The conviction rate in accident cases which take place in the city has witnessed a decline in the past five years — from 17 per cent in 2010 to 4.6 per cent in 2014. This year till May 31, only one case led to conviction.
In 2010, 456 accident cases were registered, the number gradually decreased to 366 in 2014. These include the cases of hit-and-run, which are usually marked untraced. Police said hit-and-run cases are usually blind and there is no way to solve them unless an eyewitness notes down the number of the offending vehicle.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Traffic Maneesh Chaudhary said, “To aid solving these cases, we had moved a proposal about installing around 660 cameras in the city. Once the entire city is under surveillance, these cases will not go untraced”.
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The data clearly shows that most of these cases fall flat in the court. The conviction rate, say the advocates dealing with these cases, is dropping due to various reasons.
Advocate Rajesh Sharma, who practises at the district court, said, “There are threel major factors for acquittal in these cases. First, the information on the accident is often incomplete, or the complainant and the accused have an out of court settlement.”
The third, he added, was eyewitnesses and other witnesses turning hostile. “We cannot do much in such cases”.
Advocate RS Bains, who deals with appeals of accident cases in the High Court, however, said, “Laws were made by the British and the accused are taking advantage of it. A person injures or even kills another and is practically scot-free when the High Court reduces the sentence in appeal.”
Bains added that many cases of Chandigarh are also appealed in the High Court. “The judges here increase the compensation amount and reduce the sentence of the accused.”
He also said that in case the police really wants to crack cases of hit-and-run, they can trace the accused with the help of cameras installed across the city and cameras at toll plazas. The employees at toll plazas should also be asked to keep a tab on the make and colour of a vehicle passing.”
On Friday, the Panchkula Commissioner of Police OP Singh had directed that in all hit-and-run cases, Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of IPC with a maximum punishment of 10 years will be imposed instead of 304-A (death due to negligence).
Advocate Rajesh Sharma added, “In Section 304, part II attributes the knowledge of killing someone to the accused. It can be easily imposed. A person driving a vehicle at a high speed very well understands that he put his life and life of others on the road at risk.”