Indore (Madhya Pradesh): Madhya Pradesh High Court has set aside the trial court’s verdict pertaining to providing a copy of digital/electronic evidence to the accused in the infamous honey trap case involving senior bureaucrats and politicians. Justice Subodh Abhyankar, however, said the accused and their counsel can use and inspect those videos and photographs which the prosecution will rely upon to push their case in the trial court.
The trial court had passed an order asking the prosecution to provide a copy of the electronic evidence, including video clips, pen drives, CDs and so forth to the accused and their counsel for preparing for cross-examination. The government had moved the HC challenging the trial court’s verdict.
Additional Advocate General Pushiyamitra Bhargava argued in the high court that, “the complainant in the present case is Harbhajan Singh, who has been blackmailed by the accused person, and, during the course of investigation, scores of such video clips/photographs have also been recovered by the investigating authorities from the accused persons.
It is not in the public interest to supply all those explicit video clips/photographs to the accused persons, as there would be the risk of the videos being leaked on social media, which might cause serious prejudice to other persons who are the victims of the accused persons.”
Avinash Sirpurkar, senior counsel for complainant Harbhajan Singh, has also supported the revision and submitted that providing the video clips/photographs which have been recovered by the investigating authorities would further tarnish his reputation and cause him further embarrassment as the chances of their being made public would increase manifold.
Counsel for the accused, on the other hand, has opposed the prayer and submitted that “the respondent, herself, is a woman and the videos which the prosecution relies upon have either the respondent or the other co-accused persons and other persons, and these videos/photographs are required for the proper cross-examination of the witnesses; and in case the video clips/photographs are not provided to them, serious prejudice would be caused to their defence and they would be deprived of a free and fair trial.”
The court observed that each and every such video clip and photograph would not be required for the purposes of the entire trial and it would be only those video clips and photographs which the prosecution would rely upon can be used and be made available for inspection to the accused persons/their respective counsel for the purposes of their defence.
“The impugned order passed by the learned judge of the trial court cannot be sustained in the eyes of law and is hereby set aside. The learned judge of the trial court is directed to proceed further with the case as expeditiously as possible and allow the accused persons/their counsel the access of such documents as the occasion arises,” the court said.