Time for re-examination of power under section 160 CRPC 1973

The first major case law on the powers of investigation agencies under section 160crpc. was Nandani Satpathi case where it was laid down that like accused ,witness to have power to remain silent during the process of investigation and the investigation agencies cannot force the personal appearance of anyone just because they believe the called person to be acquainted with the facts and circumstances, however the ratio laid down in that case has been subsequently diluted in followed up cases having the similar circumstances.

The important question is ,does this section need to reinterpreted in the changed set of investigation agencies which operate at national level, meaning thereby that there jurisdiction extends to whole country unlike normal police station whose territorial jurisdiction is limited.

At earlier times we had few national level investigation agencies monitored by central government like CBI but with time with the changing nature of crimes and there complex nature because of transactions especially in white collar crimes like under PMLA act or where the task is given to agencies like NIA, the challenge is very big for these agencies involved.

Looking from the other angle of the person who is being called under section 160crpc,one must take note of failure to comply with summons attract penal consequences but what need to be seen here the inconvenience which is caused to witnesses who may be resident of some remote place being called and he will be forced to come at the appointed date and time and thereafter also at the sweet wish of investigation agencies as they feel it to be required. Now the important point to be seen here is, can the use of modern video conferencing facilities can be arranged at local court or police station from where these investigation agencies can interrogation or can't it be written reply from the witness sufficient or in a case where the investigation agencies need to counter him/her with collected evidences, can't it be done via electronic medium because his reply will be documented unlike oral reply which the person can retract at later point of time.

Evidence law fully support the electronic data and even court take the testimony by electronic medium in case with special reason so why it can't be done at the stage of investigation when it is done by agencies of national jurisdiction speeding the process and also upholding the procedures of investigation under criminal law.

 

ROHIT GUPTA 
on 12 September 2017
Published in Others
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