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Test Identification Parade

Test Identification Parades are conducted while the cases are under investigation, after the arrest of the accused or recovery of property. An identification parade is held to test the veracity of a witness who professes to have seen and claims to identify an accused not already known. When the police investigate an offence committed by unknown persons and arrest persons suspected of having committed it, the identification proceedings are held, so that eyewitnesses can say whether suspects committed the offence or not.

Test Identification Parades are held both in criminal and civil cases to identify firstly, the persons living or dead, known or unknown, secondly, articles including fire arms, and thirdly, handwritings, photographs, finger and footprints etc. Mostly test identification parades are held in criminal cases to prove or disprove the guilt or innocence of the accused. Whether it is held in respect of persons or articles, test identification parades are held while the cases are under investigation.

Objectives of Test Identification Parade
Test Identification Parade is one way to find out the identity of the accused. The purpose of the Test Identification Parade is to allow an eyewitness to the event to identify the accused in front of a judicial magistrate. Test identification is absolutely necessary in some cases. The purpose of the identification test is to evaluate the memory of the eyewitness and for the prosecution to find out who can be called an eyewitness. The object is to test the evidence given by the witnesses and to know whether they could really identify the accused as claimed by them.

The object of T.I. Parade is to test the witness's ability to select from a group of persons, those whom the witness stated he had previously seen at the time of commission of crime.

In the case of Budhasen v. State of A.P. 1970 Cr LJ 1149 SC, the Supreme Court of India observed that the T.I. Parade has two-fold objectives: firstly, to establish the identity of the accused. And secondly, it also tests the memory of the witnesses.

In the case of Ramkrishnan v. State of Bombay State, A.I.R. 1955 SC 104, it was held that during the course of an investigation, the police hold T.I. Parades to allow witnesses to identify persons or property related to the crime.

By observing the voice, gait, special and unique feature, utterances, finger prints, foot prints, photographs and even by family likeness or resemblance, identification of a person may be done.

Legal Relevance of Test Identification Parade
Section 54-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and Section 9 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 govern Test Identification Parade. According to section 54A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 vide criminal Law (Amendment Act), 2013, the court having jurisdiction may on the request of the office in charge of a police station direct the arrested person to subject himself to identification by any person or persons in such manner as the court may deem fit, if identification of the arrested suspect by any other person is considered necessary for the purpose of investigation in a crime committed by the arrested person.

If the person identifying the arrested suspect is mentally or physically disabled, the judicial magistrate holding the T.I. Parade shall take appropriate steps to ensure that such person identifies the arrested suspect using methods that person is comfortable with and the identification process shall be video graphed.

The identification of proper accused and properties are admissible and relevant facts in a court of Law, as per section 9 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.Section 162 of the CrPC regulates the test identification parades effectively. T.I. Parade was an acceptable practice in the courts even before insertion of section 54A CrPC. The courts insist on test identification parades to ensure that innocent persons are not implicated in criminal cases.

By compelling an accused to stand up and show his face for the purpose of identification, Article 20(3)of the Constitution of India is not violated. For the purpose of identification, he can also be ordered to disclose any scar or mark on his body.

Evidentiary Value of Test Identification Parade
The Test Identification Parade is not important or key evidence; it only ensures that the investigation is moving in the right direction. A test identification parade conducted in the course of an investigation cannot be considered primary evidence, and guilt cannot be based solely on the results of test identification; the witness must be identified in court to convict. And since the same person who is identified in the test identification parade is also identified in the court, it is no added value; it is merely a corroboration of the testimony presented in court and has secondary value. Identification made during trial is not of much value unless it is corroborated by prior identification.

In the case of State of Andhra Pradesh v. K. Venkata Reddy, the Supreme Court ruled that the testimony of a witness in court is substantive testimony, while the identification of a witness in a Test Identification Parade is merely a corroboration of testimony presented in court. The result of an identification test conducted at the investigative stage is not substantial evidence and cannot in itself be the basis of a conviction. The evidence against the accused must be the evidence given by the witness who identifies him in the witness box.

Important Points vis-a-vis Test Identification Parade
The following points should be remembered vis-a-vis Test Identification Parade:
  • Test Identification parade is part of investigation.
  • Police have to send the accused for judicial custody and afford no opportunity for the witness to see the accused.
  • Police have to request the judicial magistrate for holding Test Identification Parade.
  • Police have to provide the judicial magistrate the required materials or facts of the case.
  • The Test Identification Parade must be held by a judicial magistrate nominated by the Sessions Judge in the absence of the police.
  • Police have to produce the witnesses before the magistrate conducting the Test Identification Parade.
  • Test Identification Parades after police remand have very little value.
  • It should be held within a reasonable time after the arrest of the accused and if not so, there should be convincing explanation from the side of the investigating agency for the delay.
Precautions to Be Taken by the Judicial Magistrate Holding Test Identification Parade
  • The parade should not be held in public view; privacy should be observed.
  • No police officer should be present.
  • If held in jail, the prison officials should not be present at the place of parade.
  • If any accused wears any conspicuous garment, the magistrate shall, if possible, arrange for similar wear to others and if not possible induce the suspect to remove such garment.
  • The accused shall be allowed to state whether he has any objection to the persons present.
  • The witnesses summoned for the parade shall be kept out of view of the parade and should not have a chance to see suspects before the parade.
  • The witnesses one after the other shall be called in to identify. The witness who has completed the process of Test Identification Parade shall not be allowed to meet the other witnesses who are yet to identify.
  • The witness shall be asked whether he has prior acquaintance with any suspect whom he proposes to identify.
  • Every other circumstance connected with the identification parade shall be carefully recorded.

When to Give Prayer for Holding Test Identification Parade?
The following points should be considered by the police officer before giving prayer to the judicial magistrate for holding T.I. Parade:
  • The accused was unknown to the witness or the victim before the commission of crime.
  • When the witnesses in the F.I.R. or in their statements gave vivid description of the accused persons.
  • When the witnesses say that they would be able to identify some of the criminals when questioned by the investigating officer.
  • When the accused was seen long enough by the witnesses and noted his distinguishing features etc., to remember later.
  • When the surrounding circumstances, such as lighting conditions, etc., were sufficiently favorable to show the characteristics of the accused.
  • When there were special features about the accused and there was a mention in the F.I.R. or statement.

Can Accused Demand Test Identification Parade?
In general, the accused cannot request a T.I. Parade as a matter of law, but if it is requested, the request should never be refused. It runs the risk of the veracity of the eye-witnesses being impugned on that ground, if the prosecution rejects the accused's request for Test Identification Parade, as decided in Lajjaram v. State, 1955 CrLJ 1547.

In Awadh Singh and Others v. State (Patna) AIR 1954 Patna 483, it was
ruled that the accused may or may not have a legal right to demand the Test

Identification Parade, but it is a rule of prudence. When the accused person definitely asserts, he was unknown to the prosecution witnesses by name or by face and requested the relevant authorities to carry out the test holding an identification parade, the Test Identification Parade should be held in person.

Other Court Judgments Regarding Test Identification Parade
During the investigation, police officers conduct test identification parades so that witnesses can identify the properties that are the subject of the crime or identify the people involved in the crimes. AIR 1955 SC 104

Though Test Identification Parade does not constitute substantive evidence, it is meant for the purpose of helping the investigation with an assurance that their progress with the investigation into the offence is proceeding on right lines. Amit Singh Bhikam Singh Thakur v. State of Maharashtra, (2007) 2 SCC 310, 315-16: AIR 2007 SC 676

The purpose of the T.I. Parade is to test the truthfulness of the witness as to his ability to identify from several persons lined up together with an unknown person whom the witness claims to have seen at the time of the event. Kanan v. State of Kerala, 1979 Cr LJ 919Kanan v. State of Kerala, 1979 Cr LJ 919

In the case of Rajesh and Anr v. Haryana, it was observed by the court that in case the accused person refuses to attend the Test Identification Parade, it cannot be a reason for his conviction.

If the witnesses fail to identify in the identification parade prior to the trial, it may even destroy the case made out by their evidence. Bindeshri v. Emperor, AIR 1927 All 163

However, where in a motor accident case, the driver ran away immediately after the accident, failure of some of the passengers to identify him was held to be not fatal. Mandya Rural Police v. Ravi, 1997 AEHC 3627 (pan-a7) Vol. 6 (Kant)

The Test Identification Parade becomes necessary for the investigating officer, if the eyewitnesses questioned by him had not given any indication of the identity of the assailants, or the accused persons were not previously known to witnesses. Mahabir v. State of Delhi, AIR 2008 SC 2343, 2346 (para 11): 2008 Cr LJ 3036

When the witness fails to identify the accused in court, though the accused was identified in the Test Identification, no conviction can be based on the test identification. Ramadhar v. State of Bihar, 1988 Cr LJ 264 (Pat)

In the case of Hasib v. State of Bihar 1972 Cr LJ 233 SC, it was held that T.I. Parades belong to the investigation stage and they serve to provide the investigating authorities with material to assure themselves if the investigation is proceeding on right lines. It is accordingly desirable that the test parades are held at the earliest possible opportunity.

In the case of Shaik Santhai Madar @ Jaffar@ Sintha etc., v. State represented by Inspector of Police reported in 2016 (1) ALD (Criminal) 903 (SC), the Supreme Court held that two accused persons cannot be made part of the same T.I. Parade as Joint T.I. Parade.

