The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)’s Crime in India 2020 report indicates that the conviction rate in cases under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) has decreased to a rate of 21.1% and in 2019 the conviction rate was 29.2%. The report gives an account of the different categories of crimes that have taken place in the year 2020 and how they have been dealt with by the law enforcement agencies and courts.
Among all states and Union Territories (UT), Jammu and Kashmir tops the list with a whopping 287 cases! The state of Manipur comes next with 169 cases, followed by Assam (76), Uttar Pradesh (72) and Jharkhand (69). Delhi (6) was the only other UT to register cases under UAPA.
As per the 2019 figures, when Jammu and Kashmir was still considered a state and not a UT, it had the second highest number (255) of cases, while Manipur still had the highest with 306 cases.
Comparison – Police disposal
The cases registered under UAPA were 1,226 in 2019 which reduced to 796 cases registered in the year 2020.
The cases pending investigation in 2019 were 3, 908 and in 2020 this number has increased to 4,021. The heading in the report indicates that 4,021 cases from the previous year (2019) are still pending investigation which means the 3,908 cases which carried forward from 2018 were added up to the 2019 cases and the cases pile is building up. This further indicates that more and more people continue to be incarcerated without any chargesheet against them. Out of the 4,021 cases from 2019, in 272 cases chargesheet has been filed and out of the 796 cases of 2020 itself, 126 cases were chargesheeted
Also, the total number of cases before the investigating agency pending for investigation is 4,827, as of the end of the year 2020. This number is a sum of the 4,021 cases from 2019 and the cases reported in 2020 which is 796 as also 10 cases that were reopened for investigation.
Further, in 297 cases the final report stated that there was insufficient evidence. The pendency of UAPA cases before the investigating agency, to complete investigation, is at the rate of 85%. The same pendency rate in the year 2019 was at 77.8%.
Comparison – Court disposal
Before the courts or the special courts that are designated specifically for trial of cases under UAPA, there are 2,244 cases pending trial from the year 2019 and 398 cases have been sent to trial in 2020 alone, which takes the total pendency of cases to 2,642. The pendency rate before courts is 94.6% which, in 2019 was at 95%. The total cases pending trial at the end of 2019 were 2,361.
Also, 1,321 persons were arrested under UAPA in 2020 while in 2019, a total of 1,948 persons were arrested. Understandably the cases and persons arrested saw a bit of a dip due the Covid-19 pandemic.
While in 2019, 4 UAPA cases were disposed of without trial, in 2020 the same number has risen to 14.
Now when it comes to conviction, 27 cases led to conviction while 99 led to acquittals and 2 cases were discharged. This means out of the 128 total cases where trial was completed, 21.1% resulted in conviction of the accused. In 2019, the conviction rate was slightly higher at 29.2%. In these cases, 80 persons were convicted while 116 were acquitted by the courts.
The report suggests a glaring pendency rate at both the investigation and trial level which indicates that the detainees continue to be incarcerated in most cases without a charge, under the draconian law which leaves very little scope for bail. Every year, the number of cases registered keeps piling up and the investigations take long with investigating agencies filing one supplementary chargesheet after another (as pointed out by Delhi High Court) and trial also takes considerably long. It is only after years of incarceration that only some handful of fortunate accused are able to secure bail in these cases and after much hardship.
The imposition of UAPA has been widely criticised in the legal fraternity as well as in civil society and it has now caught the attention of the UN Human Rights Commissioner as well who has raised concerns over its increased use.