Karnataka: 720 prosecutors to handle 8L criminal cases

Around 720 public prosecutors (PPs) in Karnataka are staring at a pile of over eight lakh criminal cases.

The severe shortage of PPs — more than 40% of the posts are lying vacant thanks to the state government — has crippled the criminal justice delivery system in the trial courts of the state.

As of now, there are 8,10,730 criminal cases pending in the trial courts of Karnataka. Out of these, 61,867 cases are more than five years old; 10,650 have been pending for over 10 years.

At the national level, over 3 crore cases are pending, of which 2.22 crore are criminal cases.

Chief Justice of Karnataka Abhay S Oka recently observed that it will be impossible for the criminal courts to deal with the huge pendency of cases unless the posts are filled by the state government. His remarks came during the hearing of a suo motu public interest litigation filed by the high court itself.

The high court observed that the non-availability of prosecutors was the main reason behind the inordinate delay in the trial of criminal cases. In many courts, there is only one prosecutor who is attached to more than one court. In a few cases, one prosecutor is attached to four or five courts at a time.

The court had also directed the state government to fill vacant posts under three categories of public prosecutors.

The power to appoint public prosecutors is vested with the state government under Section 24 and Section 25 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. 

J C Madhuswamy, Minister of Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Legislation, said, “I had taken up the shortage of public prosecutors with Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai. The government will come out with a solution by filling the vacancies, as the pendency of criminal cases is increasing drastically.”

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