Tamil Nadu

HC for special rooms to parade suspects

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Says present open-air procedure is primitive and inhibits witnesses

In a significant judgment aimed at streamlining the criminal justice delivery system in the State, the Madras High Court on Friday directed the State government to establish specially designed rooms, with one-way glass partitions, in every prison for conducting test identification parades in such a way that the suspects and the those paraded along with them do not get to see the witnesses at the time of identification.

Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice P.N. Prakash passed the order after taking a cue from the practice followed in foreign countries and observing that “unfortunately, in India, we do not have a system of protecting the lives of witnesses. The attempt by the Government of India to pass the Witness Identity Protection Bill, 2015 stands unfulfilled.” The judges expressed dissatisfaction over the identification parade procedures in vogue.

Adverse impact

“We have noticed that test identification parades are conducted in the jail by lining up the suspect along with the dummies in the open air and the witness is required to walk alongside the row of such persons as if he is receiving a guard of honour.

This procedure, in our view, is primitive inasmuch as it does not take into consideration the adverse impact on the psychology of the victims, especially, victims of gang rape, dacoity and terrorist attack.

“Many a time, they shudder to identify the suspect in the open fearing reprisal. When a gang rape victim sees the suspect, the entire incident will, in all likelihood, get recreated in her mind, which, for certain, will have an adverse impact on her ability to boldly identify the perpetrator,” the judges said and ordered establishment of exclusive rooms in all prisons within six months.

The judges also directed all judicial officers in the State to supply to the investigating officers, free of cost, copies of dying declarations, tests identification reports and statements of witnesses as well as the accused recorded by Judicial Magistrates under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Mr. Justice Prakash directed the Registrar General to circulate a copy of the judgement to all judicial officers. The Director General of Police was ordered to translate the court directions in Tamil and circulate them to all police stations in the State. The Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy and Tamil Nadu Police Academy were asked to take effective steps to sensitise the officers about the judgment.

The orders were passed while answering a reference made to the Division Bench by a single judge of the High Court on the right of the police to be furnished with copies of dying declaration, test identification parade reports, and so on.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 8:25:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-for-special-rooms-to-parade-suspects/article19694648.ece

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