NEWS Growing instances of judicial interference in an investigation are not only undesirable but also not sanctioned by law.
- Recently there have been growing instances of subordinate judicial officers, and even High Courts sometimes, directing the investigating officer to effect the arrest of a particular individual who has come to adverse notice as a suspect in the commission of a crime.
- Hence, the highest court of the land has intervened in the matter.
- Recently, the Supreme Court of India has observed that- the courts have no authority to direct an investigating officer to in turn direct the arrest of any particular individual connected with a crime.
- But contrary to this verdict, certain cases justify further curbs on the police authority to investigate an established crime.
- Examples of such cases are:
- Horrific murder of a citizen, George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in the United States.
- June 2020 case in Sattankulam, Tamil Nadu, where a 58-year-old father and his 31-year-old son died, subject to police brutality.
- There are many instances of courts bullying police officers, regarding the arrests made in relation to a crime.
- The bedrock of English jurisprudence that we have adopted is based on the principle that “accused is presumed to be innocent until proved guilty.”
- Thus, direction to the police with regard to arrests during a criminal investigation is harmful to police morale and threatens ethics of criminal justice.
- Such directions indicating lack of faith in police ability and integrity can make grass-root level policemen even more arbitrary than now.
- It could also force them into carrying out questionable actions that will cast defamation on an officer’s ability to think for himself.
UNNECESSITY OF JUDICIAL DIRECTIONS
- Court interference in the day-to-day investigation is not only undesirable but is also not sanctioned by law.
- The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) vests sufficient discretion in the investigating officer to take such decisions as arrests and searches, and even the dropping of further action after registering a first information report.
- Courts should remember that the police are a well-established hierarchy that is obligated to ensure objectivity during a criminal investigation.
- Every investigation is supervised by at least two immediate senior officers, depending on the importance of the case.
- Hence, it is their duty to ensure that every investigation is handled lawfully and impartially.
SAFEGUARDS AGAINST POLICE MISCONDUCT
- There already exists safeguard against any kind of police misconduct.
- It is mandatory that every police station in the land should register a complaint under the relevant sections of a statute the moment a cognisable offence is made out in the complaint
- The CrPC makes it obligatory for the investigating officer to write a diary that details the action taken every day following registration.
- Hence, in case of doubt, the competent court, which already has a copy of the first information report, can demand to see the case diary and can question an investigating officer.
- But directing an investigating officer to go ahead with an arrest even before he has scrutinised the evidence collected is unsustainable in law.
- Except for the Supreme Court, the lesser courts shall not give directions in the matter of arrests and searches.
- Only when supervisory officers fail in their duty, they deserve to be pulled up by courts. But not before they are found guilty of indifference or malfeasance.