Maharashtra corruption goes unchecked? Conviction rate on the decline | Hindustan Times
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Maharashtra corruption goes unchecked? Conviction rate on the decline

It has fallen from an average of 22% to 15% last year and 9% this year

mumbai Updated: Feb 05, 2018 08:25 IST
Jayprakash S Naidu
The ACB has been studying cases in which accused have been acquitted, to improve its conviction record.
The ACB has been studying cases in which accused have been acquitted, to improve its conviction record.(HT FILE)

The conviction rate of the Maharashtra anti-corruption bureau (ACB) has been declining for the past few years, with the average conviction rate falling from 22 percent to 15 percent last year and to just 9 percent at present.

Since 2008 till 2018, i.e. in 10 years and one month, the average conviction rate of ACB has been 22 percent. While in 2014 the ACB’s conviction rate was 29%, it dropped to 23% in 2015, 20% in 2016 and 15% in 2017. In 2018, it fell to 9%.

Another worrying factor is long pendency of cases. An ACB official said, “Approximately 4,700 cases are pending before courts for trials. It becomes difficult to get conviction when cases are pending in courts for a long period of time. There are several cases dating back to 1999, which are pending.” 

As per the statistics maintained by the ACB, a total of 4,202 cases completed trials between 2008 and 2018 in which only 925 cases resulted in conviction. However, with each year the conviction rate is falling. While in 2015 it was 23 %, it fell to 20% in 2016. Last year, the conviction rate dropped to 15% and in January this year it further dropped to 9%. 

In a bid to improve its conviction rate, the ACB studies each case where the accused have been acquitted to find out the reasons for acquittal. The ACB since the past few years has also been apprising judges on the procedure undertaken by its officials to conduct trap cases. 

Some of the new measures undertaken by the ACB include asking the complainant to give the complaint in his own handwriting and to video record the entire procedure of conducting traps. ACB sources said that they hope some of the new measures will help improve the conviction rate in coming years. 

Former director general of Maharashtra and ACB, Praveen Dixit said, “The acquittals are taking place in old cases where the value of evidence is weak due to multiple reasons. Sometimes the complainant wants to withdraw the case under influence by the accused or the witness turns hostile.” 

Dixit said another reason is the long pendency of cases despite a high court directive for steady disposal of cases each month. Dixit said, “It is important to find out whether the high court directive is being followed by the special courts or not. Long pendency of cases too results in a lot of acquittals. I doubt this is happening. Dealing with corruption should be a top priority.” 

Another alarming factor is the sudden dip in the number of corruption cases. From 2,595 cases in 2014-2015, the cases have dropped to 1,955 cases. When contacted, an ACB official declined comment on the reason for the decreased in the number of cases.