Delhi HC blames shoddy police work for high acquittal rate

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New Delhi, May 4 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Wednesday expressed its disappointment over high rate of acquittals in various cases in the high court and sessions court and pointed to shoddy police investigations as the reason.

The court went through a Delhi Police report that showed about 81 percent acquittals in the high court and 60 percent acquittals in the sessions court.

A division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva was informed by Delhi Police that the acquittal rate in the high court was about 81 percent.

A total of 588 cases recorded acquittals while convictions were secured in only 138 cases, the court was told.

In the sessions court, 8,667 of the total 14,270 cases ended in acquittals. Only 5,603 ended in conviction in the last five year.

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It means approximately 60 percent cases ended in acquittals, senior advocate Chetan Sharma and advocate Shailendra Babbar appearing for Delhi Police said.

The report shows similar percentage of acquittals with respect to crime against women, senior citizens and children.

Expressing its disappointment, the bench said: “People are getting raped, molested, harassed and murdered. The acquittal rate is 80 to 90 percent. Then the court is blamed for acquittals, that we acquitted the culprits. But the reason for acquittals is shoddy investigation by police.”

The bench said a large number of acquittals indicated that either the investigation was “shoddy” or “police accused the wrong person”.

“It’s also the case where they have apprehended a criminal but because of poor quality of investigation and evidence, court acquits the criminal. It’s also the case that because of shoddy investigation innocent person gets arrested,” said the bench.

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The court said this was the reason it has been stressing upon the bifurcation of law and order from criminal investigation so that quality of investigation be improved.

“It is for this reason that the court is directing the government to increase the manpower and set up forensic laboratories for scientific evidence…,” the court said.

“Unfortunately, the governments (Centre and Delhi) have not realised this till date.”

The bench said the innocent suffered as police arrested wrong people to face trial.

“Two of the most important things for the humans is life and liberty and that should not take a back seat.”

“We are, therefor, requesting the Centre and the Delhi government to improve criminal investigation,” the court said while expressing disappointment that both the governments were doing nothing in this regard.

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The high court had earlier asked the Delhi Police to provide statistics on the number of cases decided by the sessions court, the high court and the Supreme Court in the last five years.

The court asked the Delhi government to file a status report with regard to the backlog of samples yet to be tested in forensic laboratories here and also the number of samples tested in the last three years.

The report shall also indicate the capacity of each forensic lab in the city.

The court posted the matter for further hearing on May 18.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation initiated by it for women safety and recruitment of additional police in Delhi after the December 16 gang-rape case.



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