‘Achieved 65-70% convictions, aim for 75%’: CBI to SC on prosecution success rate

New Delhi: After the Supreme Court asked it to bring on record its “success rate” in prosecuting cases across the country, the CBI has told the top court that it has achieved the conviction rate of about 65-70 per cent, and aims to up it to 75 per cent by August 2022.

The central agency pointed out that delay in taking up cases leads to destruction of evidence, and 78 per cent requests for investigation of cases — mainly pertaining to bank frauds of high magnitude – are pending with eight states.

In an affidavit filed in the top court, CBI Director S.K. Jaiswal said: “The harmonious and synergetic working of executive officers in tandem with the law officers of the Directorate of Prosecution, CBI has resulted in achieving the conviction rate of about 65-70 per cent over a period of time.”

“It is the endeavour of the CBI to bring the present conviction rate to 75 per cent by August 2022.”

According to the affidavit, since 2011 till December 31, 2020, the CBI’s conviction percentage has been between 66-70 per cent, and 9,757 cases are pending trial. Nearly 500 cases are over 20 years old, 921 cases two to 15 years old, 1,828 cases between 10 to 15 years old, and 2,908 cases between 5 to 10 years old.

Citing bottlenecks and steps taken to strengthen prosecution, the CBI said it either takes up matters on the reference of state government or on the direction of constitutional courts, which results in a significant time lapse between the actual commission of offence and the date on which the investigation is taken up by it.

The CBI is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 and requires consent of the state government, in whose territorial jurisdiction it needs to conduct investigations.

Presently, eight states — West Bengal, Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Mizoram — have withdrawn the general consent previously granted to it under Section 6 of the DSPE Act.

The affidavit cited that CBI has sent over 150 requests to these states during the period 2018 to June 2021 for grant of specific consent for investigation of cases in their territory.

“Requests were granted in less than 18 per cent cases, which were related mainly in cases of trapping of corrupt central public servants. Requests in approximately 78 per cent cases were pending, which mainly pertained to bank frauds of high magnitude impacting the economy of the country,” it added.

The affidavit added that 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 added.

On the aspect of success of prosecution, the CBI said its investigation report, which includes explanation of the accused and the evidence collected to rebut the defence, is scrutinised by law officers as well as senior formations with a view to assess the quality of evidence for launching prosecution in the matter or otherwise.

It added that in several cases, during the course of trial, proceedings are held up due to stay orders granted by the appellate courts – adversely affecting the pace of the trial.

“In some cases, leave to appeal is not granted immediately and it takes a lot of time for its admission. For instance, in 2G Scam cases, leave to appeal was filed by the CBI within the prescribed timeline in year 2018, but the same has not been granted till date. (This also adds on to the difficulties being faced in prosecution of such cases),” said the affidavit, adding that 13,291 appeals are pending before various courts – sessions, high courts, and Supreme Court.

“It is further submitted that a committee, with the Director of Prosecution as a member, with the involvement of all the senior law officers serving in their respective zones of the CBI, has also been constituted to suggest steps and prepare a strategy for addressing and speeding the pending trials especially those which are pending since more than 20 years,” it added.

On September 3, a bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul decided to examine, within the ambit of investigation and prosecution, the CBI’s success rate and performance leading a case to its logical conclusion.

The top court sought a complete chart of how many cases CBI have been prosecuting in trial courts and in the high courts.

“We will examine the success rate of the premier investigating agency,” it noted.

The top court was hearing a matter arising out of the CBI’s appeal from a 2018 judgment of the Jammu & Kashmir High Court. The high court had let off some lawyers from charges of fabricating false evidence against a few security forces personnel to implicate them in a case of rape and murder.

Two girls from Shopian had died due to drowning in March 2009, the CBI had claimed that some lawyers and doctors created false evidence of rape and murder.