In Retrospect

Mosaic of malevolence

The voluminous data released by the National Crime Records Bureau, if subjected to a detailed micro-level analysis, can yield useful insights for charting out a suitable crime prevention policy for the country

The annual report on crime in India — a compilation of data on reported crimes during January 1-December 31, 2022 from across the country — was released, in three volumes, by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on December 3, 2023. Usually published by July or August annually, this year’s report became public only in December. The report includes statistics on offences ranging from crimes against women, Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), cybercrimes, etc. to economic and financial crimes.

Only police-recorded crime cases are being captured for the NCRB report, and the agency has followed the ‘Principal Offence Rule’ for counting of crime, which refers to the system of recording each criminal incident as one crime. If many offences are registered in a single FIR case, only the most heinous crime i.e., the one that attracts maximum punishment is considered as a counting unit. Crimes registered under Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Special & Local Laws (SLL) have been compiled. For compiling data, NCRB has arrived at the Crime Rates (Crime per lakh population) of States/UTs using the Mid-Year Projected Population of respective States/UTs of 2022, based on 2011 census.

This essay will restrict the analysis of the voluminous data under five categories of crime: overall crime rate and crimes committed against women, children, scheduled caste and scheduled tribes.

Key findings on overall crime rate

* NCRB report reveals that a total of 58,24,946 cognizable crimes comprising 35,61,379 Indian Penal Code (IPC) crimes and 22,63,567 Special & Local Laws (SLL) crimes were registered in 2022. It shows a decline of 4.5% in registration of cases over 2021. Percentage share of IPC was 61.1% while percentage share of SLL cases was 38.9% of total cognizable crimes during 2022. The registrations of cases under IPC and SLL Crimes have declined by 2.8% and 7.0% respectively over 2021. In 2022, the total crime rate declined to 422.2 from 445.9 in 2021.

* In 2022, the average crime rate of the states registered under IPC was 240.7. Compared to this, the average crime rate of the Union Territories (UT) was 848.4. Among the UTs, Delhi had the highest IPC crime rate of 1424.1 in 2022. The combined average IPC crime rate of the States and UTs was 258.1. In 2022, the average SLL crime rates for states and UTs were 166.8 and 69.6 respectively. The national SLL average was 164.1.

* The report also discloses that a total of 11,58,815 cases of offences affecting the human body were registered, which accounted for 32.5% of total IPC crimes during 2022, out of which hurt (6,27,676 cases) accounted for maximum cases i.e., 54.2%, followed by cases of causing death by negligence (1,59,096 cases, 13.7%) and cases of Kidnapping & Abduction (1,07,588 cases, 9.3%). The cases registered under offences against human body depict an increase of 5.3% in 2022 over 2021 (11,00,425 cases)

* A total of 1, 07,588 cases of kidnapping & abduction were registered during 2022, showing an increase of 5.8% over 2021 (1,01,707 cases)

* A total of 28,545 cases were registered for committing crime against Senior Citizens (aged above 60 years), showing an increase of 9.3% in registration over 2021 (26,110 cases)

* A total of 1,93,385 cases were registered under economic offences, showing an increase of 11.1% in registration over 2021 (1,74,013 cases).

* A total of 65,893 cases were registered under Cyber Crimes, showing an increase of 24.4% in registration over 2021 (52,974 cases). Crime rate under this category increased from 3.9 in 2021 to 4.8 in 2022. During 2022, 64.8% of cyber-crime cases registered were for the motive of fraud (42,710 out of 65,893 cases) followed by Extortion with 5.5% (3,648 cases) and Sexual Exploitation with 5.2% (3,434 cases).

* A total of 4,42,572 persons (1,49,008 male, 2,93,500 female and 64 transgender) were reported missing in 2022. The number of persons reported missing has increased by 13.5% in 2022 from 3,89,844 persons missing during 2021

* A total of 42,10,406 fake Indian currency worth Rs 3,82,66,68,710 were seized during 2022. The Crime in India-2022 report by NCRB discloses that Gujarat saw the highest seizure of 11.28 lakh counterfeit notes in Rs 2000 denomination, constituting a whopping 98% of the total national seizure of Rs 2000 counterfeit notes.

* NCRB 2023 flags that the disposal rates of IPC cases by police and court are very dismal. Conviction rates in 2022 in cases of Murder, Rape, Kidnapping and Abduction, Hurt (including acid attack) and rioting were 43.8%, 27.4%, 33,9 %, 35.9% and 24.9%, respectively. Compared to these, the disposal of SLL cases of Excise Act, Narcotics Act and Arms Act were much better at 85.3%, 82.2% and 65.5% respectively.

Decade of rising crime rate

If long term data (table 1) on IPC crime rate is analysed, it is observed that since 2013, crime rate has gone up over 200, and in 2020, the crime rate exceeded even 300. Compared to 1982, the crime rate in 2022 has gone up from 192 to 258. The table also reveals, in 2002, the IPC registered crime rate was lowest at 169.5 and the charge sheeting rate was maximum at 80%.

