To arrest low conviction rates in heinous crimes, Centre proposes putting police officer in charge of prosecution

New Delhi: The Centre is examining a proposal allowing Directorate of Prosecution to be headed by a police officer to ensure higher conviction rates in the states. The plan is being deliberated among the top level members of government. Among other issues, conviction reports from the past few years are being scrutinised to ascertain lapses in investigation. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report of 2016, the average conviction rate in murder and rape cases was 30 and 23.9 percent respectively.

The conviction rate in other crimes like rioting and abduction is 20.2 and 21.2 percent respectively. Documents reviewed by Firstpost reveal Prime Minister Narendra Modi has suggested regular meetings between police officers and prosecutors to probe the shortcomings of investigations that result in acquittals in court. Modi has also suggested that investigating officers of 10 police stations could take up four to five cases as case studies in these meetings.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

If the proposal is passed, the government proposes to sensitise paramedical staff as well as judicial officers about forensic medicine and evidence to yield better results for the criminal justice administration system. The states may be asked to follow the practice adopted by Gujarat where a wide network of forensic labs and mobile vans has been set up with a system of 'detective cops' at police station-level.

Another issue that is being taken up on a priority is the separation of law and order duty and investigation to improve the quality of investigation, with a view to having a dedicated team of officers in all police stations across the country. Uttarakhand has implemented a pilot project of separating law and order from criminal investigation in four districts — Dehradun, Haridwar, Udhamsingh Nagar and Haldwani. Although, there were strong differences of opinion on the issue, the government's proposal is aimed at teamwork and a practice adopted in some foreign countries where police investigation is placed under the guidance of prosecutor from the very beginning.

"Techniques and knowledge about investigation could be made available to investigators with the help of a mobile app that could include Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). The best investigators could be rewarded and associated with training as they could give practical tips to their peers," documents said.

During an earlier meeting with top officials, the prime minister had lamented the fact that convictions in cases were not being properly highlighted and that that has created an impression that criminals are not being punished. A senior officer privy to the meeting quoted Modi as saying, "People should have the fear of the law and should get to know about the sentences being handed out by the courts… Each month one good conviction could be taken up and the police officer who investigated the case should be honoured… The general public would find out about the conviction and other police officers would be motivated to do better."

There are some other issues likely to be taken up during the deliberations on current proposal. According to sources, many police officers are being put behind bars for alleged violation of human rights and under section 435 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), and no relief could be given by the state governments to those accused in cases investigated by the CBI or other Central agencies. Sources said this is resulting in an enormous injustice meted out to police officers, while criminals in murder cases are getting remission from the state governments as cases were investigated by the state police, but on the other hand, police officers doing their duty against hardened criminals and terrorists were not able to get remission when facing a court case.

"The prime minister agreed with this view and has suggested that some solution must be found to protect the police officers," sources further added.

The government is also exploring the possibility with the states to assign investigation of minor crimes to head constables and constables. If, necessary, the CrPC may be amended to implement such measures.

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Updated Date: Nov 09, 2018 13:02:01 IST

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