Case – Maharashtra State Public Prosecutors Association v. State of Maharashtra
Citation: WP NO. 8117/2017
Reserved On: 10th July 2018-12-18
Pronounced On: 24th August 2018
In the present Judgement, Bombay High Court with its Division Bench comprises of Justice Sh. Gangapurwala and Justice S K Kotwal held at Aurangabad overturned the effect of a government Resolution passed on 12th May 2015 which made it obligatory for Public Prosecutors to maintain a conviction rate of minimum 25% in Criminal Cases in order to get a promotion. The Government Resolution was termed unreasonable and contrary to the provision of Criminal Procedure Code and decision of Supreme Court as well as High Court and thus the contentions of Petitioner was accepted and held valid.
Issues before the Court:
The contentions raised in the Proceeding questioned the Court’s interference in the Policy making decisions made by the state. Striking down the Government’s provision which mandates a minimum conviction rate of 25% by public prosecutors in order to get a promotion and labelling it unsubstantiated reflects a pre-existing struggle between the judiciary and the legislature. Counsel on the behalf of Petitioner, PR katneshwarkar submitted that the Public Prosecutor, who represents the State in a criminal trial, is not expected to assure the state that in any case he would secure a conviction. The Duty of a Public Prosecutor is to present fairly each and every material and evidence collected by investigating Officer, whether it is in favour of Prosecution or not and the outcome of trial depends upon the quality and quantity of those materials and evidences. Giving so much emphasis on quantifying the amount of convictions as promotion criteria may lead to some falsified judgements. In order to validate their contentions, the Petitioner putted reliance on the case “S.B. Shahane and others vs. State of Maharashtrand another”, [1995 Supp (3) Supreme Court Cases 37] and “Sushil Hiralal Chokhani vs. State of Maharashtra”, [(2005) All M.R. (Cri) 2673] . On the other hand, Counsel for the Respondent submitted that the whole rationale behind the resolution of the government was to improve the less conviction rate in criminal cases of Maharashtra and there was neither any biases and nor any content of malafide present in the resolution and thus the court is not entitled to interfere in the decision. Also, the apprehension of the government that the drastically decreasing number of convictions could affect public at large and sends a wrong signal to the society became a major reason of the resolution coming into existence. The resolution was passed in the spirit of national interest and thus the court’s interference is not justified. In order to back their reasoning, the Respondent cited the cases “Science Forum vs Union of India”, [ 1996 (2) SCC 405] wherein it is held that, “the Courts have their limitation as these issues rest with the policy makers of the nation. No direction can be given or is expected from the Courts while implementing such policies, unless there is a violation of infringement of any of theconstitutional or statutory provisions” and “Tamil Nadu Education Department vs State of Tamil Nadu”, (1980 Vol 3 SCC 97) wherein it is held that, “What was regarded as administratively impractical might, on later thought and activist reconsideration, turn out to be feasible and fair. The Court cannot strike down a Government Order or a Policy merely because there is a variation or contradiction. Life is sometimes a contradiction and even consistency is not always a virtue. What is important is to know whether mala fide vitiates or irrational and extraneous factors foul”. Further the petitioner submitted that relevant judgement which was cited before the court in order the support Petitioner’s claim was “Brij Mohanlal Vs Union of India and others”, [ (2012) 6 SCC 502] where the parameters on which the court could or could interfere in the policy making decision of the state was discussed and on the grounds of that the Hon’ble court quashed the resolution.
Author’s Personal View
The judgement somehow illustrates the tug of war between the judiciary which acts a guardian and the legislature which is the policy making body of the Court. The Quashing of provision negates a pre-conceived notion that the duty of public prosecutor is to ensure a conviction. The reasoning that a public prosecutor is an officer of court and is entrusted with the work of presenting the material and evidences fairly in front of court and the quality and quantity of that materials and evidences are going to decide that whether the conviction should be held or not is rightly accepted by the court in the present judgement. Putting rate of conviction, a promotion criterion could manipulate the contentions of the public prosecutors and may put a person behind bars where there may be a chance that he is not guilty of the crime he is charged with.