HC upset over poor probe procedures

 A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice D V Waghela and Justice B V Nagarathna on Wednesday observed that nearly 70 per cent of the people who are brought before the Court for the commission of serious crimes manage to go scot-free.

“Seventy per cent of the people accused in serious crimes are getting away. Is it not ironic that murder is committed, but nobody is punished? We will have to start imposing heavy penalty. If there is no commitment, then the government shall pay compensation to the victims. That’s the only remedy,” the Bench said.

The Bench made the observations, while hearing a batch of petitions pertaining to investigation procedures in serious crimes and rehabilitation of victims of sexual assault.
The Court directed the State Government to furnish a reply to the petitioners who had suggested that the investigating officer has to be held responsible for the failure to get the accused successfully prosecuted.

 The Bench also sought details regarding what the State Government is doing to protect the witness, the investigation officer (IO) and the victim in serious cases like rape and murder. “It is not just the witnesses who require protection, but also the victim. There are incidents where the victims’ statements have been changed” the Bench noted.

“In several cases, the investigation drags on for months. The witness has no protection. All ‘panch’ witness turn hostile. When trial court acquits an accused, they write 70-80 page judgements and then there is an appeal which drags on for years in the High Court and then their acquittal is confirmed,” the Bench said.

Stating that the IOs should be protected from pressures, the court said that the investigation should be started and concluded on a day-to-day basis, using a scientific mechanism.

The Court told the police to study the case of Prakash Singh Vs Union of India in 2006, where the Supreme Court ordered a slew of police reforms including victim-friendly initiatives and, said that interim directions in that case needed to be discussed.

The Court did not spare the advocates either stating that people were being deprived of justice by long drawn out cases and the only people who benefitted from this were advocates. “They get more money. The machinery is not meant for lawyers to make money,” the Bench said orally. 

“We will not tell you how to investigate, but you will be made accountable for it. We will not interfere in administration. The IO will be made accountable. He will be involved in the case right from filing FIR till the end of the case,” the court added. The court added that the prosecutor should also be competent enough in such cases.

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