Expert in Evidence Law

The court cannot form a correct judgement without the help of a person with special skills or experience in a particular subject. When the court needs an opinion in a subject which requires special assistance, the court calls an expert, a specially skilled person. The opinion given by a third person is considered as relevant facts if the person testifying is an expert.For example, the court was confused that a letter has been written by person ‘X’ or not. The court calls a handwriting expert to find out the same. This person will be known as an expert and the opinion which he gives in the case is relevant.Expert is defined under section 45 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872. The court needs an expert to form an opinion upon:Foreign law Science & Art identity of Handwriting Identity of finger impression Electronic evidence.

Expert Opinion :-The Indian Evidence Act under Section 45 enumerates the law relating to Opinion of Experts or commonly known as Expert Opinion/Expert evidence. This statutory provision is adhered to when the Court has to form opinion pertaining-foreign law-science-identity of handwriting-finger impressions in such cases, the Court seeks opinion of skilled persons i.e. experts in the aforementioned fields. Matters commonly made the subject of such evidence include causes of death, insanity, effects of poison, genuineness of works of art, value of articles, genuineness of handwriting, proper navigation of vessels, meaning of trade terms and foreign law.

Differentiation between opinion & evidence :-Opinion :-Expert gives his opinion regarding handwriting, finger impression, nature of injury etc.2. It is advisory in character. 3. Court can’t pass an order of conviction on the basis of expert opinion, as because it is not conclusive. 4. Expert gives his opinion on the basis of his experience, special knowledge or skill in the field.

Evidence :-1. An ordinary witness states the fact relating to the incident. 2. Witness states the facts. Opinion of a witness is not admissible.3. Court may pass an order of conviction on the basis of evidence of ocular witness (eye witness). 4. A witness gives actual facts connected with the incident what he had seen or heard or perceived.

Relevance of Expert opinion in Indian Evidence Act :-Expert evidence is covered under Ss.45-51 of Indian Evidence Act. S.45 of the Act allows that when the subject matter of enquiry related with science or art, as to require the course of previous habit or study and in regard to which inexperienced persons are unlikely to form correct judgment. It allows an expert to tender evidence on a particular fact in question and to show to the court that his findings are unbiased and scientific.S.46 of the Act states that facts, not otherwise relevant, are relevant if they support or are inconsistent with the opinion of experts when such opinions are relevant. S.47 of the Indian Evidence Act exclusively deals with the opinion as to the handwriting.

The explanation further elaborates the circumstances under which a person is said to have known the disputed handwriting. The expert opinion is not confined to handwriting alone. The opinions in relation to customs are also admissible according to S. 48 of Indian Evidence Act.In Abdul Razak V. State of Maharashtra (AIR 1970 SC 283) question arises before the Supreme Court whether the evidence of dog tracking is admissible in evidence and if so, whether this evidence will be treated at par with the evidence of scientific experts. In this case, Pune Express was derailed near Miraj Railway Station on 10th Oct.,1966. Sabotage was suspected. The removal of fishplates was found to be the cause of derailment and accident.

The police dog was brought into service, taken to the scene of crime. After smelling the articles near the affected joint, the dog ran towards embankment where one fishplate was lying, then the dog smelt it and went to a nearby shanty and pounced upon the accused who was a gang man at Miraj Railway station.The Supreme Court held that evidence of the trainer of tracking dog is relevant and admissible in evidence, but the evidence can’t be treated at par with the evidence of scientific experts analyzing blood or chemicals. The reactions of blood and chemicals can’t be equated with the behavior of dog which is an intelligent animal with many thought processes similar to the thought processes of human beings. Whenever thought process is involved there is risk of error and deception. The law is made clear by the Supreme Court by enunciating the principle thatthe evidence of dog tracking is admissible, but not ordinarily of much weight and not at par with the evidence of scientific experts.

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