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Cross-Examination based on Handwriting

Writing has a long history. It began with simple pictographsdrawn on rock. Like today, earlier our ancestors used to write and communicate by pictures and symbol. In modern world, the use of documents involving handwriting and also the type scripts has increased.

Handwriting is the way of expressing thoughts, expression basically the way you feel. Like human body handwriting also grows and degentres after passing through stages of infancy, youth and old age. The handwriting of a person varies before it is developed and after it attains maturity.

Handwriting are influenced by heredity, sex, race and nationality. It should be noted that handwriting variations are habitual and occur in an individual to certain extent. Variations of writing occurs due to old age, different pen, pencil and ink, signatures etc.

Handwriting plays an important role in individuals life. We are all required to at some time or other to handle, execute or witness a cheque, will, agreement, deed, power of attorney and all others important documents.

Herein, in all the documents signature of the party plays vital role and further by the way of signature, if the document is forged or someone who is not the rightful owner of the document claims to be his/her by the way of his/her signature we are able to execute necessary proceedings before the Court of Law. Whenever this circumstances arises as per section 45 of Indian Evidence act , the opinion of handwriting experts becomes relevant.

Cross-examination

Cross – examination is one of the most important tool during legal battle in the Court room. The object of Cross - Examination is to help client by purely litigious professional standpoint and thus finding out real truth by exposing falsehood.The cross-examination will only prove useful when testimony is weak, pretentious or perjured. Cross-examination is the interrogation of a witness by a party other than the direct examiner upon a matter that is within the scope of direct-examination.

The right to cross-examination is one of the most powerful instrument provided to advocates in litigation. Conducting cross-examination is an art and only an artist will be best at conducting cross-examination. It is very tricky yet efficient. It plays a predominant role in courts.

In a matter relating to trial case or a civil case including motor vehicle claims, Maintenance, Murder trial, cheque bounce cases, the Cross - Examination of witness is considered as major element of trial.

In modern era the forgery of the document is increasing day by day and while judging the genuines or fraudulent nature of writing the differences should be calculated and should be ascertained whether they are due to developed and skilled writing or is merely due to fraudulent action of pen. Forgery has been defined as making of the false document or writing.

The documents which are forged are false document in itself, the salient features of forged documents are:

  1. Cause of damage or injury to public or any person;
  2. Support any claim or title;
  3. Cause any person to part with property
  4. Enter into excess or implied contract; Or
When dealing with forgery cases the cross-examination pays most important role. The cross-examination should pay more attention to the principle underlying proof of hand writing which are based on keen observations.

The most common feature found in traced forgeries are:

  1. Slow and restricted manner of speed.
  2. Cautiously drawn outlines
  3. Varying width of strokes and irregularity of pen –pressure and shading
  4. Retouching, retracing, and connecting strokes.
  5. Pen lifts, pen stops, and pen pause at usual places.

Golden rules of Cross - Examination by Mr. Cornelins

  1. Do not cross examine a witness unless you have a definite objective in mind.
  2. Give some thought in advance of the trial as to how the witness are to be interrogated and whenever possible prepare Cross - Examination in advance.
  3. During Cross - Examination watch the witness closely and require that he answers your question without evasion.
  4. Never attempt to make such of the trifling discrepancies in testimony either by your Cross - Examination or by your argument to the jury.
  5. Use language just as simple as possible in examining witness.

Do's and Don't of Cross-examination

  1. Be prepared with your trial. Don't miss out even a single comma, full stop.
  2. Use simple language for your questions.
  3. Don't argue with the witness.
  4. Know the answer to your question asked.
  5. Don't allow witness to explain if you can prevent it.

The scientist of great experience have pronounced that comparison of inner feature are essential to arrive conclusion. On the other hand to declare forgery however, crude it may be, no definite opinion should be formed unless and until it has been minutely and systematically examined with admitted genuine writing. Section 45,46,47, 61-74 chapter 5 of Indian Evidence act deals which documentary evidences which are admissible in the Court of law. Nowadays, cases are increasing regarding during forged signature in cheque or in a legal document.

Case laws regarding Evidence of Handwriting Expert

  1. State of Maharashtra v. Sukhdeo Singh ;Air 1992 SC 2100(2116): (1992) 3SCJ 330
    Court observed that, A handwriting expert is a competent witness whose opinion evidence is recognized as relevant under the provisions of the Evidence Act and has not been equated to the class of evidence of an accomplice, It would, therefore, not be fair to approach the opinion evidence with suspicion but the correct approach would be to weight the reason on which it was based. The equality of his opinion would depend on the soundness of the reasons on which it was founded. No hard and fast rule can be laid down in that behalf, but the Court has to decide in each case on its own merits what weight it should attach to the opinion of the expert.

  2. B. Poornaish v. Union of India, AIR 1967 AP 338
    Court observed that, The evidence must be given by the expert in the court. Mere report without examining the expert is not relevant.

  3. State v. Kandhu Caharan Barik, 1983 Cri LJ 133
    Court observed that,The science of handwriting expert is not perfect. The opinion of a handwriting expert has to be tested by the acceptability of the reasons given by him an expert deposes and not decides. His duty is to furnish the Judge with the necessary scientific criteria for testing the accuracy of his conclusion, so as to enable the Judge to form his independent judgment.
Conclusion
Cross-Examination has rules which must be followed and discussed in law schools. It is an art which is ought to be taught to law students. It is true Cross - Examination is a difficult task and requires much grooming to match with the challenging legal profession.

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