Q: Maharashtra government and police are under attack over recent rape cases. What is your comment?
A: The home department statistics show that the number of rape cases is in the range of 4,500 and 5,500 between 2018 and June 2021. In the wake of recent cases, the state government, police and the citizens, in general, have taken a serious note and they have been strongly condemned. There is a need for a change in the mindset and for that the government and the police by involving various stakeholders will step up efforts so that such cases can be curbed. Secondly, the police have been asked to take even the small complaints lodged in the police stations quite seriously. If it won’t be taken then some elements will indulge in serious offences. If the police promptly look into small complaints and resolve them, it would send a strong signal in the society.
I have already instructed for increasing the police patrolling across the state and create awareness among the citizens.
Q: However, the image of Maharashtra and Mumbai, in particular, as the safest place to stay has taken a serious beating with these cases. How it will be restored again?
A: Mumbai and Maharashtra have a strong reputation when it comes to the maintenance of law and order situation. However, after such cases are reported the debate begins on the safety of women in the city and in the state. But it does not mean the law and order situation in Mumbai and Maharashtra has been deteriorated. It has been the successive government’s policy to further take measures for strengthening the law and order situation and it will be continued in future too. Mumbai and Maharashtra continue to be safe and secured for women.
Q: Why there is a delay in the passage of the SHAKTI Act which has been framed on the lines of the Andhra Pradesh government’s DISHA Act?
A: The enactment of the SHAKTI Act will certainly bring changes it is a specific law proposed to deal with crime and violence against women in the state. When the bill was tabled in the state legislature it was unanimously decided by all political parties to refer it to the joint select committee. The discussion is underway and its report will be tabled in the ensuing winter session of the legislature. The government will seek the passage of the bill and launch its implementation thereafter.
Q: What is the present state of cases pending at the fast-track courts?
A: There is a need to take a fresh look at which cases to be referred to the fast-track courts. The government yesterday has directed to refer serious offences to the fast track courts for speedy trials. The pendency issue can be addressed after the government decides to send only serious cases to the fast-track courts. The Centre has approved 38 fast-track courts for Maharashtra of which 18 are functional and the state government will make the balance operational for speedy trials.