Going by the average number of cases completing trials in the last five years, which stands at 2,550 cases, it will take 30.3 years for courts in Mumbai to complete trials in 76,841 cases pending till the end of 2020, according to an analytical study carried out by Praja Foundation on serious crime cases in Maharashtra capital.
A 30% shortage of prosecutors and judges in the courts handling these cases is another issue that is contributing to the backlog, the report said.
The study is based on the “Crime in India” data for a five-year period from 2016-2020 released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), and RTI data accessed by the foundation. The data shows that each year, the number of pending cases of serious crimes is increasing in Mumbai but the trials in these cases are not being completed at the same rate.
As per the NCRB data analysis, an average of 2,550 cases have completed trials between 2016-2020 and therefore, if the trials continue to take place at this pace, it shall take the courts 30.3 years to complete them in the 76,841 cases pending till the end of 2020. These cases are only class II offences, which are tried in the two sessions court (at Kalaghoda and Dindoshi) and the Sewree fast track court. The offences that are classified as Class II offences are murder, murder attempt, homicide, rape, death due to negligence, unnatural offence, miscarriage, abetment to suicide, kidnapping, grievous hurt, poisoning, assault on public servant and hurt.
The foundation said another major issue is shortage of prosecutors and judges in the sessions courts. “As per RTI data accessed by us, there is a 30% shortage of personnel (35 working out of 50) in the position of sessions court public prosecutors as of March 2021. Besides, a 30% shortage was seen in positions of sessions court judges wherein only 69 judges were seen to be working out of the total sanctioned strength of 98 as on March 2021,” said Yogesh Mishra, head, research and data, Praja Foundation.
“For the judiciary, positions for sessions court judges are not filled appropriately. The condition is similar for sessions court public prosecutors as well. With the increasing urban population of Mumbai, it is not just important to fill the remaining sanctioned posts, but also to revisit the number of sanctioned posts each year to cope up with the increasing number of trials,” said Nitai Mehta, trustee, Praja Foundation.
The watchdog also highlighted that out of the 77,899 pending cases in 2020, only 1,058, 1 per cent of the cases, completed trials in 2020. Further, 116 cases resulted in conviction, which means that the remaining 942 cases or 85% of the total cases resulted in acquittal.
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