There are circumstances where the records of police and judicial authorities may go missing or are destroyed beyond redemption. In such a case, proceeding with the concerned court case is next to impossible.
If the records of the proceedings are destroyed due to natural calamities and their reconstruction is not possible, then the court has no other option but to acquit the accused.
The traditional record keeping has this serious drawback that is absent when we adopt information and communication technology (ICT). For instance, if electronic records are maintained, the reconstruction of lost or destroyed records is just a click away.
Establishment of e-courts in India is of prime importance in the present ICT driven era. However, till the month of March 2013 we are still waiting for the establishment of first e-court of India. Digital preservation in India is also not in good shape.
If a guilty person is acquitted due to inability to reconstruct the records or an innocent is convicted due to defective reconstruction of records, this would amount to miscarriage of justice and violation of right to fair trial. Therefore, proper reconstruction of records is of utmost importance.
In a latest case in this regard, a Division Bench of Delhi High Court, comprising of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice VK Jain, has directed a District and Sessions Judge to “reconstruct” within two weeks the records pertaining to a 20-year-old rape case, in which judicial and police files went missing. The bench also directed for appropriate action against the officers responsible for missing of the files.
The bench further ordered for setting up a committee to examine the practices and systems prevailing in the matters of custody and maintenance of court records. At Perry4Law and Perry4Law’s Techno Legal Base (PTLB) we welcome this move of the Delhi High Court as it is progressive in nature and justice oriented.
We also feel that an electronic record is not only durable but can be easily stored as well. It must be noted that in majority of cases the witnesses do not come forward to give evidence and many important pieces of evidences are lost forever. This results in acquittal of the accused and a miscarriage of justice.