Identification of the accused


Dock identification.

To add some material to the subject, I would like to refer to decisions of the Supreme Court in two relatively recent cases, they being Ravi Kapur v. State of Rajasthan, (2012) 9 SCC 284 and Prakash v. State of Karnataka, (2014) 12 SCC 133. In Prakash v. State of Karnataka (supra), the discourse on the said issue has been summarised thus :

“15. An identification parade is not mandatory [Ravi Kapur v. State of Rajasthan, (2012) 9 SCC 284 : (2012) 4 SCC (Civ) 660 : (2012) 3 SCC (Cri) 1107] nor can it be claimed by the suspect as a matter of right. [R. Shaji v. State of Kerala, (2013) 14 SCC 266 : (2014) 4 SCC (Cri) 185]. The purpose of pre-trial identification evidence is to assure the investigating agency that the investigation is going on in the right direction and to provide corroboration of the evidence to be given by the witness or victim later in court at the trial. [Rameshwar Singh v. State of J&K, (1971) 2 SCC 715 : 1971 SCC (Cri) 638]. If the suspect is a complete stranger to the witness or victim, then an identification parade is desirable [Mulla v. State of U.P., (2010) 3 SCC 508 : (2010) 2 SCC (Cri) 1150; Kishore Chand v. State of H.P., (1991) 1 SCC 286 : 1991 SCC (Cri) 172] unless the suspect has been seen by the witness or victim for some length of time. [State of U.P. v. Boota Singh, (1979) 1 SCC 31 : 1979 SCC (Cri) 115] In Malkhansingh v. State of M.P. [(2003) 5 SCC 746 : 2003 SCC (Cri) 1247] it was held: (SCC pp. 751-52, para 7) “7. … The identification parades belong to the stage of investigation, and there is no provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure which obliges the investigating agency to hold, or confers a right upon the accused to claim a test identification parade.They do not constitute substantive evidence and these parades are essentially governed by Section 162 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Failure to hold a test identification parade would not make inadmissible the evidence of identification in court. The weight to be attached to such identification should be a matter for the courts of fact.”
16. However, if the suspect is known to the witness or victim [Jadunath Singh v. State of U.P., (1970) 3 SCC 518 : 1971 SCC (Cri) 124] or they have been shown a photograph of the suspect or the suspect has been exposed to the public by the media [R. Shaji v. State of Kerala, (2013) 14 SCC 266 : (2014) 4 SCC (Cri) 185] no identification evidence is necessary. Even so, the failure of a victim or a witness to identify a suspect is not always fatal to the case of the prosecution. In Visveswaran v. State [(2003) 6 SCC 73 : 2003 SCC (Cri) 1270] it was held: (SCC p. 78, para 11) “11. … The identification of the accused either in a test identification parade or in court is not a sine qua non in every case if from the circumstances the guilt is otherwise established. Many a time, crimes are committed under the cover of darkness when none is able to identify the accused. The commission of a crime can be proved also by circumstantial evidence.”
(emphasis supplied)

CONCLUSION “23. Doubts would be called reasonable if they are free from a zest for abstract speculation. Law cannot afford any favourite other than truth. To constitute reasonable doubt, it must be free from an overemotional response. Doubts must be actual and substantial doubts as to the guilt of the accused persons arising from the evidence, or from the lack of it, as opposed to mere vague apprehensions. A reasonable doubt is not an imaginary, trivial or a merely possible doubt, but a fair doubt based upon reason and common sense. It must grow out of the evidence in the case.”
[State of U.P. v. Awdhesh, (2008) 16 SCC 238 : (2010) 4 SCC (Cri) 257]