Citing lapses highlighted by the Supreme Court in a five-year-old Gujarat case in which a minor girl was raped and murdered, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has written to the all states and Union Territories, directing them to improve quality of criminal investigation.
The move comes after the SC pulled up the police and prosecution on two occasions. In one case, the accused was acquitted, while the other involved wrongful prosecution.
The MHA told the state governments, “On the completion of a criminal case, the prosecuting agency should independently apply its mind and ensure that all shortcomings are rectified, if necessary by ordering further investigation.”
In January, the SC, while hearing a criminal appeal filed by the Gujarat government against the acquittal of the man accused of raping and murdering a 6-year-old, had remarked on the lapses committed by the investigation and prosecution agencies. In 2003, the accused was awarded death penalty by the trial court, but was later acquitted by the High Court due to lack of evidence.
In the second instance, a criminal case was lodged in Tamil Nadu by a woman sub-inspector against one Perumal for allegedly sexually exploiting a woman on the pretext of marriage. As per the FIR, after the woman became pregnant, Perumal threatened to kill her. In 2010, however, Perumal was acquitted of all charges.
Perumal later filed a case against the sub inspector, saying she gave false evidence against him, even after it was medically proved the complainant was not pregnant. The trial court and high court both dismissed his petition. However, faulting the high court, the SC said, “At every stage of the matter, the inquiry was misdirected.”
Highlighting the comments made by the SC, the home ministry’s letter also stated that the Bench has given six months to governments of all states and UTs to put in place a mechanism to examine all orders of acquittal and to record reasons for the failure of prosecution cases.
“A standing committee of senior officers of the police and prosecution directorates should be constituted to analyse the case and ascertain the mistakes committed during investigation, and/or prosecution, or both,” it stated.
It also asked that “a procedure be devised to take action against all erring investigating and prosecuting officials on account of sheer negligence or because of culpable lapses”.