Consequential Crimes by Pandemic

The author in this article discusses the consequential crimes by pandemic and increase in the overall crime rate with relevant examples. In such a Pandemic the crime rate noticeably increased in certain areas whereas there are estimations where the crime rate may globally increase further.

Introduction

The Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime stated in a policy brief in 2020 March which contemplates that, while analysing the long-term impact at such an early stage of the pandemic is difficult. Certain things that are clear include, the pandemic has resulted in a decrease in the number of certain organized-criminal activities, contrary to it, new opportunities have generated in certain areas, but a change in the “organized-criminal economy” may be followed for a long term.[1] There is an increase in crimes by the pandemic. Let us discuss the increase in crimes by pandemic.

The report states that some criminal organisations could take advantage of the situation by expanding activities, with a possibility of “the emergence of criminal groups as suppliers and ‘partners’ of the state in maintaining order”.[2] In such a Pandemic the crime rate noticeably increased in certain areas whereas there are estimations where the crime rate may globally increase further.

Research Methodology

The methodology in this research is qualitative research and quantitative research exploring the criminological affected aspects under the socio-economic areas. This study explores the Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic’s ubiquitous criminological repercussion on sociological parameters.

Knocking of the Mishap

On March 11, 2020, The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Covid-19 as a Pandemic, since then the World witnessed avant-garde governance for overall code of conduct of how humans interact and carry their activities.[3] The businesses, the stock markets, the economies of the world started to slump becoming highly volatile with heavy fluctuations. Many economic sectors around the world came to a standstill as many industries were temporarily shut maintaining the safety norms for containing the Pandemic.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)[4]  stated “In one, a second wave of Covid-19 hits, with renewed lock-downs, and unemployment climbs to 10.2% worldwide. In the other, a second wave is avoided and unemployment reaches 9.4%. In both cases, unemployment is expected to continue rising through the first half.”[5]

The rise in unemployment has contributed a greater share in the rising threat of an inflation in Crime rate during the Pandemic. Dr. Febin Baby, a criminologist and the president of Indian Criminology and Forensic Science Association said “It’s a fact that the lockdown and Covid-19 have resulted in an economic crisis, affecting the lives of many. As life returns to normalcy, people have started to feel the heat of shortage of money and the economic difficulties can lead them to commit a crime and other anti-social activities,”.[6]

Crimes by pandemic which Surged

Crimes such as Cyber Crimes, Domestic Violence, Using Covid19 as a Weapon, Spreading of Fake news, Terrorists Attacks, Frauds are indicated to be rising which are explained in this research, of which, Cyber Crimes by pandemic being the most vulnerable form of crimes during the lockdowns.

Cyber Crimes by pandemic.

  1. The WHO started an awareness about the cyber crimes by pandemic and it stated: “Hackers and cyber scammers are taking advantage of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic by sending fraudulent email and WhatsApp messages that attempt to trick you into clicking on malicious links or opening attachments”.[7] Here WHO also warned about Phishing measures used by hackers to grab the user’s credentials and how to tackle such shoddy acts.
    1. As per the Reuters reported in April 2020, Police in India lodged a case against an unknown online fraudster who tried selling the world’s largest statue for $4 billion, claiming the proceeds would be used to help the Gujarat state government fund its fight against the coronavirus.[8]
    1. In India the Information Technology Act 2000 is the primary law dealing with cybercrime which was last amended at 2008.[9]
    1. By January 2020, the Indian government paying attention to the rising threat in cybercrimes started an online portal to file cybercrime related complaints through online portals.[10]
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Domestic Violence.

