Test identification parade

From Justice Definitions Project

Meaning of Test Identification Parade

A test identification parade (TIP) or a police lineup is an identification process via which witnesses identify the culprits.[1] The whole idea of a TIP is to ensure that the accused is correctly identified by the witness without the help of any other source and to prevent false identifications.[2] This becomes redundant in cases wherein the accused is already known to the witness.

Legal Provisions regarding Test Identification Parade

Section 54 of the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023, read with Section 9 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872[3] relates to the procedure of a TIP and its subsequent admission in the court of law.

Section 54 lays down the procedure for identification of arrested persons which provides that the arrested person shall subject himself to the identification process on the request of the police officer. It additionally provides that if the arrested person is mentally or physically disabled, then the Judicial Magistrate shall supervise the identification process to ensure that the arrested person is identified via means comfortable to him. Similarly, if the identifying witness is mentally or physically disabled, then the identification process shall be recorded.

Section 9 states that facts which establish the identity of any thing or person whose identity is relevant to the case, then such facts shall be considered as relevant to that extent.

Procedure for Conducting Test Identification Parade:

During an identification parade, the person(s) to be identified by a witness must be kept out of the witness's sight, with no other witnesses present during a single parade. Additionally, the accused should change positions after each witness identification occurs.[4]

It is significant to maintain a healthy ratio between suspects and non-suspects during a TIP.[5] If Prison Manuals or official guidelines specify the required ratio, it is mandatory for the officer-in-charge to adhere to those rules/guidelines during the TIP.

During the TIP, it is sine-qua-non that individuals who are not suspects match the age group and possess similar physical characteristics (such as size, weight, color, facial hair, scars, marks, bodily injuries, etc.) to the suspects. The overseeing officer should document these physical features before commencing the TIP process. This gives credibility to the TIP and ensures that the TIP is not just an empty formality.[5]

Undue delay in conducting a TIP has a serious bearing on the credibility of the identification process.[6] It is important to conduct the TIP as soon as possible, even though there is no fixed timeline for the same. The longer the delay, the more likely it is that the witnesses will see the accused, which could damage their credibility. To this effect, the Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized that the possibility of witnesses seeing the accused by itself can be a decisive factor for rejecting the TIP.[6]

Identification parades should, whenever possible, be conducted by a Judicial Magistrate within the premises of the Jail.[1] If a Magistrate is in charge of the identification, they should document and sign the proceedings. Any statements made by the identifying witness during the Test Identification Parade (TIP) must be included in the records, including any mistakes. Additionally, if any accused raises a valid objection during the identification parade, it should also be recorded. Upon completion of the TIP and the documentation of proceedings, a certificate should be attached and signed by the conducting Magistrate.[7]

The Supreme Court has held that TIP is to be conducted by the investigating agency as per their statutory prerogatives.[8] There is no statutory provision authorizing the accused to pray for placing him in the test parade.

Evidentiary value of Test Identification Parade:

Identification tests do not constitute substantive evidence and are essentially governed by Section 181 of the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita. But they are primarily conducted for the purpose of helping the investigating agency to check if the investigation is proceeding on the right path.[9]

They are also used to corroborate the testimony of a witness identifying the accused during trial proceedings, since by itself, such evidence is weak in nature.[10] But such corroboration is merely for prudence, and may not be required where the court finds a specific witness highly credible and reliable.

Failure to hold a test identification parade would not make inadmissible the evidence of identification in court.[11] The weight to be attached to such identification should be a matter for the courts of fact.[12] However, the law still remains that if an accused does refuse to cooperate with a TIP, an adverse inference should be drawn against him.[13]

Test Identification Parade vis-a-vis Article 20(3)

In the case of Mukesh Singh v. State (NCT of Delhi)[8] the Supreme Court held that after the introduction of Section 54A in the CrPC (the predecessor of Section 54 of the BNSS), an accused is under an obligation to stand for identification parade.[14] The accused cannot refuse to participate in the Test Identification Parade (TIP) by claiming coercion or force, as their involvement in the TIP does not involve presenting evidence or engaging in any evidentiary actions. Article 20(3) of the Constitution does not apply to TIP if the evidence can be obtained without the accused voluntarily participating in any evidentiary acts.

