The Delhi High Court Seeks Status Of Chargesheets Forwarded In Three Years; Asks Ios To Comply With The Fixed Time Period

KEY TAKEAWAYS

*Delhi High Court seeks filing status of chargesheets forwarded within the last three years (2018-2020).

*Late filing of chargesheets, even though the investigation was completed on time- shook the confidence of an ordinary citizen in the justice delivery system, the Court observed.

*Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arvind Bansal stated that such negligent conduct of the Investigation Officers (IOs) 'raises some significant legal issues.”

*The Court directs the ACPs to devise a mechanism, guided by a 'worthy DCP,” to ensure all chargesheets that are signed/forwarded by them- are submitted with the Court.

INTRODUCTION

The Delhi High Court heavily criticised the negligent conduct of Investigation Officers (IOs) for late/non filing of charge sheets on time, even after the timely completion of the investigation. Following this, the Court sought the filing status of chargesheets forwarded within the last three years, 2018-2020, from the concerned investigation officers (IOs).

Furthermore, the Court observed that the late/non filing of charge sheets despite the completion of the investigation 'shakes the confidence of an ordinary citizen in the justice delivery system.”

'Non filing of charge sheets, despite being forwarded by a senior officer amounted to undermining the hierarchy and discipline of service,” the Court said.

FURTHER DETAILS

The Delhi Court, on February 16- directed the Additional Commissioners of Police (ACPs) to prepare an elaborate list of the status of charge sheets forwarded in the last three years, and stated that it would definitely 'unearth many hidden ghosts (files)” and 'wake many souls (IOs) from slumber.” The Court also directed ACPs to come up with a mechanism, under the guidance of DCP (South-East) that ensures that all charge sheets signed, or forwarded by them to the IOs are submitted duly with the Court, within the time period.

'A time period must be fixed for filing charge sheets and IOs should strictly comply with it, and such time should not be more than thirty (30) days from the forwarding of charge sheet by concerned ACP.” The non filing of charge sheets by IOs displays a missing link in the chain of factors requiring expeditious administration of criminal justice, the Court stated. The Court could not find any rule in the 'standing order' of the worthy Commissioner of Police, Delhi, that required the IOs to submit the charge sheets within a specified time period.

"However, late filing of charge sheets despite timely completion of investigation shakes the confidence of an ordinary citizen in the justice delivery system. It may further result in accused fleeing away from justice and witness(es) disappearing or losing interest in the case. It creates an overall disappointing scenario for all the stakeholders," the Court stated. It also directs the concerned DCP and ACP to take the responsibility of training IOs with respect to the timely filing of charge sheets.

Another issue that the Court brought up was the time limit of an investigation. It observed that the IOs have to understand and know that investigations of summons cases must be wrapped up within six (6) months, from the date of the arrest of the accused, after which, or on failure of completion of investigation within the time frame, the Magistrate can stop further investigation of the offence. The Court directs the concerned DCP to remind this provision to the concerned Investigation Officers (IOs).

CURRENT SCENARIO

*The Court directed ACPs to create a list of charge sheets forwarded in the last three years, seeking the filing status of the same. The Court strictly directed all concerned IOs to follow the stipulated time period, and file the charge sheet within thirty (30) days from the forwarding of the same by any senior officer, disobeying which will be considered as 'undermining the hierarchy and discipline of service.”

*The Court also directed ACPs to create a mechanism that will ensure that the filing of charge sheets take place within the specified time frame, and that they are duly submitted to the Court.

CONCLUSION

This decision restores, or tries to restore confidence in the justice system. Fortunately, justice prevails, and not everything has gone down the drain. Hopefully, with this decision, there will be more responsible workers that work for the safety of the country. There is a need for training, and re-training the investigation officers, and the judiciary system of India should make attempts to mend these actions, by providing an appropriate mechanism for the same. Hopefully this will be the start of necessary and notable changes in the lacking justice system of the country.

WHAT ARE YOUR OPINIONS ON THIS DECISION? DO YOU AGREE THAT WE NEED MORE SUCH STRICT ACTIONS IN VARIOUS OTHER AREAS? LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!

 

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Nandini Warrier 
on 27 February 2021
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