Suggestions to Improve Quality of Crime Investigation
                 It is said that the Criminal Justice System is the Shield as well as the Sword of the civilised society.  What evil manages to cross the Shield of Rule of Law, is vanquished by the Sword of Justice.  On this background, the efficacy of the Criminal Justice System, or rather, the lack of it, is an issue which has been engaging the attention of all right thinking citizens of the country, and especially the Police leadership in India.  It may be that a more holistic and comprehensive approach will be required to reform the Criminal Justice System as a whole.  However, 'quality of investigation' is an important parameter in the concept of effective law enforcement and is an issue to attended to by the Police organizations in the Country.  It very much remains in our reach to make a dent in the problem of improving the quality of investigation.
2.              Following can be enumerated as the main factors influencing the quality of investigation.
(a) Lack of accountability
(b) Lack of specialization
(c) Excess work load on the investigation staff
(d) Lack of infrastructure
3.             Coming to the issue of lack of accountability, the present system of supervision of investigation of the normal cases in most police organizations, is impressionistic and effectively, does not extend beyond one or at most, two levels in the hierarchy.  It may be true that the long years, during which the trial winds its way to conclusion, make enforcement of individual accountability very difficult.  However, the outcome of the trial, need not be the only criterion of judging the investigation.  The professional standard which is perceptible in investigation also relates to proper planning of the investigation, time taken therein, ensuring timely attendance of the accused persons during investigation as well as trial, accurate depiction of the versions of the various witnesses and obtaining expert opinion as regards handwriting, chemical examination, finger prints and ballistics. These factors, depending on the nature of the case, can be applied in the form of check lists to the work done by an Investigator, by his supervising officer.  An exercise needs to be undertaken to quantify the work of and Investigator and to encourage achievement of quantitative targets.
4.             One aspect of ensuring accountability is to equip the investigating officers with professional skills of investigation and hold him responsible if he does not follow the set standard.  For this, some amount of specialization is essential in order to achieve the best results.  The strategic concept of separating investigation work from that of maintenance of law and order, has engaged the attention of the policy makers for a considerable time without any positive action.  It appears that this long-awaited measure will have to wait for a considerable bolstering of the man power resources of the Police organizations.  However, till such time, with the existing resources, following changes can be made.
a) The recently reported experiment in Madhya Pradesh police, where experienced Constables, who have the aptitude and the qualification, are being entrusted with investigation work, deserves emulation, as it seeks to utilize the existing and untapped manpower within the organization, apart from providing incentives to the constabulary to look forward to something more meaningful, with the attendant rise in status and self-esteem.  Certain category of offences can be earmarked for these new investigators, such as motor vehicle accidents, thefts below certain amounts and offences involving simple hurt and injury.
b) The State Criminal Investigation Department (CID) can be given more manpower and given original jurisdiction over cases involving of documentary evidence, such as forgery, cheating, falsification of accounts and criminal breach of trust for registration and investigation. These cases, typically, do not require any local criminal intelligence and are not time sensitive. The needs of guarding of place of occurrence and immediate collection of physical evidence are also not as urgent. Such cases also do not have any law and order implications as a general rule.  CID presence at the District Headquarters can be strengthened and a 24-hour registration facility can be introduced to collect the citizens' complaints and act on them promptly.
c) The third category, of serious offences, like culpable homicide, attempt to murder and murder as well as violent property crime, which require a quick response time and swift follow-up in the form of arrests, could be entrusted to local Police Stations and may be done by the more experienced investigating officers of the P.S. staff.
5.            Proper maintenance of crime records is extremely useful for working out repetitive property crime and it is necessary to build up a system of computerized records giving the minute details of modus operandi, description of property involved and personal details of the accused persons and make the information available to the Investigators at various levels. A computerized database network, with systematic data entry is a pre-requisite for this.
6.           Continuous training of investigating officers, in the area of specialization assigned to them, is vital.  Training in Police academy on basic courses covering different aspects of investigation should be made compulsory to all the Investigators within a block of every five years.  The computerized records systems, which is required for dissemination of the crime database, can also be used for circulating important case law, as well as to ensure supervision in terms of timely disposal of cases.
7.                It has been the experience in the field that the Forensic support to the Investigators is close to negligible.  The State Forensic Science Laboratories are too few in number and are overworked.  What is more important is that there is no forensic infrastructure at the District level for the investigating officers. While it would be an ideal situation under the present circumstances, to have a Forensic Science Laboratory at each Range Head Quarters, there is an urgent need for a Forensic team in every District to help investigating officers in collecting physical evidence, such as lifting of finger prints and photographing the place of occurrence, and to provide technical advice whenever required.  The actual analysis of the evidence can be done in the FSLs at Range Head Quarters.
8.            To sum up, it should be possible to meet the legitimate societal expectation of a quality law-enforcement system if we identify the achievable and feasible measures and set out to act upon them.  It is time to sharpen the Sword of Justice on the whetstone of the collective experience of the senior police officers of the country.