By Kashish Batta
Before a trial is started in court there are certain procedures that must be followed known as pre-trial procedure or pre-trial process. There are many stages in an investigation process, one of which is a police investigation. The most important reason which is there for conducting an investigation is the evidence collection. This article discuss regarding the issues and the benefits of the section 161(3) of the code of criminal procedure along with the case laws.
The Criminal Procedure Act (amendment) of 2008 introduced a clause in the section 161 (3) under which the officer has the power to record a witness’s statement by audio-video or any other electronic means. The use of the term may in the Section.161 (1) and in clause S.161 (3) of the code of criminal procedure indicates that it is the police officer’s discretion to note or record the witness statement. It is not at all mandatory or there is no compulsion for the investigating officer to reduce the statement of the person who is examined in writing. But the declaration, if registered, must be registered as it was actually made. As subsection (3) prohibits making the details of a registered statement under Section 161 of the criminal procedure Code. It is also envisaged that the declarations made pursuant to this paragraph may also be recorded by electronic audio-video means. It is also expected that a statement which is being made by a woman that has to be recorded by the female police officer or any female officer.
There are certain benefits with of this section 161(3) of the code of criminal procedure that are as follows
- EASY TO PROVE CASE- In the event or the situation that the person voluntarily admits a fact, or of the crime itself, then it is easier to prove it in court if this declaration by the witness is recorded by audio-video or other electronic means.
- LESS BURDEN ON INTERROGATING OFFICER- If an audio or video recording is made, the interrogating officer is exempted from the obligation to write down the person’s statement. With this advancement of technology also less burden is there of the investigating officers
- EASY ASSESSIBLE- The officer would also be able to assess the body language and the way the person being questioned, which could provide them with some much-needed insights into whether the person is being truthful or not. With this recoding, it helps in further investigation of the case which is there
- BENEFIT FOR YOUNG OFFICERS- some of these can be used later to train young officers and show them the appropriate method of investigation and interrogation.
- FAITH OF PUBLIC- Furthermore, this is also another progressive step towards increasing the confidence of the general public in the criminal investigation system and also the police practices as interrogations are no longer behind closed doors and the record of the statement can be viewed by the court
- TRANSPARENCY- It is imperative to remove this evil practice and amend clause S.161 (3) of the code of criminal procedure to introduce a mandatory requirement to record the investigation process and the witness statement will be a step in the right direction. This will be useful in determining whether the statement made by the witness is indeed genuine or was obtained by means of force or torture. The use of the audiovisual recording method also ensures transparency in the interrogation process and sheds light on whether the interrogating officers extracted the statement from the person by coercion, force or torture.
The legislative intent behind the introduction of the provision according to which depositions can also be recorded in audio and video mode was to avoid manipulation, falsification, insertion and replacement of the statements which is being made by witnesses and this was also held in the case of sube Singh v state of Haryana. In a case where there was an inexplicable delay for 10 days, and there were also some contradictions, the Supreme Court held that although the contradictions themselves may not have much significance, however, considered in light of the delay in examination, the suspicious evidence. In the case of balakrishna swain v state of Orissa, in this court said that if there is any such delay then in that situation the investigating officer can be asked about such delay and he has to specify the reasons for that. There is another case of jodha khoda rabari v state of Gujarat in which court stated that there is common ground that a few hours’ delay in recording the informant’s statement does not in itself constitute serious infirmity, unless there is material suggesting that the detective agency deliberately delayed in order to offer the perpetrator the opportunity to set up a case of his choice
The police officer who is conducting an investigation is not required to reduce the statements of witnesses which is examined by him in writing, but it is desirable that he at least record the substance of such statements. If he does not also record the merit of the statements, then in that circumstance it may be taken into account by the court in assessing the evidence, since it is possible that if the witness were contradicted at the hearing with his previous statement, all his evidence could have been broken. But the court will not accept that a police officer deceives his investigation in order to make such a report. The police officer would be free to prove to the court that his failure to do so was due to reasons beyond his control. If he records the statements or their substance, he can do so either in the diary case kept under section 172, or on separate sheets, loose or sewn into a notebook, or in both but he must record the statement of each witness or its substance separately and truly as stated in subsection 3 and this was held in the case of paresh kalian das bhavsar v sadiq yakubbhai.
SUGGESTION AND CONCLUSION
There are various benefits to recording a witness’s statement, including creating a durable record of the statement, the ease of proving the statement in court, and most importantly, making the investigation process open to public scrutiny. In addition, audiovisual methods of recording statements are useful for stemming cases of prison violence. The prevailing problem of a witness becoming hostile in court will be largely resolved if the law provides for a mandatory requirement of audio-video recording of statements under the section 161 (3) of the code of criminal procedure. It is the need of the moment to make the infrastructural and monetary investments necessary to make the mandatory video recording of declarations a reality. Central and state governments must take proactive steps to ensure that every police station in the country is equipped with video recorders for the purpose of recording statements. The necessary training must also be provided to people in the villages in order to effectively implement this process. It is time for the Indian legal system to evolve with the changing needs of society and keep up with the latest technological developments.
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Ayushi tripathi, Examination of Witness and Recording of Their Statement, law time journal (October 4, 2019)
 A.I.R. 1971 S.C. 804
 1992 CrLJ 3298 (Guj)
 A.I.R. 1993 S.C. 1544