Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Gauhati High Court directs Arunachal Pradesh DGP to identify police personnel fit for post of Investigating Officer

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The Gauhati High Court directed the Director General of Police, Arunachal Pradesh to conduct a thorough exercise and identify such police personnel within the police force who according to their experience, perception and qualification would be suitable for the purpose of carrying out the duties of an investigating officer. The number of such personnel to be carved out from the regular police force may be suitably determined by the Director General of Police depending upon the volume of criminal cases to be investigated in the State as a whole and also in respect of the individual police stations. If the individual police stations have higher load of criminal investigation to be made, more than one investigating officer can be considered to be posted in such police stations and in respect of other police stations where the volume of criminal investigation to be made would be correspondingly much lower, it can also be considered as to whether one investigating officer can cover more than one police station, which again would depend on the geographical location and other logistics involved between two such police stations , the High Court further directed.

The Itanagar Bench of Justice A M Bujor Barua and Justice Devashis Baruah heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by an Advocate Gamken Bam , seeking direction that the investigation wing in the Arunachal Pradesh police be separated so that the police personnel in the investigation wing are entrusted only with the duties of investigating criminal offences and are not made a part of the general duties of the police force. The petitioner refers to the pronouncement of the Supreme Court of India in Prakash Singh and others –vs- Union of India and others, reported in (2006) 8 SCC 1 to substantiate that there is also a requirement by the order of the Supreme Court to have the investigation wing within the police force separated from other general duties.

The petitioner states that in view of several instances of inadequate investigation in police cases in respect of heinous crimes in the State of Arunachal Pradesh which ultimately had resulted in acquittal, there is a requirement of separating the investigation wing. The petitioner also stated that in the State of Arunachal Pradesh, there are several instances of excesses being committed by the police force in dealing with the public, some of which are also referred in the press and because of such excesses, there is also a requirement of establishing an operating a police complaint authority, which again is also one of the directions of the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh (supra). The petitioner also refers to several instances that had arisen in dealing with the criminal appeals that in respect of many heinous offences, because of certain infirmities in the investigation stage, the accused persons therein were given the benefit of acquittal. In many such instances, had the investigation been done in the proper manner and such glaring lacunas would not have been there, perhaps the same appeal might have resulted in a conviction of the accused concerned.

During the hearing the Court observed that although the said statement of the petitioner is made in a broad based manner, but judicial notice can also be taken that on many occasions the accused persons were acquitted only for the reason that certain basic requirements during the investigation was not done and had it been done in a proper manner, perhaps the accused concerned could have been effectively linked to the offence that was committed which would have resulted in a more possibility of the accused person being convicted.

No doubt the criminal law jurisprudence provides that unless it is proved beyond all reasonable doubt that the accused concerned was involved in the offence alleged, an order of conviction cannot be passed upon such an accused person. But at the same time, a proper investigation done in a more scientific method by taking note of the requirements of the law relating to the offence for which the investigation is made, would make it more conducive at the trial to prove it beyond reasonable doubt that the accused alone had committed the offence , the Bench further observed.

From such a point, the Court is of the view that the issue raised in the PIL requires serious consideration in the public interest. The way it would be a travesty of justice if an accused is convicted without there being materials on record to prove it beyond all reasonable doubt that the accused alone had committed the offence alleged, it would equally be a travesty of justice if an accused is required to be acquitted merely because the materials which could have been obtained with a more correct investigation could not be obtained to be placed in the trial which would result in the accused being acquitted for the reason of the prosecution being unable to prove it beyond reasonable doubt that it is the accused who had committed the offence.

The Court have been told that in the State of Arunachal Pradesh, there is no Police Complaint Authority and, in the circumstance, considering the necessity of the same, this public interest litigation petition also includes a prayer for a direction to the respondent authorities to constitute a Police Complaint Authority.

It is noted by the High court that the notification dated 18.12.2006 itself provides that the Police Complaint Authority would be made functional through a retired District Judge. Although the two notifications dated 18.12.2006 for constitution of Police Complaint Authority and 27.02.2007 for separating the investigating wing of the police force were issued by the Government of Arunachal Pradesh, but no further effective steps have been taken to implement the requirements of the two notifications and the notifications appear merely to be repeating the wordings in the pronouncement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Prakash Singh (supra) rather than making it an effective platform for implementing the requirements of the said judgment.

Considering the matter in its entirety, the High Court is of the view that the public interest in respect of the State of Arunachal Pradesh overwhelmingly requires that immediate effective steps be taken to separate the investigating wing within the police force in the State of Arunachal Pradesh. The High Court noted that within the personnel of the police force in the State of Arunachal Pradesh, there would be several police personnel who may have the required qualifications as well as more perception towards the requirement of conducting an investigation.

Accordingly, the Director General of Police, Arunachal Pradesh is directed by the High Court to provide the Court with a list of such persons from the police force who would be suitable for being deployed in the investigating wing for the above purpose on the next returnable date.

After the list of the police personnel suitable for investigation is provided to the Court, further steps should be taken to impart appropriate training to such personnel on the intricacies and requirements of conducting an investigation and for the purpose take up necessary administrative measures for doing the needful , the Bench further directed.

“As regards the establishment of Police Complaint Authority, the notification dated 18.12.2006 be carried forward and be brought to its logical end and for the purpose a direction is issued to the Chief Secretary to the Government of Arunachal Pradesh to carry forward and bring the requirement of the notification dated 18.12.2006 to its logical end and ensure that the Police Complaint Authority both at the State Level and at the District Level are being made operational and functional through the appropriate authorities qualified for the purpose”, the order reads.

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