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Report No. 14

11. Delays in investigation.-

At the places we visited, we heard vehement complaints about the inordinate delays in the investigation of offences and the general inefficiency of the investigating officers. Some high-ranking police officers frankly admitted that investigation had "terribly deteriorated". Except in some of the less serious offences, an investigation is not generally completed within twenty four hours. In fact, in several cases an accused person is detained in custody for the full period of fifteen days which the law allows and is thereafter discharged for want of a final police report.

Generally, an investigation almost invariably takes several days even in the less complicated cases. In the more complicated cases, investigations have very often taken months to finish. The quality of investigation is also poor. It has been repeatedly asserted that the large number of acquittals in courts is due to inefficient investigation. The investigating officers still continue to adopt old, timeworn methods of investigation. Very little has been done to initiate them in the use of modern and scientific methods. They suffer from lack of adequate training, lack of legal assistance and from the absence of effective supervision by senior officials.

12. Inadequacy of personnel.-

It is the general complaint of the police officers that the department is very much understaffed and has to meet a very heavy demand on its personnel. The requirements of the law and order situation, bundobust duties, escort of prisoners to the court, patrol duties, traffic arrangements, protection of the V.I.Ps., the growth of crime in general and the creation of new types of offences during the last few years, have all increased the work of the police considerably, while the police strength has remained more or less at the same level. A considerable part of the police force is concentrated on the prevention and detection of offences against social welfare laws like prohibition.

The Inspector-General of Police, Punjab told us that several of the senior officers had left the country and junior men had become burdened over­night with new responsibilities which they could not adequately shoulder. This is no doubt a passing phase. But the Inspector-General further stated that having regard to the increase in population and the increased incidence of crime in the Punjab, the police department was very much understaffed. According to the Punjab Police Rules, every additional fifty cases recorded at a police station require one more investigating officer. On this basis the State requires not less than five hundred more investigating officers and three thousand more men for watch and ward staff. According to him, the Punjab has got the smallest police force in proportion to its population.

13. We are told that in England, which is much smaller in area than Uttar Pradesh and has a considerably lesser population, the police strength is about twice that of Uttar Pradesh.

14. Large areas.-

The territorial jurisdiction of a police station is also generally very large and runs into several square miles. We were informed by the Inspector-General of Police, Bihar, that while in England there is one policeman for every five hundred persons and he has not to travel on an average more than three to four miles to discharge his duties India has only one policeman for every seven hundred and ninety people. In Bihar, there is one policeman for every one thousand four hundred persons and he has to travel as many as twenty five miles without the aid of transport.

A sub-inspector of Police in Bihar has charge of an area of one hundred and fifty to two hundred square miles with a population of two lakhs. It is often usual for a police officer who is actually engaged in the investigation of a serious offence at a spot far away from the police station to receive a message giving information of the commission of another offence at another corner of his beat. The police officer may, accordingly have more than one case simultaneously pending investigation on his hands and has to move backwards and forwards from one place to the other; and this in the mofussil on account of lack of adequate transport and bad roads, is by no means easy.

In addition to the sub-inspector of police who is i1i charge of a police station, there is generally a head constable who is empowered to investigate some of the simpler types of cases. Even with two officers, the investigation of all crimes occurring within the jurisdiction of the police station cannot be satisfactorily attended to. There are also several routine duties which have to be performed by the personnel of a station. In the result the investigation of cases seldom receives adequate attention from a police officer.

15. Strength to be reassessed.-

We have heard a number of Inspectors-General and Commissioners of Police complain of the inadequate strength of the police staff. They emphasise that with the growth of population there ought to be a proportionate increase in the police staff and such an increase has not been made. This is a matter which requires a careful and detailed scrutiny and consideration by the Governments, if the investigation of offences is to be speedy and effective.

16. Methods of investigation.-

Instances were given to us of investigating police officers not having taken even the elementary precaution of making a search for finger-prints or drawing a plan of the scene of the occurrence. The senior police officials who appeared before us admitted that many police officers do not have sufficient training in the matter of investigation. The old methods of investigation still hold sway and there is generally a tendency to obtain confessional statements and neglect independent investigation which may yield conclusive results. It is admitted on all hands that the methods of investigation call for improvement.

