Recording events during a nation’s history is crucial in analyzing the circumstances and enforcing appropriate legislation. It enables lawmakers to grasp the current needs of society, based on which they can draft applicable laws and rules. Crime is a result of a complex combination of many volatile variables. By using the sciences of criminology and sociology, it is possible to understand what motivates criminals and what increases the occurrence of crime. When combined with statistics, one can understand the frequency of crime and learn how to decrease its occurrences.
Statistics reports have been published by multiple countries for decades, with recent data analyses involving technological advancements for accuracy and ease of analysing. In India, the NCRB publishes yearly statistics crime reports. However, completing such a statistics report is not a single organisation’s job; it requires the involvement and cooperation of the police personnel, courts, state and district data collection organisations and the contribution of NGOs and other groups involved in rehabilitating victims of violent crimes.
About the National Crime Records Bureau
The National Crime Records Bureau, or NCRB, was set up as a result of multiple organizations being run on a trial-and-error basis until a final organization that was fit for the needs of our nation was obtained. In 1977, the National Police Commission recommended a better data organization system. In 1978, a Committee on Crime Records was established, which reviewed the existing crime records and recommended the police force with specific changes. Following this, a task force was set up in 1985 by the Ministry of Home Affairs to set up a national bureau for crime records. Thus, in January 1986, the NCRB was set up with its headquarters in New Delhi.
Crime Report 2021
As with every year since 1986, the NCRB has released the Crime in India 2021 report of Statistics spread over three detailed volumes. The reports can be accessed from the NCRB website.1 The NCRB also contains crime reports compiled since 1953 in its archives; these reports are free for public view. When an overview2 of crime over the decades has been taken, for the past 40 years (1981 to 2021) it can be noted that crime has steadily increased. In 1981, the crime incidence was 13,85,757, with a crime rate of 200.8. In 2021, the crime incidence was 36,63,360, with a crime rate of 268. However, one must not judge the values with haste, as the crime incidences correspond to the country’s population, which has also steadily increased over the past 40 years. A positive is that the charge sheeting rate has also increased through the years, progressing from 61.3 in 1981 to 72.3 in 2021.
Summary of crimes in India
The significant crimes in India are listed. The incidences of murder have stayed the same since 2020, with the value for 2021 being 29,272.3 5Kidnapping & Abduction has increased from 84,805 in 2020 to 1,01,707 in 2021. Human trafficking, rape and POCSO crimes have also increased in the past year. Concerning the 2021 Crime Report, this analysis will focus on the state-wise statistical information published on the major crimes in India.
- Violent crimes:
Violent crimes in India include murder, grievous hurt, dowry death, rape, kidnapping and Abduction, to list a few. The violent crimes in India are typically grouped into crimes that affect the body (murder, culpable homicide not amounting to murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping & Abduction), crimes that affect the property (dacoity, robbery), crimes that affect public safety (riot, arson), and crimes that affect women (rape, attempt to commit rape).
The top five states with the highest number of cases of violent crimes are Uttar Pradesh (52,502), West Bengal (47,904), Bihar (43,780), Maharashtra (43,755) and Assam (26,933).4 Compared to 2020, Uttar Pradesh still leads the country in violent crimes, with the cases increasing marginally. Though West Bengal’s cases decreased compared to the previous year (50,029 cases in 2020), it did not compare to the drastic drop in cases in Bihar (51,116 cases in 2020), thereby making West Bengal the 2nd highest in violent crimes in India. In the Union Territories, Delhi showed 11,793 cases in 2021, followed by Jammu & Kashmir with 3,072 cases. Both countries showed a rise of approximately a thousand cases since the last year.
Murder is the worst possible violent crime that can take place. It very literally disrupts the laws of nature. Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of murders in India, with 3,717 cases. Bihar follows it at 2,799, Maharashtra at 2,330 and Madhya Pradesh at 2,034.5 The following is a breakdown of the motives6:
- Gain – Jharkhand ranked highest with 480 murder cases for gain
- Personal Vendetta – Bihar with 591 cases
- Dowry – Odisha with 275 cases
- Witchcraft – Chhattisgarh with 20 cases
- Child or Human sacrifice – Kerala with 2 cases
- Communal violence – Madhya Pradesh with 3 cases
- Class Conflict – Bihar with 60 cases
- Casteism – Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh with 9 cases each
- Love affairs – Uttar Pradesh with 334 cases
- Disputes (including property, family, money, water and petty disputes) – Bihar with 1081 cases.
