TEST IDENTIFICATION PARADE
Test identification parade of the accused is provided under Section 54A of the Code of Criminal Procedure which was added by Amendment of 2005. This provision enables the police officer in charge of the police station to seek the court’s permission to direct the person arrested for committing an offence to subject himself to identification by any person or persons in such a manner as the court thinks fit. The evidence of test identification parade is taken under Section 9 of Evidence Act.
Test Identification parade-Necessity: Such test is conducted to test the veracity of the witness and his capacity to indentify the unknown persons. Test Identification Parade is primarily meant for the investigation purposes. Supreme Court in Ramanathan v. State of Tamil Nadu, AIR 1978 SC 1201, has held that the purpose of test identification parade is to find out whether the accused is the perpetrator of the crime or not. If the name of the offender is not mentioned by the eye-witnesses then in such circumstances such evidence becomes more important. In Ram Babu v. State of U.P, AIR 2010 SC 2143, Supreme Court held that purpose of test identification parade is to test credibility and trustworthiness of the evidence of the witness in court. Supreme Court in Hare Kishan Singh v. State of Bihar, AIR 1988 SC 863, held where one of the witnesses failed to identify the accused at the identification parade, identification by him of the accused in the court is useless. In Har Nath Singh v. State of M.P., AIR 1970 SC 1619 Supreme Court observed that TIP serves two purposes (i) to satisfy the investigating authorities that certain person not previously known to witness was involved in the offence and (ii) to furnish evidence to corroborate the testimony which the witness concerned tenders before the court.
Whether holding of TIP is essential? Test identification parade is not necessary where all the witnesses state that they otherwise know accused persons and they are not strangers to them and they clearly identified them [State of U.P. v. Sukhpal Singh, AIR 2009 SC 1733, Dana Yadav v. State of Bihar, AIR 2002 SC 3325]. In R. Shahji v. State of Kerala, AIR 2013 SC 651, Supreme Court held that where witnesses were acquainted with the accused and the incident was also widely covered by media, holding of test identification parade was not essential.
Evidentiary value of TIP: The evidence of test identification parade is not substantial piece of evidence but only has a corroborative value. In Heera v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 2007 SC 2425, Supreme Court held that the identification parades belong to the stage of investigation. They do not constitute substantive evidence. In George v. State of Kerala, AIR 1998 SC 1376, the court held that TIP corroborates the testimony of the witness and the identification of the accused.
Delay in holding TIP: Efforts should be made to ensure that TIP is conducted as soon as possible so as to eliminate the possibility of fabrication of evidence, however, delay in holding TIP is not fatal if it is satisfactorily explained by the prosecution. [Md. Kalam v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 2008 SC 1813]. The court may even base the conviction of the accused on the sole ground of such identification if there is no inordinate delay in holding such test identification and it is conducted with due care and caution.
Precaution and Procedure to be adopted: It is necessary to conduct test identification parade with proper precaution to rely upon such evidence. The following precautions must be taken while conducting such test:
1. It must be conducted in the supervision of Magistrate who shall ensure that the identification is conducted in proper manner.
2. No police officer should be present at the time when parade is conducted.
3. It must be conducted as soon as possible after the accused is arrested so that the memory of witnesses does not fade with time.
Procedure: Generally, the accused is lined up with other persons or dummies of same features. The ratio of dummies should be 1:4 or 1:6 per accused. Out of these the witnesses will have to identify the accused without any aid or support. If the test is conducted after taking due care and precaution, its reliability is increased and it can be used by investigating agency to establish the identity of the accused.