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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Use of videography of the scene of crime - guidelines = wrong to deny to the law of evidence advantages to be gained by new techniques and new devices, provided the accuracy of the recording can be proved. Such evidence should always be regarded with some caution and assessed in the light of all the circumstances of each case. Electronic evidence was held to be admissible subject to safeguards adopted by the Court about the authenticity of the same. In the case of tape-recording it was observed that voice of the speaker must be duly identified, accuracy of the statement was required to be proved by the maker of the record, possibility of tampering 5 was required to be ruled out. Reliability of the piece of evidence is certainly a matter to be determined in the facts and circumstances of a fact situation. However, threshold admissibility of an electronic evidence cannot be ruled out on any technicality if the same was relevant.

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRIMINAL)NO. 2302 OF 2017
SHAFHI MOHAMMAD …Petitioner
Versus
THE STATE OF HIMACHAL PRADESH …Respondent
WITH
SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRIMINAL)NO. 9431 OF 2011
(Ravinder Singh @ Kaku versus The State of Punjab)
AND
SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRIMINAL)NOS.9631-9634 OF 2012
(The State of Punjab versus Ravinder Singh @ Kaku and Anr.)
O R D E R
SLP(Crl.)No.2302 of 2017
1. Use of videography of the scene of crime is the subject
matter of consideration herein. We may note the proceedings in
the case on earlier hearings. In order dated 25th April, 2017, it
was observed:
1
“Mr. A.N.S. Nadkarni, Additional Solicitor General,
has accordingly put in appearance and made his
submissions. He has also submitted a note to the
effect that such videograph will indeed help the
investigation and such concept is being used in
some other advanced countries. The National
Institute of Justice which is an agency of U.S.
Department of Justice in its report has noted the
perceived benefits for using the “Body-Worn
Cameras” and also the precautions needed in
doing so. The British Transport Police has also
found body worn cameras as deterrent against
anti-social behaviour and tool to collect
evidence. He also referred to judgment of this
Court in Karnail Singh Vs. State of Haryana,
(2009) 8 SCC 539 wherein reference to use of
technology during search and seizure under
Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act,
1985 has been made. Reference has also been
made to Information Technology Act
(Amendment) 2006, particularly, Section 79A. In
(1976) 2 SCC 17, Ziyauddin Burhanuddin Bukhari
Vs. Brijmohan Ramdass Mehra & Ors., this Court
noted that new techniques and devices are the
order of the day. Audio and video tape
technology has emerged as a powerful medium
through which a first hand information can be
gathered and can be crucial evidence.
Learned Additional Solicitor General has also
drawn our attention to the Field Officers'
Handbook issued by the Narcotics Control
Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of
India, inter-alia, suggesting that logistic support
be provided to the search teams. It further
suggests that all recovery and concealment
methods should be videographed
simultaneously. The said handbook 3 also
suggests that permission should be taken under
Section 52A of the Narcotic Drugs and
Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 for pretrial
disposal of the contraband. Further, reference
2
has been made to the Narcotic Drugs and
Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2016
moved by a private member in the Lok Sabha.
He submits that in his view such Bill will advance
the interests of justice and he will advice the
Government of India to consider and oversee
adoption for these measures in the Country by
investigating agencies.
Mr. A.I. Cheema, learned Amicus points out that
Second Proviso to Section 54A of the Cr.P.C.
provides for videography of identification
process in circumstances specified in the said
provision. He also stated that there should be
videography of confessional statement under
Section 164 Cr.P.C. He states that such measures
can also be adopted for recording dying
declarations, identification processes and the
post-mortem.
Since, we find that at the ground level these
measures have not been fully adopted, we direct
the Home Secretary, Government of India to
ascertain from different Investigating Agencies
to how far such measures can be adopted and
what further steps be taken to make use of
above technology for effective investigation and
crime prevention.”
