Maharashtra government has issued directives that cases pending in different courts of the state for various reasons, including faulty charge sheets, lack of evidence and documents, be withdrawn.
The state’s conviction rate was 15 per cent and there were more than 18 lakh criminal cases pending in 1,291 courts across the state. Nearly 25 per cent, or about 4.5 lakh, of these cases are from Mumbai and the suburbs, a Home department official said.
The decision to withdraw pending cases will facilitate expeditious disposal, he said.
The official said it has come to light that on many occasions, to avoid criticism of shielding an accused, cases are filed despite lack of concrete evidence. Charge sheets are filed even though investigations are not complete, he said.
A Government Resolution (GR) issued on May 12 said that only the cases which can yield convictions will be tried so that the conviction rate gets a significant boost and people involved do not have to suffer unnecessarily due to the pendency of cases.
A high-powered committee has been formed at the district levels headed by Principal District and Sessions Judge to review the cases that could be withdrawn. The committee will comprise the district collector, superintendent of police/ commissioner of police, assistant director of prosecution/ public prosecutor and government pleader (as a member secretary), as per the GR.
Similar committees will work at the tehsil headquarters under the senior-most judicial magistrate.
The panels have been given terms of references through which they can review pending cases and classify them into different categories.
Opinion of law and judiciary department would be taken on whether the cases can be withdrawn under Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) sections 258 (power to stop proceedings in certain cases), 321 (withdrawal from prosecution) and 173(8) (stalling further investigation), because these cannot be proved due to lack of evidence.
Cases under section 173(8) of CrPC will be followed up by assistant public prosecutor for conviction.