Types of Identification

Identification by photographs:

Apart from identification through a police line-up, identification is also done by photographs, to which the same provisions of law apply. It is a relatively inexpensive and easy-to-use method, and it can be very effective in identifying criminals, especially if they are well-known to the police or have been convicted of crimes in the past. In fact, the Supreme Court has held in Laxmi Raj Shetty v. State of T.N.,[15] that photo identifications should take the place of test identification.

The manner of conducting a photo identification parade is similar to that of a test identification parade. The officer-in-charge will show the witness a set of photographs which should include the photograph of the suspect, along with photographs of non-suspects who are similar in appearance to the suspect. The witness’ identification shall then be recorded and submitted. It is important to note that the suspect’s photo should not have been published in print or electronic media previously.[16]

As with test identification parades, there exist regional variations in photo identifications too. For example, the State of Odisha specifically lays down that video clippings, CCTV footage(s), recording(s) pertaining to the accused’s movements can be used for identification, just like a photograph.[17] The Union Territory of Pondicherry[18] states that in case of photo identifications, a regular identification parade should be held after the accused has been arrested.

Identification of Property:

Property identification parades[19] must be held in the court of the magistrate where the property is stored. Each item of property must be displayed separately for the parade, mixed up with at least four other similar items. Before calling the witnesses to identify the property, the investigating officer must ask them to describe the identification marks of their property. The witnesses must be called one by one and, after leaving, must not be allowed to communicate with the witnesses who have not yet been called.

Regional Variations with respect to the Conduct of Test Identification Parade

Various states in India such as Maharashtra,[20] Odisha,[21] Punjab,[22] Tamil Nadu,[23] and Andhra Pradesh,[24] along with other states[25] have also come up with their supplementary guidelines which need to be followed along with the broad procedures laid under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 for the conduct of identification parades. Such additional guidelines prescribed by the states contain certain procedural variations which are elaborated hereafter.

Judicial Form No. 12 reflecting the register of test identification parade for the State of Tamil Nadu

For example, while the State of Maharashtra[26] mentions that a ratio of 1:6 (between suspect(s) and non-suspects) has to be maintained during identification parades, the State of Pondicherry[27] prescribes that the range of ratio has to be between 1:5 to 1:10. On the other hand, the State of Nagaland[28] prescribes a range of 1:8 to 1:10, incase of a singular suspect. If there are more than one suspect, the rules require the suspect to be paraded along with 20 to 30 other non-suspects. The State of Andhra Pradesh[29] does not prescribe any such ratio for the parade.

All the States prescribe that only authorized personnel are allowed to be present during parade and that the witness should not be allowed to see the suspect before the commencement of the parade. The Rules and Orders of High Court of Punjab & Haryana[30] even state that if a parade has to be conducted, the suspect should be produced with his face covered and this fact has to be recorded in the remand order.

As far as it relates to prescribing an officer to oversee the procedure, the States of Maharashtra[31] and Uttar Pradesh[32] that categorically place on record that Judicial Magistrates ought not to be associated with Test Identification Parades. Most other states lay down that the Magistrate nominated by the Chief Judicial Magistrate should be in-charge of the Parade. 

All States require the Magistrate in-charge to submit the report of the parade to the jurisdictional court in the manner provided for in their respective manuals.

International Standards for Identification Parades

Throughout history, numerous cases exist in which individuals were wrongly convicted primarily on the grounds of eyewitness identification evidence. To prevent the miscarriages of justice, the United Kingdom Court of Appeal in the case of R v. Turnbull (1976) issued guidelines on how to deal with cases involving disputed identification. These guidelines are known as the ‘Turnbull guidelines'.[33] The Turnbull guidelines apply only when the case against the accused depends wholly or substantially on the correctness of the identification and when that identification is in dispute. Some of the important facts determining reliability of the identification include the visibility and lighting conditions at the time of the offence, distance of the eyewitness from the perpetrator, duration between the sighting of the offence and the reporting of the incident, etc.[34]