2. Thereafter, in the order dated 12th October, 2017
consideration of the matter was as follows:
“Mr. A.N.S. Nadkarni, learned Additional Solicitor
General, has filed a note stating that the matter
was discussed by the Union Home Secretary with
the Chief Secretaries of the States. A decision
was taken to constitute a Committee of Experts
(COE) to facilitate and prepare a report to
formulate a road-map for use of videography in
crime investigation and to propose a Standard
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Operating Procedure (SOP). The Committee has
held its meetings. The response of the States is
in support of use of videography. The Central
Investigation Agencies have also supported the
said concept. However, certain reservations have
been expressed in the implementation such as
funding, securing the data and storage of the
same. It has also been submitted that the
production and admissibility of evidence are also
issues which may need to be addressed.
We had requested Mr. Jayant Bhushan, learned
senior counsel, to assist the court who has also
submitted a note to the effect that videography
will be a beneficial step for effective prosecution
subject to the issue of admissibility being
resolved to make the use of videography
compatible and useful. He also submitted that
the direction ought to be issued for use of
videography in investigation and such use be
made mandatory.
We have also requested Mr. Arun Mohan, learned
senior counsel, present in the Court, to assist the
Court on the subject as amicus. He submitted
that equipments which may be useful for
scientific investigation have been suggested in
certain publications on the subject. A copy each
of the said 3 publications has been furnished to
Mr. Nadkarni so that the same can be considered
by the Committee of Experts. He submitted that
still photography may be more useful as it
enables much higher resolution for forensic
analysis. Digital camera can be placed on a
mount on a tripod which may enable rotation
and tilting. Secured portals may be established
to which Investigation Officer can e-mail
photographs taken at the crime scene. To give
authenticity and prevent manipulation, digital
images can be retained on State’s server as
permanent record. The State server can re-mail
the digital files back to the police station for
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further use. Special cameras may be selected by
the BPR&D. Till this is done, smart-phones can
also be used. BPR&D may prepare a guidance
manual for the Investigation Officers for crime
scene photography and video recording of
statements of witnesses. He stated that a further
note on the subject may be submitted by him.”
3. In order dated 30th January, 2018 it was observed:
“(3) We have been taken through certain decisions
which may be referred to. In Ram Singh and Others
v. Col. Ram Singh, 1985 (Supp) SCC 611, a ThreeJudge
Bench considered the said issue. English
Judgments in R. v. Maqsud Ali, (1965) 2 All ER 464,
and R. v. Robson, (1972) 2 ALL ER 699, and American
Law as noted in American Jurisprudence 2d (Vol.29)
page 494, were cited with approval to the effect that
it will be wrong to deny to the law of evidence
advantages to be gained by new techniques and new
devices, provided the accuracy of the recording can
be proved. Such evidence should always be regarded
with some caution and assessed in the light of all the
circumstances of each case. Electronic evidence was
held to be admissible subject to safeguards adopted
by the Court about the authenticity of the same. In
the case of tape-recording it was observed that voice
of the speaker must be duly identified, accuracy of
the statement was required to be proved by the
maker of the record, possibility of tampering 5 was
required to be ruled out. Reliability of the piece of
evidence is certainly a matter to be determined in
the facts and circumstances of a fact situation.
However, threshold admissibility of an electronic
evidence cannot be ruled out on any technicality if
the same was relevant.
(4) In Tukaram S. Dighole v. Manikrao Shivaji Kokate,
(2010) 4 SCC 329, the same principle was reiterated.
This Court observed that new techniques and
devices are order of the day. Though such devices
are susceptible to tampering, no exhaustive rule
could be laid down by which the admission of such
evidence may be judged. Standard of proof of its
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authenticity and accuracy has to be more stringent
than other documentary evidence.
 (5) In Tomaso Bruno and Anr. v. State of Uttar
Pradesh, (2015) 7 SCC 178, a Three-Judge Bench
observed that advancement of information
technology and scientific temper must pervade the
method of investigation. Electronic evidence was
relevant to establish facts. Scientific and electronic
evidence can be a great help to an investigating
agency. Reference was made to the decisions of this
Court in Mohd. Ajmal Amir Kasab v. State of
Maharashtra, (2012) 9 SCC 1 and State (NCT of
Delhi) v. Navjot Sandhu, (2005) 11 SCC 600.”
