TO REGISTER OR NOT TO REGISTER!

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TO REGISTER OR NOT TO REGISTER!

Whatever we might talk of the Police to reform; its real health, political interference, technology gap, fitness, soft skills, professionalism et al,  in reality  the very first magical Gordian knot, we have not been able to sort out.  It has not been sorted out at the individual, organizational or the government level; at the level of specialized agencies and any level you can imagine within and outside of Police. This is the Gordian knot of putting the criminal law in motion; that is the registration of a criminal case. Till the time the dilemma of whether to register or not to register remains, the umbilical cord problem of the Police, more so the Police Station, where the cases get registered will never be sorted out.

Who decides whether the case would be registered? The first cutting level person who presumably would be independent in registering unimportant cases is the Station House Officer of a Police Station. People who would have got a chance to go through the ordeal would bail me out and that too in an age of Online FIR, which has been in vogue at least at the level glitterati talk for quite some time now. Most of the senior officers of the Police are approached to get a case registered, the most basic of the function of the Police. The law of the land states that every complaint needs to be registered and investigated. Besides, the middle and senior echelons of police, the guidance can come from anybody, who wields power in the democratic ecosystem.

There are redressal mechanisms for this issue in a structured manner at senior levels of the Police, government or through judicial directive, but the tide of unaccountability and at the barest minimum, lack of responsiveness reigns supreme. Equally critical knot is, what sections of law are applied in a particular  case. The Indian judiciary has been scrutinizing the legal utility and futility of sections applied. With impartial and professional police force this issue should not have cropped up in the first place. We cannot register a criminal cases as required by law without any delay and concoction, of every complainant, applying the sections of law which the complaint legally warrants. It’s time for us to put our mind to this subject else it will undermine everything we stand for.

Does natural justice, constitutional guarantees, equality before law and due process of law remain independent of the most basic delivery of the criminal justice system? The stalling of the case or even an enquiry of any type means a complete evasion of the well established criminal justice system. The capability of the political party in power in a state to get a ”case registered of their choice,” is directly proportional to the health of the criminal justice system. Tons of criminal acts which hog the state and national limelight for weeks and months together, do not end up in the registration of even a single case. On the other hand, cases have been registered on flimsy issues or non-issues in haste. The courts are forced to spend their precious judicial time in sorting out these issues, which have been created by design, albeit legally.

SUBJECTIVITY AND DISCRETION TO SET THE CRIMINAL LAW IN MOTION IS AGAINST ALL TENETS OF JUSTICE.

Sanjay Sahay

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