The absence of dedicated police personnel for court-related duties is resulting in non-execution of summons and non-bailable warrants (NBWs), contributing to a delay in trials, the Law Commission has said.
The Law Commission said in its report that at present police did not treat execution of NBWs as a priority. “The fact remains that police do not consider it as a priority item and they act in a casual and routine manner.”
“The most conspicuous reason for the delays in the progress of trial is the non-execution of warrants by police. Unserved summons and non-bailable warrants have a telling effect on the criminal justice scenario,” the panel said in the report given to the Supreme Court recently.
The panel’s report on ‘Expeditious Investigation and Trial of criminal Cases Against Influential Public Personalities’ noted that police stations were “understaffed and ill-equipped” and police faced “genuine difficulties” in the service of summons and execution of arrest warrants.
“The Law Commission is of the view that dedicated police personnel should be put in place to attend exclusively to court-related duties – service of summons and execution of warrants,” the report said.
Pointing to the current practice of attaching one constable to each criminal court, the report said many of these policeman were simultaneously attending to other courts’ work as well.
The lone constable “acts as a post office to carry the summons/warrants to the police station and leave it to the station house officer to act on it”, the commission said.
“The number of personnel required for each court may be in the range of two-four,” it suggested.
The constables attached to courts should work under the supervision of an inspector exclusively deployed for this purpose who, in turn, should report to the district judge every month, the panel said.
The report noted that there were “innumerable instances in which the police officer concerned does not even send a report to the court” giving specific reasons for non-apprehension of the accused.
The police “inaction, indifference and inability” are the contributory factors to the grim situation of a backlog of large number of unexecuted NBWs, the panel said, adding that “the cases get adjourned from time to time because of non-appearance of one or some of the accused”.
In a criticism of the prevailing state of affairs, the commission said: “Even prominent accused (holding a public position or leading a political party) are shown as absconding or not available for contact”.
Referring to the state of affairs in Jharkhand, the report said: “The feedback is that warrants remain unexecuted for months and years as the police personnel are not available for attending to this work, inasmuch as they are deployed on duty in remote and sensitive areas to cope with extremists menace.”
Noting that in Uttar Pradesh there was a summons cell of police in every district for executing summons and warrants, the report said “either the force attached to the cell is inadequate or their services are diverted quite often to other jobs”.