These guidelines have also been adopted in other common law systems, including Ireland, Canada, and Australia.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Rules and Principles of Identification under Criminal Justice System, Sarvesh Kumar Sahni, SCC Online Blog, 20.08.2020, [last accessed on 07/11/2023] : https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2020/08/20/rules-and-principles-of-identification-under-criminal-justice-system/
  2. Abdul Waheed Khan v. State of A.P., (2002) 7 SCC 175.
  3. Section 9, Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
  4. Rule 1775(8), Pondicherry - Criminal Rules of Practice, [last accessed on 07/11/2023]
  5. 5.0 5.1 Rajesh Govind Jagesha v. State of Maharashtra, (1999) 8 SCC 428
  6. 6.0 6.1 Gireesan Nair v. State of Kerala, (2023) 1 SCC 180
  7. Conduct of Test Identification Parades for suspects and property recovered during investigation by Sri C.N.Murthy, Prl. Senior Civil Judge, Kadapa [last accessed on 07/11/2023]
  8. 8.0 8.1 Mukesh Singh v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2023 SCC OnLine SC 1061
  9. Matru v. State of M.P., AIR 1971 SC 1050
  10. Malkhansingh v. State of M.P., (2003) 5 SCC 746
  11. Prakash v. State of Karnataka, (2014) 12 SCC 133
  12. Mohd. Shafi v. State of A.P., (2004) 1 AP LJ 48 (SN)
  13. Manu Sharma v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2010) 6 SCC 1
  14. Section 54A, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
  15. (1988) 3 SCC 319
  16. Rule 1776, Note , Pondicherry - Criminal Rules of Practice, [last accessed on 07/11/2023]
  17. CB Circular No. 08/2019, Identification of accused by conducting Photo Test Identification Parade - Odisha, [last accessed on 07/11/2023]
  18. Rule 1776(1), Pondicherry - Criminal Rules of Practice, [last accessed on 07/11/2023]
  19. Rule 1779, Note , Pondicherry - Criminal Rules of Practice ; Rule 35, Rules and Orders by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh [last accessed on 07/11/2023]
  20. Criminal Rules of Practice - Maharashtra, [last accessed on 07/11/2023]
  21. CB Circular No. 08/2019 - Identification of accused by conducting Photo Test Identification Parade - Odisha, [last accessed on 07/11/2023].
  22. Rules and Orders by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, [last accessed on 07/11/2023].
  23. Criminal Rules of Practice, 2019 - Madras, [last accessed on 07/11/2023]
  24. Rules and Orders by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, [last accessed on 07/11/2023]
  25. Pondicherry - Criminal Rules of Practice; Sikkim - Criminal Rules of Practice; Rajasthan - Criminal Rules of Practice; Uttar Pradesh - Criminal Rules of Practice [last accessed on 07/11/2023].
  26. Rule 3(v), Identification Parades, Circular No. PRO -2460/16653-IX, dated 16.08.1963, - Criminal Rules of Practice - Maharashtra, [last accessed on 07/11/2023].
  27. Rule 1773, Pondicherry - Criminal Rules of Practice, [last accessed on 07/11/2023]
  28. Rule 182, Nagaland Police Manual Part-V 2, [last accessed on 07/11/2023]
  29. Rule 34(2)(a), Rules and Orders by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, [last accessed on 07/11/2023]
  30. Rule 4 (xiii), Rules and Orders by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, [last accessed on 07/11/2023]
  31. Rule 1, Identification Parades, Circular No. PRO -2460/16653-IX, dated 16.08.1963 - Criminal Rules of Practice - Maharashtra , [last accessed on 07/11/2023]
  32. C.L. No. 70/Adm. (B) dated 7th May, 1974, General Rules (Criminal), 1977 - Uttar Pradesh, [last accessed on 07/11/2023]
  33. Turnbull guidelines: The Turnbull Guidelines and Mistaken Identification at Criminal Trials - claims.co.uk, [last accessed on 07/11/2023].
  34. Identification | The Crown Prosecution Service, [last accessed on 07/11/2023].
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