While dealing with a petition by BJP functionary Sowdha Mani seeking return of her phone which was seized in connection with an investigation following objectionable retweets, the Madras High Court observed that delay in production of material objects before the Jurisdictional Magistrate would vitiate the entire prosecution.
In the present case, the material (phone) was produced before the jurisdictional magistrate six days after it's seizure.
Observing that this unexplained delay of six days could not be brushed aside, Justice P Velmurugan ordered the Director General of Police to take stringent action against the investigating officer.
the Investigating officer of the present case did not produce the subject property immediately after seizure, and produced the same with a delay of 6 days, which would detrimental to the case of the prosecution. No explanation was also forthcoming on his part for not sending the subject property to the jurisdictional magistrate soon after recovery. Hence, this court directs the Director General of Police, to take stringent action against the Investigating Officer of the case in Cr.No.16/2022 for not producing the subject property to the jurisdictional magistrate, soon after recovery, besides giving instructions to all the Investigating Officers to produce the material objects to the court concerned immediately; and file a report to that effect.
Mani was arrested by the Cyber Crime Wing of the Central Crime Branch for retweeting a video that allegedly hurt religious harmony. The video claimed that only Hindu Temples were being demolished following court orders for removal of encroachment and other religious institutions were left untouched.
She had moved the lower court seeking return of her mobile phone which was seized during the investigation. This petition was dismissed by the court observing that the investigation was in its preliminary stage. Aggrieved by the same, she approached the High Court through a criminal revision petition.
The State submitted that the subject property (phone) was sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory and the report was awaited.
Since the subject property was a material object which was essential for the investigation, and observing that the report from Forensic Laboratory was yet to be received, the court thought it fit not to interfere with the order of the lower court.
Case Title: Sowdha Mani v. State
Case No: Crl RC No 1299 of 2022
Citation: 2022 Livelaw (Mad) 410
Counsel for the Petitioner: Mr.R.C.Paul Kanagaraj
Counsel for the Respondent: Mr.S.Sugendran Additional Public Prosecutor