ABSTRACT OF THE CASE:
This narrative is the case summary of the judgment pronounced by the Supreme Court in State (through CBI) v. S.J. Choudhary; wherein the meaning of science and art was widened thereby overturning the ruling in the case of Hanumant v. The State of Madhya Pradesh. It was held that the opinion of an expert in the science of typewriting will be admissible in the case. The court continued, “A scientific analysis of some key characteristics of the typewriter that are distinctive to a particular typewriter and its individuality, which can be studied by an expert with professional expertise in the subject, is the basis for the examination of typewriting and identification of the typewriter used to type the contested document.” His perspective on that topic thus refers to a scientific issue that is covered by Section 45 of the Indian Evidence Act.
The court also pointed out that typewriting and handwriting both share the same basic principles for recognition. Because typing is distinctive to various persons and hence clearly discernible, the Indian Evidence Act, which is still in force today, permits the interpretation of science and art to include this talent. The Indian Evidence Act did not initially include typewriting since it was unheard of at the time it was created. The court reached the decision that the state’s appeal would be upheld and that the typewriter’s view would qualify as an expert opinion for purposes of Section 45 of the statute and constitute a material fact in the proceeding.
PRIMARY DETAILS OF THE CASE
|Case No.||Criminal Appeal No. 461 of 1987|
|Jurisdiction||The Supreme Court of India|
|Case Decided On||13 February 1996|
|Judges||J.S. Verma, G.N. Ray, N.P. Singh, Faizanuddin and G.T. Nanavati, JJ|
|Legal Provisions Involved||Indian Evidence Act: Section 45|
BRIEF FACTS OF THE CASE:
The appeal arose when the prosecution wanted to examine a typewriter expert for proof of certain incriminating facts against S.J. Choudhary based on the identity of the typewriter on which material document was alleged to have been typed. An objection was put forth by the respondent placing reliance on the case of Hanumant v. The State of Madhya Pradesh which was upheld by the trial court. In this case it was accepted by the court that the word science and art or handwriting will not cover typewriting as a different skill.
The respondent was being tried on charges punishable under Section 302, IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of the Explosive Substances Act, 1908 in Sessions Case No. 36 of 1983. He objected to the admissibility of the opinion of a typewriter who is an expert in the science of typewriting. The court, however, allowed the appeal of the state stating that the word science and art is wide enough to cover within itself the science of typewriting and the opinion of an expert in typewritings about the questioned typed document being typed on a particular typewriter is based on a scientific study of the typewriting with reference to the significant peculiar features of a particular typewriter and the ultimate opinion of the expert is based on scientific grounds. The opinion of a typewriter expert is an opinion of a person specially skilled in that branch of the science with reference to which the Court has to form an opinion on the point involved for decision in the case.
ISSUE INVOLVED IN THE CASE:
Whether the opinion of a typewriter expert is admissible in evidence under Section 45 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 ?
LEGAL ASPECTS INVOLVED IN THE CASE:
- Indian Evidence Act, 1872
- Section 45: Opinions of Experts– It states that the opinions of those who are particularly knowledgeable in such foreign legislation, science, or art, or concerns about the identification of handwriting or finger impressions, also referred to as specialists therein, are pertinent facts. By virtue of Section 45 of the Evidence Act, the opinion of such experts may be presented as important facts in evidence.
JUDGMENT IN BRIEF:
The court upheld the State’s appeal and overturned the Delhi High Court’s decision and the trial court’s admission of a typewriter’s skill under Section 45 of the Indian Evidence Act of 1872. According to the court, the mere mention of the word “Science” alone is enough to show that a person with specialised knowledge of typewriters would be an expert in this field, and his claim that he can identify a specific typewriter by the way he types will be taken into account as a relevant fact under the provisions of Section 45 of the Indian Evidence Act.
Overturning Hanumant v. The State of Madhya Pradesh, the court noted that typewriting was not specifically included in the Act at the time it was established since it was a relatively new science. But if the Court must develop a judgment about a matter pertaining to any area of science or art, the term “science and art” must be read broadly to include within its ambit the view of an expert in each discipline of these topics.
The honourable court also considered the many definitions and interpretations of the term “science,” taking into account resources like The Collins Dictionary and The Oxford Encyclopedia English Dictionary. It was determined that the definition of science clearly demonstrates that the skill or technique of examining the distinctive features of a typewriter and comparing the disputed typewriting with the admitted typewriting on a particular typewriter to determine whether the disputed typewriting was done on the same typewriter is based on a science study of the two typewritings with reference to their distinctive characteristics; and the expert’s opinion is based on recognised professional standards. And thereby, the view generated by a person having skill in that science is the opinion of an expert and is admissible under Section 45.
The court also clarified citing authorities that an act is always taken to be speaking and in construing such an act the interpreter is to presume that the Parliament intended it to be applied in the future. The Indian Evidence Act being an ongoing act provides for the scope to constantly widen the ambit of the words included in the Act originally and interpret it in such a manner as to allow for any relevant changes with respect to social changes, technological advancements, the meaning of words and other matters that have occurred since the Act’s passing.
The court next looked at the underlying concepts that both typing and handwriting identification of a person rely on. The investigation resulted in the conclusion that a typewriter gets more odd and recognizable to the user the longer it is used. The honorable court came to the judgment that typewriting identification is based on the same premise as handwriting identification or any other thing that has a lot of potential variants, further stating that a typewriter represents an individual.
The court concluded that the word science is wide enough to meet the requirement of treating the opinion of a typewriter expert as an opinion evidence coming within the ambit of Section 45 of the Evidence Act and allowed the appeal.
Upon a very keen observation it is clear that the judgment proves to be fruitful in determining the ambit of the words included in the Evidence Act 1872 and its interpretation with the changing dynamics of the law. The judgment of the court helps in determining the fact that what constitutes the opinion of an expert in typewriting and if it is admissible under the current law. The original Act that was passed in 1872 did not have the word typewriting embedded in it as a science or art as it was unknown at the time. With the evolution of technology and the advent of the science of typewriting it became important to widen the scope of the law to include such changes. The court rightly referred to ‘Photographic Evidence’ by Charles C. Scott Second Edition. Volume 1’ and observed that an ongoing law provides the scope to inculcate the relevant changes thus concluding that Section 45, Indian Evidence Act 1872 is wide enough in wording to include typewriting as a peculiar and distinctive skill thus allowing the admissibility of the opinion of an expert who is skilled in that science to distinguish the typewriting skill.
- Oxford Encyclopedic English Dictionary;
- New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Vol. 2;
- Collins Dictionary of the English Language;
- Photographic Evidence’ by Charles C. Scott Second Edition. Volume 1;
- Law of Disputed and Forged Documents by J. Newton Baker;
- Questioned Documents. Second Edition by Albert S. Osborn, page 598;
- Statutory interpretation by Francis Bennion, Second edition
CASES REFERRED AND OVERRULED
Hanumant v. The State of Madhya Pradesh AIR 1952 SC 343 : 1952 SCR 1091
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JUDGMENT SUMMARY BY ADITI PRIYADARSHI