The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday asked the State government to examine whether there are delays in completion of investigations in cases registered under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, as the law mandates completion of probe in 60 days.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S. Kinagi posed this question after perusing the data submitted by the government on number of FIRs registered, number of cases of charges sheets filed, closure of investigation, cases under investigation, pending trial, number of convictions, and acquittals.
The Bench was hearing a PIL petition filed by Parishishta Jathi/Parishishta Pangadagala Melvicharane Mattu Balavardhana Sangha, Bengaluru, complaining about effective implementation of SC and ST (PoA) Act.
As per data submitted by the government, investigation of 1,284 cases were pending as during 2019 of the total 2,491 cases, which included some of the cases carried forward from the previous year. The data also pointed out that of the 9,448 cases pending trial in 2019, only 23 cases ended in conviction, in 549 cases the accused were acquitted, and 8,876 cases remained pending in courts at the end of the year.
As Senior Counsel Jayna Kothari, appearing foe the petitioner, pointed out low rate of conviction, the Bench said it is a complex issue involving analysis of evidences while asking the government to provide details of the review meetings held by the committees constituted as per apex courts direction for reviewing the cases ended in acquittals.
The government also told the court that an average of 2.25 lakh criminal cases are reported in a year, including under IPC and other laws. Of these, 1.2 lakh cases are registered under the IPC alone in a year and cases under the SC and ST (PoA) Act are around 2,000 a year, which constitutes 1.5% of the total criminal cases.
The Bench directed the Registrar-General of the High Court to file a report on vacancy in the post of judicial officers as the government said that it has requested the High Court to set up 12 more special courts in addition to the existing eight to try the cases registered under the Act.
Though the government said the police officers are being sensitised at the State Police Academy on conducting probe under this Act, the Bench said that training can be provided to police at the Karnataka Judicial Academy if the government found it necessary.