An IAS officer is helping speedy disposal of criminal cases – Shubhra Saxena

An IAS officer is helping speedy disposal of criminal cases – Shubhra Saxena

Ashutosh Gambhir

A new software to aid speedy disposal of criminal cases has been conceptualized by IAS officer Shubhra Saxena, who is currently serving as District Magistrate of Hardoi, Uttar Pradesh.

The software ‘Saakshi’ – Summon Management System, aims to deliver summons to the witnesses in criminal trials electronically, thus reducing manual intervention to a great extent.

Speaking to Bar & Bench, Shubhra Saxena elaborated on the need for such a system, how it works, and a lot more.

“The existing process of summons delivery is very lengthy and man-based. If someone does not want a witness to appear in a case, summons are either not executed in a timely fashion or are not executed at all. There is also a problem of fake summons. So there is a lot of room for manual intervention.

If the case is pending for a very long time due to such administrative glitches,

the witnesses tend to become hostile as there are a lot of intimidating tactics employed by the accused. Appearance of witnesses at the earliest ensures that the testimony is accurate and there is less likelihood of it being influenced by money or fear.

Sometimes, the investigating officer or the medical officer of the case gets transferred out of the district. They are the most crucial witnesses in the trial. Without their testimony, conviction cannot be secured. They usually do not appear due to various reasons even after issuance of several summons.

This is when we thought, ‘What if we remove the manual intervention and automate the service of summons?’ ”

Regarding the functioning of the system she said:

“The system will have the name of the person against whom the summons is issued, his mobile number, his address and the police station of the district he belongs to. There will also be a category to highlight whether that person is the accused in the case. If that is so, the system will indicate a higher alert.

There will be a feature to indicate whether the person summoned is the investigating officer or the medical officer of the case. In that situation, an email to the SP of the concerned district will also be sent requesting him to ensure the appearance of the said officer. SMS will also be sent to the in-charge of the police station and the witness regarding the summons.”

She also talked about a review mechanism in the system.

“As long as we don’t review the status of these summons, it is entirely useless. The system makes it easier for me to keep a tab on the status of such summons. For instance, if summons have been issued to a particular investigating officer multiple times, the system will automatically send an email each to the SSP and the DIG informing them about the non appearance of the said officer. In case of non appearance of a medical officer, an email shall be sent to the District Magistrate.

Also, the cases where the summons or warrants have been issued but not executed due to discrepancies on part of the police station can be reviewed through this system. I will also be able to review the functioning of the prosecutors based on the data in this system.”

Regarding the impact of this software on administration, she stated:

“We do not have a computerized database of the cases so prosecution

becomes very difficult. This system gives me a very strong tool to administer the prosecution and coordinate with the judiciary. It also increases the overall accountability of the administration.”

On being asked about the time taken to execute the idea of the software, Saxena, who is also a software engineer from IIT Roorkee, said that it took her only about a month. Having an IT background helped her think on those lines.

“There is not much of technicality involved in this software. It just needs proper implementation.”

The whole idea of the software was prepared after studying the judicial system. An expert team of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) executed the project.

Saxena, who had previously been commended by the Election Commission for innovating the deployment and movement of election duty parties during the elections, recently made a presentation before top level authorities regarding the implementation of the ‘Saakshi’ app.

And it seems that the authorities are impressed with the potential of the app, with the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh Government mandating the implementation of the software across all districts of the State of UP.

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