Hostile witness: Madras HC moots video statements

Suggestion to avoid instances of witnesses turning hostile; inputs from police department, bar associations invited

Published: 09th November 2019 05:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th November 2019 05:23 AM   |  A+A-

Madras HC

Madras HC (File | EPS)

By Express News Service

MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court suggested audio/video recording of statements of witnesses in criminal cases to avoid instances of them turning hostile. A bench, comprising Justices S Vaidyanathan and N Anand Venkatesh, also invited inputs from the Police Department and bar associations to assist the court in issuing directions in this regard. The judges observed that instances of criminal cases ending in acquittals due to witnesses turning hostile have increased to a great extent.

“Recording the examination of witnesses by police using audio/ video electronic means will make it easier for the prosecution to confront witnesses before the court when the witness wriggles out of the earlier statement, and is treated to be hostile,” they opined. Though some provisions were introduced to Sections 161 and 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code in December 2009, enabling police to record statements of witnesses using electronic means, the same has been confined to books for the past ten years, the judges pointed out.

“Unless an element of deterrence is brought into the minds of witnesses, witnesses turning hostile is only going to continue and acquittals are going to pile up, ultimately ending up in a breakdown of the Criminal Justice System,” they held, and sought inputs from the Police Department, and if possible, presence of a higher level police officer before them, to help them understand the practicality of implementing the idea. The judges also invited bar associations of the High Court Bench to assist the court in the matter and adjourned the case to November 13. The above observations were made by the court while hearing a batch of criminal appeals filed by three persons in 2017.

HC imposes `5K cost on accused in NEET scam

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court imposed a cost of Rs 5,000 on one of the accused in NEET impersonation scam for abusing the process of law by filing bail petition for the second time immediately after the dismissal of the first. Justice V Parthiban, who passed the order, observed that the action of the petitioner — one CA Davis — showed that he made a mockery of court.

“The court cannot be a mere spectator to such acts by the petitioner in taking court for a ride,” he said and dismissed the petition by imposing a cost of Rs 5,000. The amount should be paid to the Chief Justice Relief Fund within a week, he added. Davis had filed the second petition on  October 31, a day after his previous plea, which had been filed as a joint petition along with his son, was dismissed by Justice GR Swaminathan. 

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