  • Domestic violence has often been studied as an abusive expression triggered by financial stress, mental stress, fear, and of course, systemic patriarchy, that has furthered the cases of financial abuses, and at times, even murders. Since the national lockdown has been imposed, more than 50% rise in domestic violence has been reported. A report prepared by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) documents showed that a total of 144 cases of abuse were filed in Uttarakhand alone followed by increasing cases in Haryana and New Delhi.[11]
    • In India Section 498A was brought to the Indian Penal Code 1860 in 1983 to curb the menace over the woman being exploited by the domestic violence.[12]
  1. Covid-19 as a weapon
    1. To contain the Pandemic crisis, Indian statutes such as The Epidemic Diseases Act 1897, Indian Penal Code 1860, Disaster Management Act 2005, which were issued to avoid spread of the Pandemic.
    1. The spread of Covid-19 was also due to certain deliberate acts which resulted in spread the contagious disease. Police responding to a domestic incident in Durham, England, were spat on by a teenager who shouted at officers that he hoped he had COVID-19; he was charged with assaulting an emergency worker.[13]
    1. In India, the ‘Tablighi Jamaat’ religious events hosted by an Islamic missionary group allegedly became the country’s super-spreader, resulting in various type of criminal charges being filed against the attendees for not heeding lockdown restrictions.[14]
  1. Spread of Fake News
    1. As the world is fighting with the deluge of Covid-19 there’s a new Pandemic around the digital platforms where the avalanche of fake news is working as a lethal weapon in creating a panic around the people.
    1. In India as of now, there are no dedicated Act(s) to restrict the spread on digital platforms by the people, but the use of existing laws are made to contain the spread.
    1. Section 505(1), of Indian Penal Code 1860, which states the punishment for making, publishing or circulating any statement, rumour or report which may cause fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public. Punishable by, imprisonment which may extend to 3 years or fine or both.
    1.      Section 66D of Information Technology Act which states, by means for any communication device or computer resource cheats by personating. Punishable by imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.
    1. Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 which states, whoever makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic. Punishable by imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine.
  1. Terrorists Attack
    1. Vijay Kumar, The Inspector General of Police, Kashmir said, between January and May 2020, Indian security forces conducted 27 counterterrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir in which more than 64 terrorists were killed. He said 25 active militants and 125 over ground workers of the militants have been arrested this period. [15]
  • Fraud
    • In India, Police seized thousands of fake N95 masks which are claimed to protect from contacting virus, police also raided shops selling overpriced masks and sanitizers, and initiated case against hoarders of personal protective equipment (PPE).[16]
    • At Thane, Maharashtra, a lab was alleged to be issuing false “positive” reports for Covid-19 for which the Municipal Authorities order them to halt their testing of patients for Covid-19.[17]
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Unprecedented Bails in Criminal Cases

  • In May 2020, a high-powered committee in Maharashtra decided to release 50% of the 35,239 prisoners in Jail across the state on temporary bail to decongest the jails and maintain social distancing norms to contain the spread of Covid 19.[18]
  • In ca case on 28 May, 2020[19], the order of the High Court of Allahabad read as “Looking to impediments in arranging sureties because of lockdown, while invoking powers under Article 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India, we deem it appropriate to order that all the accused-applicants whose bail applications came to be allowed on or after 15th March, 2020 but have not been released due to non-availability of sureties as a consequence to lockdown may be released on executing personal bond as ordered by the Court or to the satisfaction of the jail authorities where such accused is imprisoned, provided the accused-applicants undertakes to furnish required sureties within a period of one month from the date of his/her actual release.”
  • On 27 April, 2020[20], The High Court of Allahabad Stated, “Considering the special circumstances of the lock-down prevailing in the District concerned presently and in the light of the directions of this Court in PIL No. 564 of 2020 dated 06.04.2020, let the applicant, namely, Pawan Yadav @ Abhishek, be enlarged on bail in the aforesaid case crime number on his furnishing a personal bond only to the satisfaction of the jail authorities, where the applicant is languishing subject to following conditions” but further added “However, it is further directed that within a period of four weeks from the date of lifting of the complete lock-down in the District concerned resulting in resumption of normal functioning of the Courts in that district, the applicant shall furnish two sureties each of the like amount to the satisfaction of the court concerned along with certified copy of this order, failing which the bail granted by this Court shall stand cancelled necessitating surrender of the applicant”
  • In June 2020, The high Court of Madhya Pradesh[21] granted bail to the applicant and will remain operative subject to compliance of the following conditions by the applicant “Applicant shall deposit Rs.10,000/- in PM CARES Fund having Account Number : 2121PM20202, IFSC Code: SBIN0000691, SWIFT Code : SBININBB104, Name of Bank & Branch : State Bank of India, New Delhi Main Branch within a period of seven days from the date of his release.” Also to make “submission of written undertaking and he will abide by all terms and conditions of the different circulars, orders as well as guidelines issued by the Central Government, State Government as well as Local Administration for maintaining social distancing, hygiene etc to avoid Novel Corona Virus (COVID -19) pandemic and he will have to install ArogyaSetu App, if not already installed”.

Conclusion

There’s a co-relation of “unemployment” with the “criminal activities” which depicts the graphs of Criminal Activities are expected to ascent as the number of Unemployment rises due to the predicament by Pandemic.

