HC for law against former police officers challenging prosecution

By Special Correspondent

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday directed the State government to address the issue of police officers deposing against prosecution in criminal cases after their retirement, by making appropriate legislation against such practice.

Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan while dealing with an appeal in a counterfeit note case observed that the State government should consider the issue very seriously. The State Police Chief (SPC) apprehended in his report that there were chances for retired officers giving evidence against the prosecution because of political pressure, pressure of other family members, and even due to monetary consideration.

The court said the government could constitute a committee with legal experts to study the issue before going in for legislation.

The court had directed the SPC to conduct an inquiry into the unholy relationship of the accused with police officers in the counterfeit currency case registered in Ernakulam in 1990. The inquiry was ordered as the court found that the investigation officer had deposed against the prosecution.

In his report, the SPC said there was no specific legal provision providing punishment for a police officer for deposing against the prosecution after his/her retirement from service. Therefore, there were legal constraints for the SPC to ensure that the retired police officers gave proper evidence in cases investigated by such retired police officers.

The conduct of retired police officers is not covered by the provisions of the Kerala Police Act, 2011. As per Rule 6(1) of the Kerala Police Departmental Inquiries, Punishment and Appeal Rules, 1958, disciplinary inquiry could be initiated only against serving officer and not against a retired officer. The tendency of witnesses turning hostile was due to various factors such as fear of deposing against the accused or political pressure.

The report pointed out that it intended to take up the matter with the government for enactment of a law to ensure the protection of the criminal investigation system and provide punishment for retired officers who turned hostile to the prosecution after retirement.

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