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Yesterday, a division bench of Badar Durrez Ahmed and Ashutosh Kumar, JJ. of the Delhi High Court heard a suo motu petition over the rise in crimes against women in Delhi.
The petition, brought against the Ministry of Home Affairs, was heard regarding the measures that are to be taken to reduce the crimes against women in Delhi by the Delhi police and the government.
Detailed arguments were heard by the bench from various counsels on the proposal of changing the emergency numbers “100”, “102” and “108” to one centralized number “112” for all emergencies. Calls made to this number could then be transferred to the concerned department.
The bench directed the Ministry of Telecommunications to give a detailed affidavit indicating whether there is congestion on the telephone lines of the emergency number “100” and their proposed solution.
Rahul Mehra arguing for the Delhi government stated that the congestion was caused at the end of the Telephone Service Providers (TSP). He further stated that there was a serious lack in the number of lines provided to the police. The Delhi police is currently functioning with sixty telephone lines; this should ideally be raised to four hundred.
“We need a dedicated bandwidth for these emergency numbers. Whether or not we as citizens utilize that bandwidth to its full efficiency is a separate issue.”
In this regard, the bench directed the Delhi police to file an affidavit indicating the number of lines required to be added and the actions they have taken to do so.
An agitated Justice Ahmed asked the lawyers before him,
“Why isn’t anyone doing anything about this? It is not our job to solve these issues. We can only direct. The solution needs to come from you. You know the problem, now provide a solution.”
The bench also relied on a report filed by Dharmesh Sharma of the Delhi Legal Services Authority on the condition of the malkhanas used to store the biological and chemical samples collected in rape cases. The report was prepared after twenty-two judicial officers from the Delhi Judicial Academy visited twenty-two police stations across Delhi.
The report found “rampant and unexplained” delays in sending these samples from the malkhanas to the forensic labs for testing. For example, out of 313 cases, there was a delay of ten days or more in nearly half of all cases.
In this context, Justice Ahmed stated,
“From the report it is evident that there is a delay in sending the samples from the malkhanas to the labs. The samples should be sent within 7 days as per the standing order and we are particularly distressed about the fact that even in rape cases there is a delay of up to 120 days. It is because of this delay that the labs cannot send back definitive findings.”
The bench directed the Delhi police to also file a status report indicating the manner in which these malkhanas will be “modernized” within two weeks.
The bench also allowed an application filed by the Delhi Commission for Women to intervene in the matter and directed the government to file their response to the suggestions made by the DCW.
The matter will now be heard on December 21.