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Interrogation not possible by video conference: Punjab & Haryana High Court

Interrogation of accused is an indefeasible right of police to unearth the truth and doing the same via video conference will not serve the required purpose, the Punjab & Haryana High Court said on Monday.

A single-judge Bench of Justice Gurvinder Singh Gill observed that crucial aspects of an interrogation such as recording the subject’s demeanour and reading his psyche would not be possible over video conferencing.

“Interrogation of an accused, though possible through video conference, will lose much of its effectiveness when the accused is sitting far far away from the investigator/interrogator,” the Court observed.

It, therefore, refused gangster Lawrence Bishnoi’s prayer for an interrogation via video conferencing or in the alternative, within the confines of the prison he was lodged in.

Though courts have been resorting to video conferencing to conduct proceedings, an interrogation will lose its effectiveness over video conferencing, the Court observed.

Trained interrogators, the Court said, can pick up responses from physical cues such as blinking eyes, sighs, or feet movements and an investigator could not be deprived of its right to elicit information pertaining to commission of an offence.

“In the absence of such an interrogation, the police may never be able to tie loose ends together”, the Court added.

Bishnoi had sought interrogation through video conference contending that he was apprehensive of being killed in a police encounter “as was done in the case of Vikas Dubey by the Uttar Pradesh Police.”

While the Court did not accept his prayer for interrogation at his prison or a video conferencing interrogation, the Court agreed that he would have to be allowed protection. His additional prayer to be handcuffed was also accepted by the Court.

“It is directed that the petitioner shall be duly handcuffed and shackled during transit which would be helpful for the police as well as for the accused as the apprehension of the police that he may escape would be minimised and so also the apprehension of the petitioner as regards any false encounter,” the Court reasoned.

Accordingly, the Court directed that he brought to Chandigarh in bullet-proof or armoured vehicle duly escorted by armed trained commandos, armed with sophisticated arms and ammunition.

The case was accordingly disposed of.

Via Bar & Bench
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