KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to look into the issue that there is no law in force to take action against a retired officer who is going against the prosecution in a criminal case.
The state should take appropriate action in accordance with law including appropriate legislation, said Justice P V Kunhikrishnan.
The court issued the order based on the report filed by the state police chief. The court had ordered to probe the relationship of the accused in a counterfeit currency case in Hill Palace police station, Ernakulam, in 1990 with the police officers who detected the case and probed it. The court had prima facie found that the investigating officer, delayed the probe and submitted the final report after 10 years, only to help the accused to see that the witnesses will not identify the accused if there is delay and the accused can escape in such a situation.
The state police chief has conducted an inquiry through IPS officer Harshita Attaluri and filed a report before the court. The state DGP stated that there is no specific legal provision where punishment is provided to a retired police officer for deposing against the prosecution after retirement. There are legal constraints for the State Police Chief to ensure that the retired police officers give proper evidence in the respective cases in which investigation is conducted by retired police officers.
The conduct of retired police officers is not covered by the provisions of the Kerala Police Act, 2011. As per Rule 6(1) of the Kerala Police Departmental Inquiries, Punishment and Appeal Rules, 1958, disciplinary inquiry can be initiated only against a member of the service and not against a retired employee. The tendency of witnesses turning hostile is due to various factors like fear of deposing against the accused or political pressure, stated in the report.
The court observed that the State Government has to consider this matter very seriously. "This cannot go on like this. The State Police chief even apprehends that there are chances for the retired officers to give evidence against the prosecution because of political pressure, the pressure of other family members, and even because of corruption with monetary consideration," said the court.
This was a matter which is to be addressed by the state government with appropriate legislation in accordance with the law. If necessary, the state government will constitute a committee with legal experts to study this issue before going for Legislation, held the court.