26 May 2020


Judgments

Supreme Court

Padum Kumar Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh

MANU/SC/0029/2020

14.01.2020

Criminal

Before acting upon opinion of hand-writing expert, Court must see that, such evidence is corroborated by either direct or other circumstantial evidence.

Present appeal has been preferred challenging the impugned judgment passed by the High Court whereby the High Court dismissed the revision petition filed by the Appellant confirming his conviction under Sections 467 and 468 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and the sentence of imprisonment imposed upon him.

Assailing the impugned judgment, learned Counsel for the Appellant has contended that, without proving that the Appellant has forged the signature in Ex.-P4-delivery slip, the conviction of the Appellant under Sections 467 and 468 of IPC cannot be sustained. The Courts below erred in not considering that the Government hand-writing expert's report was in favour of the Appellant.

It is not safe to base the conviction solely on the evidence of the hand-writing expert. As held by the Supreme Court in Magan Bihari Lal v. State of Punjab that "expert opinion must always be received with great caution. it is unsafe to base a conviction solely on expert opinion without substantial corroboration. This Rule has been universally acted upon and it has almost become a Rule of law."

It is fairly well settled that, before acting upon the opinion of the hand-writing expert, prudence requires that the court must see that such evidence is corroborated by other evidence either direct or circumstantial evidence.

The hand-writing experts-M.Y. Khan (PW-5) and Siya Ram Gupta have opined that the disputed signature-"Q-1" in the delivery slip-Ex.-P4 does not match with the specimen signatures-"S-1 to S-6". Hand-writing experts have also opined that the one who wrote the specimen signatures had not written the disputed signature "Q-1" in Ex.-P4. As pointed out by the Courts below, the evidence of hand-writing expert is the evidence relied upon by the prosecution to corroborate the evidence of PW-2-Devesh Mohan who has denied his signature in Ex.-P4. Learned Counsel for the Appellant is not right in contending that, the Courts below have based the conviction solely upon the opinion of the hand-writing experts. The evidence of hand-writing experts is only a corroborative piece of evidence to corroborate the evidence of PW-2.

In the light of the evidence of PWs 1 to 3 and other evidence, the High Court rightly found that the Appellant who delivered the registered envelope at the place of the complainant-PW-1 is bound to explain as to who made the alleged signature in Ex.-P4-delivery slip. In the absence of any explanation by the Appellant-Accused, as held by the High Court, a presumption is to be raised against the Appellant who delivered the envelope as he is the only person having knowledge of the same.

From the evidence of PW-3, the prosecution has proved that the envelope contained valuable security-four Indira Vikas Patra of value of each Rs. 5,000 totalling Rs. 20,000. Upon appreciation of evidence adduced by the prosecution, the Courts below rightly recorded the concurrent findings that the Appellant has forged the signature of PW-2-Devesh Mohan and the conviction of the Appellant under Sections 467 and 468 of IPC is based upon the evidence and the conviction does not suffer from any infirmity warranting interference.

For the conviction under Section 467 of IPC, the Appellant has been sentenced to undergo imprisonment for four years and for the conviction under Section 468 of IPC, the Appellant has been sentenced to undergo imprisonment for three years along with fine of Rs. 500. The occurrence was of the year 1992. As seen from the custody certificate, the Appellant has been in custody from 04.07.2018 i.e. for a period of more than eighteen months. Considering that the occurrence was of the year 1992 and the facts and circumstances of the case, the sentence of imprisonment imposed upon the Appellant is reduced to the period already undergone.

The conviction of the Appellant-Accused under Sections 467 and 468 of IPC is confirmed and the sentence of imprisonment imposed on him is reduced to the period already undergone. The impugned judgment passed by the High Court is accordingly modified and the appeal is partly allowed. The Appellant-Accused is ordered to be released forthwith unless his presence is required in any other case.

Relevant

Magan Bihari Lal v. State of Punjab MANU/SC/0105/1977

Tags : Conviction Evidence Credibility

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