Udumalpet Dalit murder DGP issues warning over publishing photographs of the accused
news Sunday, March 27, 2016 - 17:42

Days after Madras High Court pulled up police over the publication of a photograph of the accused in a murder case, the Tamil Nadu police chief on Sunday issued instructions that such instances should be "avoided strictly" and warned of disciplinary action against erring personnel.

In a circular issued in the wake of the publication in some newspapers of the photographs of five persons alleged to be involved in a suspected honour killing case in Udumalpet early this month, DGP Ashok Kumar said high court had taken a "serious" view of the publication of such photographs.

"The Hon'ble High Court had also observed that publishing photos of the accused in the media will hamper the test identification parade," he said.

Since the witnesses would have a chance to see the accused in the media before going for the test identification parade, that process "will not have much evidentiary value", the DGP pointed out.

Noting that certain investigating officers had exposed the identity of the accused to the media despite a circular advising against the same, the DGP said that "such exposure of accused or witnesses or other sensitive details to media will affect the investigation adversely".

"It should be avoided strictly... all the unit officers are instructed to strictly adhere to the instructions already issued in this regard and take necessary disciplinary action against the police personnel who expose the identity of the accused or witnesses," he said.

On March 16, high court had taken suo motu cognisance of the publication of the photographs of the accused in an alleged honour killing case despite past orders issued by it against such practice and sought an explanation from the state government in this regard.

The court had said "the photograph found in newspapers prima facie shows it was taken when the accused were in police custody. The accused were handcuffed behind. This court has said that should not be done. How this could come in newspapers?" it had asked.

The court also pointed to its earlier direction to the DGP seeking issuance of a circular to all police stations that it be ensured that no photographs of the accused are released to the media as it hampers the investigation and trial.

"Despite the direction to the police, the photographs of the accused were published in some newspapers," it observed.

Public Prosecutor Shanmughavelayutham had then informed that action would be taken if police personnel were found to be at fault. He had also said a new circular would be issued in this regard and copies circulated among the media.

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