J&K’s key investigating agency reeling under shortage of prosecutors, lacks competent IOs

*DGP written for replacement of ineffectual officials
Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Feb 8: Though it has been entrusted with multifarious duties under crime management system yet the key investigating agency of Jammu and Kashmir—Crime Branch is reeling under acute shortage of prosecutors and lacking competent Investigating Officers as a result of which the pace of registration of cases remains much more than the annual disposal rate.
The Crime Branch of J&K Police was initially a part of CID Organization but in the year 1978 it was separated to function independently. Two Police Stations—Police Station Crime Branch Srinagar and Police Station Crime Branch Jammu were created to deal with specified crimes.
The State Crime Branch has been entrusted with investigation of inter-districts, inter-state crime or crime of any special nature which has wider ramifications in the crime management system. Moreover, it is exclusively looking after campaign against circulation of fake currency, narcotics, cyber crime and human trafficking etc.
Despite having such multifarious duties especially at a time when crime scenario manifestation is changing fast the key investigating agency of Jammu and Kashmir is reeling under shortage of prosecutors and even lacking competent Investigating Officers (IOs), reliable sources told EXCELSIOR.
The Crime Branch has around 10 prosecutors despite the fact that its cases are challaned in the courts situated in different districts of Jammu and Kashmir thereby creating impediments in timely judicial determination. “Though few months back an order was issued whereby Chief Prosecuting Officers (CPOs) of the Executive Police were directed to appear before the courts in the Crime Branch cases yet this step has failed to bring any perceptible change vs-a-vis timely disposal of cases by the courts mainly because the CPOs are required to handle huge volume of cases of Executive Police also”, sources said.
“It is a matter of serious concern that despite being aware of the fact that registration of cases by the Crime Branch is continuously witnessing sharp rise during the past several years the J&K Police has yet not initiated any step to provide separate prosecutors to this key investigating agency of the State”, sources regretted, adding “unless separate prosecutors are provided on the analogy of State Vigilance Organization the prevailing situation will continue”.
Moreover, Crime Branch is lacking competent Investigating Officers (IOs), who otherwise are required in good number to ensure effective investigation especially in the light of the fact that probe by this key investigating agency is generally based on the documentary evidences, sources said while disclosing that at present around 30 Investigating Officers (IOs) of Crime Branch have failed to come up to the expectation of their bosses and Director General of Police Dr S P Vaid has been requested to replace these ineffectual officials as early as possible with the skilled officials to facilitate disposal of pending cases in a time bound manner.
The shortage of prosecutors and competent Investigating Officers is notwithstanding the fact that volume of work with the Crime Branch is increasing year after year. This can be gauged from the official figures recently furnished to the State Legislative Assembly by the Minister Incharge Home Affairs.
As per the data, the Crime Branch had 419 cases at the beginning of 2015 and during the year 2015 it registered 118 fresh cases due to which the total number of cases by December 31, 2015 reached 545. However, against 545 cases only 80 cases could be disposed off thereby leaving 465 cases pending for investigation by ending December 31, 2015.
During the year 2016, the Crime Branch registered 158 fresh cases as a result of which the number of cases increased to 635 by December 31, 2016. However, against 635 cases only 68 were disposed off leaving 567 cases pending. This clearly establishes that cases registration pace is much more than the disposal percentage thus making it imperative for the J&K Police to initiate steps in a time bound manner for providing adequate number of prosecutors as well as competent Investigating Officers to the Crime Branch.
However, in the official circles the pendency of cases is being attributed to lengthy investigating process which particularly involves collection of documentary evidences, sources said while disclosing that non-cooperation from different Government departments is also one of the reasons behind delay in completion of investigation. They further said that the reluctance of certain departments in extending required cooperation to the Crime Branch is of such a level that sometimes the intervention of Administrative Secretaries is required to be sought for submission of documents relating to the cases registered with the Crime Branch.