Oped

Trials and errors

  • Strengthening the foundation of the criminal justice system is imperative for an effective justice delivery
- BISHNUHARI MARASINI

Sep 25, 2018-

Almost eight weeks have passed since the brutal rape and murder of Nirmala Pant, but the offender involved in this heinous crime are still at large. Due to the pressure of locals, right activists and people’s representatives, different committees have been formed but so far have produced no output. Although yet to be confirmed, it nonetheless, cannot be ruled out that high ranking police and their kin have been involved in the crime. The police even tried to fabricate the case and asked innocent people to confess the crime thereby greatly losing the trust of people following their course of action. The Nirmala Pant case thus, is an example of how shoddy investigation aids the prosecutor hide in plain sight while simultaneously encouraging other offenders to believe that they can get away with their crimes. 

 

Investigation is the foundation of the criminal justice system. The manner in which police investigations are conducted is of critical importance to the functioning of the criminal justice system. The investigating officers must be trained and supervised and the necessary scientific and logistic support has to be made available to them. The police must perceive themselves as psychologically and morally bound to do everything in their means to curb crime and to investigate the criminal cases successfully to meet the people’s expectation. In this process, police should not be influenced by political pressure or pressure from their seniors and they should exhibit high professionalism and intelligence. Police officers are often blamed for their rudeness, their lack of innovativeness and their defensiveness in the face of criticism. There are also allegations that in some cases they try to suppress the truth and put forward false information before court for reasons such as corruption or extraneous influences, political or otherwise. Unless the basic problem of strengthening the investigating force and therefore the foundation of our justice system is solved the guilty continue to escape conviction and  sometimes even innocent persons may get imprisoned and punished. 

 

Crime investigation is a highly specialised task that requires a lot of patience, expertise, training and clarity about the legal position of the specific offences and subject matter of investigation. It is basically an art of unearthing hidden facts with the purpose of linking up of different pieces of evidence for successful prosecution. Criminal investigation requires specialisation and professionalism of a type not yet fully achieved by the police agencies in our nation. Another important aspect impacting the quality of investigation is the insularity of the investigation officers and the supervisory ranks.  For fair and impartial investigation, it is imperative that the investigating 

machinery is immune from political and other extra influences; and acts in consonance with the law of the land and the constitution. 

 

It has however been observed that the people in authority  think nothing of wielding influences to scuttle and even thwart criminal investigations or to bend them to suit their political or personal conveniences. The executive should realise that adequate resources, forensic lab, trained manpower, specialisation and professionalism will not only help searching the truth, but also increases the credibility of the work of the concerned authority. It is then the duty of government to arrange the necessary facilities and create a favourable environment for investigation officers and establish a mechanism to ensure proper investigation. It should furthermore take stringent action against those unable to fulfill the assigned duties.

 

The recently implemented criminal code procedural act has some provisions mandatory to both investigator and prosecutor to bring about proper investigation. Investigating officers are also made more responsible and accountable regarding their duty to be carried out in proper manner. From the collection of a first information report to providing a proposed opinion to the government attorney, investigating officers have to coordinate in various issues. Directives from prosecutor in terms of investigation are mandatory and should be abided by. It is hoped that such provisions will bring about substantive improvement in the criminal justice system. 

 

Last but not the least, citizens are a kind of police without uniform. They may have to participate in the criminal justice system as complainants or informants, victims, accused, witnesses and first information report provider. Yet they are often not aware of their rights and obligations. Awareness of these matters will help the citizens to assert their rights and to protect themselves from unreasonable arbitrary and corrupt officials. Therefore, the rights and responsibilities of complainants, informants, victims, accused, witnesses, first information report providers and concerned investigating officers should be made available in different languages and media to the reach the common people free of costs. This will strengthen the proper investigation and prosecution of criminal cases.

 

Marasini is a public prosecutor at the Office of the High Attorney, Butwal. 

Published: 25-09-2018 08:07

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