Our NGO is providing Legal Aid to the Under Trials and Convicts and is actively involved in assisting the Criminal Justice System of our country. The conviction rate in our country is less than 40% in the registered cases so much so that in some of the serious and grave offences, this figure is as low as 15%- 20%.
One of the major causes for such low conviction rate is the lapses/deficiencies in the investigation conducted by the police. It is the duty of the police to investigate fairly and thoroughly and collect all evidence, whether for or against the suspect. The aim of investigation and, in fact, the entire Criminal Justice System is to search for truth.
The lapses in the investigation are either deliberate or due to the negligence or lack of proper training to the Investigating officers. If the investigation is not proper or is defective, it will result in non-solving the Criminal Cases and can also lead to the acquittal of the Accused and then it will not only affect and injure the rights of the victim/aggrieved person/complainant but also degrade the Authority of the State/Govt. Similarly, if an Accused is acquitted after long length of Trial or at the Appellate Stage, it puts a question mark on the competence and integrity of the Police as well as Prosecution Department. Needless to say, if somebody is acquitted/freed after long duration of incarceration, it also prejudice and violates the rights of the Accused person relating to his life and liberty.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court, many Hon’ble High Courts and Districts Courts in number of its judgments highlighted the need for the police reforms. Unfortunately, nothing much is done so far in this area despite specific pronouncement of respective Courts and recommendation of Law Commission.
We, in this regard suggested through a letter to the Government of India and The Commissioner of Delhi Police, that every Investigating Officer who is assigned with the Investigation of a case should have a “Check List” with him which prescribes/delineates the steps (in detail) he has to undertake from the commencement of the investigation till the filing of the charge sheet. We understand that one Check List cannot cater to Investigation of all the crimes/offences, therefore, different Check List with regard to different category of crimes/offences can be prepared which should be made mandatory for the IO to adhere unless they have a justified reasons for not following any specific step.
That the Check List will minimize the chance of mistake/omissions/errors in the investigation and at the same time it will also highlight the lapses in the investigation at the right time which can be rectified by the Senior Police Officials before it is too late. This practice will also instil the confidence in the Informant/Victim/ Complainant that the Investigation is his/her matter is on the right track (which is not available to him so far). The Checklist will make the Investigation more systematic and precise and the same will also be very useful and helpful to the police officers who don’t have much experience of Investigation or who are not expert and well trained in investigation. The Check List will also be helpful to the experts and experienced police3 officials since it will minimize the chances of human errors which is very common. The Check List will be immensely helpful in cases based on circumstantial evidence.
Hence after long research and experience of trials and appeals, we have developed the General Check List and Specific Check List for Police Investigation which will give step-by-step actions required to be taken for undertaking Investigation of different crimes. This Check List is also helpful to the experts and experienced police officials since it will minimize the chances of human errors which is very common.
After that, the Delhi Police vide their letter dated 18.12.2017 addressed to Radhey Krishna Legal Aid Foundation made a request to share the check list developed by us so that their adoption/application in investigation could be considered for Improving the investigation skill to the IO and to make the investigation more effective and formidable.
On 19.02.2018, we shared our check list prepared by us for improving the investigating skill with the Delhi Police and Delhi Police vide their email appreciated our efforts and they assured us that the check list as developed by Radhey Krishna Legal Aid Foundation will be used in the training modules of their Investigation officers.