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Home > News > PTI

'Hostile witness cause low conviction rate'

March 26, 2006 15:45 IST

Hostile witnesses and lack of proper application of law by the authorities concerned are responsible for low rate of conviction, Chief Justice of India Y K Sabharwal has said.

"Witnesses turn hostile during trial and lack of proper application by concerned authorities are some reasons forthe high rate of acquittals," Justice Sabharwal said, in his keynote address at the national seminar on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances on Saturday.

This is the second time in a fortnight that the CJI has talked about hostile witnesses, who have set off a debatefollowing acquittal of all the accused in the Jessica Lal murder case.

Earlier, he hadsaid it was not a new phenomenon. Complaining that the criminal justice delivery system was already under immense pressure and needed better support, the CJI said "Justice can be delivered only when there is total support by an effective and efficient investigation and administration. The situation needs remedial measures at once so that rule of law and effectiveness of the criminal justice delivery system are not only maintained but improved."

"The rate of acquittals is a matter of great concern as it elucidates the gap between the investigation and the law," he said. Giving the example of Delhi, where there are six sessions courts dealing with cases under NDPS Act, the CJI said during August 2003 and 2005,1938chargesheets were filed, out of which 875 have been disposed of. Of these, 479 resulted in convictions while 391 cases ended in acquittals and in 12 cases, the accused were discharged.

"This itself shows that we need to take multi-dimentional steps to improve the quality of investigation as well as increase effectiveness of criminal justice delivery system," Justice Sabharwal said.

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