Technology can fill in to address various gaps in prosecution of witnesses. Discuss with an example

Karnataka has taken a big step towards reforming the criminal justice system. This reform is expected to bolster the quality of prosecution.

What is the current procedure for recording witnesses?

Currently, the written statement of the eye witness is recorded in front of a magistrate. This has not been of much help to the prosecution, as witnesses remain absent or turn hostile during the trial.

What is the new procedure proposed?

The Director-General and Inspector General of Police (DG&IGP) has sent a proposal to the legal department under which eyewitness statements will be recorded on video. This will put an end to the trend of prosecution losing cases on account of witnesses turning hostile.

The new procedure proposed under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) will encompass the audio-enabled video file, along with the written statement. This will come in handy even when an eyewitness doesn’t turn up for hearing.

Improving the Ease of Prosecution

As per the data, the prosecution has lost around 86,187 cases in trial courts alone between January 2015 and June 2019. The adverse verdict in a large number of cases was owed to the fact that witnesses remained absent or turned hostile.

The Supreme Court order in the case of Dungar Singh and others Vs State of Rajasthan in 2015 ordered the states to record the statements of eyewitnesses under Section 164 of CrPC by audio-video electronic means.

The digital statements will be submitted before the court during the trial and the eyewitnesses will be examined by the prosecution. In case the witness is absent, the investigation officer has to submit a reason for the same and the high courts may issue appropriate directions to the trial courts for compliance of the above.

Published: October 22, 2019 | Modified:December 1, 2019

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