Charge sheets filed in many grave crime cases, but trial yet to begin

More than a decade ago, a differently-abled girl was allegedly raped by a youth. The deaf and dumb girl of Dharmapuri managed to give an account of the incident to her family and even identified the suspect. After 14 long years, trial is yet to commence in the case. 

Govindan (70), a Dalit of the same district, was killed and many others were injured when an armed gang unleashed violence in Veppampatti near Harur in 1998. Though the case was charge sheeted, trial has not commenced so far.

“A gang attacked us following a rivalry in local body election. My father died and many of my family members suffered grievous injuries in the attack. A couple of my relatives are yet to recover...we continue to suffer and there seems to be no hope of any justice,” says Dhanapal (42).

These are just examples among hundreds of grave crimes that are reportedly pending in lower courts even after the police laid charge sheets.

The cases were not committed to the Sessions court for “insufficient” or “missing” documents. In many cases, all the accused could not be produced in court for serving the charge sheet, a reason for trial not commencing.

An IPS officer in Tamil Nadu who came across a murder case where trial had not begun for many years went into the details and was shocked to find that it was one among 200 such cases in the district. The officer, who is Dharmapuri Superintendent of Police Asra Garg, conducted a special drive in November last year and found that 60 cases of murder, five dacoities, 30 rapes, 30 attempts to murder and ten SC/ST Act cases were among the crimes not committed to Sessions court for trial.

“We formed special teams to re-submit the documents and took steps to commit the cases to the Sessions court. The Principal District Judge was cooperative in expediting the process. For the first time, we have created a mechanism to ensure that documents don’t go missing from case files. The police now take a written acknowledgement from the courts after filing the charge sheet,” Mr. Garg said.

Similarly, a few hundreds of cases of heinous crimes are believed to be awaiting trial across the State for many reasons. In West Zone, comprising 8 districts and two commissionerates, Inspector-General of Police S. Davidson Devasirvatham says police were told to identify cases where trial had not commenced for long and take appropriate action.

Institutional connivance

According to Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) president and advocate V. Suresh, there was an institutional connivance leading to delayed justice in several cases of crimes where the weakest sections of society were victims.

In some cases, the victims genuinely failed to remember the facts of the case or the suspects after so many years.

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