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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Accused's face can't be revealed: Experts

Harish V Nair, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 23, 2013
First Published: 23:31 IST(23/4/2013) | Last Updated: 23:33 IST(23/4/2013)

Legal experts have termed as "illogical" the demand of anti-rape protesters to revealed the accused's face, saying it will end up benefiting him during the trial.

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They say as per the Evidence Act and Supreme Court judgments, a rape accused's face has to be kept muffled in public till the test identification parade (TIP) is over or else this crucial exercise becomes meaningless and the accused can take advantage of it.

Protesters have been demanding that the accused be shamed, but experts say it is irrational.

"A rape accused's face cannot be revealed prior to a TIP. During a identification parade, the victim, in presence of a magistrate, is asked to identify the offender among many people lined before her of the same height and physique. If the face is made public, the accused can always say before the court that the victim had pointed to him after seeing his face on TV or newspaper," says former Delhi High Court judge RS Sodhi.

Vikas Pahwa, a former counsel for Delhi police, said: "The onus is on the victim to identify the offender. It will be a travesty of justice for the accused if the face is revealed before the TIP. There could be cases where victim may not exactly remember the face of the rapist and the police may nab the wrong person. After seeing his face on TV or newspaper, the girl may point to him only and will not make an effort to identify him based on her recollection. The real offender may get away."

"If the accused, whose face is made public, is finally acquitted after the trial, it will amount to maligning him for the entire life," said senior criminal lawyer Ramesh Gupta.

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