Witnesses turning hostile reason for ACB’s low conviction rate, says former joint commissioner for Pune city
Former joint commissioner (law and order ) for Pune city, Rajendra Sonawane, has been one of the most decorated officers of the Indian Police Service (IPS) posted in different wings of the state police department. He has also worked in the capacity of Special Inspector General (SIG) at the state criminal investigation department (CID). Known for his language skills, mastery in law and preparation of watertight cases against the accused, Sonawane spoke to Nadeem Inamdar on what is affecting the conviction rate of ACB and the way forward.pune Updated: Dec 27, 2017 17:45 IST
What is the reason behind the low conviction rate of ACB ?
Witnesses turning hostile is the main reason behind the rising number of low convictions in the ACB. Hostile witness makes prosecution difficult or next to impossible. To achieve prosecution and a conviction in this scenario is very rare.The other reasons behind the falling standards of conviction is lack of proper application of professional working mechanism to the cases related to red-handed arrests, disproportionate assets, the unknown persons who accept the bribe amount and don’t come under the purview of the investigative agencies as there is no chain of evidence to link them with the crime.
What is the mood of the complainant when it comes to filing graft cases?
The citizens are convinced that the sleuths are not applying proper sections and burking cases. You approach any police station and this is one of the major reasons which is emerging in all the cases. People think that they will not get justice from the police as they are losing interest in the criminal justice system. Why will a victim come from Chandigarh to Shivajinagar for recording his evidence just for his stolen property worth ₹5,000 from his pocket. Complainants are getting justice after 17 years and all this is having a cascading impact on the complainants.The complainants feel that there is an imminent threat to their lives as there have been cases where the accused have threatened to ruin the lives of even family members of the complainants and even offered bribes to water down the court cases.
Do you think the quality of investigation has gone down ?
Every body has their interest in the case and it is greed at every level and every stage which is making prosecution difficult. Conviction has become a major challenge with no quick solutions in sight. Fast track courts have become slow track courts as they are taking more than a year and even two years to give their verdict. This, too, is affecting the morale of the citizens and the complainants alike.
What is the future ?
Quick dispensation of justice should become the motto of the investigative agencies. Protection to the persons who are filing complaints against corrupt individuals must be guaranteed .Continuity should be there for the investigating officer (IO) till the final charge sheet is filed in the court. If the officer is transferred midway and the second officer takes over then he has to start the investigation all over again. Transfer of the IO leads to adjournments and witnesses are managed in the process affecting justice and conviction in a big way. If the IO retires from service, then he feels less inclined to go and attend the court proceedings. There is a need to rethink the entire process and all the guidelines must be followed for quick delivery of justice.