In a landmark decision, the Uttarakhand High Court has directed the state government to abolish within six months the over-a century-old Revenue Police System in vogue in many parts of the hilly state and put in place regular police system as prevalent in the entire country.
A bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Alok Singh ordered that “more than a century-old practice of Revenue Police System/Policing in vogue in many parts of the State of Uttarakhand is ordered to be abolished within six months from today, in the meantime, the State Government shall put in place the Regular Police System as prevalent in the entire country”.
The court said so while dismissing the appeal filed by one Sundar Lal against the sentence of life term awarded to him by a trial court in Tehri Garhwal in 2012 for murdering his wife for dowry within four years of marriage.
While upholding his conviction and sentence, the high court noted that in the said case, a ‘Tehrir’ (application instead of FIR) was filed before the Revenue Police Hisriyakhal, Tehri Garhwal. The investigation was carried out by the Naib Tehsildar. The FIR was lodged with the Patwari. The Tehsildar had not taken in possession the bedsheet, which was stained with blood of the victim, and the Naib Tehsildar had not taken steps for sending the viscera etc to the FSL for examination.
This was because the Revenue Police, whose main task is to handle revenue matters, was investigating the case since in all but four districts of Uttarakhand, Revenue police handles the matters as was prevalent during British Raj and sometime thereafter. The Revenue police is not conversant with the Criminal Procedure Code, investigative techniques and their qualification is only matriculation.
“It is also strange that in four districts of State of Uttarakhand, the investigation is carried out by regular police by adopting the latest techniques but qua rest of the districts, the investigation is still carried out in a very slipshod manner by the Revenue Police. The Revenue Police is not capable of handling the investigation in heinous crimes,” the bench said.
Though in the instant case, the court held that defective investigation does not prejudice the appellant.
Referring to the National Crimes Record Bureau data which showed the rate of cognizable offences in the state at 101.8 percent, the court said, “The Revenue Police System may be relevant at the time when crime in hilly areas was low. However, with the passage of time, the crime rate has increased in the State of Uttarakhand as well.”
Revenue Officers botch up probe
The bench was critical of the manner in which the Revenue police handled the probe resulting in acquittals.
“The Revenue Police is not trained in handling the scene of occurrence, interrogation, computers, voice analysis, fingerprints, track marks, tool marks, firearms, documents, poisons, narcotics, alcohol, explosives, fires, microtraces, hairs, body fluids, DNA profiling, possibilities of death, including suicide, accident, homicide, identification of the dead, skeletal remains, sexual offences etc. These can only be undertaken by the police trained on scientific lines. They are not familiar with the CrPC, the Evidence Act and other ancillary laws governing the criminal law. Their qualification is only matriculation.
“The Revenue Officers are also not well conversant with the general principles of crime scene investigation, general principles of packaging of exhibits, forensic biology, DNA profiling, bloodstain pattern, explosive substances, acid attack cases, digital evidence, road accidents, image analysis, polygraph test, wildlife, speaker identification etc. The Revenue Officers botch up the investigation resulting in acquittals,” it said.
The bench referred to the decision of a concurrent bench of the high court in 2004 in case titled Naveen Chandra v State of Uttaranchal, where it was held that in the hilly areas, adequate police force should be created and there is a need that the investigations be conducted in the hilly areas also by duly trained police officers, who are aware of modern techniques of investigation.
In 2010, the Supreme Court had, in case titled Sunder Singh v State of Uttaranchal, held that the time has come when the village police system prevalent in the State of Uttaranchal in respect of distant areas would have to be changed and the distant villagers would have to be given the protection and services of the regular police.
No intelligent reason to distinct hills from rest of U’khand
“In the hilly areas also, the investigation is required to be carried out only by duly trained police officers, who are well conversant with the modern techniques of investigation. The investigation of serious crimes by the Revenue Police results in law and order problem. The investigation should be carried out only by the regular police. The people in hilly areas are required to be given protection and service by the regular police. The detection of crime and protection by revenue police officers is pathetic,” the bench observed.
It noted that all the citizens in the State of Uttarakhand have to be given same treatment in detection and prevention, investigation and trial of criminal cases and there is “no intelligible differentia so as to distinguish persons i.e. of hilly areas from the rest of the population living in four districts of the State of Uttarakhand, as far as Right to Life, scientific investigation and speedy trials are concerned.”.
Two Police stations in U’khand among ten best in country
While passing a string of directions, the bench took notice of a survey conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs according to which police station Ban Phulpura (Nainital) and Police Station Rishikesh (Dehradun) in the State of Uttarakhand ranked at Serial Nos.6 and 8 respectively among India’s Ten Best Police Stations.
“The credit goes to the Senior Superintendents of Police of these districts for placement of these police stations among top Ten on All India basis. It speaks highly for the efficient/professional policing in the State of Uttarakhand. There are only 156 police stations in the State of Uttarakhand. The total population of Uttarakhand is 10,086,292. Thus, there is one police station for around 64665 persons.”
Below are the directions passed by the court which have to be executed in six months:
Read the Judgment Here