'Staff crunch to be blamed for botched probes, fewer convictions'

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Nov 26, 2014 18:08 IST

The poor conviction rate in serious offences such as murder and rape (a minuscule 8%) could be a direct consequence of the shortage of staff — mainly assistant inspectors and sub-inspectors — responsible for investigation in most cases, states Praja report.

According to the survey, the city police force comprising 37,159 policemen has 880 assistant inspectors and 2,024 sub-inspectors, against the sanctioned 1,047 and 3,254 respectively. The shortage of policemen not just affects the quality of investigations, but also causes delay in the process, the survey finds.

The huge gap of 32% between the sanctioned and the investigating officers mean the investigations are not conducted in an organised manner.

Nitai Mehta, founder and managing trustee, Praja foundation, said, “With fewer staff members and too many tasks, the Mumbai police force is compromising on its investigation. More staff members will help the officers handling criminal cases focus solely on the probes, instead of manning roadblocks or bandobast duties. As a result, the cases presented in courts will be watertight, thus ensuring conviction of those guilty.”

“In most cases, acquittal has been given owing to lack of evidence. This underscores the poor performance of the investigating officer, public prosecutor and lack of co-ordination between the two,” said Milind Mhaske, project director, Praja.

The NGO has found the conviction rate in serious offences such as murder, rape, grievous hurt, kidnapping, abduction recorded from April 2013 to March 2014 was just 8%. “To maintain law and order in the city, it is imperative that the figures rise. Low conviction rates lead to thriving of crime and consequently makes the city unsafe,” the survey stated.

Suggesting solutions, Mehta said, “Some of the police reform directives which could help correct the situation have been mentioned by the Supreme Court in its order in the Prakash Singh case of 2006. It stresses on the separation of investigation from law and order. The gap between sanctioned and working officers needs to be bridged.”

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