IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
(Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction)
Criminal Appeal No 87 of 2020
State of Uttar Pradesh
Date of Judgement
14th January, 2020
R. Banumathi , A.S. Bopanna, Hrishikesh Roy
The present case has discussed the the principle of necessity of substantial corroboration supporting opinion of handwriting experts. Herein, Supreme Courtobserved it as rule of law.
- Appellant Padum Kumar was working as postman in Indira Nagar Post Office Lucknow.
- On 9thApril, 1992 M.L. Varshney, professor at Agriculture Institute Allahabad sent a registered envelope Numbered 0095 to the Complainant Dr. K.B.Varshney containing 4 Indira Vikas Patra of total value Rs.20,000/-.
- As the envelope did not reach, on 27th April, 1992 Dr. K.B. Varshney made complaint before the Post Master of the said post office, and also filed a complaint to the Senior Superintendent, Department of Posts that the registered envelope has not been received.
- As per the information received on 29th April the person named Mohan has received the envelope on 13th April, 1992.
- The son of complainant, Devesh Mohan went to the said post office, and saw the signature made as D. Mohan.
- He denied that the signature belongs to him. A criminal case was registered as No. 394/1992 under Sections 420, 467, 468 of IPC.
- The investigating officer sent the disputed signature along with specimen signatures of Devesh Mohan to the Forensic Science Laboratory. As per reports the disputed signature is made by same person who made specimen signatures.
- The disputed signature along with specimen signatures were also sent to private hand writing experts M.Y. Khan and Siya Ram Gupta who concluded that the disputed signature and specimen signatures are made by different persons.
- As Siya Ram Gupta passed away by the time of trial, his son Ranjeet Kumar marked his trial.
- The Investigation revealed that the appellant forged the signature on delivery slip and on completion of Investigation charge sheet was filed against him under S. 420, 467, and 468 of IPC.
- The investigation revealed that the appellant forged signature of Devesh Mohan. Therefore charge sheet was filed against the appellant under S. 420, 467, 468 of IPC.
- The trial court held the appellant Padum Kumar guilty of offence of forgery and convicted him him under S. 467 & 468 of IPC. He was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment of four years and 3 years where both sentences were to be run concurrently.
- Appellant filed appeal before the Appellate Court Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, and it was dismissed.
- Aggrieved appellant filed Criminal Revision no. 511 of 2006 before Allahabad High Court. It was dismissed and conviction of the appellant was affirmed.
- The appeal before the Supreme Court is made challenging the impugned order of High Court.
Contentions by both the parties
1) Without proving that the appellant has forged the signature, the conviction under S. 468 and 467 can not be maintained.
2) The courts below have made error by not considering the report given by Government Hand Writing expert which was in favour of appellant.
3) The report given by Siya Ram Gupta can not be proved by examining his son in his absence.
4) High Court made an error in holding that the appellant need to prove who signed in delivery slip. The court erred in raising the presumption against the appellant.
1) The courts below rightly convicted the appellant upon appreciation of evidence adduced by prosecution.
2) In establishing the guilt of the appellant the prosecution not only relies upon the opinion of hand writing experts but also on witnesses.
- The Hon’ble Supreme Court noted that the Devesh Mohan in his evidence stated that he was at coaching centre at the time of said delivery of registry. Delivery slip is valuable evidence supporting the case of prosecution which contains neither the name of Devesh nor his mother but something else.
- The Court pointed that the lower courts rightly denied to rely on report of Forensic Science Laboratory, as the expert who gave it was not examined. And the appellant had not summoned the expert to substantiate his defence.
- The Supreme Court referred to S. Gopal Reddy v. State of AP, Ram Chandra v. State of UP, Ishwari Prasad Misra v. Mohd. Isa, Shashi Kumar Banerjee v. Subodh Kumar Banerjee, Fakharuddin v. State of MP, Magan Bihari Lal v. State of Punjab, and observed that opinion of handwriting expert is not enough for conviction, it should be based upon substantial corroboration. Supreme Court stated that it has become rule of law.
- The Court observed that the lower courts has rightly pointed out that the prosecution has relied upon opinion of handwriting experts to corroborate evidence of Devesh Mohan who denied his signature in delivery slip.
- As per SC, the lower courts rightly found that the appellant is bound to explain who has made alleged signature in slip. In absence of any explanation, a presumption is to be raised against the appellant as he was the only person having knowledge of signature and lawfully bound to do the act of delivery.
The Supreme Court confirmed the conviction of appellant under S. 467 and 468 and reduced the sentence of imprisonment to the period already undergone. Therefore the appeal is partly allowed by modifying the Judgement of High Court.
Edited by Sree Ramya
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje