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Crime rate high, but conviction is low

mumbai Updated: Aug 06, 2013 03:13 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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In Maharashtra, offenders rarely get punished for their crimes, going by statistics which show that only 6.8% of the cases tried in courts have resulted in convictions in 2012. The national conviction average in 2012 was 28%.

The police need to improve their crime detection methods in order to improve conviction rates, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said on Monday after releasing the state’s annual crime statistics at a function held at Maharashtra police headquarters in Colaba.

The only exception is in murder cases, where the state’s performance has improved — it has obtained conviction for 22.4% of the criminals arrested for

murder.

Sanjeev Dayal, director general of police, said 66% of the criminal cases fall flat as witnesses turn hostile, so it’s imperative for the police to better their evidence-gathering methods and include forensic evidence. “Forensic labs should be set up in smaller towns and district headquarters to aid the police in investigations,” Dayal said.

The police are also taking initiatives such as conducting sessions to improve investigating officers’ knowledge of law so that the cases prepared by the prosecution stand in the court of law. This will be a step in improving conviction rates, he said. “We are in talks with the chief justice of Bombay high court for carving out professional training courses for police officers at the Judicial Academy Training School at Utan.”

In a veiled warning, home minister RR Patil said the government would deny postings based on seniority to officers in districts where conviction rates are poor. “The job of the police should not end at detection. They must pursue the case to make it stand in court. Investigators should follow the trial and coordinate with lawyers till the case concludes,” Patil said.

YP Singh, former IPS officer who is a lawyer, said: “The conviction rate in the state is low owing to poor investigation, lack of knowledge of law and faulty evidence-gathering mechanisms. The state should improve the set-up of forensic laboratories.”

According to Singh, to deal with the problem of witnesses turning hostile, the statement of witnesses who seem vulnerable should be recorded before the magistrate under section 164 of Indian penal Code, which will strengthen the case.

Senior lawyer Majid Memon said consistent poor conviction rates point to the need to improve the criminal justice system. While crime rate is surging, offenders are getting away because of poor probes and smarter defence lawyers, he said. “Prosecutors seldom match the intelligence of defence councils. These factors results in even culprits getting the benefit of doubt in some cases.”