The Government of Uttar Pradesh informed the Allahabad High Court that he took important decisions to improve and reform the police investigation system. The decision was taken at a meeting convened on August 26, 2022, chaired by Additional Chief Secretary (Interior), Government of Uttar Pradesh.
The government also assured the High Court that the decision taken by the state government would indeed be implemented as quickly as possible no later than two months and that certain other steps necessary for a fair investigation would also be taken.
Significantly, the government has assured the High Court that the amended provisions of Section 161 Cr.PC and Subsection 10 of the Section 15A of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act must be respected and implemented in letter and spirit.
It should be noted that the 1st and 2nd conditional clauses of Article 161 (3) CrPC prescribe the recording of statements of victims of sexual offenses by audio-video means and by a female agent. A similar provision was made under Section 15A of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Here it should be noted that last year the High Court had observed that in the majority of cases the 1st and 2nd conditional clauses of Section 161(3) CrPC are not followed by investigators in the real sense of the term.
Read more about what the Court had said here: Recording of victim statement by audio-video means, by female officer: Allahabad HC orders conditional clauses to comply with Section 161(3) CrPC
Our readers may note that the following decisions have been taken by the UP government to ensure that the investigation system is strengthened:
(i) Autopsy and wound reports should be typed and made easily legible and the practice of handwritten reports should be discontinued.
(ii) During the autopsy, there should be DNA and fingerprinting and the necessary software should be developed for this purpose.
(iii) In the case of gunshot wounds, instead of a full body x-ray, the x-ray should be of the area where the injury is. However, in such cases where the entry or exit wound is not apparent, the need for an X-ray should be made mandatory.
(iv) At autopsy, wounds on the cadaver should be photographed in color to highlight them.
(v) An index should be prepared for attachment to each case log, which is submitted to the Prosecutor/Honourable Judges. It should be explored whether the necessary facilities can be provided through the CCTNS software.
(vi) A synopsis must be prepared of the contents of the report containing the opinion of the investigator as encapsulated in the report under section 173(2) Cr.Pc. An index should also be prepared for convenient reading and reference. This synopsis forms part of the report under Section 173(2) Cr.PC
(vii) The importance of the role of the supervising agent should be emphasized and the supervising agent should not function only as a post office. Any investigation should be looked at under the microscope and any shortcomings or shortcomings should be reported to the investigator. Arrangements should also be made for regular training of the interviewer.
(viii) Senior Supervisory Officers shall promptly submit the report submitted by the police under Section 173(2) Cr.PC and not withhold it unnecessarily. In this context, a letter dated 05.05.2016 had already been issued by the Director General of Police, UP Lucknow.
(ix) Before ordering further investigation under s. 173(8), it is desirable to seek permission/give information from the competent court, but the necessity of this step should be considered in the light of relevant and applicable statutory provisions and past judgments and observations by Hon’ble Apex Court and Hon’ble High Court. In all cases where witness statements are recorded in audio/video mode, the relevant material will be incorporated into the case log by means of a CD/USB key.
(x) The font size used to prepare the case log should be increased to a size that would facilitate easy and readable reading thereof. To this end, the cooperation of the NIC will be sought to implement increased font size in recordings uploaded to the CCTNS.
(xi) Strict compliance with the statutory provisions contained in Article 65B CPI and that the investigator is trained to adopt a sensitive approach in these matters.
(xii) It was emphasized that proper instructions should be given to supervisory officers to ensure that they carry out their duties efficiently and diligently. He was informed by the Additional Director General of Police (Crime) that in all Districts (pan-state) training was provided in the Orderly Rooms and through Crime Meetings. The Additional Chief Secretary (Interior), UP Government, Lucknow has issued instructions for action to be taken against investigators who have been negligent in the performance of their duties and thereby jeopardize a fair and proper investigation appropriate.
(xiii) In each district, the Joint Director (Prosecution) should head a Legal Cell, which should be established for the purpose of educating all investigators on the latest criminal law changes and judgments rendered by the Honorable Apex Court and Hon’ble High Court.
(xiv) The necessary government order/circular/roadmap, which was to be issued, covered a wide range and the support and cooperation of technical and other departments was needed.
Apart from this, the state government has also informed the Court that it has already given instructions to investigators only in cases against women in which the victim impact statement has been taken under Section 164 Cr.PC and in the event of variations in victim impact statements under sections 161 and 164 Cr.PC, the investigating officer must not ask any questions in a Supplemental Victim Statement (Majeed Bayan), which frustrates and denies the Victim Statement under Section 164 Cr.PC
Having taken note of the aforementioned decisions taken by the Government of the UP, the college of Judge Sanjay Kumar Singh felt that the criminal justice administration system in India places human rights and human dignity on a much higher pedestal. In our jurisprudence, an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, an accused is entitled to a fair and impartial investigation and a fair trial, and the prosecution is expected to play a balanced role in the trial.
“A fair and impartial investigation are the fundamental canons of our criminal jurisprudence and are fully in line with the constitutional mandate enshrined in Sections 20 and 21 of the Constitution of India. Any investigation must be conducted fairly and in accordance with the law. A fair and proper investigation is the main task of the investigator. In any civilized society, the police are vested with powers to investigate a crime in order to ensure the punishment of the criminals and it is in the interest of the society that the investigative body acts honestly and fairly and does not not resort to fabricating false evidence or creating false clues because such acts undermine the confidence of ordinary people not only in the investigative body, but in the ultimate analysis of the criminal justice dispensation system“, further underlined the Court.
It should be noted that the Court was hearing a set of cases relating to the mode and manner of recording witness statements under Article 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure due to the amendment by Law 5 of 2009, Act 13 of 2013, and Act 22 of 2018 at Section 161 Cr.PC, compliance with the provisions of Subsection (10) of Section 15A of the SC/ST Act and steps to be taken to streamline fair investigation.
Essentially, in one of the cases, the Court noted that the victim impact statement under s. accused, while the provisions of recording the statement under Section 161 Cr.PC by audio-video means was inserted by Law No. 5 of 2009 and a similar provision had also been provided under subsection (10) of Section 15A of the SC/ST Act, but the Court noted that mandatory provisions were not complied with.
In another case (gang rape case), the Court noted that the investigator, in order to nullify the statement under s. the victim’s second statement (Majeed Bayan) recorded through a female constable in violation of the 1st proviso of Section 161(3) Cr.PC as well as the provisions of Subsection 10 of the Section 15A of the SC/ST Act in which it is provided that “all proceedings under this Act shall be video recorded.
In this context, the Court had ordered the convening of a meeting of government officials to deliberate on the necessary steps to be taken to ensure that the investigation system is reformed.
Case Title – Waseem v. State of UP and another with related questions
Click here to read/download the order