Meghalaya to speed up convictions with Prosecution Directorate

By Raymond Kharmujai, IANS,

Shillong: Meghalaya, one of the country’s smallest states, might be showing the way with the establishment of a separate Prosecution Directorate at its newly opened high court to to speed up convictions for violent crimes. This will also ensure that the police focus better on investigations.

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“The setting up of the Prosecution Directorate is to improve the way the cases get pursued in court and also to help in improving the quality of investigation,” state Home Minister Roshan Warjri told IANS.

Violent crimes are defined as those against women, as well as terrorism and murder, among others.

Significantly, several groups and women activists have been raising a hue and cry against the growing cases of crime against women in this mountainous state traditionally known for its matrilineal society and respect accorded to women. Government statistics reveal that in 2012, there were 236 crimes reported against women, of which 158 were rape cases.

Warjri said the recruitment rules for the new directorate were being framed to ensure that the best talent gets selected for the job.

Moreover, she said that the government has proposed to separate investigation from the other functions of the police. “There will be a dedicated team of officers to deal with investigations alone,” she said.

“With proper training and experience over time, this should lead to faster investigation, better investigation and higher convictions. Then only will the deterrent effect of the law become visible. This would also help in ensuring greater accountability on the part of the police officers,” Warjri added.

Justice Toom Meera Kumari was sworn in March 23 as the first chief justice of the newly-constituted Meghalaya High Court.

Inaugurating the high court March 25, Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir said it will help integrate Meghalaya’s different traditional laws and customs with the legal system of mainstream India.

“There are different systems prevalent here, which need to be integrated, and with the coming into operation of the new high court here, I think it will go a long way in fulfilling these aspirations,” Kabir said.

“With the functioning of the new high court, the people of Meghalaya would have better access to seek justice and the traditional laws and customs would be integrated,” Kabir said.

Apart from Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura also have their own full-fledged high courts now. Hitherto, while Sikkim had its own high court, the other seven northeastern states were under the jurisdiction of the Guwahati High Court.

(Raymond Kharmujai can be contacted at [email protected])