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Strict Action Against Investigating Officers/ Media If Confessions Are Leaked/Discussed During Investigation: Kerala HC [Read Order]

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
15 Oct 2020 9:38 AM GMT
Strict Action Against Investigating Officers/ Media If Confessions Are Leaked/Discussed During Investigation: Kerala HC [Read Order]
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The Bench requested all reporters and anchors of print and visual media to "read section 24 of the Evidence Act" before framing headlines in the newspapers and before giving breaking news in News Channels based on confession statement of accused who are in police custody.
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"Stringent actions will be taken by this court," warned the Kerala High Court on Thursday against the general trend of divulging the materials collected during pendency of any investigation, to the public/ media.

The Bench of Justice PV Kunhikrishnan observed that investigating officers in sensational cases are leaking confession statement of the accused and the media is giving wide publicity to such statements, especially in sensational cases.

Deprecating such practice, the Bench reaffirmed, "An investigating officer cannot divulge any materials collected during the investigation to the public or media."

It recalled the verdict in Murukeshan v. State of Kerala, 2011(1) KLT 194, whereby the High Court had categorically observed,

"all concerned should realise that once a case involving the commission of a cognizable offence has been registered and the FIR forwarded to the Magistrate concerned, the matter is sub judice and no police officer has the right to leak out information regarding the outcome of investigation until the final report is eventually filed before the Court."

Justice Kunhikrishnan remarked that the practice of leaking information on part of the investigating agencies as well as the media impinges upon the "fundamentals of criminal investigation". It therefore warned, that if above directions are violated either by the police officers or the media, stringent actions will be taken against them.

"If there is any violation of the directions of this court, the consequences will be serious. This court cannot sit as a silent spectator in criminal justice delivery system. If the confession statement and other materials collected during investigation are discussed in media and divulged to the general public, the situation will be perilous," the Bench added.

The remarks were made while allowing the bail application of Jolly Joseph of Koodathayi village of northern Kerala, accused of murder of six of her family members over a span of 17 years by administering them cyanide. The Court was considering her bail plea in the case related to the alleged murder of her relative Annamma Thomas in 2002.

(She will not be released from jail as her bail pleas in criminal cases related to alleged murder of other family members was earlier denied by the Court)

The Court explained that confession statement given by an accused in police custody is not admissible in evidence. However, the general public may not be aware of this aspect and it may "suspect" the judiciary of foul play, when a verdict is passed based on other admissible evidence.

"A court of law can accept only legal evidence. If a court of law decides a case based on legal evidence, the general public may suspect even the judiciary, if the present situation of divulging confession statement and other materials collected during investigation is leaked like this. A full stop is necessary."

The Bench requested all reporters and anchors of print and visual media to "read section 24 of the Evidence Act" before framing headlines in the newspapers and before giving breaking news in News Channel based on confession statement of accused who are in police custody.

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