Conviction rate in murder cases in Jabalpur courts is one of the poorest

Shoddy Investigation, money power, muscle power all help the accused get off the hook in Jabalpur.

In a recent case, witnesses turned hostile, MLC deliberately botched up to help the accused escape the hands of justice.

It is no surprise that the conviction rate of criminals charged with heinous offences like murder in Jabalpur High Court is one of the lowest in the country. Despite a long and arduous litigation process, the accused walked off the gallows after being deemed not guilty.

Some are left off the hook due to paucity of evidence while some others are free after the witnesses have turned hostile. The shoddy investigating process, lack of proper forensic investigations and lack of faith in the ability of the Police to protect the witness have all contributed to this sorry state of affairs.

In the past three years, 801 cases of murder have been taken up by the session court. Of these, there have been only 47 convictions while in 63 cases the victim has been given a benefit of doubt due to insufficient evidence or witnesses turning hostile.

The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the delay in the justice process. Like other departments, the courts were also closed for a major period of the corona pandemic. The trials of criminals for murder and other heinous crimes had come to a halt. With the unlocking of the economy, the courts have now started functioning normally but the backlog of cases will take time to be dispensed off.

Witness accounts at the site of the crime form an important component of the judicial process to get justice for the victim. However in Jabalpur, like in other big cities, there is no witness protection program. A glaring example is the murder cases on some of the most notorious mafia dons in Jabalpur who were let off the hook because of witnesses changing sides and becoming hostile.

First, hardly any witnesses come forward to report the crime and if someone does take the courage, he is under pressure to change statements. Two days back, a rape victim consumed poison in court before her statement could be recorded because she was under tremendous pressure to retract her statement.

To get convictions there are three important factors that come into play. The first is MLC which is prepared by the Doctor and the Post Mortem report which ascertains the cause of death. It is one of the most important components in the legal process. Often the MLC report is botched up to give the benefit of the doubt for the accused. The second important component is the forensic investigation and material evidence. In modern times, numerous chemical and forensic techniques like DNA sampling is employed to prepare a watertight case.

Police in the state of Madhya Pradesh is woefully short-staffed, and a comprehensive investigation is never carried out. If the case has been highlighted by the media, the police get into action but once the event fades from public memory everything is back as usual.

Feature Image Source: Facebook/Aman Dawra

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