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Judges, officers highlight loopholes in crime investigations

Srinagar, Apr 26: Jurists and senior police officials on Thursday highlighted loopholes in investigations under the criminal justice system in the state.
They were speaking in a workshop titled ‘Importance of criminal appeal in Higher Courts and role of prosecutors and investigators’ organised by Jammu and Kashmir Police at its Peerbagh headquarters here.
In his welcome address, Inspector General Police, Kashmir range, SP Pani, said the workshop was meant to sensitise the officers and prosecutors in police.
“Fair investigation has a power to uphold the rule of law, which is very important. The investigators and prosecutors shall make maximum use of it,” he said.
“They should have the confidence to approach higher judiciary in case they feel the investigation needs a review or rectification.”
The IGP Kashmir admitted that the prosecutors and investigators “rarely appeal to have the case reviewed”.
“We hardly use the process to go for an appeal or review a particular case. This needs to be changed,” the Kashmir police chief stressed.
He also acknowledged the police department’s “failure in providing fair investigations”.
“It is unfortunate that investigations have taken a toll because of the other commitments of police. We do realise that something needs to be done for strengthening the investigation component,” he said.
In his address, High Court’s Justice M K Hanjura pointed out how “shoddy investigations lead to tampering of facts”.
The High Court judge mentioned a case of 13-year-old girl who was sexually exploited repeatedly.
He blamed how “the lackadaisical approach” of the investigators and prosecutors lead to shielding of the crime.
“A few days back, I went through a case of a girl child who was gang-raped for 22 days. When I went through the file, I realized how the prosecutor had identified the girl while recording the statement,” he said.
“Her statement was recorded three days before the accused filed application for bail in the court,” Hanjura, who was guest of honor on the occasion, said.
Hanjura said the police officer had deliberately suppressed the fact that she was exploited for 22 days.
“As if this was not enough, the prosecutor too concealed this fact, although he had identified her in the court. With the result, the judicial magistrate going through the case had also not taken note of it,” he lamented.
He said there was a “hue and cry” over the Kuthua incident. “But such matters are not prosecuted properly,” he regretted.
Hanjura asserted: “With such horrific incidents coming to the fore, it is high time the prosecutors and investigators work in tandem.”
Justice Ali Mohammed Magrey too accepted the “growing deficiencies” in the justice system.
“The basic problem lies with the investigator. Once the case is registered and investigation is completed, the investigator and prosecutors should both see if the case demands further investigation or not,” he said.
He said the crime scene investigators, prosecutors and judiciary were responsible for upholding the justice delivery system.
“All these three components need to work in rhythm, collect and record all evidence, properly analyze the case and ensure free and fair trial to ensure justice,” he said.
“There are a number of backlog cases due to the diminution of the reliability of evidence resulting in under-trials still waiting for trial and added that the need of the hour is to process those pending cases to strengthen criminal justice system in the state,” he said.