Section 207 of Cr.P.C.Supply to the accused of copy of police report and other documents.-
In any case where the proceeding has been instituted on a police report, the Magistrate shall without delay furnish to the accused, free of cost, a copy of each of the following:-
(i) the police report;
(ii) the first information report recorded under section 154;
(iii) the statements recorded under sub-section (3) of section 161 of all persons whom the prosecution proposes to examine as its witnesses, excluding there from any part in regard to which a request for such exclusion has been made by the police officer under sub-section (6) of section 173;
(iv) the confessions and statements, if any, recorded under section 164;
(v) any other document or relevant extract thereof forwarded to the Magistrate with the police report under sub-section (5) of section 173:
Provided that the Magistrate may, after perusing any such part of a statement as is referred to in clause (iii) and considering the reasons given by the police officer for the request, direct that a copy of that part of the statement or of such portion thereof as the Magistrate thinks proper, shall be furnished to the accused:
Provided further that if the Magistrate is satisfied that any document referred to in clause (v) is voluminous, he shall, instead of furnishing the accused with a copy thereof, direct that he will only be allowed to inspect it either personally or through pleader in Court.
“The provisions of Section 162 provide a valuable safeguard to the accused and denial thereof may be justified only in exceptional circumstances. The provisions relating to the record of the statement of witnesses and the supply of copies to the accused so that they may be utilised at the trial for effectively defending himself cannot normally be permitted to be whittled down, and where the circumstances are such that the Court may reasonably infer that prejudice has resulted to the accused from the failure to supply the statements recorded under Section 161 the Court would be justified in directing that the conviction be set aside and in a proper case to direct that the defect be rectified in such manner as the circumstances may warrant.”
In Badri v. State of Rajasthan , it was laid down that where a prosecution witness was not allowed to be cross-examined by the defence on a material point with reference to his earlier statement made before the police (recorded Under Section 161, Cr. P.C.), his evidence stands untested by cross-examination and cannot be accepted as corroborating the evidence of other witnesses.
In State v. Sardarsingh 1970 Cri LJ 558 (Raj), the matter was dealt with at length by a Division Bench of this Court. The provisions of Sections 173, 161, 162 and 207-A(3) of the old Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 were scrutinized and it was laid down:
The provisions relating to recording of statement of witnesses and supplying of the copies provide a valuable safeguard to the accused so that they may be utilized at the trial for preparing effective defence. Such a request cannot be normally whittled down. Where the circumstances are such that the Court may reasonably infer that prejudice has resulted to the accused from the failure of supplying of the copies of the statements recorded under Section 161, Cr. P.C., the Court is justified in directing that the conviction should be set aside. The object of Sections 162, 173(4) and 207A(3), Cr. P.C. is to enable the accused to obtain a clear picture of the case against him. The sections impose an obligation upon the prosecution agency to supply copies of the statements of witnesses who are intended to be examined at the trial to enable the accused to utilise them in the course of cross-examination to establish such defence as may be desired to put up and also to shake the testimony of the witnesses. If in a case statements of witnesses were first recorded by the investigating officer and again by a senior officer, copies of both should be supplied to the accused.
Reverting to the case in hand, we have held that to failure of the prosecution to supply the copies of the statements of witnesses recorded under Section 161, Cr. P.C. the appellants is a serious irregularity resulting in material prejudice to the accused. This illegality goes to the root of the trial. This illegality in trial cannot be cured under Section 465, Cr. P.C. The aforesaid illegality in itself is sufficient to vitiate the trial. The conviction, should therefore, be quashed and a new trial should be ordered.
RAJSTHAN HIGH COURT
Dalla And Anr. vs State Of Rajasthan on 15 October, 1986
Equivalent citations: 1988 CriLJ 42, 1987 (2) WLN 226
Author: S Byas
Bench: S Byas, J Chopra