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The Role of Police in the Criminal Justice System-in the aspect of Bangladesh & India.

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Police plays a vital role in Criminal Justice System. Police is the entry point in operation to Criminal Justice System. The main objectives of the Police are to provide immediate help to the victim, to take preventive action, to arrest the accused, to fairly investigate the crime, gather evidence, give testimony in court, to enforce and maintain law and order. No Society or State can not expect a fair Criminal Justice without fair and genuine investigation and in view of that purpose, the basic knowledge of crime & criminology is must for police to perform their functions. In this modern age, sincere, honest and effective police force is very much responsible for proper functioning of a Criminal Justice System.

The word ‘police’ is derived from the Greek word ‘polis’ meaning the State or Government. The police apparently were called so as the role and function of the police of a country are determined by the nature of the State. Some also argue that the term ‘police’ originated from French and less directly from Greek word and directly generated from France in eighteenth century.

In prior, the military was liable for law and order. But after that, the Roman Empire had made an effective law enforcement system by launching a police force in Rome. But local land lords and nobles were also responsible to maintain law and order.

The first formal law enforcement body was established by London in 1663. After it, in 1800 AD Glasgow Police Act was enacted which was responsible to establish the Scotland City Police. In 1829, the British Parliament passed the Metropolitan Police Act and formed London Metropolitan Police. Following this instance, in 1845 the New York City of the United States of America established the first organised police force.

In France, there are two types of police, administrative police and judicial police. Here, the term ‘police’ refers to the policing in general sense of ‘maintenance of law & order’. Administrative police force remains under the law enforcing body and on the other hand, judicial police remains under the authority of Judge. Canada has three levels of police which called as municipal, provincial and federal. In Australia and Brazil, there are two types of police as federal police force and state police force.

Due to colonial heritage, Indian subcontinent follows the Anglo-Saxon common law justice system and modern police system, though there was police in the Mughal period also, was introduced by the British Crown after 1857, who were well versed in the administration of criminal justice. It was in 1861 that a police act was enacted and a regular police system was established in the British India. The role & functioning of the police were identified in that Act and they were assigned the role of strict disciplinarian and custodian of law and order to safeguard the interest of their colonial regime. The Indian Police Act, 1861, remains largely unchanged after 150 years have elapsed in our subcontinental era, Bangladesh and India both the countries still follow this Act and with few amendments both of the countries adopted this code.

Bangladesh Police commenced their functions from 16 December 1971, when it became independent from Pakistani oppressors. The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, within the meaning of Article 152, states that it is a disciplined force.

It is also a disciplined force within the meaning of Article 355 of the Constitution of India. Article 246 of the Indian Constitution provides that all matters relating to the organisation, structure and regulation of the police force fall within the ambit of the states(provinces). But the ‘Criminal Laws’ and ‘Criminal Procedure’ are enumerated the concurrent list, that means both the Indian Parliament and State Legislatures have the power to make substantive and procedural laws in criminal matters. Some states in India have their own Police Acts. However, the Indian Police Act 1861 is the basic statutory law governing the constitution and organisation of police forces in the states (provinces).

The government of India has constituted a Central Bureae of Investigation(CBI) under the special enactment called Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946. CBI can take up the investigation of cases falling within the jurisdiction of states only with the prior consent of state government concerned. In India, there are certain specialised investigating agencies constituted by the central government, namely the Customs Department, the Income Tax Department, the Enforcement Directorate which can investigate cases fall within their jurisdiction and prosecute them in the courts of law.

Bangladesh Police is made up of nearly 1,30.000 personnel including around 90,000 constables. The police is made up of many branches and units, such as Special Branch, Criminal Investigation Department, Armed Police Battalion, Metropolitan Police, Range Police (including Railway Police), Rapid Action Battalions(RAB) that were created to deal with serious crime and terrorist activities, Detective Branch, Highway Police, Industrial Police, River Police, Police Investigation Bureau, Traffic Police. The Range and Metropolitan police are structured into Districts, Circles, Police Station and Outposts. Headed by the Inspector General of Police, this force fall under the Home Ministry.

The Local Government(Union Parisad) Ordinance of 1983 provides the rules and regulation of the Village Police (Chawkidar). The Village Police is totally different from the Bangladesh Police. The Village Police is responsible for assisting the UP chairman to perform the function of the Union Parisad, guarding government buildings and premises in rural areas, assisting the Bangladesh Police to arrest the accused in the village area.

As a state agency the Police has a broad mandate for controlling crime, maintain law and order and functioning of Criminal Justice System. The Police is the entry point in Criminal Justice System and the cutting edge of the entire system. One of the basic duty of the police is to register cases and investigate them as per procedure laid down in the Code of Criminal Procedure, which was enacted by Britisher and adopted with a minor modifications by the both countries.

In any country, a fair justice which is the satisfaction of the victim is mostly depend upon the fair investigation and collection of concrete evidence. The police being the entry point in the Criminal Justice System is expected to perform the all functions of investigation of crime that involves gathering material, evidence from the scene of crime, interrogation of withness, recording of confession and statement before Magistrate, search & seizure, arrest and seeking remand of the accused.

The Indian Police Act provides to regulate the functioning of police and the Code of Criminal Procedure provides a procedural system. The Police Station continues to be the kingpin of Criminal Justice System as investigating the complains and crimes, identifying witnesses, arresting suspects, making sure witnesses are brought to court, serving summons and executing warrant of arrest. After completion of investigation police submit a charge sheet which consists of FIR copy, statement of complaint or informant, statement of witnesses, seizure, memo, dying declaration, recovery of article etc for prosecution or final report for release of the accused. Police can exercise this power under section 154 to 176 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in both of the countries.

There are some limitations of police under different laws. If any police officer takes any statement from any person in the course of investigation then that statement can not be used as evidence at any inquiry or trial of the court. Under the Evidence Act when a confession is given to a police officer in the absence of Magistrate, this confession is not admissible as evidence in a court according to the sections 25 and 26 of Evidence Act.

In Criminal Justice System police contibutes vitally through its activities which is conferred to them by different laws. But there are some complains against police for indiscriminate arrest of innocent person under section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Sometimes the Court sanctions police custody of the accused, for maximum term of 15 days, under section 167 of CrPC and the accused sometimes subjected to third degree methods in order to extra confession.

The Role of Police in Criminal Justice System is very crucial and they must exercise their power sparingly and not arbitrary. The police as an organisation has to carry out certain expected behaviour irrespective of their own personal feelings. Police enjoys a vast power as a law enforcement agency and the entry point of the Criminal Justice System. To ensure that such power is only used for legitimate purposes, various countries have adopted safeguard such as making police accountable.

The structure of Bangladeshi and Indian police which they are working was established by the British Rulers. The Indian Police Act, 1861 enacted in British India, later adopted by Bangladesh and India with minor modifications, provides the functions and power of the police. Further, CrPC that also enacted by the Britisher, that also adopted by both countries, provides procedural functions of police. After all, effective police force and their functions are very important in Criminal Justice System.

Sudip Chandra Halder
LLB [Honours], University of London, UK.
LLM[ Pursing in Criminal & Security Law]


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