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Right of Accused to Assert Innocence at Investigation Stage

The Bombay High Court recently emphasized the accused's right to assert innocence during the investigation stage. It stated that a fair investigation, aimed at discovering the truth, is essential for a fair trial. The investigating officer must consider all relevant material, and one-sided investigations favoring the prosecution are not permissible under the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Court also gave few illustrations on exemplary basis:

Illustration No. 01
In case of first information alleging that there was consensual sexual intercourse with a minor, if the accused sought to tender birth certificate of the victim showing that she was major on the date of occurrence, which would materially divert the course of investigation. In such a situation, the police cannot say that let the charge sheet be filed for the offence of rape and then the accused shall tender birth certificate in defence during trial.

Illustration No. 02
In case of requiring physical presence of culprit, if the accused sought to tender unquestionable documents showing that at the relevant time he was abroad. In such a situation also, those documents would assist the investigating agency to arrive on the truth.

Case Name: Nikhil Ashokrao Waghmare & Ors. v. The State of Maharashtra & Anr.
Case No.: Crl. Application (APPP) No. 1346 of 2023
Dated: 18 October 2023

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