Saroja’s case reopens calls for IPCMC

SAROJA Devi Krishnan’s case of being locked up for a night even after furnishing court bail should be probed for unlawful detention as the failure to release her on court bail due to internal police procedures can be construed as contempt as well.

It must be made clear that police procedures on bail are always subservient to court proceedings as intended by the workings of the criminal justice system.

Police court staff must comply with the magistrate’s order, especially when proof of bail is provided during office hours.

The fact that the magistrate in Taiping, Perak had to have a second look at her own order the next day on Saroja’s bail, should ring alarm bells within the police force that there are little Napoleons running around.

These people either lack the knowledge in the workings of the limbs in the criminal justice system or simply by design, abuse their powers with their own rules of engagement!

The calls for the setting up of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), as recommended by the royal commission report on the management and operation of the police force in 2005, cannot be ignored any longer.

Former anti-graft chief Abu Kassim Mohamed made a scathing remark recently on the image and the lack of respect for the police in emphasising the urgency of setting up the IPCMC.

The silence on this remark from all the stakeholders concerned who are accountable and responsible for all police affairs, is somewhat deafening, too!

In further relevance, the chief justice has instructed tighter and more rigid remand proceedings for further detention applications by the enforcement agencies.

As the checks and balances increase on police powers, the consequential effect on preserving human rights of a suspect and balancing the war against crime tilts on a precarious balance.

The police must take serious cognisance of the implications and consequences of these statements to the profound effect it will have on criminal investigations in particular, especially when dealing with hardcore and dangerous criminals.

Investigators acting on instinctive hunches, gut feeling and other possibilities will face an uphill battle to gather as much admissible evidence as possible. It will affect policing as a whole.

Detention and interrogation are crucial tools of investigation that allow police to pursue all avenues in gathering evidence.

Allegations of abuse of power by some are becoming the catalyst to curb the special powers of investigations.

The problem is further compounded when the police investigate themselves for these allegations.

This approach must change and the IPCMC is a step in the right direction for all parties, including the police.

The police are moving into further difficult territory of keeping the peace and fighting crime and need to come on board swiftly and willingly in supporting all the efforts to make them fully transparent and accountable.

Embracing the IPCMC is part of the equation in providing a balance to police investigative powers using all the tools of investigation as stipulated in the Criminal Procedure Code.

A Serious Crimes Act to deal with the extremely dangerous criminal mind must be part of the brainstorming.

All legal remedies must be subservient to the criminal justice system minimising the role of the executive.

Giving more discretion to investigators in gathering admissible evidence in such serious cases is better in terms of accountability and transparency, rather than the opaque application of preventive laws.

The police have the capability to rise to this challenge and it will result in a balance of transparency, accountability and, most importantly, is to win back the trust and confidence of society in carrying out their duties without fear or favour in upholding the rule of law. – September 19, 2021.

* G. Selva reads The Malaysian Insight.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.

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