The role of a public prosecutor is to act as a representative of the government,
whether of the state or central government, in criminal matters. An officer of
the court who assists in the administration of justice is the public prosecutor.
The fact that assisting the court in establishing relevant facts is the primary
responsibility of the public prosecutor is evident. The public prosecutor must
be impartial, fair and truthful. He should follow instructions of the judge.
should not believe in the conviction of the accused person by hook or crook. Any
public prosecution must be guided by the principles of equality, justice and
morality. During court proceedings, public prosecutors are responsible for
defending the government's interests by summoning witnesses, presenting
evidence, and making legal arguments to prove the defendant's guilt.
Additionally, they engage in plea negotiations with defence lawyers and provide
recommendations for sentencing.
It is also the duty of prosecutors to protect
the rights of crime victims and witnesses, ensure due process, and uphold the
principles of fairness, honesty, and integrity within the criminal justice
system. He should ensure that innocent accused persons arrested by the police in
false and fabricated cases are not convicted but acquitted honourably.
Problems afflicting public prosecutors
The appointment of public prosecutors is a critical aspect of the legal system,
and any problem in this process can have significant consequences for the
administration of justice.
The followings are some common concerns and issues
related to the appointment and duties of Public Prosecutors in India:
- Lack of transparency: In some cases, the appointment of prosecutors may lack transparency and the selection criteria may not be clear. This can lead to suspicions of patronage, nepotism or political influencing of the selection process.
- Political Interference: The appointment of prosecutors may be influenced by political considerations, resulting in the selection of individuals with political affiliations or connections to the ruling party, rather than those chosen solely on the basis of merit and legal expertise.
- Inadequate Qualifications: In certain instances, individuals lacking adequate qualifications or experience in criminal law may be appointed as prosecutors, leading to substandard legal representation and mishandling of cases.
- Under representation: The under representation of certain marginalized groups, such as women or minorities, among prosecutors can have an adverse impact on the diversity and inclusiveness of the legal system.
- Conflict of Interest: Public prosecutors must be free from conflicts of interest that could compromise their impartiality. However, there have been instances where prosecutors have had personal or professional ties to the accused or their legal teams.
- Lack of Accountability: In some jurisdictions, there may be a dearth of mechanisms to hold prosecutors accountable for misconduct, negligence, or ethical violations, resulting in insufficient consequences for prosecutorial misconduct.
- Political pressure: Public prosecutors may sometimes face pressure from political authorities to handle cases in a certain way, which can impair their ability to carry out their duties independently and impartially.
- Limited Tenure: Short tenures for public prosecutors can lead to instability in the prosecution process. Frequent changes in personnel can disrupt ongoing cases and reduce institutional memory.
- Inadequate Remuneration: In some regions, public prosecutors may be underpaid relative to the complexity and importance of their work. This can affect the quality and motivation of those in the role.
Problems faced by Public Prosecutors:Lack of coordination with Police
When queried regarding coordination issues between the Prosecution and Police
departments, the majority of public prosecutors unequivocally acknowledged the
existence of problems. They expounded that the police are tasked with the
registration and investigation of crimes, but frequently fall short in their
duties. This may be due to a lack of knowledge, resulting in the failure to
gather pertinent information and evidence from the crime scene, or in some
instances, a deliberate dereliction of duty.
Consequently, the link between the crime and the offender is often severed,
rendering it arduous to establish the case in court and frequently culminating
in the acquittal of the perpetrator. Furthermore, in some police officers there
is proclivity to withhold crucial information from the prosecutor, thereby
weakening the prosecution's argument. It has been observed that those in charge
of investigations often possess a limited understanding of the law, which should
be a fundamental prerequisite for their role.
Lack of coordination with prisons department
The public prosecutors mentioned that they don't have much interaction with the
prisons department. However, they pointed out that the prison officials often
fail to bring the accused or the prisoner to court on the scheduled hearing
date, citing various excuses. This delays the legal proceedings, causing the
litigation to drag on. To ensure the prompt delivery of justice, it's crucial
for prison officials to ensure that the accused or undertrial is brought to
court on time for their hearings. This highlights the need for a strong and
effective coordination between these two important components of the Criminal
Justice Administration in India.
Shortage of staff strength
Several problems impact the prosecution process, including a dearth of public
prosecutors in the courts. The judiciary and the police have also observed the
inadequacy of staff within the criminal justice structure, emphasizing the
pressing need to augment the prosecution department's strength. The increase in
technology-related infractions has compounded the urgency for more public
In fact, some judicial officers have proposed having an equal number of public
prosecutors in the courts to ensure a balanced ratio with judicial officers.
