Delay in conducting an identification parade of the accused in a case need not necessarily mean that it should be rejected as evidence,the Bombay High Court ruled recently.
The observation was made by Justice R C Chavan while hearing appeals of seven persons who were convicted under charges including dacoity,impersonation of public servants and wrongful confinement.
According to the case of the prosecution,the incident occurred in July 2005,when the seven accused entered the house of one Gaurang Shah pretending to be Income Tax officers. Upon entering the house,the accused allegedly took out their weapons and forcefully tied all the family members at various places in the house. They later left the house after taking cash and jewellery belonging to the family. The accused were arrested more than a year after the incident and were subsequently sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment by the Additional Sessions Judge,Sewree.
During the hearing before the High Court,the appellants argued that as the test identification parade was conducted more than a year after the incident and also much time after they were arrested,the evidence leading from it should be rejected.
Rejecting the contentions,Justice Chavan said,There can be no doubt that test identification parades have to be held promptly after the arrest of the accused persons… However,the question about reliability of identification is in the realm of appreciation of evidence and therefore,they can be no rule about acceptance or rejection of the evidence. This is so because if miscreants in a serious crime successfully evade arrest for a year or longer and they have to be acquitted only because of passage of time,serious crime will go unpunished.
While the judge acquitted one of the accused,Sajid Momin,on account of lack evidence,it upheld the sentence of rigorous imprisonment for seven years for the remaining six accused.