An accused or any other person is not entitled to get a certified copy of the deposition recorded under Section 164 CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code, 1973) during the stage of investigation in a rape case, even though the statement is a public document.
Supreme Court directions
The Supreme Court says that in a rape case the statement under Section 164 of the Code should not be disclosed to any person till the charge-sheet / police report under Section 173 of the Code is filed. The purpose of such a direction is to protect the interest of the prosecutrix in such cases in the wake of the possibility of threat to her life.
It was in State of Karnataka v Shivanna @ Tarkari Shivanna [(2014) 8 SCC 916 ], the SC issued the directions under Article 142 of the Constitution. The directions are as follows:
Upon receipt of information relating to the commission of offence of rape, the Investigating Officer shall make immediate steps to take the victim to any Metropolitan/preferably Judicial Magistrate for the purpose of recording her statement under Section 164 Cr.P.C.
A copy or the statement under Section 164 Cr.P.C. should be handed over to the Investigating Officer immediately with a specific direction that the contents of such statement under Section 164 Cr.P.C. should not be disclosed to any person till charge-sheet/report under Section 173 CrPC is filed.
The Investigating Officer shall as far as possible take the victim to the nearest Lady Metropolitan/preferably Lady Judicial Magistrate.
The Investigating Officer shall record specifically the date and the time at which he learnt about the commission of the offence of rape and the date and time at which he took the victim to the Metropolitan/preferably Lady Judicial Magistrate as aforesaid.
\5. If there is any delay exceeding 24 hours in taking the victim to the Magistrate, the Investigating Officer should record the reasons for the same in the case diary and hand over a copy of the same to the Magistrate.
Medical Examination of the victim to be conducted
The SC, in the above said judgment, says the Section 164A CrPC imposes an obligation on the part of Investigating Officer to get the victim of the rape immediately medically examined.
A copy of the report of such medical examination should be immediately handed over to the Magistrate who records the statement of the victim under Section 164 Cr.P.C.
The statement is a public document
It is true that Section 164 CrPC statement is a public document falling under Section 74(1)(iii) of the Evidence Act. As it is a public document, the accused or anyone else is entitled to get certified copy of it. That entitlement begins only after the police report is filed.
Right to get a copy begins after investigation
During the course of investigation when a statement is recorded under Section 164 CrPC, it will become part of the case diary file till the final report is filed. If the prosecution wants to rely on that document, then the accused has a right to get that document. Till then the accused is not entitled to get the document as a matter of right.
Therefore the accused has no right to obtain the copy of the 164 CrPC statement in a rape case, before the filing of the charge-sheet under Section 173 (2) CrPC by the police.