Identification parades are generally held during the course of investigation with the primary object of enabling the witnesses to identify persons who are suspected to have committed the offence and who were not previously known to them or to identify property which is the subject-matter of the offence. Requisition for holding such parades to identify persons who took part in the occurrence under investigation is made to the Magistrate, having territorial jurisdiction, by the Police as per the Police Standing Orders. The conduct of such proceedings is called for only when there is a reasonable belief that certain arrested persons are concerned with commission of the crime. Once a requisition is made to the Magistrate, control over the proceedings is and should necessarily be with the Magistrate.
Having regard to the purpose of identification parades and their evidentiary value in the case full precautions are taken, it is of paramount importance that identification proceedings should be absolutely above suspicion. Bereft of these essential precautions the identification parade will be devoid of all evidentiary value. It is of vital importance that care should be taken that even a semblance of unfairness is eschewed in the conduct of proceedings and chances of testimonial errors are reduced to nil. It is necessary that no undue delay is caused in either summoning the witnesses or in holding the identification parade and the persons required to identify an accused should have had no opportunity of seeing him at any time after the commission of the crime and before the identification parade and further no mistakes are made by them at the time of identification parade or the mistakes made are negligible. It is also proper that the ability of the witness to identify should be tested first without showing him first the suspect or his photograph or furnishing him the data of identification. It should be ascertained from him what are the characteristic features of the person he seeks to identify.
On a requisition to conduct identification parade, the Magistrate should hold it as expeditiously as possible. It should be held during day time, in conducting the parades, the Magistrate should observe the following principles:
1- Selection for the parade of non-suspects of the same religion status, height, age, etc., unknown to the witness to be mixed with the suspects. Their number should be sufficiently large (ie.) not less than 5 times. They should have similar wear as the suspects, so far as it is possible. At any rate the bearing and general appearance should not be glaringly dissimilar.
2. There should be a separate parade for each accused securing privacy from the public view preferably by enclosing, if possible, the place of parade.
3. He should be allowed to select his own position and should be asked if he has any objection to the persons present or the arrangements made.
4. Enumeration of the number of non-suspects and total number on parade.
5. Exclusion of everyone, specially the Police, from the proceedings ; prevention of all jail authorities from coming and going.
6. jail authorities, if present, shall not be allowed access either to the witnesses who have to be summoned for identification or to the persons assembled at the parade till the completion of the parade.
7. Changing the place or places in the line of persons to be identified at discretion before the arrival of each witness.
8. Seclusion till the completion of the proceeding of each witness as finished with, from others whose evidence has still to be taken. This precaution would exclude the possibility of signals.
9. Exclusion of the man deputed to call each witness from a view of the proceedings.
10. Definite information as to whether the witness has any prior acquaintance with any suspect he identifies.
11. Recording any well founded objection by any suspect to any point in the proceedings.
12. Every circumstance connected with the identification shall be carefully recorded by the officer conducting it, whether the suspect or any other person is identified or not. Any particular blemish of the suspect facilitating recognition such as ‘one-eyed’ etc., shall also be noted. If the Magistrate is eventually cited as a witness, he should be in a position to speak to everything relevant with reference to the record instead of relying upon his memory.
As a measure of precaution, the Magistrate may take the thumb-impression of the suspects put up for identification on the record of the proceedings after the parade is over. This would ensure that the correct persons were put up for the parade. Similarly the thumb-impressions of each witness may be taken to show that the witnesses actually participated in the parade are in fact the same persons who come to the Court later to give evidence at the time of the trial. The personal marks of identification of the witnesses should also be noted. If the Magistrates carefully follow the above procedure at the time of conducting identification parades, there may not be any occasion to commit any error or omission.