The state government has decided to set up dedicated teams at every police station for tracing more than 23,000 accused, including 737 convicts, who have been absconding since 2003.
Additional public prosecutor Ajay Gadkari on Friday informed the Bombay High Court that the mechanism, which will also include fixing responsibility on specific police officer or a team of policemen for the missing accused, would come up within four weeks.
Gadkari submitted a note stating that all the unit commandants — commissioners of police and superintendent of police — to maintain detailed data of all absconding accused within their jurisdiction.
The note was submitted in reply to a suo-motu proceeding initiated by the high court taking note of the huge number of absconding undertrials and convicts out on parole or furlough leave. After perusing the note, a division bench of justices AM Khanvilkar and PD Kode found that the steps intended were only preventive in nature and no corrective measures were proposed by the state.
“Today, there is nothing in place,” said the bench, adding, “Either it is intentional or for matters of convenience, you are not tracing the absconding accused since the past five years.”
Khanvilkar also told the prosecutor that the state should have a separate establishment for identifying and tracing the absconding accused.
“No doubt, the police are overburdened, but considering the current conviction rate, which is below 10%, if so many [accused] are not available for serving their sentences, then the criminal justice system would become meaningless,” the judges said.
The bench said perhaps the unique identity numbers would help the police machinery trace the absconding accused and convicts.
The state is also considering amendments to the prison manual and parole rules.