Over 78,000 criminals, including politicians and lawmakers, have been convicted and punished in Bihar, the highest number in the country, in the past seven years thanks to fast track courts, an official said on Tuesday.

According to a report compiled by the police, a total of 78,464 people have been convicted in the State between January 2006 and January 2013, higher than any comparable period for decades.

“The high rate of convictions played an important role to improve law and order in the State in the last few years,” said Additional Director-General (Headquarters) Ravinder Kumar.

Bihar is no more known as lawlessness State due to the fast track trials of criminals and “the high rate of convictions which led to a decline in Bihar’s crime rate”, he said, adding that over a dozen MPs and State legislators have been convicted and punished.

Governor Devanand Konwar also praised the State Government for the high rate of convictions during his address to the joint session of the legislature on Monday.

The high rate of convictions was made possible by speedy trial of the cases, another police officer said, adding that “in the past, the rate of conviction was very low, only about 3,000-8,000 in a decade”.

“The speedy trials conducted in almost all pending criminal cases by different courts, including fast track courts and special courts, made a huge difference,” he said.

When Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal-United became Chief Minister on November 24, 2005, for the first time, he promised to make the State crime-free within three months.

“The speedy trial of criminals has also been lauded by the ordinary people of Bihar,” said the officer.

Police officers here claim that Bihar has surpassed other States in awarding the death sentence to the maximum number of people in the last seven years.

The Chief Minister has time and again told the people that criminals now fear disturbing law and order in the State because of his “political determination to prosecute them through speedy trials”.

He said the high rate of convictions has instilled a sense of fear in the minds of criminals and anti-social elements.

There has been a sharp decline in the number of abductions and other crimes, including murder and robbery, according to the police. - IANS