He had been booked for 28 cases, including attempt to rape a foreigner after breaking into her Khar flat in 2008, and had stolen valuables worth Rs. 1.77 crore in 2011. But despite his track record, Mohammad Ansari alias Badshah, 30, walked free for a surety of a few thousand rupees after he was arrested on October 27 for breaking into a Bandra home.
Only poor or casual presentation of the case in court could have gotten Ansari bail, said experts.
Nine days later, on Monday, he robbed and raped a Spanish national after breaking into her Bandra flat.
“It is incredible how Ansari was allowed to walk away. That such a habitual offender, who committed crime so recently, was walking free imperils the security of citizens,” said Majid Memon, criminal lawyer and Bandra resident.
From the dramatic rise in the number of petty thefts and chain-snatching incidents to the influx of Baluchi criminals who dupe people by posing as policemen and rising crimes against women, most recently the rape of a Spanish national and the murder of a senior citizen in a Malad chawl, Mumbai has seen a spurt in criminal activities.
Experts said the trend must be studied, to establish whether it is a failure of the legal system, inefficient policing or simply more active criminals, so that remedial measures can be planned.
Former police commissioner MN Singh said: “There has been a rash of crimes. People will start talking, and before that happens, we need to figure out what’s going wrong and take measures to correct it.”
Singh said an analysis needs to be done to determine whether these crimes are recurring in a particular area, have a typical modus operandi or target a specific segment of the society.
YC Pawar, former joint commissioner of police (law and order), said rising crime rates are failure on part of the legal system.
“Cases are pending for years in court, people get bail despite heinous crimes. All this has encouraged criminals - they believe they can get away with crime,” he said.
Pawar said another problem is the belief that one can bribe one’s way through police action and inquiries. “Earlier, police presence was much lesser, but people feared the police.”
YP Singh, former IPS officer who is now a lawyer, however, said: “The number of reported crimes has increased as people have got more aware and come forward,” he said.
Omprakash Agarwal, a 75-year-old businessman from the western suburbs, said, “If crimes are increasing, it is failure on the part of the police. They are responsible for crime prevention and detection. As citizens, we can be more vigilant, but we need a responsible body to safeguard us against criminals.”