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Report No. 154

Chapter II

Establishment of Separate Investigating Agency

1. The need for expeditious and effective investigation of offences as contributing to the achievement of the goal of speedy trial cannot be gainsaid. The investigating agencies have an important role to play in the administration of criminal justice.

2. Investigation of crime is a highly specialized process requiring a lot of patience, expertise, training and clarity about the legal position of the specific offences and subject matter of investigation and socio-economic factors. It is basically an art of unearthing hidden facts with the purpose of linking up different pieces of evidence for the purpose of successful prosecution. It requires specialisation and professionalism of a type not yet fully perceived by police agencies. For discharging such a task efficiently, a separate investigating wing of the police which replenishes its knowledge and skills from developing technology is a desideratum.

3. It is the common complaint of police officers that the police department is understaffed and has a heavy duty to perform. The requirements of the law and order situation, bandobust duties, escort of prisoners to courts, patrol duties, traffic arrangements, security to VIPs, rise in crime graphing the country in general and the creation of new kinds of substantive offences have increased manifold the work of the police. Further, many a time while the investigating officer is in the midst of the investigation, he would be called away in connection with some other duty. Consequently, he would be constrained to suspend the investigation or hand it over to a junior officer.

Further, it also happens that investigating officers are transferred without being allowed to complete the investigation in hand. Even in grave offences there is piecemeal investigation by different police officials in the hierarchy which inevitably results in variation of statements by the witnesses examined and recorded at different times. Such variation would ultimately destroy the efficacy of the evidence of witnesses when examined in the court. This is a defect in the investigational process, advantage of which is taken by the defence.

4. The Law Commission in its Fourteenth Report had examined in detail the drawbacks in the then existing investigative machinery and of the investigational processes. The Commission made the following suggestions to improve the quality of investigation:

"We think on the whole that there is great force in the suggestion that, as far as practicable, the investigating agency should be distinct from the police staff assigned to the enforcement of law and order. We do not, however, suggest absolute separation between the two branches. Even officers of the police department have taken the view that if an officer is entrusted with investigation duties, his services should not be required for other work while he is engaged in investigation.

The separation of the investigating machinery may involve some additional cost. We think, however, that the exclusive attention of the investigating officer is essential to the conduct of an efficient investigation and the additional cost involved in the implementation of our proposal is necessary. The adoption of such a separation will ensure undivided attention to the detection of crime. It will also provide additional strength to the police establishment which an needs increase in most of the States."1

1. Fourteenth Report of the Law Commission, Vol. II.

5. The National Police Commission in its Fourth Report bemoaned the lack of exclusive and single minded devotion of police officials in the investigation of crimes for reasons beyond their control. The Commission found on a sample survey carried out in six states in different parts of the country that an average investigating officer is able, to devote only 37 per cent. of his time to investigational work while the rest of his time is taken up by other duties. In view of this the Police Commission has pointed out that there is an urgent need for increasing the cadre of investigating officers and for restructuring the police hierarchy to secure, inter alia, a large number of officers to handle investigation work.1

1. Fourth Report of the National Police Commission, para. 27.7.

6. This is one of the issues on which the Law Commission had consultations with the Members of the Bench and the Bar, prosecuting agencies and senior police officers during the legal workshops held at various places. It is the unanimous opinion that investigation of serious offences punishable with sentence of seven years or more should invariably be undertaken by senior officers not below the rank of Inspector of Police. It is therefore, desirable to separate the investigating police from the law and order police for the following reasons:

Firstly, it will bring the investigating police under the protection of judiciary and greatly reduce the possibility of political or other types of interference. The Punjab Police Commission (1961-62), the Delhi Police Commission (1968), the Goray Committee on Police Training (1972), the National Police Commission (1977-80), the M.P. Public Police Relations Committee (1983) have unanimously criticised political interference in the work of the police.

Secondly, with the possibility of greater scrutiny and supervision by the magistracy and the public prosecutor, as in France, the investigation of police cases are likely to be more in conformity with the law than at present which is often the reason for failure of prosecution in courts.

Thirdly, efficient investigation of cases will reduce the possibility of unjustified and unwarranted prosecutions and consequently of a large number of acquittals.

Fourthly, it will result in speedier investigation which would entail speedier disposal of cases as the investigating police would be completely relieved from performing law and order duties, VIP duties and other miscellaneous duties, which not only cause unnecessary delay in the investigation of cases but also detract from their efficiency.

Fifthly, separation will increase the expertise of investigating police.

Sixthly, since the investigating police would be plain clothes men even when attached to police station will be in a position to have good rapport with the people and thus will bring their co-operation and support in the investigation of cases.

Seventhly, not having been involved in law and order duties entailing the use of force like tear gas, lathi charge and firing, they would not provoke public anger and hatred which stand in the way of police-public co-operation in tracking down crimes and criminals and getting information, assistance and intelligence which the police have a right to get under the provisions of sections 37 of 44 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.1

1. See R. Deb Police and Administration of Criminal Justice, Vol. XXVI, No. 2, CBI Bulletin 7 at 8-9, (1992).

7. There should be a separate cadre of investigating agency in every district subject to supervision by the higher authorities. When a case is taken up for investigation by an officer of such agency, he should be in charge of the case throughout till the conclusion of the trial. He should take the responsibility for production of witnesses, production of accursed and for assisting the prosecuting agency. As observed, in the Fourteenth Report of the Law Commission, there need not be absolute separation between the two branches.

8. Efficient investigation pre-supposes induction of scientific work culture in police. New technology, such as computers, photography videograph, new methods of interrogation technology, new observation gadgets and highly sophisticated search equipment, etc. are essential for effective investigation of traditional and new types of organised Crimes. The rapid advances in science and technology have greatly influenced police investigation as also the techniques adopted by criminals to, leave no traces or clues at the scene of crime.

But the average investigating officer still depends on traditional methods of recording statements of witnesses or getting confessions from accused to complete the process of investigation. Such heavy dependence on these traditional methods may be ascribed to lack of knowledge and awareness about the scientific technologies available to him for crime detection. This difficulty could be overcome by providing scientific facilities and by imparting regular in-service training at periodical intervals1.

Thus there is a great need for systematized training for investigating officers in scientific methods of investigation. The nature of training and details thereof have to be worked out by the experts. Further, we are of the view that there is an urgent need to create a separate investigating agency. As to how a separate investigating agency is to be structured, is a matter of details which can be considered by the concerned departments.

1. Fourteenth Report of the Law Commission, Vol. II.

9. We recommend that the police officials entrusted with the Investigation of grave offences should be separate and distinct from those entrusted with the enforcement of law and order and other miscellaneous duties. Separate investigating agency directly under the supervision of a designated Superintendent of Police be constituted. The hierarchy of the officers in the investigating police force should have adequate training and incentives for furthering effective investigations. We suggest that the respective Law and Home Departments of various State Governments may work out details for betterment of their conditions of service.

The officials of the investigating police force be made responsible for helping the courts in the conduct of cases and speedy trial by ensuring timely attendance of witnesses, production of accused and proper co-ordination with prosecuting agency. Other necessary steps should also be taken for promoting efficiency in investigation. Accordingly, we recommend that necessary changes in the Police Acts, both Central and State, Police Regulations, Police Standing Orders. Police Manuals, be made by the Home Department in consultation with the Law Departments of State Governments.

The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 Back

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