Madurai: The Madras High Court on Friday directed recording the examination of witnesses by police as per section 161 of the CrPC, saying it would deter them from turning hostile.
A bench of justices S Vaidyanathan and N Anand Venkatesh in its order, while hearing a criminal appeal, favoured electronic means — audio and video — for recording the witnesses’ statements. In the last two months, it was noticed that the list of hostile witnesses was getting bigger and bigger, resulting in acquittals in a lot of cases, it said.
The bench said the provision for recording witnesses’ examination had remained in the book for the past 10 years and had not been resorted to even once. “We are living in a era when science has grown so much, and it is high time that electronic means is used extensively in the investigation and effectiveness and quality of the investigation substantially improved,” it said.
Recording the examination of witnesses by police by audio or video means will make it easier for prosecution to confront witnesses and help the witnesses as well. “It will bring in an element of deterrence and make the witness think twice before he disowns the statement given to the police. This will also enable the witness to substantiate before the court that the statement shown before the court was not actually given by him and it was the creation of the police,” the order said.
The judges directed that the use of audio and video recording be implemented throughout the state. They also decided to take the assistance of the bar in this regard so that the court will be sufficiently apprised of the manner in which it could be effectively implemented.
Posting the matter to November 13, the judges asked the the state public prosecutor to assist the court. If required, higher level police officials could also be present before the court so that “the court will be in a position to properly understand practicality to implement it.”
The judges directed that copies of its order be sent to the Madras High Court Bar Association, Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court Advocate Association and Madurai Women Advocates Association.