Maharashtra courts’ conviction rate for cases under the Indian Penal Code was a dismal 19.3% in 2014. During the year, 1.63 lakh new cases were heard by the courts, which already had a massive backlog of 13.7 lakh cases from previous years, according to figures from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
As for cases under special and local laws (SLL), 1.26 lakh new ones went to court, adding to the backlog of 11.3 lakh cases pending from previous years. On these cases, the conviction rate was 26.5%. The figures revealed that smaller states such as Mizoram (92.9%) and Nagaland (84.7%) had the highest conviction rates.
Majeed Memon, advocate and Rajya Sabha MP, said he had asked for the same statistics from the union law ministry in the Rajya Sabha, and that the figures showed the number of cases pending in lower courts, high courts and the Supreme Court was increasing rapidly.
“We do not appear to have adequate infrastructure or enough judges to tackle pending cases,” he said, adding that the ever-increasing backlog was causing people to lose faith in the judiciary.
Speaking about the low conviction rate, Memon said investigating agencies often arrest the wrong person and that many lack professional, scientific methods of investigation.
The NCRB statistics also reflect poorly on the Maharashtra police. According to the report, 2.49 criminal (IPC) cases were filed in 2014, adding to the backlog of 1.33 lakh cases pending from previous years. By the end of the year, this backlog had risen to 1.45 lakh.
The state police filed charge sheets in 71.1% of cases reported, failing to do so in over 66,000 cases. The ‘charge sheet rate’ for most other states was above 79%.
Memon said the problem again was a lack of manpower. He added that the government, high courts and the Supreme Court needed to take a serious view of the issue and suggest concrete solutions.