In 2020, a year that was severely impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns, the overall crime in the country increased by 28 percent over the non-pandemic year of 2019, the latest report on crime in India by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows.
However, this increase in crimes has been largely attributed to COVID-19 violations, as the number of other crimes actually decreased in 2020 compared to 2019.
On Wednesday, the NCRB released its crime data for 2020. According to the report, it lists a total of 66,01,285 cognizable crimes comprising 42,54,356 Indian Penal Code (IPC) violations and 23,46,929 crimes under Special and Local Laws (SLL).
The report further showed an increase of 14,45,127 (28%) in registration of cases over 2019 (51,56,158 cases). The crime rate (number of cases registered per one lakh population) has also increased from 385.5 in 2019 to 487.8 in 2020.
In its report, NCRB said, "Major increase was seen in cases registered under Section 188 of the IPC (Disobedience to Order Duly Promulgated by Public Servant) 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."
According to orders issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs during the pandemic, those violating the Centre’s guidelines on Covid-19 containment were supposed to be booked under Section 188 of the IPC and the Disaster Management Act.
The NCRB also said that even in the category of Special and Local Laws, more cases were registered under 'Other State Local Act'. From 89,553 cases in 2019, they increased to 4,14,589 cases in 2020.
Together, the number of cases 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.
According to the report, due to the complete lockdown from March 25 to May 31, 2020, the cases registered under crimes against women, children and senior citizens, theft, burglary, robbery and dacoity declined.
However, the year 2020 also saw protests by farmers over the contentious farm laws passed by the Union government. The NCRB data shows that despite lockdowns, cases of offences against public tranquillity witnessed an uptick by 12.4% in 2020 over 2019.
A total of 71,107 cases of offences against public tranquillity were registered under various sections of the IPC during 2020, out of which rioting (51,606 cases) accounted for 72.6% of total such cases. In 2019, the figure stood at 63,262 cases.
Meanwhile, as many as 50,291 cases were registered for committing crime against Scheduled Castes (SCs), marking an increase of 9.4% over 2019 (45,961 cases). The crime rate registered showed an increase from 22.8 in 2019 to 25 in 2020.
The NCRB also said that a total of 8,272 cases were registered for committing crime against Scheduled Tribes (STs), showing an increase of 9.3% over 2019 (7,570 cases). The crime rate registered increased from 7.3 in 2019 to 7.9 in 2020.