Legal Court In India, Supreme Court

Test Identification Parade as the term suggests is the process that involves identifying the accused from a group of similar-looking people by the eyewitnesses. It is an important part of the investigation as under Section 9 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and the process to be followed is given under Section 54a of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. Test Identification Parade is commonly held when the accused is in custody. Based on the authenticity, clarity and honesty of the eyewitness, Test Identification Parades are considered to be one of the most reliable forms of eyewitness identification.

Significance of Test Identification Parade

Test Identification Parades are essential to affirm whether the police or the investigating authority has identified the right person as the accused. It is necessary when there is not sufficient evidence available for investigation, especially in cases where the name and other details of the accused are not known to the eyewitnesses and only the physical features of the accused are available. It is common in cases where the crime has been reported but no name of the accused has been recorded in the F.I.R.

Conducting Test Identification Parade

Section 54a of CrPc provides that:

“Where a person is arrested on a charge of committing an offence and his identification by any
another person or persons is considered necessary for the purpose of investigation of such offence, the Court, having jurisdiction, may on the request of the officer in charge of a police station, direct the person so arrested to subject himself to identification by any person or persons in such manner as the Court may deem fit. Provided further that if the person identifying the person arrested is mentally or physically disabled, the identification process shall be video graphed.”

Test Identification Parade is conducted in custody, where various people who have similar or proportional looks, build, status and age as that of the accused, are brought. The accused is made to stand with them and mixed in such a way that there is nothing distinct about him. The proceedings have to take place in the presence of a Judicial magistrate.

Some essential points of the proceeding are:

  1. Witnesses should be briefed about the whole process and they should be assured that no harm shall be caused to them.
  2. Accused has to be informed about the whole process along with the charges against him. He also has the option of accepting or refusing the parade or acquiring any legal representative, who shall be allowed to be present at the parade. For conducting the parade the accused should be satisfied and all reasonable desires shall be granted.
  3. Jailor should be informed about the parade and it is his duty to see that the accused does not do anything to cause a significant change in his appearance.
  4. The people chosen to participate in the parade with respect to the accused should be in a ratio of 1:4 or 1:6. They should wear similar clothes to those of the accused so that there is no distinct indication of the accused. If the candidates do not qualify the required conditions, the parade can be dismissed.
  5. It can be conducted face to face or through a one way looking mirror, where the witness can see the face of the accused but accused can’t see the witness. This ensures that the identity of the witness remains unknown to the accused.
  6. A list for conducting the parade has to be prepared by the Investigating Officer, which must mention:
    • Case Number
    • Names of the accused
    • Charges against the accused.
    • The date, place and time the crime was committed
    • Names of witnesses
    • Identification form- filled by the person in charge of the identification parade.
  7. In case two or more accused are to be identified, separate parades should be held for each of them.

Every statement made during identification has to be recorded by the magistrate along with any objection made by the accused. After the completion of the Parade, a certificate must be appended and signed by the Magistrate.

Precautions are taken:

  1. Before the Test Identification Parade is conducted, it is made sure that the accused has no interaction or view of the eyewitnesses. When the witness has any prior knowledge about the accused then his statement shall have no value. Where the accused is a public figure in the locality, no parade is required.
  2. Police Officers are not allowed to be a part of the proceedings as they know who the accused is and their absence in the proceeding ensures that they make no signs or gestures to the witnesses which may help them in identifying the accused.
  3. Witnesses are not allowed to meet each other, in order to avoid communication between them. Each witness is called one by one and has no information about the other witnesses. Thus, only a few outside members can attend the parade. These include the legal representative of the accused, an interpreter (if required) and an authorized photographer or video camera operator if the parade is large and involves a serious crime.
  4. It is conducted on priority so that the memory of the witness remains clear, unchanged and uninfluenced. Delay in conducting the parade can reduce confidence and reliance on it.

