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The Apex Court has reiterated an existing principle of law in Criminal Appeal No. 1525 OF 2015, Shamser Singh Verma v/s State of Haryana that oral, conversations recorded on compact discs are to be considered as documents u/s 294 of CrPC and accordingly can be admitted or denied.

A bench of the Apex Court comprising of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice P.C. Pant has held that ;

“In view of the definition of ‘document’ in Evidence Act, and the law laid down by this Court, as discussed above, we hold that the compact disc is also a document. It is not necessary for the court to obtain admission or denial on a document under sub-section (1) to Section 294 CrPC personally from the accused or complainant or the witness. The endorsement of admission or denial made by the counsel for defence, on the document filed by the prosecution or on the application/report with which same is filed, is sufficient compliance of Section 294 CrPC. Similarly on a document filed by the defence, endorsement of admission or denial by the public prosecutor is sufficient and defence will have to prove the document if not admitted by the prosecution. In case it is admitted, it need not be formally proved, and can be read in evidence. In a complaint case such an endorsement can be made by the counsel for the complainant in respect of document filed by the defence”.

The concerned Appeal arose from the judgment of the Punjab & Haryana High Court confirming the order of the lower, rejecting the application of the Appellant for production of a compact disc which contained conversation among between Sandeep Verma (father of the victim) and Saurabh (son of the accused) and Meena Kumari (wife of the accused), which could bring the truth to light and show that the case against the Appellant is false and borne out property dispute.

The appellant has been accused of molestation and rape of the complainant’s nine year old niece and is charged under Section 354A and 276 of the Indian Penal Code as also under Sections 4/12 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2015.

The appellant argued that the accused has a right to adduce the evidence in defence and the courts below have erred in law in denying the right of defence.

On the other hand, the complainant contended that it is a case of sexual abuse of a female child aged nine years by his uncle, and the accused/appellant is trying to linger the trial.

The Bench held that the lowers courts had erred in not allowing the application of the defence to play the compact disc. “In our opinion, the courts below have erred in law in rejecting the application to play the compact disc in question to enable the public prosecutor to admit or deny, and to get it sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory, by the defence. The appellant is in jail and there appears to be no intention on his part to unnecessarily linger the trial, particularly when the prosecution witnesses have been examined,” the Bench observed.

by Partha Pati,

Partner, Abhay Nevagi and Associates, Pune