Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Interference an investigating officer can do without

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Judicial interference in investigation

Context

Instances of judiciary directing the investigating officer point to the need for restraint from the judiciary.

Challenging the discretion of investigating officer

  • 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.
  • To deal with the issue, the Supreme Court of India recently made the observation that courts have no authority to direct an investigating officer to in turn direct the arrest of any particular individual connected with a crime
  • This points to the need for a slightly kindlier view of police conduct and more latitude to them in the standard operating procedures which they follow, especially when they investigate a complicated crime.
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) vests sufficient discretion in the investigating officer to take such decisions as arrests and searches.

Issues with court’s directions

  • Court observations that smack of a lack of faith in police ability and integrity will make grass-root level policemen even more arbitrary than now and force them into carrying out questionable actions that will cast aspersions on an officer’s ability to think for himself.
  • Court interference in the day-to-day investigation is not only undesirable but is also not sanctioned by law.
  • Only the Supreme Court, has been vested with enormous authority and discretion by the Constitution, the lesser courts shall not give directions in the matter of arrests and searches.

Safeguard against police misconduct

  • We need to educate the Executive and the common man that it is now well-established law that the police have to register an FIR.
  • 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
  • There is another safeguard against police misconduct.
  • The CrPC makes it obligatory for the investigating officer to write a diary that details the action taken every day following registration.
  • When in doubt, the competent court, which already has a copy of the first information report, can demand to see the case diary.
  • 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.

Conclusion

Judicial interference in an investigation is counterproductive to the idea of justice. Therefore, there is a need for allowing more freedom to the investigating officers in the standard operating procedure that they follow.

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