Supreme Court Orders Probe into Police Coaching of Witnesses in Murder Case

Supreme Court orders probe into police tutoring of witnesses in murder case, citing gross abuse of power. Justices express shock at oversight by trial and high courts.

The Supreme Court criticized Tamil Nadu police officials for tutoring witnesses in a murder case and instructed the Tamil Nadu Director General of Police (DGP) to conduct an investigation [Manikandan vs State Rep by Inspector of Police].

The Court emphasized that such misuse of power by the police cannot be tolerated, calling it shocking and a gross abuse of authority. The Court stressed that the police should not be allowed to influence prosecution witnesses, especially considering that other eyewitnesses were withheld.

Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal, part of the bench, expressed surprise that both the trial court and the Madras High Court overlooked this issue during the case's proceedings.

Consequently, the Court directed the Tamil Nadu DGP to launch an inquiry into the implicated police officials, ensuring that appropriate legal action is taken against them.

The Court's observations came as it overturned the verdicts of the High Court and a trial court that convicted and sentenced two individuals in a 2007 murder case.

Upon reviewing the trial court records, the Supreme Court noted that five prosecution witnesses were taught how to testify by the police the day before their evidence was recorded.

"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," the Court stated.

Consequently, the Court ruled that the lower courts were mistaken in convicting the appellants based on the testimony of these influenced witnesses and overturned the conviction.

Representing the accused were advocates G Sivabala Murugan, Mailysamy, Selvaraj Mahendran, C Adhikesavan, PV Hari Krishnan, P Soma Sundaram, R Nedumaran, B Ragunath, NC Kavitha, and Vijay Kumar.

Senior Advocate Dr. Joseph Aristotle S and advocates Shubhi Bhardwaj and Vaidehi Rastogi appeared for the State of Tamil Nadu.