In UTs, Delhi reported 459 cases, followed by Jammu & Kashmir with 136 cases. Notably, Puducherry’s cases dropped from 39 in 2020 to 19 in 2021, whereas Andaman & Nicobar Islands cases rose from 5 in 2020 to 16 in 2021. The primary motive was a personal vendetta, with Delhi recording 90 cases for the same.
3. Kidnapping and Abduction:
Kidnapping and Abduction occur across all age groups, genders and social caste groups. However, the most affected are women and children. In 2021, 34,027 adult victims were kidnapped across all the Indian states. Adults aged 18 to 30 show the highest number of kidnapping incidents, with 22,656 cases recorded. The male-to-female ratio of adults kidnapped in the age group 18 to 30 years is 3361:19,294, which shows that for every male kidnapped, approximately six adult females are kidnapped all over the country.
Regarding the kidnapping of children, a total of 789 kids below six years, 3,519 kids below 6 & 12 years, 22,986 kids between 12 & 16 years, and 35,633 kids between 16 & 18 years were recorded. In all of these statistics, the proportion of kidnapped female children is higher than that of kidnapped male children. For example, in the age group 16 to 18 years, the proportion is 3,932 to 3,1701. That is, for every male child that is kidnapped, approximately eight female children are kidnapped.
Uttar Pradesh has recorded the highest number of kidnappings, with 14,554 cases, followed by Maharashtra with 10,502 cases and Bihar with 10,198 cases. Delhi reported 5527 kidnapping cases, followed by Jammu & Kashmir at 1013. Nationwide, 1,04,149 people were kidnapped, of which 35,135 were adults and 69,014 were children. The motive for kidnapping children was unclear; however, 37,897 cases were “deemed kidnapped”, 23,019 were “missing deemed kidnapped”, and 12,931 were for marriage purposes. The motive for adults was primarily marriage (10,541 cases), followed by deemed kidnapped (7,373) and elopement (5,634). The total number of children recovered alive was 67,608, and the total number of adults recovered alive was 31,252.
4. Crimes against women:
Crimes against women gained more attention after the Nirbhaya gang rape in 2012. It is expected that more attention will be given to protecting women; however, it can be seen from the statistics that the cases increase year after year. In 2021, Uttar Pradesh recorded a shocking 56,083 cases, followed by Rajasthan at 40,738 cases, Maharashtra at 39,526 cases, West Bengal at 35,884 cases and Odisha at 31,352 cases. Of these, 48 incidents in Uttar Pradesh were murder with rape cases. Dowry deaths (Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code) amounted to 2222 in UP and 1000 in Bihar, whereas Rajasthan has the highest number of rape cases, with 6,337 incidents in 2021.
Cruelty by husband and his relatives (Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code) was another common crime, with 19,952 cases in West Bengal, 18,375 cases in Uttar Pradesh and 16,949 cases in Rajasthan.7 A total of 3,40,731 cases were registered under the IPC in all the states. Compared to the 56,083 cases in UP, only 10,133 were disposed of by the Police. In Delhi, 14,277 cases were recorded, approximately 4000 cases more than 2020’s statistic. Jammu & Kashmir ranked second with 3,937 cases. The highest number of rape cases was in Delhi, with 1250 cases registered. The total number of IPC cases for crimes against women in UTs was 16,940.
All over India, a total of 4,28,278 cases were recorded, of which 31,677 were rape cases, 75,369 were kidnappings, and 89,200 were assaults on women with the intent to outrage their modesty. With 3,57,671 cases registered under the IPC, only 30,861 cases were disposed of by the Police. A total of 1,324 cases of rape were recorded against the Scheduled Tribes. Against Scheduled Castes, it was 3,870 cases.
5. Crimes against children:
Crimes against children have seen a significant rise in cases. In 2021, Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of child-related incidents, with 19,173 cases, Maharashtra with 17,621 cases and Uttar Pradesh with 16,838. All three states have shown an increase since 2020. The POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act, 2012 registered 51,863 cases for 2021, whereas the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act registered 595 cases.