This shortage of staff has practical consequences, such as judges having to wait
for prosecutors during case proceedings because the prosecutors might be
occupied with other cases in different courts.
To achieve the goal of expeditious trials and swift justice, it is essential to
enhance the staff strength within the prosecution wing. This will enable better
cooperation between the prosecution and other agencies in the criminal justice
system, contributing to the timely delivery of justice.
Poor working atmosphere and job satisfaction:
The officials in the prosecution department are facing a heavy workload, which
is not a healthy situation. This excessive burden can lead to chaos and,
importantly, reduces their job satisfaction. Prosecutors have to manage multiple
responsibilities � attending court proceedings and assisting the police in
preparing legal documents like 'challans' for various cases.
Some prosecutors mention that they rarely have time to take breaks, relax, or
even have lunch during the day. They are constantly occupied with their duties
in court and providing legal guidance to the police during investigations. This
constant rush leaves them with a lack of job satisfaction and a challenging work
environment where they have little time for themselves. They often find
themselves running from one court to another to fulfil their duties.
There is a pressing need for significant improvements in the infrastructure
available to public prosecutors, along with better access to technology. This
would greatly assist in conducting thorough investigations and presenting cases
effectively in court. Specifically, the knowledge of advanced technical devices
for serious offenses, such as bioengineering tools like narco-analysis tests and
lie detectors, cyber crime and crypto currency crime should be made available to
prosecutors. Currently, some tests require permission from the court, leading to
delays in investigations.
The infrastructure within the prosecution department should undergo a
modernization process, and staff should receive training to keep up with
evolving technology. Well-prepared prosecution personnel are paramount to
successfully handling evolving forms of crime and criminals. To achieve this,
the organization of consistent training programs is essential. In light of
modern technology's impact, it is crucial for prosecutors to be adequately
equipped with the pertinent knowledge and tools, especially regarding cybercrime.
To further bolster prosecution teams, technology experts assigned to courts
could prove propitious.
The increasing use of advanced technology by criminals is a concerning issue,
and both the prosecution and the police need to be well-equipped and informed to
effectively present cases in court. Furthermore, the prosecution department is
currently lacking in transportation facilities, having to rely on other
departments for such needs. It is imperative that the infrastructure of the
prosecution wing undergoes significant improvements and is no longer treated as
a neglected component of the criminal justice system.
Miscellaneous other challenges:
Scholars and experts generally share the view that Indian prosecutors reportedly
face various challenges, although they do not necessarily agree on the precise
nature of these issues. It is necessary to acknowledge the diverse concerns
raised by individuals regarding prosecutors, including the extent of their
power, the exercise of discretion.
Instances of unethical behaviour, remaining silent in some selective cases and
becoming vocal in other 'suitable' cases during bail hearing and trial, a
tough-on-crime approach, lack of accountability, secret pact with defence
lawyers and sometimes with the accused persons, absence from crucial court
hearings, loyalty to political leaders, non-study of the case in hand,
non-cooperation with investigating officers, lack of good communication skills
resulting in poor presentation of case.
Political interference in their appointments, their resistance to change,
absence of supervision over them, irregular and insufficient remuneration,
inadequate training and experience, non-production of case diaries timely in
courts with the help of investigating officers, not giving enough time to the
investigating officers to prepare and produce the case diary in court, not
presenting his case with full vigour in court, insufficient number of public
prosecutors relative to the caseload, lack of coordination with police, prisons
and the judiciary, job insecurity, dependence of job on political whims, absence
of proper office with necessary accessories and assistants, and ambiguity
surrounding their responsibilities.
Public prosecutors serve as a pivotal officer of the court, deeply involved in
the essential task of administering justice. Their primary role revolves around
aiding the court in its pursuit of factual truth within a case. The significance
of a fair, equitable, and ethically sound legal system cannot be overstated, as
a public prosecutor is obligated to uphold the tenets of impartiality, fairness,
and honesty, for safeguarding the sanctity of this process.
Their conduct is governed by the instructions of the presiding judges, and they
are required to refrain from employing unethical methods to secure the
conviction of the defendant. Rather, the foundation of any public prosecution
rests on the principles of fairness, justice, and moral rectitude. Though there
are a large number of public prosecutors who perform their duties with
sincerity, integrity and dedication, some problems and shortcomings persist with
the remaining public prosecutors and need to be addressed and redressed at the
The possibility of a separate Public Prosecution Service may also be explored
along the line of other All India and State Services for security of job of
public prosecutors with proper accountability.
Written By: Md. Imran Wahab
, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected]
, Ph no: 9836576565