Gopalakrishnan Vs. Sadanand Naik & Ors  Insc 644 (15 October 2004)
K.G. BALARKRISHNAN & Dr. AR. LAKSHMANAN K.G. Balakrishnan, J.
These appeals are filed against the acquittal of 7 persons by the High Court
of Bombay reversing the conviction passed by the Sessions Court, Panaji.
Altogether, 14 accused were tried by the Sessions Judge and out of them six
were found guilty of the offences punishable under Sections 143, 147, 148, 452,
325 and 304 Part II read with Section 49 IPC. A-7 Arthur Viegas was found
guilty for offences under Sections 143, 147, 148, 452 & 325 read with
Section 149 IPC.
In February 1987, the employees of Madras Rubber Factory (hereinafter being
referred to as "MRF") at Ponda in Goa went on strike and the accused
persons were members of that striking group of employees. The management of the
MRF recruited some new persons as employees and in order to give them training,
some senior supervisors working in the factory of MRF at Chennai were brought
to Goa and these persons were given accommodation by the company at its guest
house 'Vailankani' situated at Miramar. They were staying in flats which formed
part of the guest house. According to prosecution, on 13.3.1987, at about 9.15 p.m., the accused persons came there with lathies, rods and chains and attacked the
supervisors who had come from Chennai. Some of the accused attacked one
Venugopal with iron rods and lathies. They also assaulted D. Gopalakrishnan and
Danial. When these persons called out for help, the accused persons left the
PW 10 E.M. Mathai, General Manager of MRF at Ponda, was informed of the
incident and he came to the 'Vailankani' guest house. The injured were shifted
to G.M.C. Hospital. Injured Venugopal was in serious condition and he was shifted
to Vaidya Hospital at Panaji where he died on 25.3.1987. The police filed the
charge- sheet against the accused persons. The Sessions Judge found the accused
guilty as afore-stated and he was of the opinion that the accused were properly
identified by the injured persons who were examined as prosecution witnesses.
The High Court reversed this finding on the ground that the witnesses including
the injured witnesses had no previous acquaintance with the accused persons and
their identification was extremely doubtful. This finding is challenged before
The Sessions Court held that the injured persons who were examined as eye-
witnesses had an occasion to see the accused persons who were also the members
of the striking employees and were often seen sitting near the security gate of
the factory shouting slogans. The witnesses who had been going to the factory
had an opportunity to see them and in that way all the accused had been
identified properly by the witnesses. PW 6 Gopal Krishnan, PW 7 Danial Thomas
and PW 8 C.
Ravindranath are the witnesses who were examined to prove the incident.
These witnesses deposed that they had been working at the MRF factory situated
at Ponda for about 25 days. PW 5 William Johnson is one of the eye-witnesses
who deposed that the Police Officer showed him several photographs in an album
with the names of the persons written underneath and he immediately identified
accused A-3 Gokuldas Babi Gaonkar and A-12 Cypriano D' Costa.
The learned counsel for the respondents-accused submitted that the eye-
witnesses were questioned by the Police Officer with an album and the
photographs were shown to them and at that time, Section 161 statements were
recorded. The respondent's learned Counsel relied on the statement of PW 10
E.M. Mathai, General Manager who deposed that the Police Officer wanted the
photographs of the employees and he had been given instruction to give it on
the same day and PW 13 Investigating Officer, who registered the complaint made
by PW 10 E.M. Mathai, General Manager deposed that PW 10 General Manager had
supplied the photographs of the striking workers of the MRF on 14.3.1987 itself
and that he had shown the photographs to the witnesses while recording their
Admittedly, no identification parade was conducted in this case.
The learned Counsel for the appellant vehemently contended that showing of
photographs to the witnesses for the purpose of identification is permissible
under law. He even drew our attention to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, 1984
which is in force in England and submitted that the provisions of the said
statute permit the showing of photographs to the witnesses for the purpose of
identification and there is nothing in law which prohibits such action being
taken by the Investigating Officer. In the instant case, the witnesses had not
described the physical features of the accused or any identifying
characteristics as to how they identified the assailants. To such a witness,
showing of photograph would only lead the investigating officer to make the
wrong conclusion regarding the identification.
Even under the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, 1984
which is prevalent in England, the photographs could be shown to the witnesses
only under certain specified conditions. Annexe E of the Act are the guidelines
and it says that before showing the photographs of the suspect, the supervising
officer must first confirm that the description of the suspect given by the
witness has been recorded, and if the supervising officer is unable to confirm
the description, the officer shall postpone the showing of the photographs. The
other condition as stated in Annexe E of the statute says that a witness must
not be shown photographs or computerized or artist's composite or similar likeness
or pictures if the identity of the suspect is known to the police and suspect
is available to take part in a video identification, an identification parade
or group identification.
There are no statutory guidelines in the matter of showing photographs to
the witnesses during the stage of investigation. But nevertheless, the police
is entitled to show photographs to confirm whether the investigation is going
on in the right direction. But in the instant case, it appears that the
investigating officer procured the album containing the photographs with the
names written underneath and showed this album to the eye-witnesses and
recorded their statements under Section 161 Cr. P.C. The procedure adopted by
the police is not justified under law as it will affect fair and proper
investigation and may sometimes lead to a situation where wrong persons are
identified as assailants. During the course of the investigation, if the
witness had given the identifying features of the assailants, the same could be
confirmed by the investigating officer by showing the photographs of the
suspect and the investigating officer shall not first show a single photograph
but should show more than one photograph of the same person, if available. If
the suspect is available for identification or for video identification, the
photograph shall never be shown to the witness in advance.
In the instant case, the High Court held that the witnesses had no occasion
to properly identify the assailants as they had no previous acquaintance with
The witnesses had been travelling in a vehicle while going to the factory,
and if a group of workers were seen by them while travelling, it may not be
easier for them to identify them. It cannot be said that the High Court has
made a perverse appreciation of evidence, and the view taken is plausible and
this is not a fit case where this Court can interfere with the acquittal passed
by the High Court.
The criminal appeals are without any merits and they are dismissed.