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Odisha Vox Pop cheering Hyderabad encounter an obit to criminal justice system?

Criminal Justice System at crossroads. Over 1 lakh criminal cases filed by women pending in Odisha. Pendency at 95%. 46% pending for 3-20 years. 52% criminal cases pending for non-appearance of accused. 8% pending for delay in evidence submission

Bhubaneswar: In a first, the killing of the four accused in rape and murder of ‘Disha’, a veterinarian in Hyderabad, in an encounter this early morning hours by Cyberabad police has virtually given a new ‘disha’ to the criminal justice system in the country.

And when the overwhelming vox populi, including in Odisha, give three-cheers to police action, which is an encounter of rapists, not of any hardcore criminals/terrorists, it  then delivers a telling comment on the criminal justice system of the country.

It seems, overall, the mood in Odisha and the nation now mirrors the observation of famous American politician (Republican) Tom Price, “Society is now less convinced of the absolute accuracy of the criminal justice system.”

Why the society in Odisha and elsewhere is less convinced? It seems the circuitous trait of country’s criminal justice system has apparently frustrated the society in general.

Sample this. A whopping over 1.07 lakh criminal cases pertaining to crime against women were pending in Odisha at the end of year 2018. Latest data with the National Judicial grid further shows another 34,188 criminal cases have been filed by women in the State till December 5, 2019.  The pendency in Odisha now stands at a massive 95 per cent.

Significantly, the age of pendency in Odisha is also very shocking. A massive 46.2 per cent of total criminal cases filed in the State have been pending from as many as 3 – 20 years!

The reasons behind pendency are more shocking: A high of around 52 per cent criminal cases are pending in the State for non-appearance of the accused in courts.

Another 11 per cent cases are pending for non-submission of the reports in courts. For delay in submission of evidence, another 8 per cent cases are pending in the State.

Data also showed closure of 4 courts (1 each in Jharsuguda & Puri and 2 in Mayurbhanj) in the State, when a total of six cases are still pending. The State has also shut down 35 functional Fast Track Courts (FTCs), since 2012.

The fallout in Odisha then is obvious. As on December 5, 2019, the State is saddling with a massive 9.63 lakh criminal cases pending in its various district and subordinate courts.

As goes the saying justice delayed is justice denied, the ominous portend is delay holds the potential to influence the final outcome of the cases, feel legal experts.

These are not mere bald statements. As per the information provided by MoS Dibyashankar Mishra in State Assembly, in the year 2018, when only 197 rape accused were convicted, 876 got acquitted. The conviction rate is mere 18 per cent. Interestingly, the conviction rate was 23 per cent in 2012.

It is this high 82 per cent acquittal rate in rapes in Odisha that seeded this celebratory mood in the State over the encounter of rapists by Hyderabad Police.

However, the bottom line is resorting to this instant justice, instead of making one accountable to the criminal justice system, is akin to giving chaos a carte blanche to rule the society.  

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