Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, S. 4, 5  - Fingerprints - There cannot be any hard and fast rule that in every case, there should be a magisterial order for lifting the fingerprints of the accused - A police officer is permitted to take the photographs and measurements of the accused -  Fingerprints can be taken under the directions of the police officer - Although Section 4 mentions that the police officer is competent to take measurements of the accused, but to dispel doubts as to its bona fides and to rule out the fabrication of evidence, it is eminently desirable that they were taken before or under the order of a Magistrate -  However, the aforesaid observations cannot be held to mean that under Section 4, police officers are not entitled to take fingerprints until the order is taken from a Magistrate -  If certain suspicious circumstances do arise from a particular case relating to lifting of fingerprints, in order to dispel or ward off such suspicious circumstances, it would be in the interest of justice to get orders from the Magistrate.   . 2019 SCeJ 89



At the same time, we find that in the current facts and circumstances, the absence of a magisterial order casts doubts on the credibility of the fingerprint evidence, especially with respect to the packing and sealing of the tumblers on which the fingerprints were allegedly found, given that the attesting witnesses were not independent witnesses, being the family members of the deceased. Thus, we cannot rule out the possibility of tampering and post­ facto addition of fingerprints, and concur with the High Court in discarding the fingerprint evidence. 


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