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Delhi HC for digital recording of witness accounts

Digital recording of the proceedings by the police would lend credibility to their performance, and instill the desired confidence in the court as well as litigants, which is often missing.

delhi Updated: Aug 28, 2018 01:12 IST
Richa Banka
Richa Banka
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi,High Court,Digital Recording
The Delhi High Court has issued a notice to the Centre, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government and the police commissioner of Delhi to look into the issue of replacing the old process of recording the statement of witnesses with a new system of digital or video recording.

The Delhi High court has issued a notice to the Centre, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government and the police commissioner of Delhi to look into the issue of replacing the old process of recording the statement of witnesses by the police under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) with a new system of digital or video recording.

A bench of justice Vipin Sanghi and justice I S Mehta sought the response of the commissioner of police, the home secretary, the Delhi government and the secretary of the Union ministry of home affairs to look into the issue.

The bench issued the order while hearing a plea pertaining to the digital recording of statements of the witnesses
by the police under Section 161 of the CrPC.

The court also remarked that digital recording of proceedings by the police would make their performance more trustworthy and inspire conviction in the court and litigants.

“Digital recording of the proceedings by the police would lend credibility to their performance, and instil the desired confidence in the court as well as litigants, which is often missing,” the bench said, even as the city police informed the court that as many as 2,38,070 cases were registered in the last one year in which around 10 lakh witnesses were examined.

In a status report submitted by the Delhi Police, the court was informed that since information technology is dynamic in nature and the existing technology becomes obsolete after a short span of time, the storage devices used now may not be operable as and when the evidences are required by the court.

The court, however, said this cannot be an excuse as the storage of digital media in various forms, including CDs, pen drives and clouds storage, occupies far less space than that required for preservation of manually recorded proceedings or statements on paper, as per current practice.

“…that cannot be an excuse, not to resort to digital recordings of the proceedings by the police,” the court said.

The status report also stated that in order to successfully store and retrieve the data, an information retrieval mechanism has to be set up with a large capacity for which “cloud computing technology” would have to be used with the involvement of experts.

“The same would involve issues of data security, backing, ownership of clouds, access rights and other new forms of digital red-tapism,” the report said.

However, the bench did not seem to be impressed by the issues raised by the police and said that they are “not insurmountable” and with the assistance of experts, could be easily addressed.

The court also suggested that video recordings could be made using body held or wearable cameras while following the existing procedure for recording statements of the witnesses or disclosure statements.

The court also said that it is for the Delhi government and the Centre to decide as to who would provide the funds for putting the new process in place with the requisite hardware, software and training.

“It is for the State to arrange the funds — whether they are provided by the Delhi government or by the Centre, depending upon whomsoever the responsibility falls,” it said, fixing September 10 as the next date of hearing.

The court also said that finances should not deter the State to implement the new process for larger public interest when the technology is easily available in the market.

First Published: Aug 28, 2018 01:12 IST