State wants to know why criminals get acquitted
In a bid to improve the abysmal conviction rate of 8% in the state, the government is planning to form district and state level bodies, oversee the workings of the investigation and prosecution wings, monitor courts and implement witness protection schemes
After facing flak from various quarters for the declining rate of conviction in criminal cases in the state, the government is planning to introduce a slew of changes to the system to restore the public’s faith in the state police machinery as well public prosecutors.
In an effort to get its act together, the state home department has decided to scrutinise the workings of the investigation and prosecution wings. Any acquittal ordered in criminal matters will be scrutinised at the district level as well as by a state level committee.
These decisions were taken at a high level meeting chaired by Home Minister R R Patil yesterday at his chamber in Mantralaya. The meeting was attended by the additional chief secretary (home) Amitabh Rajan, the principal secretary (law & judiciary) Vijaykumar Achalia, and state director of prosecution Mr Bhale.
In a bid to increase the rate of conviction in criminal cases which is an appalling 8.2 per cent in the state and 20 per cent in cases of crime against women, the officials at the meeting decided to devise new measures to improve coordination between the investigation and the prosecution wings.
While a committee will be appointed at the state level, each district will have local committees to look into the details of cases in which the accused have been acquitted by the courts, said sources.
As of now, the two wings work separately. While the investigation wing comes under the aegis of the state director general of police, the prosecution wing comes under the director of prosecution. The workings of the two departments were separated following a Supreme Court order, sources said.
The officials also deliberated on initiating a witness protection scheme under which a witness who is reluctant to appear in the courts on a regular basis will be offered financial benefits as well as police protection. It is hoped that this will reduce chances of the witness turning hostile and embarrassing the police.
Moreover, a scheme to monitor courts will ensure that dates of hearings are adhered to and they are held at regular intervals to prevent the case from weakening, sources said. An investigation fund is also on the cards, which will help the police carry out their investigative processes effectively.
Home Minister R R Patil said that efforts were also on to recruit adequate number of staff for both the investigation and the prosecution wings. The state in the past has approved the recruitment of law officers to handle the cases.
The number of public prosecutors will also be increased to clear pending cases in a time-bound manner.