4. On the issue of interpretation of Section 65B(4) of the
Evidence Act with regard to the admissibility of the electronic
evidence it was observed :
“12. Accordingly, we clarify the legal position on
the subject on the admissibility of the electronic
evidence, especially by a party who is not in
possession of device from which the document is
produced. Such party cannot be required to
produce certificate under Section 65B(4) of the
Evidence Act. The applicability of requirement of
certificate being procedural can be relaxed by
Court wherever interest of justice so justifies.
13. To consider the remaining aspects,
including finalization of the road-map for use of
the videography in the crime scene and the
Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), we adjourn
the matter to 13
th
 February, 2018.”
5. We have now taken up the issue for further consideration.
An affidavit dated 21st March, 2018 has been filed by the Director,
6
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) annexing thereto Report of the
Committee constituted by the MHA about use of videography in
police investigation dated 22nd November, 2017. The Committee
considered various issues including the present infrastructure and
usage, concerns/problems raised by various States for use of
videography during investigations, admissibility of electronic
evidence in absence of a certificate under Section 65B(4) of the
Evidence Act, operational difficulties, lack of training, funding,
forensic facilities. The Committee observed that though crime
scene videography was a “desirable and acceptable best
practice”, the mandatory videography required major issues
being addressed. Videography may be done on “Best Effort”
basis. The timeline should be different for different States and
the Central Investigating Agencies. The Committee suggested
two alternative timelines. The second option i.e. Option-B
suggested by the Committee is as follows:
“7.3 Option-B: Centrally Driven Plan of Action:
The second approach suggested is for
implementation of the directions in a phased
manner with milestone based review
mechanism.
7
a. Phase-I: Three Months: Concept,
Circulation and Preparation.
* The concept for videography of the
recommended categories of tasks,
preparations for pilot project launch in
i)Cities of 50 lakhs population or
more; and, ii)at least one district of
every remaining State/Union Territory;
within three months of the orders of
the Hon’ble Supreme Court. In the
selected district(s), at least five police
stations may be identified for
implementation of the scheme on
best effort basis as a pilot project
* Capacity Building by organizing
training programme for personnel in
the police station on the Videography
Techniques for them to be qualified as
the Trained Police Videographer by
the end of three months. Each
selected Police Station should identify
personnel for Trained Police
Videographer qualification, at the rate
of two (2) Trained Police Videographer
for every 25 heinous/grave crime
cases reported in that police station
in a year.
* Selected Districts be
enabled/provided finances to procure
the equipment required for use by the
Trained Police Videographer.
* A representative of the FSL trained in
handling digital evidences should be
identified by each of the states to
mentor and hand hold the Pilot
Project implementation district
Trained Police Videographers. Where
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FSL has no resources to offer, the
SP/DCP of the concerned district
should be authorized to hire a private
technical person proficient in digital
imaging and back-up technologies to
handhold/mentor the Trained Police
Videographers.
* Preparation of Trainer Police
Videographer Training Modules and
Training of Trainers courses by
BPR&D/CDTS/State Police Academies.
b. Phase-II: Six Months: Pilot Project
Implementation
* After the three months of Concept,
Circulation and Preparation stage, the
pilot project should be launched in the
selected police stations of the
shortlisted Districts of the States.
* The concerned District
Superintendent of Police / Deputy
Commissioner of Police, shall
designate an officer of the rank of
Deputy Superintendent of
Police/Assistant Commissioner of
Police, to supervise the
implementation of the Pilot Project
and to chronicle the Pilot
implementation. Any implementation
issues shall immediately be flagged
and brought to the notice of the SP /
DCP concerned. The officer
designated will be responsible for the
uninterrupted implementation of the
Pilot.
* Launch of Trained Police Videographer
Training Programmes/ Training of
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Trainer Course by BPR&D/CDTS/ State
Police Academies.
c. Phase-III: Three Months: Pilot
Implementation Review
* The Phase –II Pilot implementation
should be reviewed by an
independent consultant and,
suggestions for seamless
implementation on a wider scale
should be prepared.
