State of Maharashtra vs. Praful B. Desai is a landmark judgment wherein the Supreme Court upheld the validity of video-conferencing as a vital tool for collecting evidence where the witness may not be conveniently examined in court.
- Section 273 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
- Section 3 of India Evidence Act.
- Here, the complainant’s wife was suffering from terminal cancer. Dr. Greenberg examined the complainant’s wife (USA) who opined that she was inoperable and should be treated only with medication.
- Thereafter, the complainant and his wife consulted the respondent (Dr. A K Mukherjee) who is a consulting a surgeon for the last 40 years.
- Despite being aware of Dr. Greenberg’s opinion, the respondent suggested surgery to remove the uterus and operated on the complainant’s wife, causing the complainant’s wife to suffer terrible physical torture and mental agony till her death.
- The Maharashtra Medical Council in an inquiry held the respondent guilty. The doctor in question, Mr. Ernest Greenberg, was unwell and not willing to come to India to testify before the Court.
- He, however, showed his assent to testify through video conferencing. The prosecution applied to examine Dr. Greenberg through video-conferencing.
Whether in a criminal trial, evidence can be recorded by “video conferencing”?
COURT OBSERVATION & DECISION:
Supreme Court observed that:
- That physical presence is not necessary. We can also consider electronic presence as presence under Section 273 of the Criminal Procedure Code, as Section 273 of the Criminal Procedure Code states that evidence must be recorded in the presence of the accused.
- Section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act states that evidence can be both oral and documentary & electronic records can be produced as evidence.
- To this SC allowed video conferencing and said about the advancement of science and technology. And the evidence will be recorded in the studio/court and a judicial officer will be present at that time.
The Indian legal system has recognized and embraced video conferencing as an extremely effective instrument to collect evidence as it aids in avoiding unnecessary adjournments of cases and also saves the parties from costs borne on transportation and other inconveniences that may arise.
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