In the UTs, Delhi showed an increase of nearly 2000 cases since 2020, reaching 7,118 cases at the end of 2021.8 Jammu & Kashmir recorded 845 cases, a 200-case increase since 2020. The total cases in India were 1,49,404, with 1279 murder cases, 337 cases of abetment of suicide of a child (Section 305 of the Indian Penal Code), 79 cases of infanticide (Section 315 of the Indian Penal Code), 121 cases of foeticide (Sections 315 and 316 of the Indian Penal Code), 3,369 cases of simple hurt and 368 cases of grievous hurt.
A total of 90,679 cases against perpetrators of crimes against children were recorded under the IPC, and 53,874 cases under the POCSO Act. The Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act registered 613 cases nationwide.
6. Crimes against Scheduled Castes:
Scheduled castes are highly marginalized in today’s society and have been so for decades. The cases of crimes against scheduled castes are only growing, with no signs of decline. In 2021, Uttar Pradesh recorded a shocking 13,146 cases, followed by Rajasthan with 7,524 and Madhya Pradesh with 7,214 cases.9 Delhi’s cases against scheduled castes doubled since 2020, with 2021 recording 136 cases. This was followed by Jammu & Kashmir with 13 cases and Puducherry with 7 cases.
An atrociously high number of 50,900 cases were recorded all over India. Of these cases, simple hurt was the majority, with 15,485 cases. Criminal intimidation (Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code) cases tallied up to 5,130, and grievous hurt (Sections 325 and 326 of the Indian Penal Code) cases were 1,286. A total of 45,610 cases were recorded under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act when it was read with the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
7. Crimes against Scheduled Tribes:
The nation has struggled with crimes against scheduled tribes since the pre-independence days. There has been no significant improvement in the number of incidents of crimes against scheduled tribes over the past two years. Madhya Pradesh recorded 2,627 cases (compared to its 2020 value of 2,401 cases), followed closely by Rajasthan at 2,121 cases and Odisha at 676 cases. A total of 199 recorded murders (Section 302 of the IPC) were reported, and 2,357 incidences of Simple hurt were recorded.
In the UTs, Delhi recorded 5 cases, with an increase of 4 cases since 2020, followed by Daman & Diu and Andaman & Nicobar Islands at 3 cases each. There were no cases of murder, grievous hurt or assault on women to outrage her modesty, but there was 1 case of simple hurt. Nationwide, there were 8,802 crimes against STs, of which 8,475 cases were recorded under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act when read with the Indian Penal Code.10 Criminal intimidation (Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code) cases tallied to 817.
8. Cyber Crimes:
Cybercrimes have been drastically increasing ever since the technology boom. With the accelerated growth of technological services, there has been an accelerated growth of cybercrimes as well. In 2021, the state of Telangana had 10,303 reported cases of cybercrime, followed by Uttar Pradesh with 8,829 cases and Karnataka with 8,136 cases. It is a drastic increase for Telangana, whose cases have doubled since 2020. A total of 19,751 computer-related offences under the Information Technology Act were recorded across all the states.
Delhi recorded 356 cases, double its previous statistics of 168 cases in 2020. All over India, 52,974 cases were reported in 2021, a slight increase from the previous year. A total of 27,427 cases were recorded under the Information Technology Act 2000. For the motives of cybercrime, it was found that the most common motive was fraud, with 32,230 cases, followed by sexual exploitation (4,555) and extortion (2,883).11
9. Human Trafficking:
Human trafficking in India does not have large numbers, but crime still exists. In 2021, Telangana reported 347 cases, whereas Maharashtra reported 320, Assam reported 203, Kerala reported 201, and Andhra Pradesh reported 168. Compared to 2020, the number of human trafficking cases in these states has nearly doubled.12 A total of 2,436 victims were underaged or minors, and 3,557 victims had attained the majority. A shocking number of children have been reported to be victims of human trafficking. Out of the total reported cases of 5,993, a whopping 5,681 cases have been successfully closed, with their victims rescued.
In UTs, Delhi showed 92 cases, compared to 53 in the previous year, showing nearly a 2x increase. Across India, 6,106 victims were Indians, 38 were Sri Lankan, 26 were Bangladeshi, and eight were Nepalese. The most general reasons for human trafficking were reported as forced labour, sexual exploitation for prostitution, domestic servitude and forced marriage.
Inferences drawn from the report
An apparent result from the above statistics is that the crime rates in India in 2021, as with every year before that, have consistently increased. However, the increase in the charge sheeting rate may denote that more crimes are being reported and more action is being taken after thorough investigations. An improvement in procedural efficiency may be a reason for the same.
