Friday, July 31, 2015

Record confessions before magistrate: HC to govt

Gujarat high court has directed the state home department to ask police officers to make it a practice to take an accused, in case he confesses before cops, and witnesses before judicial magistrate to record statements under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code so that conviction can be secured.

The HC issued this direction on July 28 while dealing with a criminal appeal filed by one Chandubhai Dalwadi from Mandal, who had killed his wife in 2006. He first confessed to his crime before cops and also before four witnesses, but later did not admit his guilt before the court and the witnesses also turned hostile. The man was convicted to life imprisonment for murder by trial court in 2008 on basis of circumstantial evidence.

He challenged the conviction. Turning down his appeal, a bench of Justice Mohinder Pal and Justice R D Kothari lamented cops' lackadaisical approach in investigation and commented that timely recording of confession by accused before a judicial magistrate would have strengthen prosecution's case. Had the four witnesses, before whom the husband had made extra-judicial confession, taken to the magistrate, the case would have been stronger.

The statement recorded under section 164 of CrPC becomes a piece of evidence, whereas confession made before cops do not hold any ground once the accused or witness retracts before court.

Stressing upon the need for statement before a magistrate, the judges said, "Admission of guilt by accused before police official has no value in the eye of law. The Investigating Officer would be depriving himself benefit of important piece of evidence, if he fails to avail opportunity to produce the accused or witness before magistrate to record statement. Possibility of accused/witness disowning their statement at later stage ought not to weigh with police authority at the stage of investigation."

In this case, the HC upheld Dalwadi's conviction for murder and criticized the investigation and pulled up cops for not considering the case history because the woman had died within seven years of marriage and she had registered complaint of domestic violence. Hence the HC convicted him under section 304 Part-1 of IPC for culpable homicide and reduced imprisonment to 10 years.

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