WHAT IS TEST INDENTIFICATION PARADE

 ‘INTRODUCTION -Where the court needs to establish the identity of certain persons and things then every fact that assists the court in doing the same becomes relevant. Characteristics such as height, weight, body, facial structure, complexion, distinctive marks are relevant. The investigating agencies use various methods in this process. These methods include DNA profiling, skull superimposition technique, fingerprints and footprints and the most popular Test Identification Parade

Purpose 

The Test Identification Parades are held at the instance of the investigating agency. Its purpose is to ascertain the veracity of the witness claiming to have seen the accused at the time of the offence. In the case of State of Maharashtra v Suresh it was observed that “The object of conducting a Test Identification Parade is two fold. First is to enable the witness to satisfy themselves that the prisoner whom they suspect is really the one who was seen by them during the commission of the crime. Second is to satisfy the investigating authorities that the prisoner whom they suspect is the one that the witness has seen.” It also strengthens the evidence of prosecution as to corroborate dock identification. It is a very useful tool in the investigation and guides the police. It is an important part of the investigation for the prosecution as well as accused. It is significant for the prosecution since the skipping of TIP will make dock identification inherently. So is it for the accused, as if the witness doesn’t identify it will be fatal to the prosecution.

 

  • Procedure 

    • The officer in charge has to seek permission from the Magistrate for conducting TIP. It is conducted in the jail premises after the permission of the Court.
    • A letter is sent to the jail authorities to do the arrangement for the TIP and decide a specific date for it. It has to be conducted by the Magistrate, who also chooses two witnesses for the process. These witnesses are known as Panchas.
    • The jail authorities have to select six dummy persons in which the accused is to be mixed. These six dummies should be identical in body and facial structure. All of them are then made to stand in a line.
    • The accused is to be given the liberty to stand at the position he wants and no police officers can be present in the same room. As soon as the arrangement is complete, the the witness has to identify the accused amongst the dummies by touching him.
    • The Magistrate has to prepare a report distinctively mentioning the demeanours, time taken and reason given by the identifying witness. The report is to be forwarded to the court.

    Precautions to be undertaken

    There is no invariable rule as to how many accused can be the part of the same Test Identification Parade but ordinarily, a maximum of two accused are used in the same parade. In the case of two accused it would mean a total of fourteen people which includes two accused and twelve dummies. The identifying witness is to identify the accused without any support. So if among all the prisoners lined up the accused is kept in fetters, such identification will not be valid. Also, the jail authorities have to keep a separate set of clothes if the accused wants to change. The jail authorities have to ensure that there is a wall between the identifying witness and accused before the TIP. In the case if there are more than one identifying witness, as soon as one witness has been through the parade, he/she should not be allowed to interact with the other witness. If in any case a police officer is present within the same room in which TIP is conducted, it would be governed by the sec 162 of The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and such identification will lose its evidentiary value and can put the whole investigation under doubt.

    Exceptional procedures 

    It can also be conducted through photograph, sketch and even by voice of the suspect in certain exceptional cases where the identifying witness might be blind. It was held in Dola alias Dolagobinda Pradhan v State of Odisha that the identification from voice may be possible if there is evidence to show that witness was sufficiently acquainted with the accused in order to recognize him or her voice, however, the evidentiary value of voice identification would be very fragile unless it could be shown the witness was well aware of the accused’s voice and supported by circumstances.

    Rights of the accused 

    The process has to be conducted as soon as possible after the arrest. It is done to ensure that his face is not shown to the identifying witness. If in any case, his face is shown before the TIP, he can provide this information to the Magistrate conducting the process and that is to be mentioned in the report. However, in Murarilal Jeyaram Sharma v. State of Maharashtra, the officer investigating the case kept on writing to the Magistrate for permission but it led to a delay of two months since he was busy in court duties yet the TIP was held to be valid. The accused cannot demand to be subjected to TIP as a matter of right since there is no provision in Cr.P.C for it. However it was held in Tek Chand v. State, ordinarily in such a situation TIP should be conducted to ensure the validity of the defence of the accused. On the contrary, if the accused is not co-operating in the process, the officer in charge can write to the Magistrate to direct the accused under sec 54A of The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. This can also be used to draw a negative inference against the accused.

    Evidentiary value 

    It is a weak piece of evidence and only a prima facie proof with corroborative value. The court while appreciating such evidence has to keep the circumstances in consideration. Factors such as whether the witness had sufficient time and the lighting at the place of offence are relevant. The weight of such evidence depends upon the reliability of the witness. Where the only evidence against the accused person is identification by one witness, as a rule of prudence it should not be considered sufficient enough to secure a conviction. The value can vary depending upon the reliability of the witness. The Supreme Court also held that where the eye-witness could not identify the accused but identified him at TIP, such evidence is farce evidence.

     

    Conclusion 

    A test such as TIP is a very important part of the investigation to ascertain that it is in the right direction. It might be only of corroborative value but it is important along with the identification done in the court. It has its own disadvantages just like any other process and if not done meticulously might change the direction of the case and thwart the course of justice. The guidelines to police officers can be made more stricter to ensure the manner in which it is conducted is righteous and fair. This hundred-year-old procedure can be strengthened with slight reforms and strict guidelines to assist the courts in expeditious trial and in the pursuit of truth.

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