The Kerala High Court on Wednesday directed the State to look into the matter of absence of law in force to take action against a police officer who tampers with a criminal investigation after retirement.
Justice P V Kunhikrishnan remarked that the State should take appropriate action in accordance with law by drafting legislation in this regard. The order was issued based on a report filed by the state police chief.
The matter came to light when in a counterfeit currency case in the Hill Palace police station, the Court ordered an investigation into the relationship of the accused with the police officers involved in the same.
This came after the Court found that the investigating officer had deliberately delayed the probe in the case and had submitted the final report after the expiry of 10 years to help the accused. The plan was to prevent the witnesses from identifying the accused due to the delay, such that the accused can walk away scot-free.
The State Police Chief thereby conducted an inquiry through IPS officer Harshita Attaluri and filed a report before the Bench. By this time, the police officer in question had retired from service.
State DGP Anil Kant IPS submitted in the report that there was no specific legal provision in force that prescribes punishment to a retired police officer for deposing against the prosecution after retirement. The conduct of retired police officers is not covered by the provisions of the Kerala Police Act, 2011.
Therefore, it was submitted that there were legal constraints for the State Police Chief to ensure that the retired police officers give proper evidence in cases where the investigation was conducted by retired police officers.
It was further brought to the attention of the Court that as per Rule 6(1) of the Kerala Police Departmental Inquiries, Punishment and Appeal Rules, 1958, a disciplinary inquiry can be initiated only against a member of the service and not against a retired employee.
The report also disclosed that political pressure and fear of deposing against the accused were some of the many factors for witnesses turning hostile.
The Bench upon hearing the submissions and examining the contents of the report observed that the State has to take the matter seriously.
"It cannot go on like this. The State Police Chief even apprehends that there are chances of retired officers to give evidence against the prosecution due to political pressure, the pressure of other family members, and even for corruption with monetary consideration."
The Court also suggested that if necessary, the State should go to the extent of constituting a committee with legal experts to study this issue prior to framing legislation.