* The report of the independent
consultant to be considered by MHA
and select group of officers regarding
Pilot implementation and review
report preparation.
* The review and findings by MHA to be
placed before the Hon’ble Supreme
Court for incorporating necessary
changes as required regarding the
Videography during Investigation and
obtain necessary instructions.
* During this phase, each state should
prepare detailed plans for the launch
of the next phase of Videography in
Investigations project extending it to
i) all cities with a population of 10
lakhs and more; b) in all districts with
a population of 20 lakhs and more,
during Phase-IV.
* A representative of the FSL trained in
handling digital evidences should be
identified for each of the new unit to
mentor and hand hold the district
Trained Police Videographers, where
roll out is proposed in Phase-IV.
Where FSL has no resources to offer,
10
the SP/DCP of the concerned district
should be authorized to hire a private
technical person proficient in digital
imaging and back-up technologies to
handhold/mentor the Trained Police
Videographers.
* Each state to submit plans for
strengthening the Forensic Sciences
Laboratories for handling increased
Cyber Forensics/Digital Media analysis
units. MHA to consider the
requirements for this purpose under
the MPF scheme.
* During Phase-III, the Pilot
implementation districts/cities will
continue with the Videography in
Investigations project and extend
them to all their Police Stations.
d. Phase-IV: One Year: Coverage
extension from Pilot Implementation
* Implementation of the Videography in
Investigations project to Cities of 10+
lakhs population/Districts of 20+
lakhs population identified during
Phase-III.
* During this phase, each state should
prepare detailed plans for the launch
of the Videography in Investigations
project in all remaining districts/cities,
which were not covered during Pilot
Phase (Phase-II) and Phase-III.
* A representative of the FSL trained in
handling digital evidences should be
identified for each of the remaining
units to mentor and hand hold the
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district Trained Police Videographers,
where roll out is proposed in Phase-V.
Where FSL has no resources to offer,
the SP/DCP of the concerned district
should be authorized to hire a private
technical person proficient in digital
imaging and back-up technologies to
handhold/mentor the Trained Police
Videographers.
* MHA to work on extending the
financial support for implementation
of the project for remaining cities and
districts during Phase-V.
e. Phase-V: One Year: Coverage
extension to remaining Cities and Districts
* Implementation of the Videography in
Investigations project in all remaining
districts and cities.
* Review of Phase-IV implementation
learning based on independent
consultant’s report by MHA and
submission of status report to the
Supreme Court for
modifications/suggestions for
improvement of the Videography in
Investigations project.”
6. Apart from above, the Committee suggested that a group of
experts may be set up at the level of Government of India
comprising:
(i) One head of Central Investigation agencies (CBI,
NIA, NCB) as Chairperson;
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(ii) One head of State Police;
(iii) One head of CFSL or Senior Forensic Scientist with
expertise in the area;
(iv) A Senior Legal Professional (LA of CBI or NIA or
comparable from Ministry of Law); and
(v) A senior representative from MHA as members.
7. The group should have the freedom to co-opt members and
private experts. The group could periodically issue
guidelines/advisories. It is further suggested that each State
Police and the Central Investigating Agency may create a Steering
Committee under HOPF/Head of CPO within the organization to
spearhead this drive. Each State Police/Central Investigating
Agency may also designate a senior officer in the rank of IG/ADG
as Nodal Officer for spearheading the massive expansion of
photography and videography in investigation. Such an officer
should be given authority/responsibility to review the progress at
periodic intervals and take/propose necessary measures.
13
8. After considering the report of the Committee, the MHA
prepared an action plan on the use of videography in the police
investigation stipulating capacity building in terms of training,
equipment, forensic facilities, a scheme for requisite funds,
preparation of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). For this
purpose, the timeline suggested is as follows:
“All Central Agencies will be asked to
prepare and submit Annual Action Plan on
“photography and videography in
Investigation for 2018 within three months.
