MADURAI: Observing that lapses in police investigation have led to the acquittal of accused in many cases, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court posed a series of questions to the Home Secretary and Director General of Police (DGP) regarding disciplinary action taken against any police personnel responsible for the same.
Justice B Pugalendhi raised the questions while acquitting one Balamurugan, who was convicted and sentenced to five-year rigorous imprisonment by a Sivagangai court for the death of one Senthil in 2010. The judge acquitted Balamurugan after noting several lapses in the investigation conducted by the Thiruppachetti police.
"The purpose of an investigation is to bring out the truth before the court of law. However, in this case, it has been obliterated and the investigation proceeded in a causal manner as to the whims and fancies of the investigation agency," the judge observed, and asked the Home Secretary and DGP why not a fine of `10 lakh was collected from the police personnel concerned and awarded to the victims, who suffered because of the perfunctory investigation.
Citing data published by Crime Records Bureau from 2016 to 2018, the judge noted that there has been a decline in conviction rates and the rate of acquittal or discharge of accused are on the rise. "The quality of investigation is perfunctory not only in this case but almost 50 per cent of cases," he added. He also expressed concern on the sufferings of the innocents, who are wrongfully prosecuted due to such lapses. The mistakes of a few dishonest and unqualified police personnel reflect badly on the whole department and may cause the public to lose faith in the system, the judge said.
He questioned whether higher officials ensure that investigation officers have knowledge and expertise to conduct a criminal investigation and if any disciplinary action is being taken against officials in case of acquittal due to lacunae in the investigation. Also recalling a direction issued by a division bench for recording statements of witnesses through electronic means, the judge sought response from the officers on the same. The case was adjourned to September 22.