Home Womens Rights Initiative supreme court latest orders and judgements Trial Court can issue direction to initiate disciplinary proceedings against corrupt IO...

Trial Court can issue direction to initiate disciplinary proceedings against corrupt IO , Medical Officer

24
0
SHARE

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA FAIR TRIAL :  Court should leave no stone unturned to do justice and protect the interest of the society as well

Dayal Singh v. State of Uttaranchal, (2012) 8 SCC 263 at page 282

The investigating officer, as well as the doctor who are dealing with the investigation of a criminal case, are obliged to act in accordance with the Police Manual and the known canons of medical practice, respectively. They are both obliged to be diligent, truthful and fair in their approach and investigation. A default or breach of duty, intentionally or otherwise, can sometimes prove fatal to the case of the prosecution. An investigating officer is completely responsible and answerable for the manner and methodology adopted in completing his investigation. Where the default and omission is so flagrant that it speaks volumes of a deliberate act or such irresponsible attitude of investigation, no court can afford to overlook it, whether it did or did not cause prejudice to the case of the prosecution. It is possible that despite such default/omission, the prosecution may still prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and the court can so return its finding. But, at the same time, the default and omission would have a reasonable chance of defeating the case of the prosecution in some events and the guilty could go scot-free. We may illustrate such kind of investigation with an example where a huge recovery of opium or poppy husk is made from a vehicle and the investigating officer does not even investigate or make an attempt to find out as to who is the registered owner of the vehicle and whether such owner was involved in the commission of the crime or not. Instead, he merely apprehends a cleaner and projects him as the principal offender without even reference to the registered owner. Apparently, it would prima facie be difficult to believe that a cleaner of a truck would have the capacity to buy and be the owner, in possession of such a huge quantity i.e. hundreds of bags of poppy husk. The investigation projects the poor cleaner as the principal offender in the case without even reference to the registered owner.

Dereliction of duty or carelessness is an abuse of discretion under a definite law and misconduct is a violation of indefinite law. Misconduct is a forbidden act whereas dereliction of duty is the forbidden quality of an act and is necessarily indefinite. One is a transgression of some established and definite rule of action, with least element of discretion, while the other is primarily an abuse of discretion. This Court in State of Punjab v. Ram Singh [(1992) 4 SCC 54 : 1992 SCC (L&S) 793 : (1992) 21 ATC 435] stated that the ambit of these expressions had to be construed with reference to the subject-matter and the context where the term occurs, regard being given to the scope of the statute and the public purpose it seeks to serve. The police service is a disciplined service and it requires maintenance of strict discipline. The consequences of these defaults should normally be attributable to negligence. Police officers and doctors, by their profession, are required to maintain duty decorum of high standards. The standards of investigation and the prestige of the profession are dependent upon the action of such specialised persons. The Police Manual and even the provisions of CrPC require the investigation to be conducted in a particular manner and method which, in our opinion, stands clearly violated in the present case. Dr C.N. Tewari, not only breached the requirement of adherence to professional standards but also became instrumental in preparing a document which, ex facie, was incorrect and stood falsified by the unimpeachable evidence of the eyewitnesses placed by the prosecution on record. Also, in the same case, the Court, while referring to the decision in Awadh Bihari Yadav v. State of Bihar [(1995) 6 SCC 31] noticed that if primacy is given to such designed or negligent investigation, to the omission or lapses by perfunctory investigation or omissions, the faith and confidence of the people would be shaken not only in the law enforcement agency but also in the administration of justice.

This results in shifting of avoidable burden and exercise of higher degree of caution and care on the courts. Dereliction of duty or carelessness is an abuse of discretion under a definite law and misconduct is a violation of indefinite law. Misconduct is a forbidden act whereas dereliction of duty is the forbidden quality of an act and is necessarily indefinite. One is a transgression of some established and definite rule of action, with least element of discretion, while the other is primarily an abuse of discretion. This Court in State of Punjab v. Ram Singh [(1992) 4 SCC 54 : 1992 SCC (L&S) 793 : (1992) 21 ATC 435] stated that the ambit of these expressions had to be construed with reference to the subject-matter and the context where the term occurs, regard being given to the scope of the statute and the public purpose it seeks to serve. The police service is a disciplined service and it requires maintenance of strict discipline. The consequences of these defaults should normally be attributable to negligence. Police officers and doctors, by their profession, are required to maintain duty decorum of high standards. The standards of investigation and the prestige of the profession are dependent upon the action of such specialised persons. The Police Manual and even the provisions of CrPC require the investigation to be conducted in a particular manner and method which, in our opinion, stands clearly violated in the present case. Dr C.N. Tewari, not only breached the requirement of adherence to professional standards but also became instrumental in preparing a document which, ex facie, was incorrect and stood falsified by the unimpeachable evidence of the eyewitnesses placed by the prosecution on record. Also, in the same case, the Court, while referring to the decision in Awadh Bihari Yadav v. State of Bihar [(1995) 6 SCC 31] noticed that if primacy is given to such designed or negligent investigation, to the omission or lapses by perfunctory investigation or omissions, the faith and confidence of the people would be shaken not only in the law enforcement agency but also in the administration of justice.

Where our criminal justice system provides safeguards of fair trial and innocent till proven guilty to an accused, there it also contemplates that a criminal trial is meant for doing justice to all, the accused, the society and a fair chance to prove to the prosecution. Then alone can law and order be maintained. The courts do not merely discharge the function to ensure that no innocent man is punished, but also that a guilty man does not escape. Both are public duties of the Judge. During the course of the trial, the learned Presiding Judge is expected to work objectively and in a correct perspective. Where the prosecution attempts to misdirect the trial on the basis of a perfunctory or designedly defective investigation, there the Court is to be deeply cautious and ensure that despite such an attempt, the determinative process is not subverted. For truly attaining this object of a “fair trial”, the Court should leave no stone unturned to do justice and protect the interest of the society as well.

DISCIPLINARY ACTION AGAINST INVESTIGATING OFFICER


LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here