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RELEVANCY OF SNIFFER DOG CLUES IS ONLY FOR POLICE INVESTIGATION NO USE TO ISOLATEDLY RELY FOR CONVICTION 2008 SC

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JUSTICE S Sinha, JUSTICE D Bhandari in the case of Dinesh Borthakur vs State Of Assam reported in AIR 2008 SC 2205, held that “The law in this behalf, therefore, is settled that while the services of a sniffer dog may be taken for the purpose of investigation, its faculties cannot be taken as evidence for the purpose of establishing the guilt of an accused.”

QUOTED FOLLOWING CASE LAWS:- So far as the evidence relating to the reaction of sniffer dog is concerned, this Court in Abdul Rajak Murtaja Dafedar v. State of Maharashtra [(1969 (2) SCC 234 stated the law, thus : "There are three objections which are usually advanced against reception of the evidence of dog tracking. First since it is manifest that the dog cannot go into the box and give his evidence on oath and consequently submit himself to cross- examination, the dog's human companion must go into the box and the report the dog's evidence and this is clearly herarsay. Secondly, there is a feeling that in criminal cases the life and liberty of a human being should not be dependent on canine inference” In Gade Lakshmi Mangaraju alias Ramesh v. State of A.P [2001 (6) SCC 205], this Court opined "There are inherent frailties in the evidence based on sniffer or tracker dog. The possibility of an error on the part of the dog or its master is the first among them. The possibility of a misrepresentation or a wrong inference from the behaviour of the dog could not be ruled out. Last, but not the least, is the fact that from scientific point of view, there is little knowledge and much uncertainty as to the precise faculties which enable police dogs to track and identify criminals Investigation exercises can afford to make attempts or forays with the help of canine faculties but judicial exercise can ill afford them."

OTHER CASES ON THE SUBJECT

In the case of Surinder Pal Jain v. Delhi Administration AIR 1993 SC 1723 : 1993 Cri LJ 1871, the Apex Court had held that picking up of the smell by the dogs of police and pointing towards the accused could not be said to be circumstances which could exclude the possibility of guilt of any person other than that of the accused or be compatible only with hypothesis of guilt of the accused. The pointing out by the dogs could as well lead to a misguided suspicion that the accused had committed the crime.

QUOTED IN Sridhara @ Sripathi And Anr. vs State Of Karnataka reported in 2005 CriLJ 3014, ILR 2005 KAR 2576 by Justice S Bannurmath, Justice A Kabbin “Abdul Razak Murtaza Dafadar v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1970 SC 283 has observed thus: The tracker dog's evidence cannot be likened to the type of evidence accepted from scientific experts describing chemical reactions, blood tests and the actions of bacilli, because the behaviour of chemicals, blood corpuscles and bacilli contains no element of conscious volition or deliberate choice. Dogs are intelligent animals with many thought processes similar to the thought processes of human beings and wherever there are thought processes there is always the risk or error, deception and even self-deception."

“Similarly in the case of Gade Lakshmi Mangaraju v. State of Andhra Pradesh, AIR 2001 SC 2677. The Apex Court observed thus: The uncanning smelling power of canine species has been profitably tapped by investing agencies to track the culprits. Trained dogs can pick up scent from the scene of any object and trace out the routes through which the culprits would have gone to reach their hideouts. Developing countries have utilized such sniffer dogs in a large measure. In India also the utilization of such tracker dogs is on the increase. Though such dogs may be useful to the investigating officers, can their movements be of any help to the Court in evaluating the evidence in criminal cases? The weakness of the evidence based on tracker dogs are: possibility of error on the part of the dog or its master is the first among them. The possibility of misunderstanding between the dog and its master is close on its heels. The possibility of a misrepresentation or a wrong inference from the behaviour of the dog could not be ruled out. The last, but not the least, is the fact that from a scientific point of view, there is little knowledge and much uncertainty as to the precise faculties which enable Police dogs to track and identify criminals."

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