PROSECUTION AGAINST POLICE OFFICER
Police department is a law implementing agency in the modern civilized society. Therefore, responsibility of this department is immense. Maintenance of law and order in a state is the prime function of the police force amongst all other important duties like traffic controlling, building harmony amongst citizens and government etc.
During maintenance of law and order, police department is to conduct investigation against criminal activities and offenses committed by criminals. As such, there is every possibility of police officers to be confronted with veteran offenders while maintaining law and order or investing in any criminal case. Therefore, it is necessary to protect those honest police officers who use minimum force bona-fide to carry out their official duties for ensuring rule of law in the society.
In Indian premises too, the police and arms forces are also protected under section 197 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (hereinafter referred to as Cr.P.C.) while performing their official duties being deployed in maintenance of law and order as well as of public order situation. In simple words provisions of Section 197, Cr.P.C. can be understood in its true perspective as like as that before prosecuting or filing any case against any member of police or armed forces against any grievance while they were performing their official duties, it’s essential to obtain prior sanction/ permission from the Government or concerned authority. However, no such sanction or permission is required while they involve themselves with any criminal activities beyond their official duties. As such, it’s always to be kept in mind that while you are thinking about to file any criminal case or complaint against any police officer or member of armed forces against any activities done during their official duties, you can’t prosecute them directly, rather you have to obtain mandatory sanction or permission from the government or concerned higher authority. There is every possibility of being dropped down such cases at any stage, if the same are lodged without any sanction or prior permission from Government or concerned authority.
Since the section 197 Cr.P.C. works like a shield, the possibility of misusing the shield of said section by some dishonest officers can’t be ruined out at all. Keeping in mind this aspect of the provision of law, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has therefore rightly observed in variety of judgments that the question of sanction for prosecuting any member of police or armed forces may be raised or decided at any stage of the case by the trial court after ascertaining the fact of performance of their official duties. Therefore, dishonest members of police or armed forces are now likely to face troubleshoot in taking pretext of official duty while they commit any illegal acts for their personal vested interest. In other words, their acts or conducts are not beyond question whether they were actually in official duty or not while they are brought under criminal charge by any civilian.
It’s the demand of a civilized society that rights of common people must be deemed to be paramount. If any member of law implementing agency himself involves in infringing the law under shadow of any legal provisions meant for honest officers, they must be brought to book and condemned more severely for the interest of justice. Otherwise, the trust of common people on judiciary or justice delivery system may fall down with adverse message to the society. Under such circumstances, it becomes sacred duty of the judiciary itself to save its soul by upholding the trust of common people that their rights are safe and protected under its elegant surveillance.