Delhi LG dissolves govt standing committee to "ensure quality of probes"
VK Saxena noted a "lackadaisical approach" by the AAP, suggesting an "attempt to control police and prosecution officers' service matters outside their executive domain"
Delhi lieutenant-governor VK Saxena has dissolved the standing committee constituted by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government to ensure quality of investigation in criminal cases and their prosecution, noting that it was in "gross violation" of the 2014 Supreme Court directives and subsequent guidelines from the Centre.
According to Raj Bhavan officials, while scrapping the existing standing committee headed by the standing counsel (criminal) Delhi High Court and additional standing counsel as member, Saxena approved a proposal for its reconstitution with the additional chief secretary or principal secretary (home) as chairperson, and the principal secretary (law), director (prosecution) and special commissioner of police, as members.
The officials said the LG noted that there was no reason or justification for continuation of the existing committee and even his predecessor had objected to it with a note on 11 May 2017. A directive to review the constitution of the committee to ensure its conformity with the order of the apex court and reminder(s) was also issued by the LG secretariat on 19 February 2018, 22 June 2018, 18 October 2018 and 31 May 2019.
"However, no proposal for reconstitution of the committee was submitted," officials said.
An official said Saxena observed that the "lackadaisical approach" of the ruling dispensation in this case seems to be an attempt to control the service matters of the police and prosecution officers, which is not in their executive domain. It is a settled principle of law that the thing which cannot be done directly, shall not be done indirectly in a clandestine manner, the LG is reported to have noted.
The official said the LG also noted that the existing committee is headed by the standing counsel (criminal) with the additional standing counsel as member, who are part of the prosecution and entrusted with the presentation of cases before the court and “therefore, their role in such cases also comes under purview of the committee and inclusion of these officers in the Standing Committee should be viewed as an attempt to dilute the directions/guidelines issued by the Supreme Court or Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India”.
The official said in compliance with the Supreme Court directions of 7 January 2014 with a view to reducing the number of acquittals in criminal cases, the ministry of home affairs, on March 24, 2014 had issued an advisory on monitoring investigations to ensure that the Investigating Officer as well as the Prosecuting Officers discharge their duties.
"One of the main advices of the ministry was that the home department shall constitute a standing committee of senior officers of the police and pProsecution directorate to analyse the case and ascertain the mistakes committed during investigation and or prosecution, or both," the official said.
The official said that the findings of the committee shall be forwarded to the Commissioner of Police and Director of Prosecution for taking departmental action as per the rules against all investigation or prosecuting officials identified responsible for failure of prosecution on account of sheer negligence or because of culpable lapses.
The official said that in pursuance of the above advisory, initially a Standing Committee was constituted by the Home Department with the Director of Prosecution as Chairman. However, in complete disregard of the Apex Court directions and the Centre’s advisory, vide order October 15, 2015, the Standing Committee was reconstituted with the approval of the Minister (Home) with the Senior Standing Counsel (Criminal) as Chairman.
"The proposal for reconstituting the Committee was also not placed before the then L-G for his opinion as 'Services' and 'Police' were outside the purview of AAP government at that point of time," the official said.
He said that with the new scheme of things after the enactment of the GNCTD Amendment Act 2023, the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) proposed that the Committee be reconstituted with the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) as Chairman, Principal Secretary (Law), Director (Directorate of Prosecution) and Special CP as members as the existing Committee is not in conformity with the directions of the Supreme Court as well as the advisory issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs.