Top cop quizzed again by Parliament panel

The Delhi police chief was quizzed for the third time on Friday by a Parliamentary panel in the student gangrape case where he blamed shortage of personnel and patrolling vehicles for impeding policing.

Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar, who has been facing the heat following the horrific 16 December incident that has outraged the nation, batted for fast tracking of court cases in such matters while deposing before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Home Affairs, which also received the Criminal Law Amendment Bill on Friday.

Kumar and other senior officials informed the panel about the developments in the gangrape case.

Sources said Kumar pointed out to the panel there is a shortage of police personnel in Delhi and an urgent need to fill the vacancies. He also told the Committee that 370 old PCR vans which were removed have not been replaced due to an austerity measure carried out by the Centre which has seriously hampered patrolling.

This was Kumar’s second appearance before the panel. He had earlier also appeared before parliamentary committee on empowerment of women.

The standing committee, headed by M Venkaiah Naidu, also quizzed the Law Secretary – who was also summoned on Friday – about the efforts being made to dispose of long pending cases involving crimes against women.

Members emphasised on establishing more fast track courts and urging courts across the country to expedite cases of crimes against women.

The panel was informed that there are 8,000 pending cases involving crimes against women in the Allahabad high court alone of which only 39 have been disposed of so far.

The Standing Committee received the Criminal Law Amendment Bill today and will discuss it in detail, Naidu said.

‘We are confident of tabling the Bill with amendments in Parliament in the forthcoming budget session. Views of the state governments will be invited for making it a better Bill.

The Justice J S Verma Committee recommendations will also be considered,’ he said.

The Standing Committee has also decided to summon the Finance Secretary to discuss the sanction of funds for the new PCR vans. The Justice Secretary will also be called by the panel to explain what is being done to fill the vacancies of judges in various courts.

Meanwhile, the Law Secretary may get back to the Committee to explain what action has been initiated to deal with the high number of pending cases in courts.

The panel will meet again on 11 January.

The panel members referred to a rape case in the Kerala High Court and rued that it has been pending for eight years.

The Delhi Police Commissioner told the Standing Committee that the cops had acted swiftly in the gangrape case. He said all the six culprits were arrested in no time and the charge sheet has also been filed in the case.

Home Secretary R K Singh could not attend the Committee meeting today as he was busy with the conference of state Chief Secretaries and DGPs.

The panel also sought to know from the government the reasons for giving clemency to rape convicts in four cases but the government claimed this was a matter of privilege and cannot be disclosed.

Former president Pratibha Patil, who had pardoned the rape convicts on the recommendation of the home ministry, had faced criticism in the wake of the Delhi gangrape outrage when she asked for the strictest punishment to those found guilty of rape.
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