Mumbai: 4 years after Supreme Court order on acquittals, no state cop held responsible

Aug 02, 2018, 07:04 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

RTI query finds Maharashtra not in compliance with apex court direction for formation of committees to monitor that innocents aren't framed and accused are not acquitted; state home department issues notice to DGP seeking immediate setting up of the

Mumbai: 4 years after Supreme Court order on acquittals, no state cop held responsible

In 2014, the Supreme Court, noticing the number of acquittals in criminal cases, had directed state home departments to formulate methods to pull up investigating police officers for the same, giving a deadline of six months for setting up of a committee to monitor this. It's 2018 now and not a single officer in Maharashtra has been held responsible for acquittals, reply to an RTI query has revealed. While the committee the apex court wanted set up exists in some districts, most are unaware about the SC direction.

A scrambling state home department, on June 12, issued a letter (a copy of which is with mid-day) to the state DGP, highlighting the SC direction. It states the committee formation should be done at the earliest, or else the state government may have to face consequences. Advocate Rajeshwar Panchal, who is contemplating filing a PIL in Bombay High Court, said, "Every acquittal in a criminal case should be understood as a failure of the justice delivery system — either an innocent was framed or a habitual offender set free in the society — and hence, the police officers probing the cases in question should be held accountable."

According to Panchal, his client Ganesh Nakhate was arrested in a false case by the Kurla police. Nakhate was issued a notice by the cops under section 41 (A) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), asking him to be present before the investigating officer in a criminal case registered against him under IPC. However, section 41 (3) of CrPC states that any person who complies with a police notice under section 41 (A) cannot be arrested; yet, the Kurla police allegedly arrested Nakhate and released him a few days later. "In this case, the police misused their power... no person can be deprived of his life or liberty as stated in Article 21..." said Panchal.

Seeking answers
Nakhate then decided to get to the depth of the matter and filed an RTI application, through which he learnt that most districts in Maharashtra don't have the Supreme Court-directed committee. And those that do haven't pulled up a single officer for any acquittal. "The entire problem is in the arbitrary exercise of power to arrest given to the police; in absence of any monitoring mechanism, where common man can look for justice, many innocents become victims of police atrocity.

Also, habitual offenders, who get acquitted due to prosecution lapses, are a matter of serious concern," said Panchal. He added that Nakhate has already moved the Bombay High Court, demanding a compensation of R1 crore from the state for his wrongful arrest; the matter is pending.

Rs 1cr
Compensation victim of an alleged wrongful arrest has sought from state

Four years ago...
An SC bench of justices C K Prasad and J S Khehar had expressed concern over the growing number of acquittals due to poor investigation, and given six months to all states to put in place a mechanism for proper training of their officers to ensure the accused is punished and innocents are not framed. It was decided that a high-level committee comprising senior police officers and officials from the Directorate of Prosecution (whose function is to supervise the criminal cases, pending trials, appeal and revision in various courts) be formed in all districts and specifically look for such acquittals.

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