Days after the Supreme Court observed that the 'success rate' in cases taken up by the Central Bureau of Investigation is perceived low, the agency has informed it that it has achieved the conviction rate of about 65-70 per cent, and would try to raise it to 75 per cent by August 2022.
In an affidavit filed before the top court, CBI director S K Jaiswal stated that the CBI secured the conviction of the accused in 69.83 per cent and 69.19 per cent of the cases in 2020 and 2019 respectively.
“Soon after taking charge as director, CBI, one of the main steps, inter alia, taken was to improve the directorate of prosecution by holding a meeting of all officers at the level of assistant public prosecutor and above along with senior executive officers, in October 2021.
"It is the endeavor of the CBI to bring the present conviction rate to 75 per cent by August 2022,” the CBI director said in the affidavit.
The CBI told the top court that a comprehensive review of the system has been established after extensive deliberations with the senior officials of the CBI in the year 2020 and 2021 as considered necessary.
It said that revamped set up guidelines replacing the old ones have been issued with an emphasis on the monitoring of the matters pertaining to filing and monitoring of appeals by the CBI before the higher courts.
The effort of the CBI is to undertake a quick (preferably less than 30 days) intra-departmental decision as to whether to file an appeal/revision or not in a given prosecution case so that the requirement of condonation of delay is ruled out, it said.
"It is submitted that filing of appeals/SLPs by the CBI also entails the role of other agencies/departments including DoPT, central agency section and ministry of law & justice. To expedite processing of such matters by other agencies/departments and for better coordination on behalf of the CBI, a dedicated cell has been created in the CBI, for the monitoring and coordination of proposals relating to filing of Appeals," the CBI said.
The affidavit was filed in response to questions put forth by the top court on September 3.
The CBI said that presently, eight states namely West Bengal, Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Mizoram have withdrawn the general consent previously granted to Delhi Special Police Establishment (CBI) under Section 6 of the DSPE Act.
"Now, taking specific consent again on a case-to-case basis is time-consuming and at times may be detrimental to timely and prompt investigation. It is noteworthy to mention that CBI has sent over 150 requests to the governments of Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Kerala, and Mizoram during the period 2018 to June 2021 for grant of specific consent for investigation of cases in the territory of these states.
"The aforesaid requests were made for investigating trap cases, disproportionate assets cases, cases relating to allegations of cheating, forgery, misappropriation, and loss of foreign exchange and also bank fraud cases. Requests were granted in less than 18 per cent cases..." the affidavit said.
The CBI said that the delay caused in taking up cases by the CBI due to any of the reasons mentioned above, at times, leads to destruction or dissipation of evidence.
"This is detrimental not only for the investigation by the CBI but also for subsequent prosecution of cases," it said.
The investigative agency said that the harmonious and synergetic working of executive officers in tandem with the law officers of the directorate of prosecution, the CBI has resulted in achieving the conviction rate of about 65-70 per cent over a period of time.
Observing that the 'success rate' in cases taken up by the CBI is perceived low, the top court had earlier asked the premier central investigating agency to identify the bottlenecks and apprise it of the steps that have been taken to strengthen its prosecution unit.
It had directed the CBI director to file an affidavit within six weeks stating the number of cases in which the agency was successful in getting the accused convicted in trial courts and high courts.
The apex court had asked the CBI director to inform it about the steps taken or proposed to be taken to address the inadequacies in manpower, infrastructure facility, and the quality of investigation.
“There is a common perception that the success rate of the cases taken on file is rather low. Thus, we call upon the petitioners to place the year-wise data on the cases under prosecution, the time period over which they are pending before the trial courts, and the percentage of conviction rendered by the courts at different-level,” the bench had said.
The top court's direction came while hearing an appeal by the CBI against advocates Mohammad Altaf Mohand and Sheikh Mubarak challenging a 2018 order of the Jammu and Kashmir high court in a case of allegedly fabricating/creating false evidence by pressuring, inducing, and threatening the eye-witnesses to make false depositions implicating the police/security personnel in the commission of offences of rape and murder of the two women in Shopian.
The appeal was filed after an inordinate delay of 542 days.