Need for a Code of police investigation
Polity & Governance
14th Oct, 2023
The Supreme Court (SC), in a recent judgment, has highlighted the need for a “consistent and dependable code of investigation” to prevent lapses in police probes leading to the guilty getting acquitted on technical grounds.
About the SC judgement:
- The court took the highlights of S. Malimath Committee on Reforms of Criminal Justice System.
- The Report has emphasized on successful prosecution of the guilty depends on a thorough and careful search for truth and collection of evidence which is both admissible and probative.
- The aim is to prevent lapses in police probes leading to the guilty getting acquitted on technical grounds.
- The Committee on Reforms of the Criminal Justice System was constituted by the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs to consider measures for revamping the Criminal Justice System.
- The terms of reference for the Committee are:
- To examine the fundamental principles of criminal jurisprudence, including the constitutional provisions relating to criminal jurisprudence and see if any modifications or amendments are required thereto;
- To examine in the light of findings on fundamental principles and aspects of criminal jurisprudence as to whether there is a need to re-write the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Indian Penal Code and the Indian Evidence Act to bring them in tune with the demand of the times and in harmony with the aspirations of the people of India,
- To make specific recommendations on simplifying judicial procedures and practices and making the delivery of justice to the common man closer, faster, uncomplicated and inexpensive;
- To suggest ways and means of developing such synergy among the judiciary, the Prosecution and the Police as restores the confidence of the common man in the Criminal Justice System by protecting the innocent and the victim and by punishing unsparingly the guilty and the criminal
- To suggest sound system of managing, on professional lines, the pendency of cases at investigation and trial stages and making the Police, the Prosecution and the Judiciary accountable for delays in their respective domains;
- To examine the feasibility of introducing the concept of “Federal Crime” which can be put on List I in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution.
Why there is a need for reforms in Police probe system?
- The State discharges the obligation to protect life, liberty and property of the citizens by taking suitable preventive and punitive measures which also serve the object of preventing private retribution so essential for maintenance of peace and law and order in the society.
- When there is an invasion of these rights of the citizens it becomes the duty of the State to apprehend the person guilty for such invasion, subject him to fair trial and if found guilty to punish him.
- Substantive penal laws can be effective only when the procedural laws for enforcing them are efficient.
What is the Structure of the Criminal Justice System in India?
- The Indian Criminal Justice System is composed of government agencies that enforce the law, adjudicate crimes, and correct criminal behavior.
- It has four subsystems:
- Legislature (Parliament)
- Enforcement (Police)
- Adjudication (Courts)
- Corrections (Prisons, Community Facilities)
Role of Police in Criminal Justice system:
- The criminal justice system in India has three important players, namely, the police, the prosecution, and the judiciary.
- The activities of the police are crucial to rendering justice in criminal cases and affect the operations of the entire criminal justice system.
- The police are usually the first to make contact with the victims, the witnesses, and the accused.
- The police play a key role through the course of investigation, particularly in the identification of the accused, and establishing the guilt of the accused during trial in criminal cases.
Challenges faced by Police
- Lack of Trust in the Police: The police and investigation agencies face a widespread lack of trust. This mistrust hinders their ability to carry out their duties effectively, undermining the rule of law.
- Custodial Interrogation Challenges: Police struggle with limited custodial interrogation time (14 days) when dealing with suspects. Extended and intermittent interrogation rights would aid in thorough investigations.
- Securing and Preserving Evidence: Police often lose evidence due to inadequate tools, witness hostility, and apathy. A techno-legal solution is needed to preserve evidence systematically, including digital storage and improved evidence management in courts.