Under the Indian Evidence Act Section 5 to Section 55 deals with the relevancy of fact. The law which is stated in Section 6 of the Indian Evidence Act is known as the “rule of res gestae” or “the doctrine of res gestae”. However, in the Act, the term res gestae is not explicitly used but the term is analyzed in section 6 and has attempted to illustrate in sections 7, 8, 9, and 14. Facts that are supplementary to the main issues and so are connected to the issue that it forms a part of the same transaction is called res gestae.
Meaning of res gestae:
The word res gestae means “things done” which has been derived from a Latin word. The word res gestae does not possess any precise definition. It has been interpreted in various ways.
Res gestae means the facts and declarations made incidental to the main factor or transactions. Like in the case of murder stained knife, confession of the accused, etc. They are all incidental to the main factors which include acts, words, character, etc. Res gestae in criminal offences means the complete criminal transaction from the beginning to the end. The facts and declaration must be connected together and referred to by a legal name like crime, contract, etc.
- Res gestae is defined as ” things done or literally speaking, the fact of transaction, explanatory of the act or showing a motive for acting”[i]
- A matter instant to a main fact and explanatory of it is res gestae
The res gestae not only embraces the real fact of the transaction and the circumstances around it but also includes the matters immediately antecedent to and having a direct connection with the act.
Generally, any hearsay evidence is not admissible in the court of law but the doctrine of res gestae is an exception to the evidence. The reason behind this is that the immediacy of the statement is believed to be a present sense impression or excited utterance.
Essentials of res gestae:
Section 6 of the act reads as,
“Facts which, though not in issue, are so connected with a fact in issue as to form part of the same transaction, are relevant, whether they occurred at the same time and place or at different time and places“
- The act declaration of words must be collected by the time it should be contemporaneous with the incident and should not be a prior incident.
- There must be a continuity of action and there must be a continuity of purpose of design.
- It must be simultaneous with act. When a statement is a part of a res gestae it must be immediately after happening of the act so that there is no chance for the fabrication.
- It must be under the influence of the act the physical act and the worse at the time of commission of the act must be spontaneous.
- The mandatory essential is fact must be “part a same transaction” no matter if the act occurred in the same or different place and time.
Part of the same transaction:
The word “transaction” which is used in this section is defined by Sir James Stephen, ‘as a group of facts so connected together as to be referred to by a single name as a crime or contract or wrong or any other subject of enquiry which may be in issue’.
The facts which are connected with other factors form the component of the principal fact and these facts must not be excluded. Also, there should be no interval for admitting those facts because even a slight few minutes of an interval is enough for the fabrication of the statement such that it is not under the part of the same transaction which will be inadmissible.
Test to determine whether the facts form the same transaction:
- If the facts stated are related to one another in the point of purpose or cause and such fact constitutes to one continuous act it forms part of same transaction
- When series of facts are stated, and they are linked together to present a continuous whole it forms part of same transaction.
However, even if the facts have occurred at a different place and different time they form a part of the same transaction if they are connected by the proximity of time and place, continuity of acts, and its purpose. If the facts are not connected by proximity of time, place, and continuity of events though the facts that occurred at the same place and same time are irrelevant.
- Vasa Chandrasekhar Rao versus Puna Satyanarayana and Ors.[ii]
In this case, the accused killed his wife and his daughter. The father of the accused made a call to the police station and said that his son has killed his daughter-in-law and granddaughter. The question arises before The Honorable Court that whether the statement by the father of the accused falls under the doctrine of res gestae. The court held that the evidence is inadmissible under the principle of res gestae because it was unable to determine the time of the call and it was unknown whether the phone call was simultaneously done immediately after the Commission of the crime.
- Sukhar Vs State of Uttar Pradesh[iii]
In this case, the witness said that he went into the scene of occurrence immediately when he heard the sound of firing and there he found the injured lying on the ground. The injured said to the witness that the accused shot him. The court held that the fact is admissible under section 6 of the Indian Evidence Act as it forms the part same transaction.
In this case, the husband, his father, and his mother killed his wife. As soon as she was pushed to kill she cried out for help and screamed she is been killed by her family. The children who were playing outside the house also explained that their mother is being killed. The court held the statement of children is admissible as valid res gestae.
Res gestae is an exception to hearsay evidence. But not every time an exception is available. The doctrine of res gestae in section 6 of the act is vague and the words in the section can be interpreted in many ways wherein it varies from case to case. The judge should examine whether the fact forms the part of the same transaction or it is uttered spontaneously immediately after the Commission of the act. When there is a small-time interval from the occurrence of the act it must be inadmissible. It is the discretion of the judge either to admit or to deny.
[i] P Ramanatha Aiyar (2000),The Law Laxicon, 2nd edition,Nagpur: Wadhwa and Company,Pg:1668
[ii] Vasa Chandrasekhar Rao versus Puna Satyanarayana and Ors (2000) 6 SCC 286
[iii] Sukhar Vs State of Uttar Pradesh AIR 1999 SC 3883.
[iv] Sawal Das Vs State of Bihar AIR 1974 SC 778.