Observing that the conviction rate in Maharashtra is now at an all-time low, the Bombay high court on Monday directed the state government to find the proportion of police personnel required to only carry out criminal investigations.
“The rate of conviction has come to an all-time low,” the division bench of justice VM Kanade and justice PD Kode observed. The judges, however, clarified that they did not mean that the accused should be convicted and sentenced in each and every case, but they are worried that in several cases, the real culprits are not arrested. Also, those arrested often get acquitted because of a faulty investigation.
The judges also appeared to be irked about several cases remained unsolved. “It is common knowledge that a number of cases, even serious offences, remain un-cracked,” the judges said. “There are a number of reasons for the situation… firstly, police personnel are not properly equipped to investigate crimes and then about 70% of the police force is deployed to take care of VIPs,” they added.
The bench has directed the state government to determine the proportion of the police personnel required to carry out only crime investigation.
It further directed the government to disclose, in two weeks, on affidavit the steps taken by the state to create a dedicated branch for criminal investigations, in accordance with the directives of the apex court in Prakash Singh’s case.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Pune resident Ashwini Rane, who had posed a question mark over the investigation skills of various investigating agencies, including the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Her husband Nikhil had been murdered by unidentified assailants on November 23, 2009, but none of the agencies investigating the case could find the culprits. She approached the high court in June 2010, after local police and the crime branch failed to locate witnesses or secure leads. Acting on her petition, the high court had transferred the matter to the CBI, but the central agency has not yet succeeded in cracking the case.
Rane’s counsel, senior advocate Anil Anturkar, urged the court to direct the state government to determine the number of police personnel required to carry out dedicated work of crime investigation.
He stressed the need of creating a separate branch, free from all other policing duties, dedicated for crime investigation.