6,023 officers have already been trained by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) and Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science in collection, handling and transportation of forensic evidence.

BPR&D has distributed 3,120 sexual assault evidence collection kits to states and Union Territories as orientation kit as part of training.

"The MHA have issued advisories from time to time with a view to help the states and Union Territories to deal with crimes against women."