Test Identification Parade is not required when:

  1. There are significant incriminating evidence available
  2. Witness knows the accused and recognizes him or her during the offence.
  3. The witness can not recollect due to​ ​delay in conducting the proceeding.
  4. The appearance of the accused is unusual and no suitable participants can be found.
  5. The witness could not clearly see the accused. It can be because of dim light or because the accused was wearing a mask.

Identification by Photograph

Sometimes witnesses might be shown a photograph of the accused for identification. In case when the accused is identified through a photograph a regular parade must also be held to affirm the identification. However, if there is no such provision then photos of the accused shall be shown to the witness along with photos of other similar looking people. It would be up to the witness to identify the accused out of the photos.

Evidentiary value of the Test Identification Parade

Under ​Section 9 of the Indian Evidence Act, those facts are relevant which determine and verify the identity of the accused. ​Statements given during the parade come understatements recorded under Section 164 of CrPC, which are admissible and can be used for corroboration, re-examination or contradiction as under Section 157 and 145 of ​Indian Evidence Act​. Thus, these are not substantive pieces of evidence. However, identification made in court during trial is substantive evidence and has more evidentiary value. The parade is essential just to corroborate the identifications made in the Court.

Therefore, even if the Test Identification Parade is not held and the witness is made to identify the accused in court for the first time, then such identification shall not be inadmissible. It is upon the discretion of the court to rely on it or not.

In the case of ​Arif vs. State Govt. Of Nct Of Delhi ​(​CRL. A. No. 1428/2011) ​the accused had refused to take part in the TIP. It was believed that his refusal was based on the fear that he would get identified by the victim. In this case, it was held that identification of accused of the first time in court as a substantive piece of evidence and can be relied upon.

It was further stated that- “identification of an accused by a witness in court is substantive evidence whereas evidence of identification in test identification parade is though primary evidence but not substantive one”.

In ​Lalita Kumar and Sonu vs. State of NCT of Delhi (​​AIR 2014 4 SCC 375)​, it was held that TIP belongs to the investigation stage and is relied on for corroboration only. It establishes the reliability and trust of the substantive evidence in the court.

In Munshi Singh Gautamvs, State of MP (​​AIR20059SCC631)​,​ it was held that the TIP is ​conducted so as to establish a prior identification so as to prevent the witness from having any interaction with the accused before he identifies him in the court. ​This is essential so that the truth does not get affected by the judgement or prejudice of the witness towards the accused.

In the ​case of ​Visweswaran vs. State (​AIR 2003 SC 2471), it was held that the identification of accused either in Court or in TIP is not a sine qua non, that is, it is not an absolute necessity for conviction. Many times the guilt can be proved from other circumstantial evidence. Also, any irregularity or deficiency in the investigation may not necessarily lead to rejection of the case when proved otherwise.

In​ Raju Manjhiv, State of Bihar (​​2018SC778) appellant with other co-accused was charged with the offence of dacoity along with assaulting the people present at the crime scene. The appellant affirmed that no Test Identification Parade was conducted which spoiled his case. The court held that since the Test Identification Parade is not substantive evidence and its purpose is only to aid the investigating agency, there is no provision in CrPC which makes it compulsory to hold the Test Identification Parade. Therefore, the absence of parade does not make the evidence of identification in court inadmissible.

Conclusion:

Test Identification Parade has relevance under Section 9 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. However, it is not substantive evidence but used merely for corroboration. Identification can be admissible if it is made in court without prior holding of the Test Identification Parade. The court may rely upon a witness if it thinks him or her to be reliable. The court may also examine other factors to rely on the parade. These may include ​the attention paid by the witness, his opportunity and probabilities of observing the accused, accuracy of the description given by him during investigation before making the identification, clarity and certainty during identification and the time gap between the happening of the crime and the identification parade.

Thus, the Test Identification Parade is relevant and one of the essential stages of the investigation which facilitates the identification of the accused.