DailyPost 2534

Democracies need hard coded systems rather than whims and idiosyncrasies being given the shape and form of democratic will and process. Slowly, these hard systems become the standard operating procedure and is known to one and all, and then expectation is rightly set for both the parties or the country at large. Discretion cuts both ways and more often than not, it is used in a detrimental manner, as per our tryst with democracy. There are countries with much more matured system than ours, where federal crimes are defined, and once it happens, it lands with the rightful investigative agency, with matching expertise and resources.

While all crimes are registered primarily at the local level in this country and depending on the hue and cry, rather than the merits of the case, it reach the central investigative agencies, through a well laid out approval process. Please bear in mind the hassle of getting a criminal case registered in India. What super hassle then would this transfer entail? In a recent instance registration of a criminal had to be ordered by the Supreme Court of India. So, you can well understand the machinations, the pulls and pressures for a case to be transferred or not to be transferred to CBI or NIA etc. The politics on crime cannot be wished away and has become an integral part of the system, whether we accept it or not is not going to make any difference. A single criminal case can make or mar a political party or a leader. At the very least it can keep nagging him intensively and consistently.

Where the central investigative agencies use their original powers with or without the preliminary enquiry or other such processes, one will have to accept the fact, that they have immense discretion at their command. Discretion at their command should read as the power backstage being wielded, by their bureaucratic bosses and finally the political grandmasters, who call their shots whichever way they fancy. That each of the political parties and nearly every leader has been on wrong side of the law many a times is a reality, then expecting an objective and empirical decision making and follow up on investigation would be expecting too much. Our experience has also sufficiently proven it.

When power is the name of the game and investigative agencies have it wholesome, it is imperative that it should as hard coded as possible. The nature of cases which would land up with these investigative agencies should be pre-defined. Automatic or within a fixed time; then level and quantum of investigation done, has to quantified and mentioned has to be mandated while they take up the case. The nature of resources; human investigative expertise and tech enabled resources has to be detailed in the protocol, for it happening in a near mechanical manner. The arrest protocol also needs to worked as per the law of the land, so that the arrest itself does not become a bigger battle compared to the core investigation. Interrogation protocol should help provide much more focus and result orientation, more so in financial crimes. The timelines have to be laid; the resources should be commensurate to meet the timelines. Outside coordination required, should also be a part of the protocol. The fixing of responsibility also needs to be neat and not nebulous providing avenues for the IO, investigation team and supervisory officers to escape. The aim of the National Investigation Protocol would be to get all deserving cases transferred or taken cognizance by the federal investigative agencies, outstanding investigation conducted with fixed timelines and conviction nearly assured. Transformative investigation and justice delivery is the call of the hour.

Sanjay Sahay

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