India’s increasingly misogynistic culture significantly contributes to the increase in certain crimes. For example, more women and girls are kidnapped in kidnapping cases than men. When analyzed with the motives for kidnapping – marriage and elopement, it is clear that in many instances, women and girls are forced to do the bidding of the men in their lives/community. Dowry death and love affairs are also highly-ranking motives for murder, according to the 2021 crime report. Cruelty by husbands and relatives also had an extremely high number of cases, with 1,36,234 cases in 2021, approximately 31.8% of total crimes against women.
The report also mentioned that the Police had disposed of only 18% of registered cases in UP. This means that 82% of the cases are under investigation for a period exceeding a year. With such slow investigation and crime resolution rates, more and more women might be discouraged from reporting their crimes or waiting through the long investigation time to secure justice.
It is to be noted that India does have a robust system for the safety of women through its women-specific legislation, which is the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013 to name a few. To reduce infanticide and foeticide in female children, the Ministry of Women and Child Development actively promotes the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme. UJJAWALA is a comprehensive framework to prevent trafficking and help rescue, rehabilitate, and reintegrate trafficking victims.13
Cyber crimes have also increased drastically since the Covid-19 pandemic and the technological era. The prevalence of smartphones in almost every urban and suburban household has expanded the scope of crime against residents of India. With the common motive of fraud, it is clear that it is extremely easy for scammers and perpetrators to quickly and efficiently scam innocents and steal their identities for money. However, it is essential to note that the Indian government strictly monitors cyberspace through the IT Act and its Rules. For example, Section 72A of the Information Technology Act 2000 protects the data of the public and corporates by penalizing those that disclose the personal data of others without consent. This penalty includes imprisonment of up to three years with a fine of five lakh Rupees or both. KYC, or Know Your Customer policy, was also introduced by the Reserve Bank of India to reduce cyber fraud and ensure proper authentication.
When it comes to human trafficking, the rate of successfully disposing of cases is high, as the Police can retrieve 94.7% of all victims of trafficking cases. As with the crimes against women, human trafficking also seems to have misogynistic influences, as some of the highest motives include sexual exploitation for prostitution, domestic servitude and forced marriage. The Ministry of Home Affairs has funded anti-Human Trafficking units, and they actively investigate and record human trafficking cases in all the Indian states and union territories. Section 370 of the IPC prosecutes those accused of human trafficking.
A country like India is bound to have high incidences of crime due to the high rate of population. However, that is no excuse for the country’s constantly growing crime rate. Despite enforcing strict legislation regarding criminal activities, the crime rate is increasing. Reasons for the same might be procedural lapses, lack of enforcement of the laws in rural settings, and issues in the society and community that result in crimes against the poor and innocent.
Nevertheless, credit must be given where credit is due. The Indian Police and Central Investigation departments work day and night to ensure a certain sense of security for the country. Some aspects of crime cannot be controlled, so a crime-free society can never indeed be. India must strive to keep the crime rate from constantly increasing every year and must work towards reducing the crime rate.
- National Crime Records Bureau, Crime in India, Government of India (Aug. 28, 2022) https://ncrb.gov.in/en/crime-india
- National Crime Records Bureau, Crime in India 2021, Ministry of Home Affairs, Volume 1 Page 211 (Aug. 29, 2022) https://ncrb.gov.in/sites/default/files/CII-2021/CII_2021Volume%201.pdf
- Ibid, at Volume 1 page xi
- Supra note 2, at Volume 1, page 157
- Supra note 2, at Volume 1, page 163
- Supra note 2, at Volume 1, page 164
- Supra note 2, at Volume 1, page 213
- National Crime Records Bureau, Crime in India 2021, Ministry of Home Affairs, Volume 3 Page 1016 (Aug. 29, 2022) https://ncrb.gov.in/sites/default/files/CII-2021/CII_2021Volume%203.pdf
- National Crime Records Bureau, Crime in India 2021, Ministry of Home Affairs, Volume 2 Page 537 (Aug. 29, 2022) https://ncrb.gov.in/sites/default/files/CII-2021/CII_2021Volume%202.pdf
- Supra note 9.
- Supra note 9.
- Women Empowerment Schemes, Ministry of Women & Child Development (Jan. 25, 2023) https://wcd.nic.in/schemes-listing/2405
This article is authored by Vibha Chinni Krishnan, a student of Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad.