NECESSITY OF VIDEO RECORDING UNDER SECTION 161 OF CrPC
Author: Aaradhya Shrivastava, School of Law Jagran Lakecity University, Bhopal
Video Recording of a statement by the police officer means recording the statement of the eye-witness or any other witness by the police so as to avoid confusion later in time. Video recording is very important as it makes things quite easy. It plays an even more important role when it is used in heinous crime such as rape, assault, and murder. It will also help in saving the time of the court and speed up trails.
* PROVISIONS OF SECTION 161 OF CrPC
161. Examination of witnesses by police.
(1) Any police officer making an investigation under this Chapter, or any police officer not below such rank as the State Government may, by general or special order, prescribe in this behalf, acting on the requisition of such officer, may examine orally any person supposed to be acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case.
(2) Such person shall be bound to answer truly all questions relating to such case put to him by such officer, other than questions the answers to which would have a tendency to expose him to a criminal charge or to a penalty or forfeiture.
(3) The police officer may reduce into writing any statement made to him in the course of an examination under this section; and if he does so, he shall make a separate and true record of the statement of each such person whose statement he records.
According to this section, any police officer during an investigation may examine any person orally who is acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case. The person who is so examined is bound to answer truly all questions relating to such case asked by the police officer. The police officer if he wants to may reduce into writing any statement made to him in the course of an examination under this section.
Who can be called to give a statement to the police station?
Any person who is either the eye-witness or any other witness, in any case, can be called by the police officer who is investing the case to give their statement regarding the case within 24 hours after the F.I.R. The person so-called has to go to the police station after he is being called. But no male person who is under the age of 15 years and above the age of 65 years can be called by the police to give his statement. Also, no women can be called to give her statement to the police station. In any of the above-mentioned cases, the investing officer (the officer who is investing the case) has to go the place at which the witness is residing to take their the statement. The state government in all cases has to provide the witnesses who are coming to the police station with all the necessary expenses incurred by them in reaching the police station. The witnesses in all cases have to co-operate with the officers while giving their statements.
- When was Section 161 amended?
The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill 2008 was originally introduced in 2006. It was then referred to the committee of Home Affairs for a recommendation. After the recommendation, the bill was finally introduced in the RajyaSabha on 18th December 2008 and received President’s assent on 7th January 2009 and therefore became The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) 2008.
Salient features of the Act:-
There are several features that were added in the act after the amendment. Some of them are,
- The scope for the definition of the victim has been amended so as to include the victim’s guardian or legal heir in the definition itself.
- Referring to amendment in Sec.24, now the court may permit the victim to engage an advocate of his choice to assist the prosecution under this subsection.
- The proceedings for sexual offences are now required to be held, as far as practicable by a court presided over by a woman.
- The provision under Section 161 examination of witnesses by police of the CrPC was also amended with effect from December 21, 2009, and it has been brought in the statute book that statements under section 161 CrPC may be recorded by audio-visual means as contemplated in the provision to sub-section 3.
Again in 2010 the Code of Criminal Procedure bill was put forward in the Parliament by the then Home Minister P. Chidambaram. However this time no changes were made to Section 161.
- Is it important to record statements visually?
Video recording is very important as it makes things quite easy. It plays an even more important role when it is used in heinous crime such as rape, assault, and murder. Video recording the interrogation of the rape suspects will allow the court to take into account their demeanor. It will also provide an objective account to help the court decide on allegations that may arise over how the interview was conducted. With the help of video recording, there would be no need to record a handwritten statement immediately at the crime scene where a suspect is arrested. Video recording will reduce the instances of false confessions only if it captures the entire interactions between investigators and suspects. It will also help in saving the time of the court and speed up trails, particularly in cases of rape and murder where it is necessary to give the judgment as early as possible. Traditionally, the witness makes an initial police statement and they may give more statements before giving evidence in person in court. This process used to waste a lot of time. With this system coming into force it is also hoped that if witnessed could record their statement immediately after an incident, it would be fresher in their memories and avoid them having to turn up at court on numerous occasions while waiting for a trail to progress. It also poses a challenge that if threats, inducements, and promises were offered before the video-recording, that would defeat its purpose.
- Who can record the statement?
The police officer who is investing that case is called the “Investigating Officer”. He has the right to record the statement of the witness and victim. In all cases which do not belong to the category of rape, murder, and assault. Investigating Officers may be any police officers. But in the case of rape, murder or assault only the officer which is of the rank of D.S.P or above can record the statement of the victim and witness.
Video-recording is very important as it increases the speed of trials and also will reduce the instances of false confessions by the witnesses. It also makes the work a bit easier for everyone. It is also very effective in cases of rape, murder, and assault.