Two of the fundamental pillars of criminal justice are the Police and the Prosecution each of which has clearly defined roles and statutory authority.Given Pakistan’s political and socio-economic conditions it is no surprise that the Prosecution service and the Police are severely overburdened. The backlog of cases pending before Courts and investigations which are in process is staggering. Moreover, the incidence of crime has shown no signs of waning and new investigations and trials continue to stream in.
Many of the delays and inefficiencies associated with the criminal justice system can be done away with through establishing a culture of communication and consultation between the Police and the Prosecution. This would lead to fewer instances of failure to lodge FIRs in appropriate cases and resort being made to the justice of peace, lapses in investigation, incorrect or superfluous offences being listed in FIRs, problems with and return of reports under Section 173 Cr.P.C. 1898, evidence being discarded due to failure to adhere to protocol and most commonly the Prosecution version not being presented or argued most effectively at trial or at the preliminary stages of remand and bail.
The Prosecutors play an instrumental role in scrutinizing the Final Police Reports, and subsequently conducting the trial. Upon receipt of a report under Section 173 Cr.P.C. 1898, the Public Prosecutor does not merely act as a post office and forward the same to the concerned Magistrate. The Prosecutor has an important role to play as regards scrutiny of the same for lacunae, point out defects and deficiencies and analyse whether correct provisions are mentioned.In conducting a Prosecution, the Public Prosecutor relies heavily on the investigative
work done by the Police which is why Prosecutors remain interested in it from the time the FIR is registered. The Investigating Officer is often the star witness in a case as he is familiar with the entire investigation including recoveries, spot inspection, identification parade, and circumstantial evidence.SOPs must oblige the Investigating Officer to ensure that Prosecutors are afforded a reasonable opportunity to meet with Police witnesses ahead of their testimony in Court to prepare them for the same.
Since investigation is the domain of the Police, it is often difficult for Prosecutors to assist in it because the Police often see it as an encroachment upon their powers and usurpation of their function for Prosecutors to be playing any significant part in the collection of evidence. This attitude needs to change for any meaningful progress to be made in ensuring a liaison and cooperation between the Police and the Prosecutors. The DSP Legal within the Police Department is a person who is resourceful in matters of legal guidance to investigators. He can act as an intermediary to facilitate various requests of the Prosecutors including but not limited to access to evidence or being able to meet witnesses in advance of their testimony in Court in order to prepare them. Benefit of the slightest doubt arising during trial goes to the accused as he is the favourite child of the law and warrants an honourable acquittal for the accused.This creates a serious problem for the State especially in offences against terrorism where the State’s predominant interest in convicting the accused against whom credible evidence has surfaced indicating his involvement in the crime is to protect its citizens from repetition of offence.