In the case of Potteti Yellaiah v. State of Andhra Pradesh 2016 (2) ALT (Criminal)) 111, it was held that mere wearing a mask by the suspect at the time of the commission of the crime is not reason for refusing to identify the accused victim in the test identification parade because the victim who suffered at the hands of the accused had no difficulty in identifying the accused based on general features such as height, age, behavior and the way he spoke etc.

In the case of Rajamoori Ram Reddy v. State of Andhra Pradesh 2016 (2) ALT (Criminal) 91, it was held after arrest the accused was presented at a press conference, or presented to the public through electronic media, though in mask; because the police had already presented the accused in front of public and media, his subsequent identification in a test identification parade would lose its credibility.

In the case of Sheikh Hasib v. State of Bihar (1972) 4 SCC 773, the three judges' bench of the Supreme Court reiterated that it is only about identification of the accused in court, which is substantial evidence; a test identification parade is held during the investigation to minimize the chances of fading away of the memory of the identifying witnesses because of the longtime delay.

The Supreme Court in the case of Maharashtra v. Suresh (2000) 1 SCC 471, taking into account the extent of identification of the test parade categorically conducted, established that identification parades are not primarily intended for court. They are intended for investigation purposes.

In the case of Toorpati Majsaiah and Another v. State of Andhra Pradesh, reported in 2005 CRI LJ 568, the court held that the identification of the accused in open court by the prosecutrix cannot be disbelieved because of the passage of time and absence of an identification parade.

In the case of Suraj Pal v. State of Haryana, (1995) 2 SCC 64, it was ruled that no one can be forced to stand in line for T.I. Parade and if an accused/suspect refuses to submit to a T.I. Parade, he does so at his own risk.

In the case of Kishore Prabhakar v. State of Maharashtra, (1999) 2 SCC 45, it was held that if the accused is caught red-handed at the scene, then no question of T.I. Parade arises.

In the case of Simon v. State of Karnataka AIR 2004 SC 2775, it was held that incorrect identification of the accused by a witness in court is of no consequence if the case of the prosecution is proved on the basis of other evidence. There can be various grounds of non-identification, that is, the witness could have been won over, or he may have lost his memory because he saw the accused at the crime scene a few years ago.

In the case of Kishan Singh v. state of Bihar, AIR 1988 SC 863, it was held that court identification of the accused by a witness is unnecessary when the witness could not identify the accused during T.I. Parade.

In Laxmi Raj Shetty v. State of Tamil Nadu, AIR 1988 SC, it was held that identification of the accused by means of a photograph may take the place of formal T.I. Parade.

In the case of Malkhan Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 2003 SC 2669, it was held that failure to hold T.I. Parade would not render the evidence inadmissible if identification of the accused in court is considered reliable, trustworthy and dependable.

In the case of Mohan Singh v. State of Bihar (2011) 9 SCC 272, it was held that evidence presented by a witness that identifies the accused by his voice was reliable.

In the case of Bhaskar Virappa Kanchan v. State of Maharashtra, 2003 Bom CR (Cri) 1648, it was held that occasionally test identification parade can also be carried out at the police station, if the place chosen is completely separate from the police office, police officials don't have access to the place where the test identification parade is being done, the identifying witnesses had no opportunity to seethe accused/suspect before the test identification parade, and there is nothing on record to indicate that the accused/suspect was seen by the witnesses before the test identification parade.

In the case of Asha & Ors v. State of Rajasthan AIR 1997 SC2828, the Supreme Court held that the test identification parade was not necessary because the F.I.R. was filed within one hour of commission of an offence and the culprits were named in the F.I.R. i.e., the culprits were known to the complainant.

In the case of Heera v. State of Rajasthan (2007), it was held that the following principles are established for holding the Test Identification of Parade:
  • The Test Identification of Parade is not considered significant evidence. These are used to verify the information.
  • The major goal is to put the witness's memory to the test during the inquiry stage.
  • The Test Identification of Parade procedure begins as soon as the accused is arrested.
  • Appreciation will be based on the authenticity of the eyewitnesses.

Test Identification Parade previously didn't have any statutory backing but are in practice for hundreds of years in the courts of India. These are generally done on the written request of the investigating officer through the officer in charge of the police station to the judicial magistrate in the interest of investigation when the complainant of the case or any witness claims that he will be able to identify the accused person if presented before him.

It also helps in precluding the arrest of innocent persons in a case. This identification parade is generally held when the accused is in the judicial custody and the jail superintendent arranges for production of the accused persons before the judicial magistrate in jail by mixing 10 other accused persons of the same stature as that of the accused with the main accused person.

The jail officials help the judicial magistrate in the process. Sometimes the magistrate insists that the complainant or the victim should be in such a dress that he/she cannot be identified by the accused person out of his fear. The test identification parade by a child is generally done through videoconferencing by making him/her sit in a separate room at the jail premises. To make test identification parade reliable, it must be corroborated by other evidences, as test identification per se is a weak piece of evidence.


Written By: Md. Imran Wahab, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9836576565

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