The police is now seeking help from private telephone operators and private electricity providers apart from government agencies to trace down over 20,000 accused in the state who have jumped bail.
Of 20,322 absconding accused, 16,476 are from Mumbai. Associate Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni informed the court that the police has filed applications in respective magistrate courts to declare accused as absconders.
The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the metropolitan magistrates to dispose off application filed by police to declare these accused as absconders, preferably within four weeks. Justice AM Khanwilkar has asked the police to first focus on 1,701 accused whose offences are serious in nature (like murder, rape) and are sessions court triable.
After Mumbai, Latur has maximum number of absconding accused, 466 followed by Jalna at 422. Interestingly, Gadchiroli and Nandurbar have no absconding accused.
The court had suo moto taken cognisance of accused who jump bail in 2003 after the court had cancelled the bail of an accused whom the police could not trace.
According to police the main difficulty in tracing the absconding accused is incomplete data available as regard their address. The data is either incomplete or incorrect or there is change is address. Advocate Girish Godbole, who is appointed as amicus curie (friend of court) pointed out that the police did not have addresses of 8,911 accused who had jumped bail from Mumbai alone.
Kumbhakoni told the court that they have prepared a CD containing names and available particulars of the absconding accused which has been sent to all private electricity providers, mobile providers, landline phone service providers apart from government agencies like rationing authorities, road transport offices and Municipal Corporation. As these agencies have computerised data of their clients and customers, they can match the list with the list provided by police and see if there are similar names.
Justice Khanwilkar observed in his order that the court expected co-operation from the agencies who have names and details of absconding accused in terms of parting with necessary information as required to assist police in identifying the accused. "The agencies should bear in mind that the issue of absconding accused has direct relation with the security of the state," remarked Justice Khanwilkar.
Also, in order to reduce number of accused who jump bail, the Maharashtra government is contemplating amendment in Criminal Procedure Code to make provisions of bail stricter. The proposal for amendment is pending with the Law and Judiciary Department, said Kumbhakoni.
Absconding accused as on June 30, 2006 in Mumbai were 17,407, which has reduced to 16,476 as on November 10. This is because the police has already traced 240 of them. Of the remaining difference, 301 are dead, 127 have already been acquitted from the case whereas 140 have been arrested. As against this, there were 7,118 absconding accused as on June 30, 2006 in rest of the state, which has come down to 3,864 as on November 10.