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Accused cannot be compelled to disclose his source of information

Accused cannot be compelled to disclose his source of information

Air Marshal Harish Masand Vs Outlook Publishing Pvt Ltd and Ors

Delhi HC


CRL.M.C. 3838/2016 and Crl. M.A. 16071/2016

About/from the judgment:

Recently Delhi High Court has held that complainant cannot compel an accused to disclose his source of information. It however held that a person appearing as a witness cannot choose not to answer a question.


The Hon’ble Judge observed as “This court agrees with the respondents that the first prayer [clause (a)] in the application dated 24.12.2007 for the accused to be directed to reveal their source of information or for them to be summoned as witnesses cannot be allowed. An accused cannot be compelled to incriminate himself – Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India affords him protection in this regard. The accused cannot also be compelled to appear as a witness. It is his choice whether to do so or not. Section 315 Cr. PC only declares that an accused is also a competent witness; he not being permitted to appear in such capacity unless he makes a “request in writing” to the court”.


The Court further observed as “Noticeably, while refusing to answer, DW-1 had not given any reason. Undoubtedly, he has certain rights under the law which include the fundamental right under Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India. But then, at the time of his deposition (as DW-1), he was appearing in the criminal court – not as a person accused of an offence but – as a witness whose rights and obligations are spelt out clearly in Section 132 of the Evidence Act quoted above”.


The Court then commented upon the witness as “As mentioned above, the fourth respondent (DW-1) has not indicated till date as to how the information sought from him by questioning in the above nature is privileged. It is not his choice to answer or refuse to answer. Once he has voluntarily entered the witness box, he is bound to answer unless he makes out a proper case justifying his refusal to answer under the law”.

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