NEW DELHI: Directed by the Supreme Court to present a report card of its performance as a prosecuting agency, CBI director Subodh Jaiswal told the court that the agency’s success rate in securing conviction has been 65-70% in the last decade.
Raising serious questions about its “efficacy” to prosecute cases, the top court had decided to appraise its performance while hearing a case in which the agency had filed an appeal after an inordinate delay of 542 days. The court directed its director to file an affidavit on CBI’s efficiency by providing details of its success rate in prosecution and also give a record of pending cases.
Jaiswal assured the court that remedial action was being taken to remove “bottlenecks” and improve performance. He said that delay in one case “is not reflective of the functioning of the petitioner as the premier investigating agency of the country”.
“The harmonious and synergetic working of executive officers in tandem with law officers of the directorate of prosecution (has resulted in) CBI achieving a conviction rate of about 65-70% over a period of time,” his affidavit said.
Jaiswal also blamed the judiciary for delays and referred to an appeal filed by the agency in the alleged 2G scam in the Delhi high court. He also pointed out that delay in trial was also caused by stays granted by high courts and the Supreme Court and furnished details of 367 cases in which these courts had stayed proceedings.
“For instance, in 2G scam cases, leave to appeal was filed by the CBI within the prescribed timeline in 2018, but the same has not been granted till date. (This adds to the difficulties faced in prosecution of such cases),” he said.
The CBI director said the legal department of the agency was at present handling 13,291 appeals pending in sessions courts, HCs and the SC. He also gave details of pending trial cases in different courts across the country — 9,757 pending cases, out of which 500 relate to pending trials for more than 20 years and 921 cases pending for between 15-20 years.
Jaiswal also said that he was committed to improving prosecution and a number of steps had been taken to ensure expeditious trials in pending cases, especially those which had been pending for more than 20 years. “It is further submitted that soon after taking charge as director, CBI, one of the main steps, inter alia, taken was to improve the directorate of prosecution by holding a meeting of all officers at the level of assistant public prosecutor and above along with senior executive officers, in October, 2021. It is the endeavour of CBI to bring the present conviction rate to 75% by August, 2022,” he said.
The apex court in September had said that it was not enough for the agency just to lodge a case and conduct probe and but was bound to ensure that prosecution was successfully done. It had rejected CBI’s plea that in an adversarial litigation system like India, success rate (in litigation) should not be a factor in determining its efficiency.
The bench had said that efficiency of a prosecuting agency was determined on the basis of cases it brought to a logical conclusion and time taken by the agency, and had directed the CBI director to file the data which would be analysed by the court. “World over, assessment is being done on the basis of success rate. If you cannot sustain the prosecution case then what is the need to lodge case and conduct the probe. The success rate is very important and has to be considered,” the court had said.