Orissa High Court Stresses Prosecution Must Present TIP Magistrate as Witness

Orissa High Court mandates prosecution to present TIP Magistrate as witness for fair trials. Justice Sangam Kumar Sahoo emphasizes importance in Baikuntha Bhoi & Anr. v. State of Odisha.

The Orissa High Court has emphasized that the prosecution must present the Magistrate who conducts Test Identification Parades (TIPs) as a prosecution witness. This is to ensure the authenticity of TIP reports and identify any irregularities, as stated by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Sangam Kumar Sahoo.

Justice Sahoo stressed the importance of the Magistrate's testimony for ensuring justice, stating, "Non-examination of the Magistrate strikes a severe blow not only to the prosecution case but also to the cause of justice." This remark came during a case involving four appellants charged under Section 395 (punishment for dacoity) of the IPC.

The appellants were accused of assaulting an informant and robbing him of cash and valuables. However, the Court noted that the charge under Section 395 requires the involvement of at least five persons, which wasn't established in this case. Consequently, the conviction under Section 395 was deemed unsustainable.

Additionally, the Court highlighted the importance of conducting TIPs only when the accused and witnesses are not previously acquainted. It cited previous judgments to support the view that omitting known accused from the FIR affects the prosecution's credibility. The Court stressed that if the accused are known, the purpose of a TIP is defeated.

In this case, the prosecution failed to examine the TIP Magistrate, a crucial omission according to Justice Sahoo. He explained that merely marking the TIP report isn't sufficient, as the Magistrate's testimony is needed to verify the procedures followed and address any potential lapses. The Court emphasized that if the Magistrate is unavailable, the trial Court must document the reasons for his absence.

Consequently, considering the lack of evidence and procedural lapses, the Court acquitted all four appellants. This decision highlights the necessity of meticulous prosecution procedures to uphold the integrity of judicial processes.

This ruling came in the case titled Baikuntha Bhoi & Anr. v. State of Odisha & connected matters, with Counsel for the Appellants represented by Mr. Rashmi Ranjan Nayak, Advocate (Amicus Curiae), and Counsel for the State represented by Mr. Priyabrata Tripathy, Addl. Standing Counsel. The judgment was delivered on April 4, 2024.