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'Hostile witnesses reason behind low conviction rate'

Witnesses, complainants turning hostile, discrepancies in evidences and deposition, lack of proper evidences and lapses in investigation and procedure are being cited as the reasons behind the low rates of conviction and so many acquittals in crime cases.


Not in the noose: Due to weak prosecution procedures, genuine criminals often go scot-free. Representation Pic

In a study by the city’s Crime Branch, it has been revealed that out of 1,730 cases between January 1 and June 20, 2013, a whopping 1,482 accused have been acquitted, and only 238 cases have seen conviction, which is a conviction rate of a mere 13.76 per cent. One of the major reasons behind acquittals in such cases, they say, is discrepancy in the deposition of witnesses and the ‘panch’.

“Out of 1,482 cases, 62.3 per cent, accused have gone scot-free just because there is no uniformity in the deposition of witnesses, which works in favour of the accused,” said Shahaji Solunke, additional commissioner of police (crime).

Poor investigation
“In a majority of the cases, the investigation by the police is flawed. They don’t collect evidence properly nor do they record statements of eyewitnesses. Such investigations make the case weak,” said a public prosecutor.

Turning hostile
The other major reason for acquittal is the hostility of witnesses, complainants and ‘panchs’. In 216 cases, complainants turn hostile, says the Crime Branch. The report says that this is due to the ‘want of solid evidence’, leading to many acquittals. The accused have walked free in 269 cases due to lack of evidence. “In 144 cases, the main witness turned hostile leading to an acquittal,” Solunke said. Solunke further lamented that it is disheartening for the police and the prosecution as due to such reasons, genuine cases of crime result in acquittals. In his opinion, if the complainant, witness and the panch turn hostile, they should be prosecuted. 

1,730  Number of cases between January 1 and June 20, 2013

1,482 No of cases in which the accused have been acquitted

216 Number of cases where complainants turned hostile

269 Number of acquittals due to lack of evidence

*From Jan 1-June 20, 2013

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