Delhi Police’s reasons for low rate of convictions

Judges refuse to trust confessions before police and over-worked investigating officers are not getting time to marshal all evidence before courts.

These are among 15 reasons cited by Union Home Ministry before Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs for low rate of convictions in cases registered by Delhi Police.

The committee had earlier expressed anguish over the dip in conviction rate and had asked the authorities to take steps to stem the slide and in its response, the Union Home Ministry, which controls Delhi Police, said the force has a better record in convictions compared to other states.

It said 48.93 per cent of criminal cases of Delhi Police that went to trial resulted in conviction in 2013 while Maharashtra had 13.3 per cent conviction and Bihar 13.4 per cent. Citing NCRB figures, the Ministry noted that the all India figure was 40.2 per cent while some states like Uttar Pradesh (53.1 per cent) and Madhya Pradesh (49.7 per cent) had a better record.

After analysing the acquittals, the Ministry found out at least 15 possible reasons that could result in the drop in convictions. It ranges from witnesses turning hostile to “minor contradictions” on the part of prosecution as reasons for acquittals.

Interestingly, one of the reasons cited was the “the distrust of judiciary for confessions made before police officer and the principle followed that guilt be proved beyond reasonable doubt”.

In a safeguard for protecting the rights of accused, the law does not permit the confession before a police officer admissible as evidence during trial. Many a times, it has been seen that confessions have been extracted through force by police and court had come down heavily on states for such illegal practices.

It also blames the “adversarial system of jurisprudence” where the burden of proof is on the prosecution and the evidence is not considered sufficient for convicting the accused.

Another issue highlighted was the “overburdened” police investigating machinery. The investigating officers are “not able to do full justice in marshalling the evidence due to constraint of time”, the panel said.

Reasons for Acquittals

** Complainant resiles from allegations

** Witnesses turning hostile

** Witnesses won over by accused

** No fear of action for changing statements

** Burden of proof on prosecution

** Minor contradictions of prosecution

** Overworked IOs

** Distrust of judiciary on confessions before police

** Public witnesses non-joining at time of recovery

** Contradictions during cross-examinations of police witnesses

** Material witnesses not traced and produced

** Witnesses not identifying accused

** Delay forensic reports

** Contradictions in prosecution witnesses.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Dec 8, 2015)

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