India Supreme Court orders inquiry into tutoring of witnesses by police News
© JURIST / Neelabh Bist
India Supreme Court orders inquiry into tutoring of witnesses by police

The Indian Supreme Court ordered Friday an inquiry over the tutoring of witnesses in a criminal case inside a police station. The court ordered the chief of police in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu to investigate and take action against the wrongdoers.

The court reviewed the evidence of the prosecution’s witnesses on an appeal against the appellants’ life sentences for murder. The key witnesses testified about an incident where the appellants allegedly assaulted the deceased. During cross-examination, however, it was revealed that these witnesses were coached by the police a day before their testimony was recorded in court. This led the court to conclude that their testimony was tainted and could not be considered reliable.

Additionally, independent witnesses were not called upon by the prosecution, casting further doubt on the case’s integrity. Consequently, the court acquitted the appellants, overturning the convictions. It also ordered an investigation into the police officers’ conduct for tutoring witnesses and emphasized the need for appropriate disciplinary action against them.

The court added:

One can reasonably imagine the effect of “teaching” the witnesses inside a Police Station. This is a blatant act by the police to tutor the material prosecution witnesses. All of them were interested witnesses. Their evidence will have to be discarded as there is a distinct possibility that the said witnesses were tutored by the police on the earlier day. This kind of interference by the Police with the judicial process, to say the least, is shocking. This amounts to gross misuse of power by the Police machinery. The Police cannot be allowed to tutor the prosecution witness.

Notably, Section 193 of the Indian Penal Code outlines the punishment for providing false evidence. It states that intentionally giving false evidence in a judicial proceeding or fabricating false evidence for use in any stage of such proceeding can result in imprisonment for up to seven years, along with a fine. Similarly, providing or fabricating false evidence in any other case can lead to imprisonment for up to three years, along with a fine.