Tamil Nadu

‘Police officers should not expose identity of the accused’

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Details and material objects collected during investigation should not be made public, says High Court

Stating that an Additional Director-General of Police may go to a trial court in a case of kidnapping of a child for ransom, the Madras High Court has expressed the hope that the Home Secretary would apprise all police officers of the legal position that they should not unnecessarily expose the identity of the accused.

The officers need to be told that details and material objects collected during investigation should not be made public. In-service training should also be held to sensitise them to the legal position.

Justice S. Nagamuthu was dismissing a petition filed by the Inspector of Police, J.J. Nagar here, seeking to set aside an order of the Principal District Judge, Chengalpattu, summoning the then Chennai Police Commissioner, T. Rajendran, now with the State Human Rights Commission, as a defence witness in the case. The matter related to the kidnap of a school student for a ransom of Rs. 1 crore in November 2010. He was freed after the money was handed over to the kidnappers.

The accused were arrested two days later. While Rs.50 lakh was recovered from Vijay, the rest from Prabhu. Before taking the accused for initial remand, the police officer held a long press conference, where he produced both, whose image was telecast by television channels. The witnesses were also present. The accused submitted that the examination of the officer was essential because the statement made to the press was in their favour.

During the trial, the accused cited three witnesses: Ramaraju, R. Selvaraj, a television reporter, and Mr. Rajendran. The accused had stated that summoning the police officer would be essential for them to prove their innocence. Allowing the petition, the sessions judge issued summonses to the three.

The State filed the present petition challenging the issue of summons to the police officer.

Mr. Justice Nagamuthu said the media made the incident more sensational by publicising the entire episode. The press should not cause any disturbance to investigators by allowing the accused to escape by using news reports. It was distressing that the identity of the accused was disclosed to the print and electronic media. Though he claimed that he was not part of investigation, the then Commissioner had made statements to the press which, the accused said, were in their favour. Police officers of higher rank should be aware that they should not make any public statement which would harm investigation. “Day in and day out, this court, in many cases, more particularly in sensational cases, notices that unnecessary publicity was given through the print and electronic media to the details of investigation, which affects the administration of justice.”

The judge said the police officer was a necessary witness for the defence to examine him.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 10:56:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/police-officers-should-not-expose-identity-of-the-accused/article6690679.ece

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