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Recording of evidence through video conference : High Court of Calcutta

Recording of evidence through video conference : High Court of Calcutta

Safeguards to be followed by trial court for the purpose of recording of evidence of the witnesses through video conference, upheld by the High Court Of Calcutta, by the learned bench of Honourable Justice R.K. Bag, in the case of Sujay Mitra V. State of West Bengal, in CRR No. 1285 of 2015.

 

FACTS

A charge was framed against the present petitioner under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code on August 6, 2014 and the evidence of four prosecution witnesses was recorded by the trial court. On September 17, 2014 the trial court passed the order for examination of the victim Louise Florence (here in after only victim) as P.W.5 through video conference on the basis of prayer of the prosecution. The trial court fixed the date for examination of the victim through video conference on January 6, 2015. The trial court made detailed discussion about the pros and cons of recording of evidence of the victim through video conference in the order dated September 17, 2014, which has not been challenged by the petitioner before any higher forum. The evidence of the victim was not recorded through video conference on January 6, 2015 as she did not appear in the Embassy of India for the purpose of video conference. On January 21, 2015 the victim was examined in part through video conference charge was framed against the present petitioner under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code on August 6, 2014 and the evidence of four prosecution witnesses was recorded by the trial court. On September 17, 2014 the trial court passed the order for examination of the victim Louise Florence (here in after only victim) as P.W.5 through video conference on the basis of prayer of the prosecution. The trial court fixed the date for examination of the victim through video conference on January 6, 2015. The examination of the victim (P.W.5) was deferred till January 29, 2015 on prayer of the prosecution, but the Presiding Officer of the court was absent on January 29, 2015 and as such the next date for further examination of the victim (P.W.5) was fixed on February 18, 2015. On February 18, 2015 the petitioner moved an application before the trial court praying for adjournment of hearing on the ground that the petitioner would like to move before the High Court for recording of evidence of the victim (P.W.5) through video conference without following the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court.

JUDGEMENT

Learned Judge of the trial court directed to proceed with the recording of evidence of the victim Louise Florence (P.W.5) through video conference from the office of Indian Embassy in Ireland without granting any adjournment to either of the parties and by fixing the schedule of examination of the witnesses on day-to-day basis till conclusion of the trial court. However, Learned Judge of the trail court must follow the following safeguards for the purpose of recording of evidence of the witness through video conference: (i) The court must be satisfied about the identity of the witness giving evidence through video conference, (ii) The court will administer the oath to the witness before recording of the evidence, (iii) The witness must be examined during the working hours of the Indian Courts, (iv) The copy of the documents to be proved by the witness must be sent to the witness in advance, (v) The court must ensure that the witness is alone in the room of the Indian Embassy from where the witness is giving evidence through video conference, (vi) The court must record the demeanour of the witness which is relevant for the purpose of evaluation of evidence of the witness, (vii) The recording of evidence of the witness once started through video conference must be continued on day-to-day basis till completion of recording of evidence of the said witness, (viii) The trial court can impose any other condition to ensure smooth recording of evidence of the witness through video conference.

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Judgement reviewed by – Rani Banerjee

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