Considering the instances of witnesses turning hostile, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court has suggested audio / video recording of statements of the witnesses in criminal cases.
A bench, comprising Justices S Vaidyanathan and N Anand Venkatesh, observed that instances of criminal cases enduing up in acquittals with witnesses turning hostile was on the rise.
The bench has also asked for inputs from the Police Department and bar associations to assist the court in issuing directions in this regard.
They opined that recording the examination of witnesses by police using audio / video means will make it easier for the prosecution to confront witnesses before the court when the witness retracts from the earlier statement, and turns hostile.
While some provisions were added to Sections 161 and 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code in December 2009, allowing the police to record statements of witnesses using electronic means, this has remained on paper for the past ten years, the judges remarked.
The judges further pointed out that until a semblance of deterrence is brought into the minds of witnesses, the instances of witnesses turning hostile is only going to continue and acquittals will increase, ultimately ending up in a breakdown of the criminal justice system.
They have sought the presence of a higher level police officer if possible, before them, to help them understand the viability of implementing the idea.
While inviting bar associations of the High Court to assist the court in the matter, the bench adjourned the case to November 13.
The court made these observations while hearing a batch of criminal appeals filed by three persons in 2017.