Service of sniffer dog for the purpose of investigating a criminal case

To glimpse the relevancy of evidence corroborated using service of sniffer dog we have placed reliance upon the judgment pronounced in Dinesh Borthakur case[1] were all the important evidence were put into doubt but the evidence corroborated with the help of sniffer dog led to prosecution of the accused by the trial court. The mainstay of the prosecution case is the evidence who testified about the sniffer dog’s staying near the accused and the reaction of the accused was not natural as he did not exhibit the emotion or sadness despite the fact that his wife was killed. The court to draw conclusion of the evidence drawn from sniffer dog referred to the decision of apex court in Abdul Rajak Dafedar case[2] where it was held as under;

            “there was three objection 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 report the dog’s evidence and this is clearly hearsay. Secondly, there is a feeling that in criminal cases the life and liberty of a human being should not be depend on canine inference.”

Another reference was drawn from Ramesh v. State of A.P. 2001[3], where the court observed;

            “there are inherent frailties in the evidence based on sniffer or tracker dog. The responsibility 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.”

In lack of faculties to understand evidence corroborated from sniffer dog, it was held that while the service 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 the accused.

Read: How to prove and investigate murder in the case of death by poisoning ?

[1] Dinesh Borthakur v. State of Assam, AIR 2008 SC 2205 : 2008 AIR SCW 3301 : (2008) 5 SCC 697

[2] Abdul Rajak Murtaja Dafedar v. State of Maharastra [(1996) (2) SCC 234]

[3] Gade Lakshmi Mangaraju alias Ramesh v. State of A.P. [2001 (6) SCC 205]

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