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The consequences of the Pandemic with rising medical difficulties it is leading to larger socioeconomic problems and resulting in a rise in Crimes by pandemic.

The Covid-19 Pandemic has changed the Criminal Activities Rate and also changed the conditions imposed by the Judiciary in granting bails in a unprecedented manner which is containing contagion of Pandemic.

The Pandemic in this modern world is generating new opportunities in extending helpful relations globally while subconsciously it is resulting with extensive rise in crimes.

Also read White Collar Crimes and Organized Crimes: A Comparative Analysis


[1] Crime and Contagion | Global Initiative | 26 March 2020  (https://globalinitiative.net/crime-contagion-impact-covid-crime/)

[2] Crime and Contagion: The impact of a Pandemic on organised crime, March 2020, Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/GI-TOC-Crime-and-Contagion-The-impact-of-a-pandemic-on-organized-crime.pdf)

[3]WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 11 March 2020 – WHO Official Website(https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19—11-march-2020)

[4] The OECD is an intergovernmental financial association, established in 1961 to animate monetary advancement and world exchange.

[5] OECD official Web Site (https://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/en/)

[6] Unemployment, economic crisis could trigger spurt in crimes: Criminologists – The New Indian Express, Kochi, 04th  June 2020, by Ajay Kanth (https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/2020/jun/04/unemployment-economic-crisis-could-trigger-spurt-in-crimes-criminologists-2151887.html)

[7] Beware of criminals pretending to be WHO – WHO official Website/Home/About WHO/Communicating for health/Cyber security (https://www.who.int/about/communications/cyber-security)

[8] Scammers try selling world’s tallest statue as pandemic boosts India’s cybercrime by Abhirup Roy and NupurAnand, Reuters, 7th April 2020, (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-india-fraud/scammers-try-selling-worlds-tallest-statue-as-pandemic-boosts-indias-cyber-crime-idUSKBN21P0KH)

[9] Official Website “Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology/ Home/About MeitY/Acts & Rules/Acts/Information Technology Act 2000 (https://meity.gov.in/content/information-technology-act-2000)

[10] Ministry of Home Affairs, National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal (https://cybercrime.gov.in/)

[11] Is domestic violence the next pandemic in India? By AyushreeNandan, Times of India, 21 May 2020 (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/voices/is-domestic-violence-the-next-pandemic-in-india/)

[12] Indian Penal Code, 1860

[13] Coronavirus: Durham teenager’s spit threat to police, 07 April 2020, BBC News, (https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-tyne-52198874)

[14] “30 Per Cent Of Coronavirus Cases Linked To Delhi Mosque Event: Government”, 04 April 2020, by Parimal Kumar, NDTV News, (https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/coronavirus-tablighi-jamaat-30-per-cent-of-coronavirus-cases-linked-to-delhi-mosque-event-government-2206163)

[15] Over 64 terrorists killed in Kashmir since January: IGP Vijay Kumar, New Indian Express, 7 May 2020, Srinagar (https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2020/may/07/over-64-terrorists-killed-in-kashmir-since-january-igp-vijay-kumar-2140404.html)

[16] Coronavirus: Man suspected of selling used face masks arrested in Mumbai, The Week, March 12, 2020, (https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2020/03/12/coronavirus–man-suspected-of-selling-used-face-masks-arrested-i.html)

[17] False positives putting Thane citizens at Risk, Mumbai Mirror, edited by David Delima, 22 May 2020, (https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/coronavirus/news/false-positives-putting-thane-citizens-at-risk/articleshow/75876969.cms)

[18] Maharashtra panel decides to release 50% of prisoners on temporary bail to prevent spread of Covid-19, by Kanchan Chaudhary, Hindustan Times,  12 May 2020 (https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/maharashtra-panel-decides-to-release-50-of-prisoners-on-temporary-bail-to-prevent-spread-of-covid-19/story-U2yob9EHSa5TJXai12tHEI.html )

[19]Beerendra Singh vs State Of U.P, CRIMINAL MISC. BAIL APPLICATION No. – 12373 of 2020

[20] Pawan Yadav @ Abhishek vs State Of U.P., CRIMINAL MISC. BAIL APPLICATION No. – 9580 of 2020,

[21]  Veer Singh Rajawat vs The State Of Madhya Pradesh on 5 June, 2020, M.Cr.C. No.14603/2020