The Supreme Court has allowed a plea to record evidence of a Nigerian doctor who conducted post mortem of the deceased via video conferencing.
The accused in this case is facing trial on charges of murdering his wife while in Nigeria. A Nigerian doctor had conducted first postmortem of the dead-body of the deceased. An application under Section 311 was moved by the mother of the deceased seeking summoning of one Dr. I. Yusuf through High Commission of Nigeria or to record his evidence through video-conferencing, after issuing a commission for the purpose.
The Trial Court rejected this plea citing two reasons: that the trial was pending for almost 8 years; and that it was not necessary to record the statement of Dr. I. Yusuf because a copy of the post-mortem report prepared by him had already been exhibited. The Rajasthan High Court upheld the Trial Court order.
The bench comprising Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari were of the opinion that testimony of the said doctor who conducted the first post-mortem in Nigeria is germane to the questions involved in this matter. On the aspect of pendency of trial for eight years, the bench said:
"Though it is expected that the trial of a sessions case should proceed with reasonable expedition and pendency of such a matter for about 8-9 years is not desirable but then, the length/duration of a case cannot displace the basic requirement of ensuring the just decision after taking all the necessary and material evidence on record. In other words, the age of a case, by itself, cannot be decisive of the matter when a prayer is made for examination of a material witness."
Referring to State of Maharashtra v. Dr. Praful B. Desai , in which the Supreme Court had approved of the process of recording the evidence of a witness in the criminal trial through video-conferencing when the witness was found residing/situate in the United States of America, the bench said:
"In the present case too, where the witness Dr. I.Yusuf is residing in Nigeria, in order to avoid inconvenience to the witness as also to the parties, issuing of commission and recording his evidence through video-conferencing appears to be a viable alternative; and the Trial Court need to take all the requisite steps so as to ensure that his evidence comes on record with least inconvenience and/or burden to the parties and the witness."
Allowing the application under Section 311 CrPC, the bench directed the Trial Court to take all the necessary measures for ensuring the examination of the witness concerned by issuing commission and/or recording his statement through video-conferencing.