Equip all PCR vans with Mobile Phone or iPad: HC directs Delhi Police
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Equip all PCR vans with Mobile Phone or iPad: HC directs Delhi Police

Aditi Singh

The Delhi High Court has directed the Commissioner, Delhi Police to equip all PCR vans in the national capital with either a mobile phone or an iPad so that they can record the contemporaneous scene of a crime and tender the same in Court as legal evidence.

For this purpose, the Court has further stated that appropriate training should also be imparted to police personnel.

The judgment was passed by a Division Bench of Justices Manmohan and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal in a batch of appeals by two convicts, Dhanesh and Vikrant against their conviction under Sections 302/34 IPC.

The case of the prosecution was that the deceased, who was nine months pregnant, was found to have been stabbed multiple times with a knife.

According to the police, Vikrant informed them that the deceased was continuously nagging/taunting him for being unemployed.

Subsequently, the family members of the deceased victim made allegations of dowry demands and torture against Dhanesh and Vikrant as well as the father-in-law, Ajit Singh. Accordingly, charges were framed against the three.

The trial court convicted Vikrant and Dhanesh only under Sections 302/34 IPC and additionally Vikrant under Section 316 IPC read with Section 27 of Arms Act.

Counsel for Dhanesh and Vikrant, Advocate Pramod Kumar Dubey submitted that the former’s conviction under Section 302 IPC was contrary to the principles of criminal jurisprudence as no substantive charge under the provision had ever been framed against her.

It was also argued that the presence of both the convicts at the scene of the crime had not been established, as the “star witness” Amrish Kumar had turned hostile.  The appellants argued that there was non-compliance with Section 157 of CrPC and that the recovery of blood-stained jeans allegedly belonging to Vikrant was doubtful as there was contradictory evidence with regard to the place of its recovery.

The recovery of the alleged murder weapon was also challenged, as the sketch of the knife did not bear the signature of Vikrant.

Eight out of the ten photographs taken by the Mobile Crime Team had been “washed out” due to “technical defects”. The Crime Team even failed to lift fingerprints from the knife, it was stated.

Since there were serious infirmities in the prosecution version, the appellants sought for their acquittal based on the benefit of doubt.

APP Aashaa Tiwari argued that the police had received the first information with regard to the incident by way of a telephone call made from the mobile of Vikrant himself.

Apart from the extra-judicial confession made to Amrish Kumar, Vikrant had also disclosed certain material facts to the constable driver of the PCR van and the ASI who were part of the PCR team and the first policemen to reach the scene of the crime, it was claimed.

The prosecution argued that though these admissions were not admissible as a confession, the same were relevant facts which were admissible under Section 8 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.

Counsel for the deceased’s father, Advocate Pankaj Tomar, submitted that the trial court had erred in acquitting all the three accused.

After hearing the parties, the High Court stated that it was certain that the call to the PCR was made from the mobile phone of Vikrant, as the PCR form itself mentioned the informant’s name and number.

The Court further stated that the extent of injuries suffered by the victim was sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature, which established that there was a clear intent to kill the deceased as well as the unborn children in her womb.

It added that the weapon of the offence was seized by the police from the scene of the crime and although the sketch of the knife did not bear the signature of Vikrant, the seizure memo of the knife had his signature. Thus, failure to obtain a signature on the sketch of the knife was of no relevance.

The Court also rejected the challenge to the recovery of the blood-stained jeans, as several witnesses who met Vikrant immediately after the incident had found him wearing jeans stained with blood.

The Court thus confirmed the factual finding of the trial court and said,

“it is, therefore, clear that at the time of incident, accused Vikrant and Dhanesh were present in the house. Since the deceased Neeta @ Vineeta had been found murdered under unnatural and suspicious circumstances, the appellant-convict Vikrant who was present at the scene of crime had to offer an explanation as to what transpired. Consequently, this court is of the view that section 106 of the Indian Evidence act, 1872 is attracted to the present case and the appellant-convict Vikrant has failed to discharge the burden of proving the fact especially within his knowledge.”

The objection with regard to the non-compliance with Section 157 CrPC was also rejected on the ground that it cannot lead to a conclusion that the trial was vitiated or that the accused was entitled to acquittal.

However, as no charge was framed against Dhanesh for the substantive offence under Section 302 IPC, she was acquitted of the offence under the provision.

While dealing with the appeal of the deceased’s father, the Court concluded that there was a ring of truth to the testimonies of the family of the deceased with respect to the commission of an offence under Section 498A IPC.

Consequently, the Court held that all three accused persons were held guilty of the offence under Section 498A/34 IPC.

In view of the above, the appeal by Vikrant was dismissed and the order on the sentence of life imprisonment was upheld. For the offence under Section 498A, Dhanesh, Vikrant and Ajit Singh were sentenced to three years simple imprisonment with a fine of Rs. 10,000 each. Since Dhanesh and Ajit Singh had already undergone imprisonment for over three years, they were deemed to have undergone the sentence provided they deposited the fine within a period of six weeks.

Before parting with the case, the Court was constrained to state that the scene of the crime had not been properly captured by the police and that there were no public witnesses to prove as to what transpired immediately after the incident of murder.

Contemporaneous wireless log indicate that a large public gathering had assembled at the scene of crime and they were so incensed by the murder of a recently married lady who was nine months pregnant that they wanted to physically harm the appellant-convict Vikrant and wanted to ghearao the police station.

In spite of the crowd, there was only one pubic witness, Amrish Kumar, who also resiled from his statement to the police later, the Court remarked.

Given the fact that they were the first to reach the scene of the crime, the Court directed the Commissioner of the Delhi Police to equip all PCR vans with either a mobile phone or an iPad or any other appropriate audio and visual equipment within a reasonable time so that they can record the contemporaneous scene of a crime and tender the same in Court as legal evidence.

[Read Judgment]

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