17. Facilities for transport and scientific investigation lacking.-

In recent years great progress has been made in foreign countries in the application of science as an aid to police work. The introduction of motor cars, giving greater mobility to the police forces, the use of wireless to facilitate dissemination of messages, gradual development of police laboratories to help in investigation, are some of the methods by which the investigation of crime has been modernized. Almost every police officer, whom we examined, emphasised the need of the introduction of scientific methods of investigation in our police system.

The Inspector-General of Police, Punjab, complained that the absence of scientific aids to investigation was a severe handicap in the detection of crime. No police station is provided with elementary technical facilities, nor do the officers possess the training, necessary to make use of such facilities. He also complained that investigations are unnecessarily delayed by the need of obtaining reports from the Chemical Examiner and securing other expert evidence which take a great deal of time.

The Inspector-General, Bihar, also told us that the police force was not provided with adequate means of transport with the result, that by the time the investigating officer reached the place of crime, most of the clues would have already disappeared. We were also told by Inspector General of Police, Himachal Pradesh, that leaving aside towns where some flying squads had been stationed which could reach the scene of occurrence very quickly, in the rural police stations, the average time taken to reach the scene of the offence was about twenty four hours.

18. Speed is the most important factor in gathering valuable evidence. The Inspector General, Punjab, therefore, suggested that each police station should have a jeep at its disposal so that the investigating officer could move freely from place to place in his jurisdiction. We think it is obvious that in order to solve the problem of unsatisfactory and delayed investigations, it is essential that provision of quick means of transport (like motor cars, jeeps and cycles) wireless sets, trained photographers, expert in finger-prints, forensic laboratories and other technical assistance has to be made available to the Police Departments to enable them to modernise the existing methods of investigation.

19. Government's efforts.-

The recent debate on the Home Ministry's Demand for grants indicates that the need of improving the methods of investigation is being recognised by Government though not to the extent required. The Home Minister recently stated in Parliament.1

1. Lok Sabha Debate dated 15th April, 1958, Second Series, Vol. XV, No. 46, col. 9986.

"There was also, I think, some observation to the effect that the police has to be trained in modern methods. That aspect of the matter too has not been ignored by us.

"Apart from our Intelligence Bureau, we have got a number of institutions, the Detective Training School, the Finger Bureau for giving training in that art, Fire Training Services and Emergency Training Service and a Forensic Laboratory. And it is also under consideration whether something should not be done to train people for obtaining degrees in Criminology and allied subjects. So the question of improving the methods of investigation has not been neglected. This has also been receiving due attention. We have our Police Training School in Abu and it is now intended to overhaul the system in a way and have the best of the policemen, or as suitable and efficient as may be, trained in that school."

20. Piecemeal investigation.-

Another complaint relating to the method of investigation by the police was that the cases were not investigated by one officer but by several officers in succession. We were told in Madhya Pradesh that there were cases in which no less than half a dozen police officers had taken part in the investigation at different stages. Such cases were not infrequent. On many occasions, while the investigating officer was in the midst of the investigation, he would be called away in connection with some other duty.

The result would be that he would either suspend the investigation or hand it over to a junior officer. Many a time, investigating officers were transferred without being allowed to finish the investigations on hand. Further, the general practice appears to be that even in murder cases, investigation is first started by head constables, who record some statements of witnesses. These witnesses are then in turn examined by a sub-inspector of police and a circle inspector, one after the other and very often variations occur in the versions of witnesses. It may be that the witnesses themselves make such varying statements or it may be that the manner of recording evidence by different officers results in differing statements.

These varying statements destroy the effectiveness of the evidence of the witnesses whose statements are taken. Piecemeal investigation is one of the principal defects in investigation of which frequent advantage is taken by the defence. We therefore suggest, that as far as possible, the investigation of an offence should be undertaken by a single officer, with the assistance of junior officers whenever necessary. The entire responsibility for the investigation should however rest upon him.



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