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Data: Significant increase in the pendency of Economic Offences in 2020 & 2021

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Data from the NCRB indicates that the pendency of economic offences both under the sections of IPC as well as various SLL has increased significantly in 2020 & 2021. The pendency of these offences at courts has crossed 90% for most offences.

In the earlier story, we analyzed the trends related to ‘Economic Offences’ registered under IPC and SLL laws in India. It was seen that the total number of cases registered under various finance related SLL Acts such as The Lotteries Regulation Act, 1998, The Chit Funds Act, 1982, The Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, The Benami Transaction Prohibition Act, 1988 & 2016, The Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Act, 1957, and The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 was the lowest in 2021 since 2017. At the same time, the number of cases of ‘economic offences’ registered under IPC has increased from 1.14 lakh cases in 2012 to an all-time high of 1.74 lakh cases in 2021. In this story, we look at the trend in these SLL related cases registered across states as well as the trends in court and police disposal of these cases.

All cases under Benami Act and 50% under Negotiable Instruments Act were registered in UP

Among the SLL Crimes, all the four cases registered under the Benami Transaction Prohibition Act in the last five years were registered in Uttar Pradesh.

Of the 218 cases under the Negotiable Instruments Act, 109 cases or 50% were registered in Uttar Pradesh alone. Bihar (41), Madhya Pradesh (37), Jharkhand (23), Assam (5), Telangana, Sikkim, and Himachal Pradesh (1 each), accounted for the remaining 50% of the cases registered since 2017.

A total of 450 cases under the Chit Funds Act were registered in the last five years, across 16 States/UTs. Six states – Kerala (69), Haryana (55), Karnataka (50), Chhattisgarh (46), Rajasthan (44), and Uttar Pradesh (41) together accounted for 68% of the cases. Along with Tamil Nadu (38), Assam (31), Telangana (23), and Punjab (22), the ten states accounted for 93% of the cases registered under the Chit Funds Act.

UP and Maharashtra accounted for 87% of cases under Prevention of Corruption Act

Under the Prevention of Corruption Act, a total of 3,877 cases were registered in Maharashtra and 1,156 cases in Uttar Pradesh. These two states alone accounted for more than 5000 cases (more than 87%) of the total 5,768 cases registered since 2017. Haryana registered more than 200 cases while Punjab and Assam registered more than 100 cases each. On the other hand, no cases were registered in Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Telangana, and Odisha while less than 10 cases each were registered in the large states of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh.

While over 26 thousand cases were registered under the Lotteries Regulation Act, Tamil Nadu alone had registered more than 24 thousand of these cases contributing to nearly 95% of the cases under the SLL Act. The state registered an average of close to 5000 cases under the Act every year since 2017. Kerala registered the second highest number of cases (670), and Andhra Pradesh registered the third highest (247) under this law.

As observed in the previous story, majority of the cases registered under SLL laws were under the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Act which renders the illegal mining of minerals like stone, gravel, precious stones, coal, etc. a punishable offence. More than 1 lakh cases have been registered under this legislation in the last five years, and Tamil Nadu alone was accounted for almost 54% of the cases (more than 56 thousand). The state registered more than 12,000 cases on an annual basis between 2017 and 2020, which reduced to less than 8 thousand in 2021.

Five states accounted for 50% of economic offences under IPC in the last five years

The number of cases of economic offences booked under various sections of the IPC such as criminal breach of trust; forgery, cheating & fraud; and counterfeiting has gone up in the last decade. Since 2017, over 7.9 lakh cases have been registered under this head of which Rajasthan (1.12 lakh) and Uttar Pradesh (1 lakh) had registered more than 1 lakh cases each. Maharashtra (over 72 thousand cases), Telangana (66 thousand) and West Bengal (48 thousand) accounted for the third, fourth, and fifth highest number of cases of economic offences registered by police under IPC in the last five years. Together, these five states contributed to 50% of the cases.

With more than 21,000 cases registered every year except in 2020, Rajasthan reported the highest number of cases of economic offences in 2017, 2019, 2020, and 2021. In 2018, Uttar Pradesh overtook Rajasthan. While most states reported a dip in cases in 2020, Telangana, Kerala, and Haryana reported an increase. In 2021, cases in Telangana crossed 20,000 for the first time. The state reported an increase by almost 60% in 2021. Odisha and Madhya Pradesh witnessed a jump in cases by 51.8% and 41.3% respectively, in 2021.

More than 97% of the cases registered in Rajasthan in these five years were under Forgery, Cheating & Fraud (Secs.420, 465, 468, 471, 231‐243,255 and 489A to 489E IPC). The same was over 94% in Kerala and Telangana, 93% in Tamil Nadu, and 92% in Delhi and Karnataka as compared to the national average of 85 to 87% in the five years. Meanwhile, the share of FCF cases was less than 74% in Uttar Pradesh, and around 72% in Assam in the years under consideration.

Police Pendency of various economic SLL crimes has increased

Among the SLL Crimes related to finance and economic legislations, the chargesheeting rate has been above 90% for cases under the Lotteries Act and the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Act. Under the Negotiable Instruments Act, the chargesheeting rate touched 97.8% in 2021, as compared to less than 90% in 2019 and 2020. Except for 2020 with 55.6%, the chargesheeting rate for crimes under Prevention of Corruption Act has also been above 90%.

However, the pendency rate with the police has gone up over the years. While the overall pendency has increased from 23.5% in 2017 to 61.8% in 2021, the pendency of cases under the lotteries act has gone up from 18% to 44.7% and that under the Mines and Minerals act has gone up from 21.7% to 66% during the same period.

Court disposal rate of economic and finance related crimes under SLL has dropped

The conviction rate for these cases under SLL was above 87% in 2018, which dropped to 78.7% in 2019 and climbed to 84.7% in 2021. The conviction rate under Chit Funds Act has been 100% in 2020 and 2021, while that under Mines and Minerals Act has dropped from 84.4% in 2017 to 77.7% in 2021.

About 76% of the cases were pending in 2017 which has almost touched 92% in 2021. Across all the crime-heads, the pendency of cases at courts has risen in the five years. The overall disposal of SLL crimes discussed here has dropped from 24% to 8.1% in the five years.

Meanwhile, for the economic crimes under IPC, the overall chargesheeting rate by police has dropped from 55.7% to 51.9% in these five years. Nearly 53% of the cases were pending with police in 2017 which increased to 61.1% in 2020 and fell to 55.1% in 2021. The Court’s disposal rate was 7.5% in 2016 which has dropped to 3.4% in 2021. More than 96% of the cases have been pending with the Courts in 2020 and 2021. However, there has been an improvement in conviction rate from 24.1% in 2018 to 33.6% in 2020 and 29.4% in 2021.

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