What's the article about?
- It talks about the recent judgment of the Supreme Court, in which it stated the need for a consistent and dependable code of investigation for police in India.
- GS2: Governance
- The Supreme Court of India recently acquitted three accused persons in a case of murder and kidnapping due to illegalities in the investigation.
- The Court emphasised the need for a consistent and dependable code of investigation for the police to follow, so that the guilty do not walk free on technicalities.
- The Court also echoed the comments of the Justice Malimath Committee on Reforms of the Criminal Justice System and the observations of the Law Commission of India in its Report number 239.
- Pitfalls in the investigation:
- The Court pointed out some illegalities in the investigation, including the incorrect proposition of law related to Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act.
- The Court held that the person could not be said to be in police custody until he was formally arrested, which does not appear to be a correct proposition of the law. However, the Court in Re: Man Singh (1959) held that the word ‘custody’ does not necessarily mean detention or confinement.
- The submission to custody, by any action or words, is also custody within the meaning of this section.
- The Court also laid too much emphasis on seeking compliance under Section 100(4) and Section 100(5) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) relating to presence of independence witnesses during search and seizure of a closed place, in the discovery memos such as discovery and seizure of the body of the deceased and his clothes, and weapon of murder.
- Separation of investigation:
- The Court expressed regret that the standard of police investigation is still poor and that the principal causes of a low rate of conviction, inter alia, included inept and unscientific investigation by the police.
- The Malimath Committee had recommended that the investigation wing should be separate from that of the law and order wing. Though this separation may not prove to be a panacea for improving investigation in its totality, the efforts made by States must be reviewed before blaming the police in whole for the irregularities.
- The Law Commission’s Report number 239 recommended separation of investigation from law-and-order duties.
- Prakash Singh, former Director General of Police (DGP), Uttar Pradesh, former DGP, Assam and former Director General of the Border Security Force, has reviewed the recommendations of all previous commissions and committees.
- Out of a total of seven directives by the Court, one pertained to a separation of investigation from law and order to ensure quicker investigation, better expertise and improved rapport with the people.
- State responses:
- Seventeen states have taken measures to separate the investigative and law and order functions of the police.
- The remaining states are not opposed to this directive but have yet to initiate necessary steps for separation.
- When it came to overall compliance of the seven directives, nine States fell under the ‘good and satisfactory’ category and 20 States in the ‘average and poor’ category.
- However, going into the details of responses, one could decipher that most States have either made some provision in their State Police Act or have issued administrative orders.
- The police authorities are, however, aware that unless additional manpower is sanctioned, except in major cities such as Delhi and Mumbai, it is practically difficult to separate the two wings because of a lack of manpower.
- The Supreme Court called for a consistent and dependable code of investigation for the police to follow, so that the guilty do not walk free on technicalities.
- The Court also highlighted the need for separation of the investigative and law and order functions of the police.
- The Court needs to review the reforms that have taken place in the police in pursuance of the recommendations made by various commissions and committees.
- The Supreme Court needs to step forward and ask every State and Union Territory to report compliance of its directives on investigation and other issues in letter and spirit. Similarly, there must be consistency in its rulings unless earlier judgments are clearly overruled for cogent reasons.
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