Making his submissions before the Supreme Court, Amicus Curiae Senior Advocate Arun Mohan, on Tuesday, favored the use of GPS enabled digital cameras having a time stamp system for taking photographs of crime scenes. These cameras, he submitted, were available in the market for a cost of Rs. 8000 each.
He further suggested that States can create portals for uploading of crime scene images, from which time stamp and reference numbers can be noted. These can then be sent to the concerned police station where they can be downloaded and added to the case diary.
Furthermore, he recommended that the Bureau of Police Research and Development can prepare a crime scene photography manual in English and regional languages, and that the funds for these recommendations can be withdrawn from the unutilized funds from previous years.
Considering these submissions, the Bench comprising Justice A.K. Goel and Justice U.U. Lalit left it open to Mr. Mohan to submit a written note to the Centre, which may then examine the same and respond. The matter has now been listed on 7 March.
The proceedings before the Court arise out of an Appeal filed by one Mr Shafhi Mohammad, and one of the questions which arose during the proceedings was whether videography of the scene of crime is necessary to inspire confidence in the evidence collected.
The Centre had on, 12 October last year, informed the Court that the issue of video recording of crime scenes was discussed by the Union Home Secretary with the Chief Secretaries of the States. A Committee of Experts (COE) was then constituted to facilitate and prepare a roadmap for use of videography in the crime scene and propose a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
During the hearing, apprehensions were communicated to the Court on the implementation of the measure on account of scarcity of funds, issues of securing and storage of data and admissibility of evidence. The Court, however, opined that any further direction on the subject should be given after examining the report submitted by the COE.
Thereafter, earlier this month, the Court had clarified that a party who is not in possession of the device from which the electronic document is produced, cannot be required to produce certificate under Section 65B (4) of the Evidence Act.
The Court had referred to various judgments and had observed that the applicability of the procedural requirement under the provision is to be applicable only when such electronic evidence is produced by a person who is in a position to produce such certificate, being in control of the said device, and not of the opposite party.
It had explained, "In a case where electronic evidence is produced by a party who is not in possession of a device, applicability of Sections 63 and 65 of the Evidence Act cannot be held to be excluded. In such case, procedure under the said Sections can certainly be invoked. If this is not so permitted, it will be denial of justice to the person who is in possession of authentic evidence/witness but on account of manner of proving, such 9 document is kept out of consideration by the court in absence of certificate under Section 65B(4) of the Evidence Act, which party producing cannot possibly secure. Thus, the requirement of certificate under Section 65B(h) is not always mandatory."