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Expert opinion in Criminal Cases.

. Section 45 of the Evidence Act which makes opinion of experts admissible lays down that when the Court has to form an opinion upon a point of foreign law, or of science, or art, or as to identity of handwriting or finger impressions, the opinions upon that point of persons specially skilled in such foreign law, science or art, or in questions as to identify of handwriting, or finger impressions are relevant facts. Therefore, in order to bring the evidence of a witness as that of an expert it has to be shown that he has made a special study of the subject or acquired a special experience therein or in other words that he is skilled and has adequate knowledge of the subject.

  1. An expert is not a witness of fact. His evidence is really of an advisory character. The duty of an expert witness is to furnish the Judge with the necessary scientific criteria for testing the accuracy of the conclusions so as to enable the judge to form his independent judgment by the application of this criteria to the facts proved by the evidence of the case. The scientific opinion evidence, if intelligible, convincing and tested becomes a factor and often an important factor for consideration along with the other evidence of the case. The credibility of such a witness depends on the reasons stated in support of his conclusions and the data and materials furnished which form the basis of his conclusions.” In light of the observations quoted above and the admission of PW-8 that he was not an expert in post-mortem examination, we are constrained to find that no reliance can be placed on his deposition.

Furthermore, since this is a case based on circumstantial evidence, the burden is on the prosecution to prove all the circumstances so as to complete the chain, and not to leave any scope for the accused to escape from the clutches of law. The law on this point is now well-settled by the decisions of this Court including in the case of Sharad Birdichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra, (1984)4 SCC 116, wherein it was held that the following conditions need to fulfilled for an accused to be convicted based on circumstantial evidence:

“The following conditions must be fulfilled before a case against an accused can be said to be fully established:

(1) the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully established. (2) The facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused, that is to say. they should not be explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty, (3) the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency.

(4) they should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved, and (5) there must be a chain of evidence so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused.

These five golden principles, if we may say so, constitute the panchsheel of the proof of a case based on circumstantial evidence.” In the instant case, the prosecution has not been able to establish a complete chain of circumstantial evidence. The prosecution has not proved the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, and the same must enure to the benefit of the accused.


Cases refereed :

ADUKKALPATTU Mani Vs State of Andhra Pradesh

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1818 OF 2014