A Prosecutor is he who prosecutes another for a crime in the name of the government. Section 4(t) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1898 defines “Public Prosecutor” as any person appointed under Section 492, and includes “any person acting under the directions of a Public Prosecutor and any person conducting a Prosecution on behalf of the State in any High Court in the exercise of its original criminal jurisdiction”.

Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)

With regard to (CCTV) footage, it has been held that, pursuant to the insertion of Article 164, the evidence collected through modern devices is admissible as valid. However, the mere production of CCTV footage as a piece of evidence in Court is not sufficient for the Court to rely upon that evidence unless it is proved to be authentic. In order to prove the authenticity of such footage, it is incumbent upon the prosecution to examine the person who recorded or downloaded the footage.

Call Data Record (“CDR”)

According to Article 164 of the QSO, production of evidence through modern devices or techniques can be used as circumstantial evidence if the court deems it to be appropriate. In the case of Abdul Razzaq vs. The State, the Court held in this case that “petitioner/accused had every right to prove himself innocent by making use of the very same call data record”. In the case of Arsalan v. the State, the pivotal pieces of evidence obtained were SIMs and Call Data Records of the accused, which corroborated the accused’s statements.

Evidentiary Value of Calls/Text Messages from the Accused’s Phone

Jurisprudence of the superior judiciary highlights the issues relating to using CDR as evidence against the accused. Some cases also elaborate upon how the accused can utilise CDR to their benefit to discredit the case of the prosecution.

Forensic Evidence

Forensic evidence is a crucial form of evidence and constitutes a link in the chain of evidence that is used to prove the guilt of an accused beyond a shadow of doubt. Forensic evidence is evidence arrived at by scientific or technical means, such as ballistic or medical evidence. Forensic science deals predominantly with the recovery and analysis of latent evidence such as fingerprints, DNA analysis, autopsies, pathologies, etc.

Electronic Records as Evidence

With the use of information technology, the police department has started storing information pertaining to investigation in computers. The computer stores criminal records conveniently and efficiently. One consequence is making it easier for police to collect and process information, eliminating the duplication of paper and electronic records and the multiple entries of the same data. 

For example, the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) has done massive revamping of the outdated criminal record management system (CRMS) of the Punjab Police. “Previously it was a lengthy and tedious process to retrieve records of the individual criminals based on name, father’s name,caste and address. It was almost impossible to identify criminals of each district because there was no comprehensive and integrated criminal record system”.

The PITB has developed the CRMS based on Citizen National Identity Card Number (CNIC). It is a digitised system that contains personal details such as CNIC, appearance, phones, etc. of criminals. The idea is to maintain a comprehensive database containing complete criminal profiles, including personal information, physical appearance, modus operandi, gang, criminal history, fingerprints and photographs that can be easily retrieved via the biometric data. Moreover, the manual fingerprint record is successfully digitised and available in the CRMS database with a complete profile of individual criminals. A system like CRMS can be utilised in various ways to investigate a case. “If a victim of a mobile phone snatching incident reports in a police station and he remembers some details of the snatcher,an officer can apply all the known filters and search the criminal in his own district and the Punjab server”.  Additionally, the Criminal Record Identifier (CRI), an application in the CRMS, also utilises the fingerprints to identify criminals by matching the fingerprints stored in the “Megamatcher Fingerprints Matching Library that has a matching speed of 20 million fingerprints per second”. Moreover, on average, 50 to 60 criminals are being identified per day from different stations across Punjab due to this application.

Electronic records maintained by banks, DFls and other financial institutions can also be used to trace evidence related to terrorism financing. In fact, the FMU is obliged under the law to maintain electronic records of the STRs received by the financial institutions. After receiving an STR, if the FMU suspects that the act is related to terrorism, it may forward the case for further investigation to the CTW of the FIA. These investigations may, however, run parallel to the investigation run by the CTD of the Police if the police discover a financial trail to the terrorism act.

Crime Mapping

Conventional crime mapping techniques include drawing of maps manually and calculations of scale, latitude and longitude. However, such techniques are not only time consuming but may also be of less utility in the future, as the ink could fade, or the paper could tear off. Hence, modern techniques such as digital crime mapping and availability of satellite imagery through Google Maps can result in great efficiency. At this point, it would be pertinent to quote the example of the effective gee-mapping system employed by the Punjab Police. Just like the CRMS, PITB has deployed a web-developed, android-based application system to capture the location of a crime scene with an FlR number, pictures and other details to determine the frequency of crime in an area and identify similar crime clusters. For instance, when an “investigation officer visits a crime scene, he enters the location in the mobile app and geo-tags the crime scene. The data is then displayed on a dashboard for analysis”.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police has developed and launched a Centralised Crime Tracking and Analysis System. The new system is based on geo-tagging technology, and the tracked data includes pictures of the militants/crime scenes, latitude and longitude coordinates,and incident details. The data, when captured and submitted to the main server, is automatically plotted on Google Maps and can be utilised to analyse crime trends in the province.

Moreover, the system has a number of tools for analysing the data, including heat maps, crime comparison maps and tables, and search, using advanced filters.

Collection of Evidence from Social Media and Electronic Devices

Evidence collected from social media pages can provide very powerful evidence, in some instances effectively tracking the activity of individuals. Terrorist entities actively engage in online recruitment and glorify terrorist acts by posting videos and messages, encouraging others to follow them and engage in violence. Whenever possible, efforts should be made to download online content in real time,before it is potentially erased,so that it can be used as evidence. 

When this is not possible, applications need to be submitted to preserve content in advance of either a Court order or Mutual Legal Assistance Request to the relevant overseas jurisdiction (see Model MLAR in and chapter 10 for more information). For instance, the only message content recoverable from WhatsApp is the undelivered messages (retained for 30 days).

Retrieving and analysing evidence from recovered electronic communication devices is a highly skilled task. The vast number of different apps, ever increasing size of hard drives, encryption and other difficulties also mean that once retrieved, analysis and assessment of the data can be extremely time consuming. Efforts need to be triaged, initially (at least) focused on available operational information. Ideally, a more in-depth examination will then follow, as data can easily be hidden. Time can be saved, however, by building a library of propaganda and instructional media files found during the course of investigations. These can be indexed and their hash values376 can then be checked against future seizures,removing the need to repeatedly view and assess the same files.

Although some suspects will be very careful in hiding their online and computer history, others will be less technically aware or more brazen. Recovered phones and computers can be an evidential goldmine, revealing evidence of chat and other communications, financial activity, photographs and videos, and locations visited, together with browsing activity,showing operational planning or the viewing of propaganda.

In preparing a case for Court, analytical charts can illustrate the links between the accused and their actions online or elsewhere. Expert testimony can be presented to the Court to explain the technical elements underlying the recovery of data,whileother subject matter experts can provide context on terrorist groupsand the role played by social media in the funding of terrorism.

When attending a crime scene, there may be electronic evidence, and the following four main principles should be followed in a search:

  • Do not change electronic evidence when it is seized or during the course of examination;
  • If electronic evidence is found during a search, any Police Officer authorised and qualified to examine it must be competent to do so and understand the consequences of doing so;
  • The Police Officer authorised and qualified to examine must have an audit trail of all actions;
  • A senior officer should ensure these actions are adhered to; and
  • If a computer or electronic device is turned off, ensure it is seized for examination by an expert for electronic evidence

To learn more, explore the Handbook of Criminal Investigation in Pakistan, 2021