Taking note of delays in filing chargesheets against juveniles in conflict with law, the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) has issued directions to the police to do away with the checking of the chargesheet by the prosecutor.
This removes one step of the process before the chargesheet is filed. The JJB has instead directed that the Assistant Commissioner Police (ACP) concerned check the chargesheet before it is filed.
Principal Magistrate JJB-I Vishal Singh has directed that the ACPs of the districts concerned check the chargesheet prepared by the investigation officer (IO) and forward it to the board. The order of JJB would be applicable to four districts — west, centre, north, northwest and outer — under Delhi Police jurisdiction. The JJB-I has said that ACPs are “competent enough” to check the chargesheet.
The order comes after IOs of several cases filed a complaint that chargesheets prepared by them were yet to be checked by public prosecutors, several days after being filed. In their complaint, they said there “is imminent possibility” of the chargesheet not being filed within the stipulated period. In offences where the maximum punishment is seven-year jail term, it is mandated that the chargesheet be filed within 60 days.
Taking cognizance of the complaint, Principal Magistrate Singh stated, “There is no legal requirement in the CrPC to compulsorily get the final investigation reports (chargesheet) checked by the APPs (Additional Public Prosecutors) before they are filed in the court/board for taking judicial cognizance. Moreover, no useful purpose is served by getting the final investigation report checked by APPs as no final responsibility/accountability of APPs is fixed if the final investigation is not filed as per law, or is filed with faulty investigation.”
He added, “… the practice of getting investigation files checked by APPs can be obviated… all final investigation reports shall be forwarded to the JJB by the order of the ACPs concerned, without requiring the same to be checked by APPs. The directions shall come into effect immediately so that the interests of JCL (juvenile in conflict with law) and victims are not adversely affected.”
Sources said as many 10 chargesheets per day are filed by the prosecution agency, to be checked by the public prosecutor. With just one prosecutor, it takes at least half-an-hour to scrutinise these chargesheets, leading to the delay in filing them before the board, added the sources. “The police bring the chargesheet to the prosecutor to ensure that it is free of defects. However, there is no such statutory requirement. The prosecutors are burdened by this practice, which is one of the key reasons for pendency in the courts. In a month, as many as 200 chargesheets are brought for checking,” said a source.
The issue of prosecutors scrutinising chargesheets was also taken up before the Lieutenant Governor, said sources. It was suggested that prosecutors be monetarily incentivised for this work, added the sources.