Pathankot probe: Can a foreign agency question Indian witnesses?

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Pathankot, April 7: After saying a lot through the Pakistan media, the Joint Investigation Team made an official statement. The JIT made the statement after it informed the National Investigation Agency about the progress being made in the case.

However the most important aspect in the statement is the JIT saying that they were not given access to the officials of the NSG, Indian Army, BSF or Air Force who were witnesses in the case. The NIA had made it clear that the officers would not be part of the probe by the JIT. However the other witnesses were allowed to speak with the JIT.

Pathankot

Foreign agencies cannot question Indian witnesses:

Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, the powers of investigation lies with the respective police station.

In the case of the Pathankot attack, it is the NIA which has the powers to probe the case since it was handed over to the agency by the Punjab government. However the JIT does not have the jurisdiction to probe the matter here.

Has the Punjab government issued a specific notification empowering the JIT to probe the Pathankot case. There is no such indication. However the NIA has pointed out that it is interacting with the JIT under the extant legal procedure. If this is in place there is no issue.

However, this could be restricted to giving a presentation and taking them to specific parts of the air base where the attack took place. However there could be a problem where the questioning of witnesses is concerned. The problem would occur if the witnesses decide to contradict themselves.

It is yet to be made known if the JIT had applied for specific permission to record the statement of the witnesses. Section 168B of the CrPC specifies the procedure to be followed while recording of witness by a foreign country. The JIT would have had to obtained specific permission from the government of India in case it wanted to record the statement of the witnesses.

Once such permission is granted, then the government would have to forward the same to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate who in turn would have had to appointment a magistrate to conduct the recording of the statements.

Once the statements are recorded then it would be sent back to the Government of India which in turn would send it to the foreign country. It is not clear whether such a procedure was followed by the JIT.

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