Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir on Wednesday said separation of administrators from investigators in the police was one of the necessary steps for speedy trials and faster disposal of criminal cases to reduce the huge pendency in different courts in the country.
"There should be a separate wing for investigation only, separate from administrators in police forces. This will facilitate speedy trials and faster disposal of cases," Justice Kabir said.
He was delivering a speech on 'Reforms required for speeding up justice delivery system, particularly with regard to criminal offences' as part of the sesquicentennial (150th) celebrations of the Calcutta high court.
"Investigation has to be done properly and that has to be done by proper investigators," the CJI said.
"In several cases, sentence and conviction have been stayed by an appeal court and until the appeal is decided, the appellant is regarded to be innocent," Justice Kabir said.
"And the person has gone on to contest Lok Sabha polls in many instances," the CJI said.
Stating that a person of influence tries to prolong and delay the process of justice delivery as long as possible to his or her benefit, he said the delays have to be dealt with in such matters.
The CJI said there were many instances where chargesheets are not filed within the stipulated time and thus the accused is granted bail.
In cases where there are multiple accused, it is difficult to get all of them to be present in courts during trial once they are out on bail for different reasons and thus inordinate delays are caused in disposal of such cases.
"There are persons with may be as many as 30 cases against them which include grave charges like 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 304 (culpable homicide) and are still out on bail, thus delaying the process," Justice Kabir said.
Observing that there has to be a nexus somewhere which facilitates such things to happen, the CJI said "to stop this, we need separation of investigators from administrators."
Pointing at the almost non-existent witness protection system in the country, the CJI said that in all practicality, if there is a delay of two to three years or more, witnesses may be approached or threatened.
"Do we have any witness protection? Hardly!" he said.
"A person will like to save his life or his family more than ensuring that somebody is convicted. This is common and natural," he said while favouring the introduction of a proper witness protection system.
The CJI said that time has to be minimised for stages like charge framing, witness examination and trials.
He said that alternative dispute redressal system, including arbitration, reconciliation and formation of lok adalats are also effective ways of reducing pendency of cases.
Referring to the gruesome gangrape in Delhi in December last, he said, "we need fast track courts in cases relating to crime against women and children, particularly women."
Stating that there were now six fast track courts in Delhi to deal with such matters, the CJI said he has written to all chief justices of high courts to ask chief ministers of their respective states to set up fast track courts.
He also said the number of judges in subordinate courts need to be doubled to reduce pendency of cases.
Justice Kabir said if all these can be streamlined, then the justice delivery system on the criminal side can be speeded up and pendency of cases wiped out.