The Ministry will scrutinize the plans and
prepare a consolidated requirement and
send a formal proposal/scheme to the
Ministry of Finance for concurrence and
obtaining budget within two months from
the finalization/approval of the
consolidated action plan, insofar as Central
Agencies are concerned.
Efforts will be made to obtain the budget
from Ministry of Finance within the financial
year 2018-19.
Similar action will have to be taken by
States/UTs with respect to their forces.”
9. We are in agreement with the Report of the Committee of
Experts that videography of crime scene during investigation is of
immense value in improving administration of criminal justice. A
14
Constitution Bench of this Court in Karnail Singh versus State
of Haryana (2009) 8 SCC 539 noted that technology is an
important part in the system of police administration1
. It has also
been noted in the decisions quoted in the earlier part of this order
that new techniques and devices have evidentiary advantages,
subject to the safeguards to be adopted. Such techniques and
devices are the order of the day. Technology is a great tool in
investigation2
. By the videography, crucial evidence can be
captured and presented in a credible manner.
10. Thus, we are of the considered view that notwithstanding the
fact that as of now investigating agencies in India are not fully
equipped and prepared for the use of videography, the time is
ripe that steps are taken to introduce videography in
investigation, particularly for crime scene as desirable and
acceptable best practice as suggested by the Committee of the
MHA to strengthen the Rule of Law. We approve the Centrally
Driven Plan of Action prepared by the Committee and the timeline
1 Para 34 – (2009) 8 SCC 539
2 Ram Singh and Ors. vs. Col. Ram Singh 1985(Supp) SCC 611, R. vs. Maqsud Ali
(1965) 2 All ER 464, R vs. Robson (1972) 2 All ER 699, Tukaram S. Dighole vs.
Manikrao Shivaji Kokate (2010) 4 SCC 329, Tomaso Bruno and anr. vs. State of
Uttar Pradesh (2015) 7 SCC 178, Mohd. Ajmal Amir Kasab vs. State of Maharashtra
(2012) 9 SCC 1 and State (NCT of Delhi) vs. Navjot Sandhu (2005) 11 SCC 600.
15
as mentioned above. Let the consequential steps for
implementation thereof be taken at the earliest.
11. We direct that with a view to implement the Plan of Action
prepared by the Committee, a Central Oversight Body (COB) be
set up by the MHA forthwith. The COB may issue directions from
time to time. Suggestions of the Committee in its report may
also be kept in mind. The COB will be responsible for further
planning and implementation of use of videography. We direct
the Central Government to give full support to the COB and place
necessary funds at its disposal. We also direct that the COB may
issue appropriate directions so as to ensure that use of
videography becomes a reality in a phased manner and in first
phase of implementation by 15th July, 2018 crime scene
videography must be introduced at least at some places as per
viability and priority determined by the COB.
12. We place on record the suggestion of the learned amicus
that funding for this project may be initially by the Centre to the
extent possible and a central server may be set up. These
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suggestions may be considered by the COB. We also note that
law and order is a State subject.
13. We may also refer to a connected issue already dealt with by
this Court in D.K. Basu versus State of West Bengal and
ors. (2015) 8 SCC 744. This Court directed that with a view to
check human rights abuse CCTV cameras be installed in all police
stations as well as in prisons. There is need for a further
direction that in every State an oversight mechanism be created
whereby an independent committee can study the CCTV camera
footages and periodically publish report of its observations. Let
the COB issue appropriate instructions in this regard at the
earliest. The COB may also compile information as to compliance
of such instructions in the next three months and give a report to
this Court.
14. Compliance of above directions may be ensured by the
Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs in the Central Government as
well as Home Secretaries of all the State Governments.
15. An affidavit of progress achieved may be filed by the
Oversight Body on or before 31st July, 2018.
17
 Put up the matter for further consideration on 1st August,
2018.
…………………………………..J.
[Adarsh Kumar Goel]
…………………………………..J.
[Rohinton Fali Nariman]
New Delhi;
3
rd April, 2018.
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