Aug 4, 2014, 12.44AM IST TNNChittaranjan Tembhekar ]

MUMBAI: Most cases filed under the Prevention of Atrocities (POA) Act die a natural death in Maharashtra, considered one of the most progressive states in the country. Of the 70% cases converted into chargesheets, one-fifth had to be closed due to lack of evidence and 50-70% are pending investigation.

State SC/ST commission chairman C L Thool said only 1-2% cases saw convictions. “In major cases involving serious attacks, rapes and murders, statements of complainants/witnesses are not registered, which is mandatory under the Criminal Code Procedure (CrPC). In case complainants or witnesses turn hostile by changing recorded statements, they can be punished. But the police machinery does not seem to be taking these complaints and laws seriously,” he said.

A senior state official said other than property disputes and love affairs, there were social issues such as disputes over drinking water, discrimination in issuing ration under food and civil supply schemes, disputes over crematoriums, encroachments on infertile land and differences over religion and practices that were involved in cases registered.

On an average, around 1,100 cases of atrocities are received at special courts every year besides the thousands pending for years following no progress in investigations, affecting the judicial process. In case of disposal, 85% witnessed acquittals and only 1-2% saw convictions. Around 90% cases brought forward and received stay pending for years, figures obtained from the state social welfare department showed.

Thool said the judiciary favoured immediate filing of FIRs in such cases. He referred to the famous case of Rita Kumari versus the state of UP of 2013 where the court had directed that police to follow the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), but there were no signs of its implementation. Pointing out the recent cases registered in Akluj in Solapur district and the one in Ahmednagar where two Dalit youths were killed by the mobs, Thool said, “Every day I get minimum three to five calls about cases of atrocities but the outcome is very poor.”

State employment guarantee minister Nitin Raut told TOI the state machinery was not following guidelines on registering statements of witnesses and complainants under Section 164 of the CrPC. “Witnesses and complainants turning hostile is the main reason for cases not reaching their logical end,” he said.