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Non-registration of FIR on the Basis of Panchnama

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Source: Karnataka High Court

Why in News?

A bench of Justice S Rachaiah held that “First Information Report (FIR) cannot be registered on the basis of panchanama, however, in the present case, the respondent has registered the FIR on the basis of panchanama which is erroneous and not proper”.

  • Karnataka High Court held this in the case of Dayananda and Anr. v. The State of Karnataka.

What was the Background of Dayananda and Anr. v. The State of Karnataka Case?

  • The Criminal Revision Petition was filed by the petitioners, challenging the conviction judgment dated 26th December 2015 and sentence order dated 29th December 2015 in at Hunsur, along with its confirmation judgment dated 12th January 2021.
  • The petition sought to overturn the concurrent findings convicting the petitioner/accused of offences under Sections 32, 34, and 38-A of the Karnataka Excise Act, 1965.
  • The prosecution alleged that on 24th November 2008, the accused were apprehended transporting liquor without proper documentation.
  • Despite defence arguments, both trial and appellate courts upheld the conviction.
  • Hence, the judgment was preferred for a revision.

What was Court’s Observation?

  • The HC held that “Trial Court and the Appellate Court have committed error by considering the said FIR as appropriate and proper and recorded the conviction. Such conviction would be rendered as ineffective and the same can be termed as non est in law”.

What is the Concept of Panchnama?

  • About:
    • “Panchnama” refers to a document that records the details of a crime scene investigation conducted by the police.
    • It involves the presence and testimony of witnesses or "panchas" (often civilians or neighbors) who are called upon to witness and verify the proceedings.
  • Purpose and Contents:
    • The purpose of the Panchnama is to ensure transparency and credibility in the investigation process.
    • It typically includes details such as:
      • the date, time, and location of the search,
      • the names, age and addresses of the witnesses (panchas),
      • a description of the place searched,
      • a list of items seized
  • Legal Provisions Related to Panchanama:
    • Section 100 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC): Persons in charge of closed place to allow search
    • Section 102 CrPC: Power of police officer to seize certain property
    • Section 157 Indian Evidence Act, 1872: Former statements of witness may be proved to corroborate later testimony as to same fact

What is Section 100 of CrPC?

The word Panchanama is not defined under CrPC, however its procedure can be spotted under Section 100 of CrPC which states:-

(1) Whenever any place liable to search or inspection under this Chapter is closed, any person residing in, or being in charge of, such place, shall, on demand of the officer or other person executing the warrant, and on production of the warrant, allow him free ingress thereto, and afford all reasonable facilities for a search therein.

(2) If ingress into such place cannot be so obtained, the officer or other person executing the warrant may proceed in the manner provided by sub-section (2) of section 47.

(3) Where any person in or about such place is reasonably suspected of concealing about his person any article for which search should be made, such person may be searched and if such person is a woman, the search shall be made by another woman with strict regard to decency.

(4) Before making a search under this Chapter, the officer or other person about to make it shall call upon two or more independent and respectable inhabitants of the locality in which the place to be searched is situate or of any other locality if no such inhabitant of the said locality is available or is willing to be a witness to the search, to attend and witness the search and may issue an order in writing to them or any of them so to do.

(5) The search shall be made in their presence, and a list of all things seized in the course of such search and of the places in which they are respectively found shall be prepared by such officer or other person and signed by such witnesses; but no person witnessing a search under this section shall be required to attend the Court as a witness of the search unless specially summoned by it.

(6) The occupant of the place searched, or some person in his behalf, shall, in every instance, be permitted to attend during the search, and a copy of the list prepared under this section, signed by the said witnesses, shall be delivered to such occupant or person.

(7) When any person is searched under sub-section (3), a list of all things taken possession of shall be prepared, and a copy thereof shall be delivered to such person.

(8) Any person who, without reasonable cause, refuses or neglects to attend and witness a search under this section, when called upon to do so by an order in writing delivered or tendered to him, shall be deemed to have committed an offence under Section 187 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC)