Report No. 198
(Q) 14. Should the method of distorting the facial image and voice of the witness be followed while recording evidence through video-link, in such cases?
In some countries, for example Portugal, there is a provision that where evidence is recorded through video-link, the facial image and voice of the witness may be distorted so that his identity may be kept secret. Whether such a kind of provision is necessary in our country or not?
26 respondents have supported the idea that method of distorting facial image and voice of the witness should be followed while recording evidence through video-link. Among these 26 responses, 5 are from the State Governments, 9 are from senior police officials, 2 are from Judges and 10 are from others. State Governments of the NCT Delhi, while agreeing with the proposal, has also suggested that it should be done in the presence of experts and the experts should be cited as witnesses.
The Judge concerned should verify the presence of the witness deposing. An NGO, namely SARI has opined that it is important that the victim/witness be able to effectively identify the accused persons during trial. After the identification, for the rest of the testimony, victim/witness should be screened from the accused persons. Distorting of facial image/voice distortion could be resorted to at the discretion of the judge on case-to-case basis.
The State Government of Bihar is of the view that method of distorting the facial image or voice distortion of the witness may not be practicable in all such cases where evidence is recorded through video-link. Such a method may be followed rarely.
The State Government of Tripura is also of the view that such method may be adopted in exceptional cases of grave nature.
13 respondents, (3 State Governments, 1 Judge of High Court, 1 Police Official and 8 others) however, are of the view that such a method of distortion of facial image and voice distortion of the witness should not be followed.