Saturday, June 5, 2010

‘HCs often lax in convicting accused’

Apex Court Finds 2,280 Cases Of Rape, Murder Stayed By HCs
New Delhi: Ever wondered why so many accused in heinous crimes — murder, rape, kidnapping and dacoity — roam around for years before the law catches up with them?

This question bothered the Supreme Court a lot and it found that the High Courts were mainly responsible for such a sorry state of affairs. For, they have stayed the proceedings in these cases and forgotten all about them for years.
As many as 2,280 cases relating to murder, rape, kidnapping and dacoity have been stayed by HCs at various — FIR, investigation, framing of charges and trial — stages and then left in the limbo, possibly allowing the accused to remain at large on bail. A Bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly sought assistance from Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam for collating data on cases relating to the four categories of heinous crimes which have been stayed by HCs after it found an identical situation pointed out in a petition filed by Imtiaz Ahmed, where the Allahabad HC had stayed a criminal case since April 2003.
The efforts by the SG to collate such cases threw up startling facts:
Murder cases stayed at various stages by HCs were 1,021 (45% of the total cases), rape cases 492, kidnapping cases 550 and dacoity 217
As many as 41% of the 2,280 cases were pending for 2-6 years and 8% for more than 8 years. Of a total of 178 cases pending for more than 6 years, 97 were murder cases
Calcutta High Court appears to be the most liberal when it came to staying cases relating to heinous crimes accounting for 31% of the 2,280 cases. Allahabad High Court was not far behind having stayed 29% of the cases
In most of the cases across the HCs, the duration for which the case is pending varied from 1 to 4 years. It is seen that 34 out of 201 cases in Patna HC and 33 out of 653 cases in Allahabad HC were pending for more than 8 years After perusing the enormity of the situation and having regard to the case in hand that related to Allahabad HC, the Bench headed by Justice Singhvi requested the counsel for the High Court to furnish data about the number of cases which have been stayed at the stage of investigation or trial and listed the matter for further hearing on July 9.The report was submitted to the court by Subramaniam, who took assistance of Dr Pronab Sen and Dr G S Manna, secretary and deputy director in the ministry of statistics and programme implementation, in studying the data supplied by various HCs. The SG, in the concluding part of the report, said “the factfinding exercise by the Supreme Court has revealed a problem of serious dimension” and suggested that the apex court would be well within its jurisdiction to direct the HCs to dispose of the matter within a year from the date of grant of stay in cases relating to heinous crimes.

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