Top 10 crime prone States/UTs of India

In 2022, Delhi — a Union Territory — registered the maximum crime rate of 1,518.2 in India. Charge sheeting rate in Delhi was also lowest at 34.1%, indicating an over stressed law and order condition of the capital city. If we compare the crime rates with the head count ratio (percentage of population who are multidimensionally poor), ‘the percentage of population deprived of school attendance’ and per capita income against each of these ten States and Union Territories, (refer to table 2), we find a very strange relationship contrary to our common perception.

With the exception of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the head count ratio (percentage of population who are multidimensionally poor) in all the other eight states is lower than the national average of 15%. In case of per capita net domestic product, only Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have lower per capita income than the national average. If we analyse the percentage of population deprived of school attendance, these two central Indian states have higher than national average percent of population deprived of school education. Yet all the other eight states/UTs which are socio economically better than the national average have recorded a high crime rate. High crime rates in the UT/States of Delhi, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, among others, demands deeper study of the crime data.

Crime against Indian women

NCRB 2023 reveals that a total of 4,45,256 cases of crime against women were registered during 2022, showing an increase of 4% over 2021 (4,28,278 cases). Majority of cases under crime against women under IPC were registered under ‘Cruelty by Husband or His Relatives’ (31.4%) followed by ‘Kidnapping & Abduction of Women’ (19.2%) ,‘Assault on Women with Intent to Outrage her Modesty’ (18.7%), and ‘Rape’ (7.1%). The crime rate registered per lakh women population was 66.4 in 2022 in comparison with 64.5 in 2021.

Table 3 shows the names of ten states/UTs where crime rate in India was very high. Again, Delhi has the maximum crime rate against women. All these states/UTS have a higher crime rate against women than the national average. Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, A&N Islands, Madhya Pradesh have female to male sex ratio of less than national average. Though Kerala has a female/male sex ratio of greater than one, it also recorded a very high crime rate against women. Low female/male ratio makes women more vulnerable.

Crime against Indian children

A total of 1,62,449 cases of crime against children were registered during 2022, showing an increase of 8.7% over 2021 (1,49,404 cases). In percentage terms, major crime heads under ‘Crime Against Children’ during 2021 were Kidnapping & Abduction (45.7%) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (39.7%) including child rape. The crime rate registered per lakh children population was 36.6 in 2022 in comparison with 33.6 in 2021.

Table 4 shows that Indian children are not safe — especially in the Union Territories of Delhi, A&N Islands, and Chandigarh, crime rates against Children are very high. Same is the case with states like Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Maharashtra and Odisha.

Crime against Scheduled Castes (SCs) of India

A total of 57,582 cases were registered for committing crime against Scheduled Castes (SCs), showing an increase of 13.1% over 2021 (50,900 cases). Crime rate registered showed an increase from 25.3 in 2021 to 28.6 in 2022. In Crime head-wise cases, highest number of cases (18,428, 32.0%) was registered under simple hurt, followed by cases under Criminal Intimidation with 9.2% (5,274 cases) and SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act with 8.2% (4,703 cases).

Table 5 documents crime rates against Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes. Atrocities against all the ten states mentioned in table 5 are higher than the national average. Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have very high crime rates against SCs.

Crime against Scheduled Tribes (STs) of India

A total of 10,064 cases were registered for committing crime against Scheduled Tribes (STs), showing an increase of 14.3% over 2021 (8,802 cases). Crime rate registered increased from 8.4 in 2021 to 9.6 in 2022. In Crime head-wise cases, highest number of cases (2,826 cases, 28.1%) were registered under simple hurt (2,826 cases) followed by rape with 13.4% (1,347 cases) and assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty with 10.2% (1,022 cases)

Table 6 reveals that the states of Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana are the leading states in committing crime against STs. Though the incidence of crime against STs are lower than STs, the first eight states have higher crime rates compared to national average, ,


* IPC data reveals that crime rate in India has been steadily rising, during the last one decade, since 2013.

* Though NCRB 2023 data shows marginal decline in overall crime in 2022 compared to 2021, crime rate among vulnerable sections of the population, namely, senior citizens, women, children, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes have risen in 2022. Cybercrime has become a major threat in India.

* Conviction rates in heinous crimes like murder, rape, kidnapping and rioting are alarmingly low.

* Table 7 mentions the ranks of states with the worst crime records against five categories, namely overall crime rate, crime against vulnerable sections like women, children, SCs and STs. Out of the ten states we have analysed here, the states of Kerala and Madhya Pradesh fall within ten ranks in all the categories. Delhi ranks 1st (means worst) in three categories. Haryana, Telangana and A&N Island have their dubious presence in four categories.

* Very high crime rates in Kerala — one of the most educated and developed states in India — is baffling.

To effectively tackle the rising crime rates in India, especially in a few states, a detailed micro level analysis of this huge crime data is essential for developing a suitable crime prevention policy. One of the major limitations of NCRB is that it does not provide data on atrocities against religious minorities and mob lynching. Without this category, the NCRB report remains incomplete.

Views expressed are personal

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