Recorded testimony, video conferences not factors for fair trial: Delhi HC

NEW DELHI | Updated: 25 December, 2023 3:56 pm IST
Delhi High Court

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court noted that video-conferencing and recorded witness testimony cannot be mooted as a deprivation of fair trial to the accused.

The HC noted the disposition in “today’s technological era” while hearing a petition filed by two accused, Vinod Kumar and Rajesh Kumar, in connection with the gangrape of a 23-year-old US citizen. They had demanded her physical presence in front of the court during the trial.

“The victim in this case is a material witness and the two-way video-conferencing facility is capable of preserving, adhering and following all the crucial elements of a fair criminal trial. The issue of vulnerability of the witness cannot be clouded by the argument of the learned counsel for the accused that it was the right of the accused to cross-examine the witness effectively which will be possible only in a physical Court appearance,” the court noted in its order.

 

The HC further highlighted the trauma connected with the trauma of testifying in a sexual violation case for a foreign citizen in another country. “In this Court’s opinion, it is a sufficiently critical factor to justify the use of video conferencing facility instead of face-to-face confrontation. Two-way video conferencing assisted testimony is not adverse nor does it amount to a denial of the accused’s right to effective cross-examination. This Court also lays emphasis on the fact that the two-way video-conferencing facility and recording of testimony of the victim through the same will still have to be subjected to the traditional parameters of reliability and will be tested on the touchstone of credibility on the basis of cross-examination.”

The directive issued on December 22, is regarding a complaint received by the Delhi Police from the Himachal Pradesh Police. The US citizen had reached Dharamshala to lodge her complaint. Upon the case being transferred, the FIR was finally lodged at the Vasant Kunj North Police Station.

According to the case details, the survivor had arrived at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on May 15, 2019, where she had to take a flight to the HP winter capital. However, she missed the flight. Consequently, she met the two accused, who told her that they were taxi drivers.

Following which, she was taken to a hotel in Vasant Kunj North where the accused, Vinod and Rajesh, had allegedly gangraped her.

Her medical examination was conducted at Safdarjung Hospital. On 16 August 2019, the police had filed a chargesheet against the accused, following which a supplementary chargesheet was filed on September 1 in 2021.

On March 22, 2022 charges were framed against the accused. However, the victim could not be traced.

 

The Trial Court had directed the concerned DCP to explore the possibility of examining her through video-conferencing and had called for a report. The police tried to approach the victim through the External Affairs Ministry, but their calls were left unanswered, initially.
In November 2022, she was given a last chance by the court to appear either physically or by video conferencing. However, in April 2023, the accused were granted regular bail by the court.

Meanwhile, in September 2023 the victim joined the proceedings before the trial Court through video-conferencing and stated that she could testify through video-conferencing since she is a resident of Chicago, Illinois.

ALSO READ: CJI DY Chandrachud lauds sacrifice of Army soldiers during Christmas celebration

Also Read Story

BJP to form Farmer Producer Cell to boost agriculture in Uttar Pradesh

Kharge slams Modi Government for railway ‘negligence’ following Bengal train accident

Terrorist associated with LeT killed in Bandipora encounter

Rahul Gandhi to retain Rae Bareli, Priyanka Gandhi to contest from Wayanad