Incompetence of investigating officers, the conviction rate in sexual violence cases in Sindh increases

By: Rana Malhi

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Due to the non-implementation of the Anti-Rape Act, the conviction rate in sexual violence cases across Sindh has become only 12%.

During the last two and a half years, a total of 999 cases of sexual violence were disposed of in 28 judicial districts of the province, 878 due to poor and substandard investigation in the cases, all the accused were acquitted, in only 121 cases the accused were convicted.

It should be noted that in 2021, in order to prevent incidents of sexual violence and bring the perpetrators to the role of a criminal, the Anti-Rape Act was passed in the National Assembly, according to which a separate police station and its investigation unit related to sexual violence incidents were established.

Providing protection to witnesses, appointing a special prosecutor and other important measures were included, but unfortunately, the said law has not yet been implemented in Sindh province, due to which the percentage of convictions in sexual violence cases is very disappointing.

In 2021, the accused were convicted in 50 cases, while the accused were acquitted in 407 cases due to poor investigation and weak prosecution. The rate was 10.94 percent while the acquittal rate was 89.05.

In the year 2022, the accused were sentenced in 40 cases, while the accused were released from the grip of the law in 288 cases in the same year due to substandard and incompetent and inexperienced investigating officers. The rate was 12.19, according to the data obtained from January to July 31, 2023 year, the accused have been sentenced in 31 cases, while in 183 cases, the prosecution was weakened due to poor investigation by incompetent and inexperienced investigating officers, as a result of which the accused were acquitted.

According to the data, during the year 2021, the conviction rate was zero in 7 districts including Sukkur, Khairpur, Larkana, Jacobabad, Umarkot, Tando Muhammad Khan and Kashmore/Kandhkot districts.

In the year 2021, 10 cases were solved from Sukkur district and all the accused were acquitted, similarly 38 cases were solved in Khairpur, 10 in Larkana, 1 in Jacobabad, 7 in Umarkot, 1 in Kashmore/Kandhkot and 5 in Tando Muhammad Khan. And all the accused were acquitted.

In the same year 2021, among the districts with the highest percentage of convictions, district Badin, where 2 out of 3 cases were convicted and the conviction rate was 66.67%, followed by the Central District of Karachi. Where 3 out of 7 cases were convicted and the conviction rate was 42.86%, while the third place is Dadu district where 6 out of 17 cases were convicted and the rate was 35.29%.

While in 2021, there were 5 districts of Sindh in which no case of sexual violence was dealt with, they include Karachi’s South, West, Shikarpur, Mithiari and Tando-ul-Hiyar districts.

In the year 2022, there are 10 districts where the named accused in all the cases were acquitted due to poor investigation and the conviction rate was zero. Among them, the leading district is Thatta where 21 cases were disposed of but the conviction rate was zero.

Larkana district is second where all the accused were acquitted in 13 cases, district Ghotki is on the third place where 11 cases were disposed of and all the accused were acquitted, in Tando Muhammad Khan Jacobabad and Karachi West 4, 4, 4 cases were disposed of respectively and all the accused were acquitted.

In Shaheed Benazirabad and Umarkot, 3 cases were disposed of and all the accused were acquitted, in Qamber Shahdad Kot and Karachi South, 1 and 1 cases were disposed of and all the accused were acquitted.

In the year 2022 itself, there are 3 districts where no cases have been disposed of, they include District Mithiari, Tando Al Hiyar and Kashmore/Kandhkot, while in the year 2022, there are 3 districts where the percentage of conviction is the highest, among them Karachi.

District Central, where the accused were convicted in 11 cases out of 21 cases, while the accused were acquitted in 10 cases and the conviction rate was 52.38%. District Sukkur stood at the second place where the accused were convicted in 3 cases out of 9 and the accused were acquitted in 6 cases. The conviction rate was 53.33 percent, while Dadu district was third in 2 out of 12 cases, and the accused were acquitted in 10 cases, and the conviction rate was 16.67 percent.

From January to July 2023, there are 8 districts where One hundred percent of the accused were acquitted in the cases, Malir district is the top, where all the accused were acquitted in 43 cases, Ghotki, where all the accused were acquitted in 14 cases, Nowshehru Feroze, where all the accused were acquitted in 9 cases, Thatta, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 cases were disposed of in Hyderabad, Badin, Jacobabad and Jamshoro respectively, in which all the accused were acquitted, that is, the percentage of convictions in the said 8 districts is zero so far.

From January to July 2023, 100 percent of the accused were convicted in cases of sexual violence in three districts of Sindh, including Kashmore/Kandhkot, Qamber Shahdadkot and Sajawal, in which only 1, 1 cases were disposed of, while in July this year Till now 4 districts remained where no case of forced rape could be solved, they include Karachi South, Shikarpur, Mithiari and Tando Al Hiyar.

According to legal experts, the law must be fully implemented to bring the criminals to the role of infidels and all kinds of protection and funds must be issued to the victims including the witnesses, while the appointment of qualified and experienced investigation officers is also very important.

Apart from this, it is necessary to appoint expert and qualified special prosecutors to defend the prosecution. With these measures, incidents of sexual violence can be prevented.

Legal experts says that traditionally the investigating officer is the king of the case. What evidence he presents and what he does not do, no one is asking him. Usually the investigation is not done on the right lines, the chemical examiner and DNA report is not submitted on time and thus the case is weakened in favor of the accused. In such cases, the investigators take the confession of the accused to save his life, while such a statement taken in police custody has no legal status.

The statement of the accused is recorded in the court under Section 164 of the Criminal Code of Criminal Procedure Code but there is also a specific method which is often ignored in the courts. Due to which the case gets damaged and finally the accused is acquitted. Under Section 376 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), the maximum punishment for the crime of sexual assault is death and a minimum of 10 years imprisonment and fine. If the number of accused is more than one, the maximum punishment is death and the minimum punishment is 25 years imprisonment and fine.

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