Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: The triple murder near Puri yesterday seems to have triggered the uproar in the State Assembly today with the opposition leaders, in tandem, seeking answers from the ruling party on the  deteriorating Law and Order situation in the State.

What is nagging for the State is Odisha has witnessed nearly 4 murder crimes every day during the period of January - May 2019. There seems no let-up in the murder crime in 2019, as the State had also recorded nearly 4 murders everyday in the year 2018.

According to the data available with the State Police, Odisha had registered around 563 murders in January to May 2019. The State had recorded 1,378 murder crimes in 2018. It has been observed that the murder crime in Odisha has been on the ascent after a decline in 2016-17.

An analysis shows the crime rate of murders in Odisha in 2018 and 2019 (Jan-May) remained at over 2.9. The rate was around 3 in 2016. This shows the murder crime rate in Odisha has almost remained stagnant over the years.

As per NCRB 2016 report, Odisha figured at 8th in the crime rate of murders in the country and was ranked at 10th in the incidence of murder crimes registered.

The trail of murder crime stats above show how grave the enormity is in the State.

Why the State is keeping stuck to such a dubious distinction nationally? The nagging factor behind the rise in violent crimes in the State has been delay in completion of Preliminary inquiry (PI), filing of charge sheets and the resultant lower conviction rate.

Take the instance of 2018. Police records reveal filing of charge sheets in mere 47 per cent of murder crimes.  Even preliminary inquiry (PI) is conducted in mere 48 per cent of murder crimes registered in the year.

When the total murder crime registered in the State was 1,378 in 2018, the total PIs done in the year stood at 657 and charge-sheets were filed in only 645 cases.

The scenario looks worse in 2019. As per the police data available, PIs were completed in 322 of a total of 337 murders registered during January - March 2019. But charge-sheets were filed in mere 15 murder cases. The charge-sheeting rate has tumbled down to mere 4.45 per cent.

The direct bearing is seen in the conviction rate under murder crimes in the State. Last year the conviction rate was below 25 per cent, much lower than the national average of around 50 per cent.

The conviction rate of below 25 per cent means nearly 75 accused in every 100 cases filed have got acquittals from the court of law.

Senior lawyers blame the high acquittal rate to delay in PIs and framing of charge-sheets in the State.