Taking note of their carelessness in dealing with case evidence,a Delhi court has pulled up the city police for unofficially procuring official seals used to protect seized property.
Additional Sessions Judge Narinder Kumar made the observation during trial in a drug seizure case,where two police officers admitted that they had gotten their seals made privately from the market rather than an authorised agency.
The point is that when these two police officers have got seals prepared from the market,there may be examples galore. No police officer is supposed to unofficially get any seal prepared from the market and use the same for official purpose. Seals must be prepared by the Head of Department and that too from some authorised source or agency, the ASJ said. The court noted that all the rules put in place to ensure that evidence is not tampered with would be defeated if policemen decided to get their own seals made from the market where they could be easily copied or duplicated by anyone.
In NDPS cases for instance,the court said the investigating officer hands over the brass seal,holding his initials,to another member of the police party or an independent witness to seal the parcels holding the seized contraband. The case property is then produced before the Station House Officer who affixes his own seal on the parcel. It is then deposited in the stations safe house or Malkhana before being sent for forensic testing.
In view of the above legal requirements… the process of sealing of the case property has its own sanctity. Consequently,the very seal which is used in sealing the parcel(s) has its own value. With such significance of process of sealing and the value attached to the seal,it becomes all the more important that the seal used is legally issued to the police officers, the judge said.
In the present case,the court noted that the seals used by both the IO and SHO were not officially issued to them. Both of them have admitted in their statements that they had got seals prepared on their own, the judge said. Though the judge ruled that prosecution was able to prove that there was no tampering of evidence,he said the police chief needed to take note of such practices.
With the sanctity and value attached to the process of affixing a seal,as mentioned above,the practice of getting seals prepared unofficially and that too from the market by police officers needs to be brought to the kind notice of the Delhi Commissioner of Police, the judge said.
The court said rules should be framed so that only one seal is issued to an officer by a station head and a proper record of its issuance should be kept. As and when the office joined another station,the judge said the seal should be returned and another one issued by the custodian of that station.