Noting that “systemic failures” caused delays in the state filing appeals in criminal cases, the Delhi High Court on Friday asked the Delhi Police to “take a liberal view” of delays caused due to lapses by police officers.
In February, the court of Justices Kailash Gambhir and Sunita Gupta had taken note of delays by the state in filing appeals against acquittals. It had directed police to conduct an inquiry and take action against those responsible.
On Friday, the court disposed of the matter after the police report stated that the delays were “systemic”.
According to the report, there were huge delays on the part of not just police officers but also the prosecution and law departments, and office of the standing counsels. Observing that lapses had occurred in all departments, the court said punishing only police officers would “cause heartburn”.
According to the inquiry report on 33 appeals — which had been delayed by four months to nearly three years — it was found that the various departments had taken between three weeks to over one year in processing the files.
The court was also informed that a proper system and timetable had been created by the Home department — after it issued standing orders in March — to ensure that appeals are filed within the prescribed 90-days period.
It accepted the argument put forth by senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing on behalf of the police, that administrative action was “not desirable” because there was no system in place earlier.
Under the new guidelines, each department has been given a set timetable to complete paperwork, with “regular monitoring” by the DCP and Additional DCP of the district. They were also made personally responsible for monitoring the process.
The DCPs have also been directed to hold “weekly crime review meetings” to get feedback about pending cases. The orders also state that the SHO of the concerned police station should coordinate with the offices of the prosecution director and the standing counsel.