Section 9 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 provides for “Facts necessary to explain or introduce relevant facts and Identification parade of persons”. It runs as follows: Facts necessary to explain or introduce a fact in issue or relevant fact, or which support or rebut an inference suggested by a fact in issue or relevant fact, or which establish the identity of anything or person whose identity is relevant, or fix the time or place at which any fact in issue or relevant fact happened, or which show the relation of parties by whom any such fact was transacted, are relevant in so far as they are necessary for that purpose.
Illustrations: (a) The question is, whether a given document is the will of A. The state of A’s property and of his family at the date of the alleged will may be relevant facts. (b) A sues B for a libel imputing disgraceful conduct to A; B affirm that the matter alleged to be libelous is true.
Identification parade of persons: - The purpose of identification test is to test the memory and veracity of a witness, who claims to identify an accused person, who is said to have participated in a crime. Section 7 and 8 of the Evidence Act deal with facts, which have some causal relation with the facts in issue or relevant facts. Whereas Section 9 of the Act deals with the facts, which are not so connected but are necessary to introduce or explain the facts in issue or relevant facts.
Identification is as important process in the administration of justice. Where the Court has to know the identity of any-thing or any person, any fact, which establishes such identity is relevant. The identity of a person can be established by the evidence of person, who know him. Identification parades are held for the purpose of identifying the properties, which are subject matter on an offence or persons concerned in an offence. During the course of investigation test identification parades are arranged by the police either in jail or at some other place. Certain persons are brought to such a place and the accused person is mixed with them. In case of property, the property recovered is mixed with some other articles/ properties, of similar description. Then the Magistrate or the attorney will ask the witness to identify the accused person or the property in questions. The evidence given by such witness is relevant under Section 9 under Evidence Act.
The following are the salient points to be borne in mind by Police Officers arranging identification parades:-
The purpose of holding Test Identification Parade is to test the statement of a witness made in the Court. The test identification parade which belongs to the investigation stage is conducted to assure the investigating agency that the investigation is proceeding in the right direction.
A three Judge Bench of the Supreme Court reiterated that it is only the identification of the accused in the Court which is a substantive evidence and the test identification parade is held during investigation to minimize the chances of memory to identifying witnesses fading away due to long lapse of time.
The Supreme Court culled out certain exceptions to the ordinary rule that identification of an accused for the first time in the Court is a weak type of evidence. The importance of holding test identification parade was highlighted by the Supreme Court in this case.
It is also well settled that failure to hold test identification parade, which should be held with reasonable dispatch, does not make the evidence of identification in court inadmissible, rather the same is very much admissible in law. Question is, what is its probative value? Ordinarily, identification of an accused for the first time in court by a witness should not be relied upon, the same being from its very nature, inherently of a weak character, unless it is corroborated by his previous identification in the test identification parade or any other evidence.
The purpose of test identification parade is to test the observation, grasp, memory, capacity to recapitulate what a witness has seen earlier, strength or trustworthiness of the evidence of identification of an accused and to ascertain if it can be used as reliable corroborative evidence of the witness identifying the accused at his trial in court. If a witness identifies the accused in court for the first time, the probative value of such uncorroborated evidence becomes minimal so much so that it becomes, as a rule of prudence and not law, unsafe to rely on such a piece of evidence.
Test identification parade, if held promptly and after taking the necessary precautions to ensure its credibility, would lend the required assurance which the court ordinarily seeks to act on it. In the absence of such test identification parade it would be extremely risky to place implicit reliance on identification made for the first time in Court after a long lapse of time and that too of persons who had changed their appearance.
The Supreme Court noticed that where the witness had a chance to interact with the accused or where the witness had an opportunity to notice the distinctive features of the accused which lends assurance to his testimony in the Court, the evidence of identification in the court for the first time by such witnesses cannot be thrown away merely because any identification parade was not held.
In the latest judgment of the Supreme Court in while referring to its earlier judgments the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that mere failure to hold a test identification parade is not fatal to the prosecution case but the Trial Judge will need to be circumspect in accepting the identification of an accused by a witness in the Court if the accused is a stranger to the witness.
