LG dissolves Delhi govt panel to monitor criminal probes
While dissolving the panel, the LG said that the committee was set up in violation of Supreme Court directions, and subsequent guidelines by the Centre
Lieutenant governor VK Saxena on Monday dissolved the Delhi government’s existing standing committee to oversee the quality of investigations in criminal cases and prosecutions, officials in the LG secretariat aware of the matter said. Saxena has also approved the panel’s reconstitution, with the additional chief secretary or principal secretary (home) as its chairman, and the principal secretary (law), director (prosecution) and special commissioner of police, as its members, the officials said.
While dissolving the panel, the LG said that the committee was set up in violation of Supreme Court directions, and subsequent guidelines by the Centre.
Before it was dissolved, it was headed by a standing counsel (criminal) from the Delhi high court, with an additional standing counsel as member.
Despite repeated attempts, Delhi government officials did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.
The standing committee in question was constituted by the government after a Supreme Court order dated January 7, 2014, which aimed to reduce the number of acquittals in criminal cases. Subsequently, the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA), on March 24, 2014, issued an advisory on monitoring of investigations to ensure that the investigating officer and prosecuting officers discharge their duties.
An LG house official said that the main advice of the MHA was that the home department should constitute a standing committee of senior police officers and prosecution directorate to analyse cases and ascertain mistakes committed during investigation or prosecution. However, on October 15, 2015, the government constituted the standing committee with the approval of the minister (home) with senior standing counsel (criminal) as chairman.
“The findings of the committee are to be forwarded to the Commissioner of Police and director of prosecution for taking departmental action as per the rules against all investigation and prosecuting officials identified responsible for failure of prosecution on account of negligence,” the official explained.
In an official statement, the LG secretariat said that there was no justification for the continuation of the existing committee, noting that the LG’s predecessor (Anil Baijal) had objected to it several times, while directing to review the constitution of the committee, and bring it in conformity with the order of the Supreme Court.
“Reminders were sent in February 2018, June 2018, October 2018, and May 2019 but no proposal for reconstitution of the committee was submitted,” the statement added.
Quoting Saxena, the statement said that this “approach of the ruling dispensation” appears to be an “attempt to control the service matters of police and prosecution officers, which is not in their executive domain.”
LG secretariat has said that that the existing committee is headed by a standing counsel (criminal) who are part of the prosecution and entrusted with the presentation of cases before courts and therefore, their role in such cases also comes under purview of the Committee and inclusion of these officers in the standing committee may be viewed as an “attempt to dilute the directions guidelines issued by the Supreme Court and Ministry of Home Affairs.”