The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have led to a drop in traditional crimes like theft, robbery, assault and crimes against women and children in 2020. Official data however showed that there has been a drastic jump in disobedience to government orders, primarily arising due to violations of COVID-19 norms.
According to the latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on Crime in India 2020, a total of 66,01,285 cognisable crimes comprising 42,54,356 Indian Penal Code (IPC) crimes and 23,46,929 Special and Local Laws (SLL) crimes were registered in 2020.
During 2020, registration of cases under IPC increased by 31.9 per cent whereas SLL crimes rose by 21.6 per cent over 2019. The percentage share of IPC cases was 64.4 per cent, while that of SLL cases was 35.6 per cent of total cognisable crimes during 2020.
“Major increase was seen in the cases registered under disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servants from 29,469 cases in 2019 to 6,12,179 cases in 2020, and under other IPC crimes from 2,52,268 cases in 2019 to 10,62,399 cases in 2020,” the report said.
Similarly, under SLL category, more cases were registered under other state local Acts from 89,553 in 2019 to 4,14,589 in 2020. These together have resulted in 16,43,690 more cases registered in 2020 as compared to 2019.
These cases are primarily those arising out of violations of COVID-19 norms. “Effectively therefore, there is a decrease in registration of traditional crime by about two lakh cases,” the report said.
During 2020, a total of 55,84,135 IPC cases (13,27,167 cases pending from previous year, 42,54,356 reported during the year and 2,612 cases re-opened for investigation) were under investigation, of which 34,47,285 cases were disposed of by the police, including 26,11,925 cases which were charge-sheeted, resulting in the charge-sheeting rate of 75.8 per cent.
The country remained under complete lockdown from March 25 to May 31, 2020, due to the first wave of COVID-19, during which movement in public space was very limited.
According to the report, the cases registered under crimes against women, children, and senior citizens, theft, burglary, robbery and dacoity declined, whereas COVID-related enforcement resulted in an increase of cases registered under disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant (Section 188 of IPC), under other IPC crimes and under other state local acts.
A total of 10,47,216 cases of offences affecting the human body were registered which accounted for 24.6 percent of the total IPC crimes during 2020, of which hurt (5,78,641 cases) accounted for the maximum cases at 55.3 per cent, followed by cases of causing death by negligence (1,26,779 or 12.1 per cent) and cases of assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty (85,392 or 8.2 percent).
The cases registered under offences against human body depict a marginal decrease of 0.5 percent in 2020 over 2019 (10,52,016 cases) and the crime rate has declined from 78.6 in 2019, to 77.4 in 2020.
A total of 29,193 cases of murder were registered during 2020, showing a marginal increase of one per cent over 2019 (28,915 cases) with disputes (10,404 cases) being the motive in the maximum cases followed by personal vendetta or enmity (4,034 cases) and gain (1,876 cases).
A total of 84,805 cases of kidnapping and abduction were registered during 2020, showing a decrease of 19.3 percent over 2019 (1,05,036 cases).
A total of 88,590 people (14,869 males and 73,721 females) were reported kidnapped or abducted during 2020, of which 56,591 (8,715 males and 47,876 females) victims were children and 31,999 (6,154 males and 25,845 females) were adult.
During 2020, a total of 91,739 kidnapped or abducted people (22,872 males and 68,867 females) were rescued, of which 91,458 people were rescued alive and 281 found dead.
A total of 3,71,503 cases of crime against women were registered during 2020, showing a decline of 8.3 per cent over 2019 (4,05,326 cases).
Majority of crimes against women under IPC were registered under cruelty by husband or his relatives (30 per cent) followed by assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty (23 per cent), kidnapping and abduction of women (16.8 per cent) and rape (7.5 per cent).
A total of 1,28,531 cases of crime against children were registered during 2020, showing a decrease of 13.2 per cent over 2019 (1,48,090 cases).
Major crime heads under crime against children during 2020 were kidnapping and abduction (42.6 percent) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (38.8 percent) including child rape.
A total of 29,768 cases were registered against juveniles during 2020, depicting a decrease of 7.8 per cent over 2019 (32,269 cases).
The crime rate also depicts a decrease from 7.2 in 2019 to 6.7 in 2020.
A total of 35,352 juveniles were apprehended in 29,768 cases, of which 31,618 juveniles were apprehended under cases of IPC and 3,734 under cases of SLL during 2020.