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Conviction based on handwriting expert is not valid

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

08/02/2021

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Court convicted my brother for the offence of forgery. Conviction is solely based on handwriting expert. His evidence is the main reason of conviction. There is no other evidence which proves that he has committed the crime of forgery.

His wife filed FIR against him saying that he has issued false medical certificates. She has no good relation with him therefore she has been trying to send him behind the bar. Few persons got job in PAC on the forged medical certificates. The government had set up a SIT to investigate that matter. Its findings shows that medical officer of XXX PHC had issued those certificates.

However, the SIT took the statement of my brother and found no incriminating evidence against him. But later on his wife produced some letter head (medical certificates) before the SIT thereafter SIT files charge sheet against him. SIT had no evidence except the opinion of hand writing expert that matters written on those latter heads were in my brother’s handwriting. Sir, what should I do?

Question from: Uttar Pradesh

The court cannot convict the accused solely on the evidence of handwriting expert. Some independent evidence is necessary to prove the involvement of accused in the commission of crime. However, expert opinion is relevant evidence under section 45 of the Indian Evidence Act. But it is not a conclusive proof.

Expert’s evidence is only an opinion

Expert’s evidence is merely an opinion it is not a conclusive proof. Evidence of handwriting expert needs corroboration from direct or circumstantial evidence. In Magan Bihari Lal vs State of Punjab AIR 1977 SC 1091 the Supreme Court has held that conviction solely on expert opinion without substantial corroboration is unsafe.

Thus, corroboration of expert’s opinion with other evidence is necessary. Court does not rely on the handwriting expert if no other evidence is available on record to support the opinion of expert. The science of identification of handwriting is not nearly so perfect and the risk is therefore, higher in admitting his opinion without corroboration.

Approach of court

The court cannot blindly admit the expert’s opinion without corroborating with other evidence. In S. Gopal Reddy vs State of Andhra Pradesh (1996) 4 SCC 596, the Supreme Court has held that the evidence of an expert is weak type of evidence and the court don’t generally consider it as a conclusive proof.

Experts may go wrong because they are human and they can make honest mistakes of conclusion. Therefore, the court should cautious in accepting their evidence. Without corroboration court should not admit their evidence, Fakhruddin vs. State of M.P. AIR 1967 SC 1326.

Conviction based on handwriting expert

Thus conviction solely based on handwriting expert is bad in the eyes of law. The court however, accept his opinion but at the same time must examine its correctness. Corroboration is the best medium to test the expert opinion. Lack of corroborative evidence forms a basis to challenge the legality of sentence. Therefore, you should file an appeal against this judgment.

shivendra pratap singh advocate

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

Practising lawyer in the High Court Lucknow. You can consult on Criminal, Civil, Matrimonial, Writ, Service matters, Property, Revenue and RERA related issues.

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