It is well settled that the substantive evidence is the evidence of identification in court and the test identification parade provides corroboration to the identification of the witness in court, if required. However, what weight must be attached to the evidence of identification in court, which is not preceded by a test identification parade, is a matter for the courts of fact to examine.
Holding of the Test Identification Parade is not a substantive piece of evidence, yet it may be used for the purpose of corroboration; for believing that a person brought before the Court is the real person involved in the commission of the crime. However, the Test
Identification Parade, even if held, cannot be considered in all the cases as trustworthy evidence on which the conviction of the accused can be sustained. It is a rule of prudence which is required to be followed in cases where the accused is not known to the witness or the complainant.
The Supreme Court relied upon the identification of the accused by the witness for the first time in the Court where the witness and the culprit were face to face.
The Tests Identification Parades do not constitute substantive evidence. They are primarily meant for the purpose of providing the investigating agency with an assurance that their progress with the investigation into the offence is proceeding on right lines. The Test Identification Parade can only be used as corroboration of the statement in Court. The necessity for holding the Test Identification Parade can arise only when the accused persons are not previously known to the witnesses. The test is done to check the veracity of the witnesses.
Test Identification is a part of the investigation and is very useful in a case where the accused are not known before hand to the witnesses. It is used only to corroborate the evidence recorded in the court. Therefore, it is not substantive evidence. The actual evidence is what is given by the witnesses in the court.
Identification tests do not constitute substantive evidence. They are primarily meant for the purpose of helping the investigating agency with an assurance that their progress with the investigation into the offence is proceeding on right lines.
Test identification parade is a rule of prudence which is required to be followed in cases where the accused is not known to the witness or complainant.
Apart from the ordinary rule laid down in the aforesaid decisions, certain exceptions to the same have been carved out where identification of an accused for the first time in court without there being any corroboration whatsoever can form the sole basis for his conviction.
There may, however, be exceptions to this general rule, when for example, the court is impressed by a particular witness, on whose testimony it can safely rely, without such or other corroboration.
If a witness had any particular reason to remember about the identity of an accused, in that event, the case can be brought under the exception and upon solitary evidence of identification of an accused in court for the first time, conviction can be based.
Where the witness had a chance to interact with the accused or that in a case where the witness had an opportunity to notice the distinctive features of the accused which lends assurance to his testimony in court, the evidence of identification in court for the first time by such a witness cannot be thrown away merely because no test identification parade was held. In that case, the accused concerned had a talk with the identifying witnesses for about 7/8 minutes. In these circumstances, the conviction of the accused, on the basis of sworn testimony of witnesses identifying for the first time in court without the same being corroborated either by previous identification in the test identification parade or any other evidence, was upheld by this Court.
The absence of test identification parade may not be fatal if the accused is sufficiently described in the complaint leaving no doubt in the mind of the court regarding his involvement or is arrested on the spot immediately after the occurrence and in either eventuality, the evidence of witnesses identifying the accused for the first time in court can form the basis for conviction without the same being corroborated by any other evidence and, accordingly, conviction of the accused was upheld by this Court.
Test identification is considered a safe rule of prudence to generally look for corroboration of the sworn testimony of witnesses in court as to the identity of the accused who are strangers to them. There may, however, be exceptions to this general rule, when, for example, the court is impressed by a particular witness on whose testimony it can safely rely without such or other corroboration.
It cannot be held that in the absence of a test identification parade, the evidence of an eyewitness identifying the accused would become inadmissible or totally useless. Whether the evidence deserves any credence or not would always depend on the facts and circumstances of each case.
It is well settled that where a witness Identifies an accused who is not known to him in the Court for the first time, his evidence is absolutely valueless unless there has been a previous test identification parade to test his powers of observations. The idea of holding test identification parade under Section 9 of the Evidence Act is to test the veracity of the witness on the question of his capability to identify an unknown person whom the witness may have seen only once. The sum and substance of the various decisions referred to above and others on the same lines is that the failure to hold a test identification parade is not fatal to the case of the prosecution, but the Trial Judge will need to be circumspect in accepting the identification of an accused by a witness in Court if the accused is a stranger to the witness.