Report No. 78
3.12. Delay in investigation.-
Another reason for the large number of under-trial prisoners is the inordinate delay which sometimes takes place in the investigation of cases, with the result that the arrested persons who are remitted to judicial custody have to be kept in jail as under-trial prisoners. The delay in the investigation of cases takes place because quite often the police officials concerned with the investigation have to be deputed on other duties relating to problems of law and order. We have, in our earlier Report1, stressed the need for not diverting the investigating official to other duties. Such diversion, in our opinion, not only results in delay in the investigation but also entails in its turn failure of justice. It was observed by us in this connection:
"It is commonly said that the investigating agency now-a-days is not able to devote as much time as it should do to criminal cases pending in courts, because the police which constitute the investigating agency is over¬burdened with manifold other duties, including those relating to maintenance of law and order. We are of the view that those officials of the police who are concerned with the investigation of cases should, as far as possible, concentrate upon investigation and looking after the progress of the cases even after they are filed in court. They should not, as far as possible, be deputed for other purposes. Piecemeal recording of evidence and delay in the disposal of cases undoubtedly causes hardship to the accused, but more than that, it results quite often in wrongful acquittals.
Wrongful acquittals are as undesirable as wrongful convictions. Both shake the confidence of the public in the administration of justice. The beneficiaries of wrongful acquittals are undoubtedly the anti-social elements. It is plain that wrongful acquittals would give incentive and provide encouragement to criminals and the enemies of society. It may have to be considered in the above context as to whether it is not desirable to separate the investigating agency of the police from that dealing with general problem relating to maintenance of law and order.
An investigating agency not burdened with other duties would not only ensure prompt and efficient investigation of crime, it would also help in the quick disposal of court case and prevent miscarriage of justice. It may be mentioned that the Law Commission presided over by Skirl Setalvad in the Fourteenth Report supported the idea of separation of the investigating agency. The question as to whether the investigating agency should be not susceptible to executive interference and for that purpose, be independent of the executive control may also need consideration".
1. 77th Report, paras.12.9 and 12.9A.