[Crime investigation] Obtain CCTV footage wherever available or face legal action: Punjab & Haryana High Court to police officers
CCTV

[Crime investigation] Obtain CCTV footage wherever available or face legal action: Punjab & Haryana High Court to police officers

The Court issued these directions after an investigating officer failed to obtain certified CCTV footage of a violent physical altercation.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed Haryana's Director-General of Police (DGP) to ensure that certified copies of the footage of Closed Circuit Cameras (CCTV) are obtained wherever possible when crimes were being investigated by the police. (Rahul v. State of Haryana)

The Court also urged the DGP to institute legal action against officers who failed to collect such footage under Section 166-A of the Indian Penal Code, which penalises a public servant's disobedience of a provision of law.

A displeased Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi issued these directions after an investigating officer failed to obtain certified CCTV footage copies of a violent physical altercation.

The Bench directed:

"... Director General of Police, Haryana is directed to issue appropriate instructions to the Commissioners/Senior Superintendents/Superintendents of Police in the State of Haryana to exercise effective supervision on the police officials posted in their respective district through appropriate means to ensure that in every case where any CCTV footage is claimed to be available, copies of the same are obtained from the source along with requisite certificate under Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 in accordance with law and in case of any omission to do so to direct registration of case under Section 166-A of the IPC against the defaulting Investigating Officer."

The Court's issued these directions while hearing a bail application moved by one Rahul Adiwal.

Rahul and three others were accused of assaulting one, Anil with swords while he was sleeping outside a shop. The assault was witnessed by Anil's two brothers. Anil's brother Ramu informed the police about the assault on Anil.

While all the brothers asserted that Anil was assaulted with a sword, there were discrepancies in their accounts as to who dealt a grievous blow.

In a statement to the police, Anil claimed that a co-accused assaulted him. However, later Ramu and Anil testified that they were unsure of whether it was another co-accused or the petitioner (Rahul) who assaulted Anil.

When the Court noted that the shop had CCTV cameras installed, the State admitted that their investigating officer had failed to obtain copies of the footage for the night of the scuffle.

Departmental action had been instituted against the officer, the concerned Superintendent of Police additionally submitted.

At this Justice Tyagi remarked,

"... taking of departmental action in one or more of such cases does not remedy the damage caused to the cause of justice and steps are required to be taken to ensure that such lapses do not occur again and again."

In this backdrop, the Court directed CCTV footage of crimes should be obtained wherever available. The Court instructed that the same be applied for as per the provisions of Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act.

Taking note of the fact that a coordinate bench of the Court had allowed the anticipatory bail application of two of the others accused, and also given the 'disputed question' as to who inflicted the grievous injury, the Court deemed it fit to allow bail to the petitioner.

The other factor the Court weighed in favour of allowing bail was the nature of accusations against the petitioner, the period of custody already undergone, and the probable protracted duration of the trial on account of COVID-19.

In allowing bail, the Court specifically stated that the merits of the case were not being discussed.

Read the Order:

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Rahul v. State of Haryana.pdf
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