New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the Delhi government to consider stringent punishment for the crime of snatching of chains and other valuables in the national capital.
The court asked the state government to file a report on whether it intends to amend the existing penal provisions since chain snatchings have become a serious problem.
The court also issued notice to Delhi Police and civic bodies and asked them to file their responses by December 14, the next date of hearing.
The court's direction came on a public interest litigation by advocate Prashant Manchanda who sought stringent punishment for those involved in snatchings in Delhi.
He said that neighbouring Haryana, in view of the seriousness of the problem, had provided for harsher punishment for those committing snatchings wherein provisions had been made in the Indian Penal Code to increase the jail term for offenders from five to 14 years along with fine, as against a maximum of three years earlier.
In Maharashtra, too, the punishment for snatchings has been made stringent and, in some cases, Mumbai Police has invoked the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, the petitioner said.
Manchanda told the court that chain snatchings in Delhi had recorded a six-fold increase. On an average, he said, there were 25 snatchings daily due to absence of effective laws and police indifference.
In Delhi, police books offenders under lighter provisions dealing with theft instead of robbery or dacoity, even though weapons are used to commit such crimes, he added.
"The offence of snatchings has almost become endemic. But the Delhi Police is either discouraging victims to refrain from lodging the FIRs or registering FIRs under trivial sections even when hurt is caused so as to minimise the crime rate. Further, the enactment of new laws in Haryana have forced such criminals to shift base to Delhi," he added.
Manchanda told the court that Delhi parks had become hubs of such crime and criminal elements frequented such places due to lack of vigilance.
A majority of public spaces and public parks are bereft of basic security, vigil, closed-circuit television and lighting, the petitioner alleged.