OPINIONS OF THIRD PERSONS WHEN RELEVANT – EVIDENCE ACT

45. Opinions of experts.

When the Court has to form an opinion upon a point of foreign law, or of science, or art, or as to identity of hand writing or finger-impressions, the opinions upon that point of persons specially skilled in such foreign law, science or art, or in questions as to identity of handwriting or finger impressions, are relevant facts.
Such person called experts. 

Illustrations
(a) The question is, whether the death of A was caused by poison.
The opinions of experts as to the symptoms produced by the poison by which A is supposed to have died, are relevant.

Essential Bare Acts

(b) The question is whether A, at the time of doing a certain act, was by reason of unsoundness of mind, in capable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he was doing what was either wrong or contrary to law.
The opinions of experts upon the question whether the symptoms exhibited by A commonly show unsoundness of mind, and whether such unsoundness of mind usually renders persons incapable of knowing the nature of the acts which they do, or knowing that what they do is either wrong or contrary to law, are relevant.

(c) The question is, whether a certain document was written by A. Another document is produced which is proved or admitted to have been written by A.
The opinion of experts on the question whether the two documents were written by the same person or by different persons are relevant.

Expert opinion admissibility-

Requirement of expert evidence about test firing to find out whether double barrel gun is in working condition or not, not necessary.
Related Case- Jarnail Singh v. State of Punjab, 1999

The evidence of a doctor conducting post mortem without producing any authority in support of his opinion is insufficient to grant conviction to an accused.
Related Case- Mohd Zahid v. State of Tamil Nadu, 1999

Opinion to be received with great caution-

The opinion of a handwriting expert given in evidence is no less fallible than any other expert opinion adduced in evidence with the result that such evidence has to be received with great caution.
Related Case- Ram Narain v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 1973

45A. Opinion of Examiner of electronic evidence.

When in a proceeding, the court has to form an opinion on any matter relating to any information transmitted or stored in any computer resource or any other electronic or digital form, the opinion of the examiner of electronic evidence referred to in section 79A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 is relevant fact. 

Explanation-
For the purposes of this section, an Examiner of Electronic Evidence shall be an expert.

Illustrations-
(a) The question is, whether the death of A was caused by poison.
The opinions of experts as to the symptoms produced by the poison by which A is supposed to have died, are relevant.

Law Notes List

(b) The question is whether A, at the time of doing a certain act, was by reason of unsoundness of mind, in capable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he was doing what was either wrong or contrary to law.
The opinions of experts upon the question whether the symptoms exhibited by A commonly show unsoundness of mind, and whether such unsoundness of mind usually renders persons incapable of knowing the nature of the acts which they do, or knowing that what they do is either wrong or contrary to law, are relevant.

(c) The question is, whether a certain document was written by A. Another document is produced which is proved or admitted to have been written by A.
The opinion of experts on the question whether the two documents were written by the same person or by different persons are relevant.

46. Facts bearing upon opinions of experts.

Facts, not otherwise relevant, are relevant if they support or are inconsistent with the opinion of experts when such opinions are relevant.

Illustrations-
(a) The question is, whether A was poisoned by a certain poison.
The fact that other persons who were poisoned by that poison, exhibited certain symptoms which experts affirm or deny to be the symptoms of that poison, is relevant.

(b) The question is, whether an obstruction to a harbour is caused by a certain seawall.
The fact that other harbours similarly situated in other respects, but where there were no such sea-walls, began to be obstructed at about the same time is relevant.

47. Opinions as to handwriting when relevant.

When the Court has to form an opinion as to the person by whom document was written or signed, the opinion of any person acquainted with the handwriting of the person by whom it is supposed to be written or signed that it was or was not written or signed by that person, is a relevant fact.

Important Sections of Bare Acts

Explanation-
A person is said to be acquainted with the handwriting of another person when he has seen that person write, or when he has received document purporting to be written by that person in answer to documents written by himself to under his authority and addressed to that person, or when in the ordinary course of business document purporting to be written by that person have been habitually submitted to him. 

Illustrations-
The question is whether a given letter is in the handwriting of A, a merchant in London.
B is a merchant in Calcutta, who has written letters addressed to A and received letters purporting to be written by him. G is B’s clerk, whose duty it was to examine and file B’s correspondence. D is B’s broker, to whom B habitually submitted thee letters purporting to be written by A for the purpose advising with him thereon.
The opinions of B,C and D on the question, whether the letter is in the handwriting of A, are relevant though neither B, C or D ever saw A write.

47A. Opinion as to electronic signature when relevant.

When the Court has to form an opinion as to the electronic signature of any person, the opinion of the Certifying Authority which has issued the electronic Signature Certificate is a relevant fact.

48. Opinion as to existence of right or custom when relevant.

When the Court has to form an opinion as to existence of any general custom or right, the opinions as to the existence of such custom or rights, of persons who would be likely to know of its existence if it existed, are relevant. 

Explanation-
The expression “general custom or right” includes customs or right common to any considerable class of persons. 

Illustrations-
The right of the villagers of a particular village to use the water of a particular well is a general right within the meaning of this section.

49. Opinion as to usages, tenants etc when relevant.

When the Court has to form an opinion as to –
the usage’s and tenants of any body of men or family,
the constitution and government of any religious or charitable foundation,
or
the meaning of words or terms used in particular districts or by particular classes of people,
the opinions of persons having special means of knowledge thereon, are relevant facts.

50. Opinion on relationship when relevant.

When the Court has to form an opinion as to the relationship of one person to another, the opinion, expressed by conduct, as to the existence of such relationship, or any person who, as a member of the family or otherwise, has special means of knowledge on the subject, is a relevant fact: 

Provided that such opinion shall not be sufficient to prove a marriage in proceedings under the Indian Divorce Act, 1869 (4 of 1869) or in prosecutions under Section 494, 495, 497 or 498 of the Indian Penal Code. 

Illustrations-
(a) The question is, whether A and B were married.
The fact that they were usually received and treated by their friends as husband and wife, is relevant.

(b) The question is, whether A was the legitimate son of B.
The fact that A was always treated as such by members of the family, is relevant.

*Contradiction in evidence of relationship of witness of trifle nature not material in a partition suit.
Related Case- Gowhari Das versus Santilata Singh, 1999

51. Grounds of opinion when relevant.

Whenever the opinion of any living person is relevant, the grounds on which such opinion is based are also relevant. 

Illustration
An expert may give an account of experiments performed by him for the purpose of forming his opinion.

Next,
Section 52 to Section 55 – Character when Relevant, Chapter II→

A short Law Notes related to Opinion of Third Persons when relevant. Must Read.

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