LOSS OF evidence, including a police uniform damaged by termites, prompted a sessions court to recently acquit a 35-year-old man, booked 15 years ago on charges of endangering and obstructing a policeman.
The man was a 21-year-old medical student at the time of the incident in 2007, when he allegedly jumped a traffic signal.
He was stopped by a traffic policeman who demanded to see his licence but the accused allegedly continued to ride his bike, due to which the policeman’s hand got entangled in the iron rod on the rear seat, causing injuries to him.
Among the evidence collected by the police at the time of the incident was the uniform worn by the injured policeman, to show that it was torn in the incident. In April this year, the court was informed that the clothes were damaged by termites and hence were disposed of by the police station.
“From evidence of investigating officer, it is certain that from the year of the incident in 2007 till the filing of the letter (informing court about the damage to the clothes) in 2022, for 15 years, the investigating officer did not forward the clothes either before the Metropolitan Magistrate or before this court. It was at the fag end of the trial that police tried to search for the seized clothes and then informed that the clothes were damaged. In short, police were never serious about the seized clothes. They allowed the clothes to be damaged by termite. Whatever the case may be, absence of torn uniform further weakens the prosecution case,” the court said.
The court pointed out that there were other shortcomings in the evidence. It said that the injured policeman had deposed that the motorcycle rider dragged him for about 100 to 150 feet. The court said that as a police constable, the accused should be precise about units of distance. “He cannot claim meters in FIR and feet in the evidence. He is not a layman to make vague statements,” the court said, adding that the constable was “casual in his approach”.
The court added that medico-legal documents were not proved in court and hence it could not be concluded that the injuries were caused to the policeman. It also said that there was on independent witness and there was “exaggeration” by a police witness, with one claiming that the injured policeman was lying in a pool of blood when the policeman himself didn’t say that.
The accused was acquitted of charges including rash and negligent driving, using criminal force or assaulting a public servant and other charges of the Indian Penal Code and Motor Vehicles Act.