Evidence plays a major role in every judicial proceeding
whether it is criminal or civil case. The use of expert opinion was first
allowed by Lord Mansfield. Lord Mansfield allowed an expert's opinion in the
facts of other witnesses in the case of Folkes Vs. Chadd in the year 1782.
In the late 20th century the common legal system stated some duties as to how expert opinions are to be used as evidences. Opinion of an expert plays vital role in evidence. This article focuses on the expert's opinion and how the opinions stated by an expert are relevant. Generally, a witness is served with summons to describe the mere facts of the case, the expert is also considered as witness even if he does not know the facts of the case.
The opinion of an expert can reveal some truths about the dead such as the time and cause of death. The duty of an expert is to provide impartial, independent, and unbiased opinion to the court.
Types of expert witness:
The opinions upon that point of specially skilled persons on a particular field are relevant facts. Expert witnesses include doctors, Psychiatrists, ballistic experts, and other professionals instructed by the court to provide an opinion about a fact in legal proceedings.
In the case of Gade Lakshmi Mangaraju v/s. State Of Andhra Pradesh, the court held that the absence of finger impressions does not indicate an absence of a particular person at the scene. In the case where the court has to form an opinion about the science, opinion of such skilled persons in science is a relevant fact, as seen in the case of Sulochana Vs. A.P.S.R.T.C.
He can determine the distance by looking at the wound and the type of gun with
the bullet can be determined.
Sec. 293 of the criminal procedure code, 1973 deals with the reports of specific Government scientific experts in the court of law. This section states that when the court thinks fit may order to submit reports required for the analysis and can send summons to specific experts to take part in proceedings to clear the doubts on a particular case.
Clause 4 of section 293 names some experts to whom this section applies they are:
Opinion of electronic evidence:
Section 45 A allows opinion of an examiner of electronic evidence in the case where the court is willing to form an opinion on any matter relating to communication or information stored in a computer, or digital form, the opinion of examiner is a relevant fact.
For instance, a person named Rahul is an accused in a criminal conspiracy case, for necessary evidence his mobile phone contains communications made by him can be examined by an expert.
Relevancy Of Expert Opinion:
Section 46 states that the facts, not otherwise relevant, are relevant if they support or are inconsistent with the opinions of the expert, when such opinions are relevant it means that the facts which are not relevant will be relevant if the opinion of expert is supported by them.
A person named Ram, who is a serial killer, has poisoned so many, here the fact that Ankit was poisoned by Ram by observing the symptoms exhibited by all the victims according to the acceptance or denial of the expert is relevant.
Opinion of handwriting expert:
When the court needs an opinion as to the person, by whom a document is written or signed, any other person acquainted with the handwriting whether it is supposed to be done or not by the accused or questioned person is a relevant fact. Section 47 deals with this.
The section states that every person acquainted with the handwriting of a particular person is relevant. It means that the person who is witness to signature or written document.
In the case of shankarappa v. Sushilabai it was held that the wife can be considered as the person acquainted with the handwriting of her husband.
Methods of proving signature/ handwriting in court of law:
In the case of Prahlad Saran Gupta v Bar Council of India it was held that the opinion by a handwriting expert is the final and there is no need to confirm it, as a result it stated the importance of expert opinion.
Opinion as to electronic signature:
Section 47 A states that when a court needs to form any opinion as to digital signature, the opinion of the certifying authority issuing certificate is relevant.
Opinion as to existence of a right or custom:
When the court needs to form any opinion as to the existence any of the general right or custom, the opinion of the person who would be likely to know the right or custom if existed or not, is relevant.
The fact that the certain class of people of the village can drink water from particular well can be proved by the opinion of the elders of the village.
In the case of Radha Krishna Kandolkar v/s. Tukaram, a person was allowed to draw water from a pond for about 30 years. The court held that drawing water since long ago does not make any kind of custom, a custom has to be declared by certain class of people or their elders.
Illustration: The right of particular class of persons of a village to use the water of a particular well is general right.
Opinion as to usages and tenets:
According to section 49 of the act when the court needs to form any opinion on:
In the case of Sree Ram Didwani Vs. Gauri Shankar it was held that for an opinion in existence of relationship, the opinion of a family member or any person specialized in this subject is relevant.
In the case of Bant Singh Vs. Niranjan Singh, there was a dispute in matter of suit of the property where the plaintiff stated defendant as his sister. The opinion of his brother in law who was 80 years old and had good knowledge of his family member was held as the relevant evidence.
Grounds of opinion:
Section 51 of the act states that opinion of any living person and the grounds on which the opinion is based are relevant.
Example: experiments done by an expert to form an opinion.
An expert opinion is essential in criminal case so as to determine the cause of death which can be done by forensic experts. An expert opinion is not conclusive but it paves a way to serve justice in an efficient manner.
Nowadays, due to pandemic covid-19 digital signatures have a major importance than manual for this reason section 45 A, 47 A has greater importance. An expert opinion is not questioned in the court of law unless the court finds any fraud. The most important expert opinion provided are of medical expert and ballistic expert particularly in a criminal case. This proves that how an opinion of an expert is necessary in judicial proceedings.
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