The Thane, Aurangabad and Nanded ranges of the state’s anti-corruption bureau (ACB) replied to a Right to Information query, submitted by Hindustan Times, on the major reasons for their poor conviction rates, but no such reply was forthcoming from the Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Nashik and Amravati ranges, which said they haven’t kept any such records.
The Aurangabad ACB range recorded highest conviction rates in 2015 (30%) and 2016 (34%), while the Mumbai ACB recorded the lowest – 7% in 2015 and 3% this year. In ‘trap’ cases – in which suspects are set up and then caught red-handed accepting bribes – one reason for low conviction rates is that complainants sometimes give one statement to the ACB at the time of filing the first information report and another in court. Another reason is that the ACB sometimes fails to prove in court that the accused had demanded a bribe in the first place.
The Nanded ACB gave four more reasons why many cases end in acquittals: the complainant, witness and panch forget the incident as cases remain pending for several years; the complainant loses interest in the case; the complainant turns hostile; and in cases involving government officials, sanction for their prosecution is not obtained properly from the concerned authority. As for acquittals in cases of criminal misconduct by public servants, officials said the ACB and prosecution lawyers are often unable to prove that the suspects misused their position to commit the crime.
In many bribery cases in which traps were not laid, the accused were acquitted as the prosecution failed to prove the case, the complainant could not clearly state his allegation, or because there were issues with witnesses. In many disproportionate assets cases, ACB officials have been unable to prove that the assets were acquired illegally, or have made errors in calculating the sums of money involved.