Evidentiary Value of the Statements made to the Police during Investigation
In Sewaki v. State of Himachal Pradesh, 1981 Cri LJ 919, the apex court held that any statement recorded by the police officer during an investigation is neither given upon oath nor is the same tested by cross examination. also, as per the law of evidence, such statement is neither considered evidence of the facts made therein and nor is the same considered as substantive evidence. The statement made to the police has no evidentiary status, as a result no criminal cases can be initiated using the same as evidence under Section 194 and 195 of the Indian Penal Code.
Supreme Court judgement with respect to Section 162 of the Code of Criminal Procedure: –
Under Sections 157 and 145 of the Evidence Act, in the case where a person making the statement is called as a witness at the time of trial, his earlier statement as per the normal rules of the evidence can be utilised for complimenting his testimony in court or to make it explicit how his earlier statement is in contradiction with his present one with a view to discredit him. However, we have Section 162 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, modifying the aforesaid normal rules of evidence as given in the sections mentioned above. The given section provides that a statement reduced to writing or recorded by the police during the course of investigation of an offence, can be used in a criminal trial in case the person making the statement is called as a prosecution witness. This statement can be used for showing the contradiction in the witness’s deposition, in the way and manner given by Section 145 of the Evidence Act. In Parvat Singh & others v. State of Madhya Pradesh, Criminal Appeal Number 374/2000, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India set aside a murder conviction wherein it was discovered that the High court had relied on the statement made under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The court did the same holding that statement made under Section 161 of the Code of the Criminal Procedure is admissible and hence cannot be relied upon or applied to convict an accused.
Report of the Law commission on corroborating and contradicting a witness: –
Now, statements made to the police during the course of investigation are often in unsystematic manner amidst crowd and confusion. In such cases, statements made are not reliable based upon its accuracy, and thus not fit to be used for ratification. Further, by the same logic, not feasible to be used for contradiction. Considering the same, the Law Commission of India in its 41st report, Volume I observed that what is adequately good for contradicting a witness is not always the same for corroborating or ratifying him. Since there lies a material difference between contradicting and ratifying or corroborating, the legal policy of allowing a witness contradicted by a police statement and not permitting him to be ratified by the same statement is basically sound. This observation of the law commission can be backed by the simple reason that statement recorded by the police during the course of investigation cannot be trusted as the same might be recorded incorrectly. As a result, using the same for corroborating their witness as the same might be of self-serving nature. purpose of Section 162 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is to secure the accused from the over-zealous police officers and trumped up witnesses.
Whether the court is entitled to contradict a person called as Court Witness? –
However, it may be noted that the former statement made before the police cannot be used for discrediting a defence witness. Under, the Law Commission of India in its 41st report, Volume I, the plain reason stated for the same is simply that the same would allow a witness to be discredited by a record made by the opposite party. Whether the court is entitled to contradict a person called as a court witness under Section 311 of the Code of Criminal Procedure based upon the statement made by him to the police? To this question, it has been observed that apparently the application of Section 162 of the Code of Criminal Procedure prohibits the use of such statement by the court. However, it may be noted that the given section is not explicit enough to govern Section 165 of the Indian Evidence Act. The given section confers broader power upon the court to question a witness with the purpose to achieve the ends of justice. In Raghunandan v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 1974 AIR 463, the hon’ble Supreme Court considering the objective of Section 162 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the action it was designed to prevent as well as its context, held that the section must be confined in its horizon to the application by parties only of statements stated therein.
The embargo created by Section 162 of the Code of Criminal Procedure with respect to the application of any statement made to the police during the investigation is applicable only where such statement is ought to be used at an inquiry or trial in relation to any offence under investigation at the time when such statement was made. Also, the bar has no application in a civil proceeding or in proceedings made under Article 32 or 226 of the Constitution or a proceeding under Section 452 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (disposal of property). Now, it is quite certain that statements not reported to the Police cannot be used for contradiction. It may be noted that, Section 162 of the Code of Criminal Procedure places embargo only upon the evidence of statements made to the investigating officer during the course of investigation. The section nowhere mentions that each and every statement made during the course of investigation is barred from being substantiated as evidence.
Authored By: Adv. Anant Sharma & Aniket Pandey