‘Failure of IOs to provide description, sketch of street criminals failing prosecution’

In addition, he added, investigation officers do not call police experts for making sketches of the culprits

By Yousuf Katpar
February 23, 2024
Sindh Inspector General of Police Rifat Mukhtar Raja speaks during a meeting on February 16, 2024. — Facebook/Sindh Police

Amidst a persistently high street crime rate and a low conviction rate in Karachi, Sindh’s prosecutor general has written a letter to the inspector general of police, highlighting deficiencies in investigation that have often resulted in acquittals of accused persons.


In his letter, Prosecutor General Dr Fiaz Shah highlighted that apart from a few exceptions, almost all street crime cases are normally registered against unknown perpetrators due to the densely populated and sprawling nature of the city, further compounded by inadequate planning and the absence of legal and computerised records.

“This has become a challenging work for police. Nevertheless, the investigation officers have mostly failed to record ‘feature’ or ‘description’ of the culprit during recording statement of ‘complainant’ or ‘victim’ under Section 161 [of] Criminal Procedure Code, 1898 or through some other modes,” he said.

In addition, he added, investigation officers do not call police experts for making sketches of the culprits. Similarly, the prosecutor general pointed out that the practice of preservation of fingerprints from the crime scene is also not followed.

“The absence of scientific and digital devices or equipment and delay in the establishment of ‘safe city project’ has seriously caused failure of the prosecution in street crime cases, which are overwhelmingly based on circumstantial evidence,” he said.

In the absence of ocular evidence, he maintained, forensic evidence as well as the culprits’ description, sketch and fingerprints are the only tools to prove cases based on circusmtantial evidence before a court of law.

He, therefore, urged the police chief to issue instructions to his subordinates to ensure that the investigation officers use and preserve “features, description or sketch”, as well as collect fingerprints from the crime scene, especially in cases that have no eyewitnesses and are based on circumstantial evidence.