FPJ Exclusive: Thane Excise Department's Strategy To Be Adopted In Maharashtra To Increase Conviction Rate

FPJ Exclusive: Thane Excise Department's Strategy To Be Adopted In Maharashtra To Increase Conviction Rate

From 1.35 percent in 2014 to 0.57 percent in 2017, the abysmal conviction record in cases the state painted a sorry comparative picture in terms of cases registered by various excise departments across the state.

Suresh GolaniUpdated: Friday, February 23, 2024, 05:32 PM IST
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District Legal Services Authority Felicitated Excise Superintendent- Nilesh Sangade and His Team | FPJ

Thane, February 23: Apart from effective enforcement through detection of crimes, improving the conviction rate is one of the major responsibilities of the law enforcing agencies. However, despite being one of the most progressive states, Maharashtra lagged behind in convictions related to prohibition cases.

From 1.35 percent in 2014 to 0.57 percent in 2017, the abysmal conviction record in cases the state painted a sorry comparative picture in terms of cases registered by various excise departments across the state. Excise officials from some districts had to stare at zero conviction.

In 2017, as many as 1,03,453 cases were registered in the state out of which only 273 ended in conviction. Since then pending cases have been piling. Notably in 76 percent of the cases, the accused were acquitted mainly due to panch-witnesses turning hostile or delay in obtaining the chemical analysis report.  

Thane Excise Department Forms New Strategy:

Sensing the seriousness of the situation, excise superintendent (Thane)-Nilesh Sangade worked out a strategy to ensure speedy disposals and maximum convictions. The first step involved coordination with the district judge, with a presentation of the number and nature of pending cases which had piled up sans trial for the past several years. The efforts proved to be fruitful and the district sessions court Thane gave its nod to try pending cases registered under the Maharashtra Prohibition Act, 1949 in the Lok-Adalat.

The next step followed counselling sessions in which habitual offenders were convinced to remain present before the Lok Adalat tagged with a warning that they will not repeat such offences. Subsequently, 55 persons were convicted in 53 cases and imposed a collective fine of Rs. 14.25 lakh (Rs. 25,000 each) by the Lok Adalat in a single day on 30, April, 2023. The trend continued and 111 more persons who pleaded guilty were convicted in 107 cases during Lok Adalats held on 9 September and 9, December 2023 in which Rs.23.26 lakh fine was recovered.

Conviction Rate Surges:

From 0.57 percent in 2017 the conviction rate now hovers above 4 percent. Impressed by the strategy and positive outcome, the state government has decided to replicate the Thane excise pattern across all districts in the state for effective resolution and minimize the load of adjudication on the overburdened judiciary. 

Meanwhile the District Legal Services Authority felicitated Sangade and his team on Friday (23, February) for their efforts and active participation in the National Lok Adalat.

Mira-Bhayandar Leads the Way:

The C-division (Mira Road and Bhayandar) led by senior inspector-Ashok Desle was amongst excise departments in the district which topped the list by ensuring conviction of 63 people in 20 cases and collecting fines amounting around Rs.8 lakh. Ashok Desle and his team received a special recognition by the District Legal Services Authority for the achievement. 

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