The Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, as the Chairperson of the Law and Justice Commission Pakistan (LJCP), made some note-worthy remarks on Monday, at a Police Reforms Committee. The Chief Justice observed that there is a need for training of investigation officers and prosecutors in the realm of criminal law in order to strengthen the criminal justice system. CJP Khosa pointed out the problem of false evidence and misidentification during investigation and said that that investigating agencies needed to set out such mechanisms where not only the culprits of the offence were identified but were also convicted under the relevant provisions of the law. One way through which the crucial stages of investigation during a trial could be improved is through training of investigating officers and prosecutors in judicial academies with emphasis on ethics and professional conduct.

IGP Punjab during the meeting said that the complaints redressal mechanism had already been operationalized after the direction of the Steering Committee on Police Reforms whereby the complaints are being received through email, post, by hand, through dedicated phone numbers and other means of communication for convenience and to facilitate the general public for speedy and expeditious redressal of grievances.

An effort for Police Reform and improving the procedures of investigation to make them more compliant towards the principles of due process has been on-going since last year. The former CJP Saqib Nisar had launched the Police Reforms Committee Report, which provided some major recommendations to reform the policing system, in January. Still, as CJP Khosa lamented infront of the Committee on Monday, even after the release of the Report, key stakeholders of the criminal justice system and the general public were not comprehensively knowledgeable about the problems in the police system and the importance for countering them.

Despite reported positive changes by the IGP, there is still a long way to go before we can call the investigation process a completely fair and trust-worthy one. Anybody who has had experience with the criminal justice system knows the huge flaws in the investigation stage. Problems of false evidence, poorly registered FIRs, inefficiency of prosecutors, intimidation of witnesses and lawyers are prevalent on a large scale, and it will take more than just a complaint redressal mechanism to address them. There needs to be further emphasis on training and education of investigating officers on the ethical and professional considerations that accompany the investigation stage of a criminal case.