02 October 2020

Oral evidence can be given about any fact which would invalidate or contradict the proved or registered document

In respect of registered document (Exh.35), learned Counsel for the appellant has submitted that it is a registered document and therefore, contents therein cannot be contradicted. Sections 91 and 92 of the Indian Evidence Act are material sections in respect of oral evidence of the documents reduced into writing. If the document is proved as per Section 91, then oral evidence as per Section 92 is not permitted to contradict the document but proviso (1) of Section 92 permits to contradict the document. It reads as under :
 92.Exclusion of evidence of oral agreement.-When the terms of any such contract, grant or other disposition of property, or any matter required by law to be reduced to the form of a document, have been proved according to the last section, no evidence of any oral agreement or statement shall be admitted, as between the parties to any such instrument or their representatives in interest, for the purpose of contradicting, varying, adding to, or subtracting from, its terms: 
Oral evidence can be given about any fact which would invalidate or contradict the proved or registered document
     Proviso  (1). - Any fact may be proved which would invalidate any document, or which would entitle any person to any decree or order relating thereto; such as fraud, intimidation, illegality, want of due execution, want of capacity in any contracting party, [want or failure] of consideration, or mistake in fact or law.
[Para No.16]

    As per Section 92 Proviso (1), evidence can be adduced to contradict the document. Learned Counsel for the respondents has pointed out the decision in the case of Vithal Saidu Lokhande (cited supra). This Court has held that oral evidence as per the provisions of Section 92 Proviso (1) is applicable and the defendants can adduce the oral evidence to contradict the document. This Court in the case of Vithal Saidu Lokhande (cited supra) has held that "Plea to invalidate any document proved in accordance with section 91 is available where a case is made out of fraud, intimidation, illegality, want of due execution, want of capacity in any contracting party, want or failure of consideration, or mistake in fact or law. It is further held that "proviso (1) of Section 92 permits leading of parol evidence of any fact which would invalidate any document, at the instance of any party to such document of their representatives in interest. Proviso (4) does not deal with the question of invalidating any document but it relates to the existence of any distinct subsequent oral agreement to rescind or modify any such contract, grant or disposition of property. It makes the parol evidence admissible to show that the prior written contract has been waived or replaced by subsequent oral agreement with a rider that, if a matter has been reduced into writing because the law requires it to be in writing for its validity, no oral evidence can be given of any subsequent agreement, rescinding or modifying it. It can only be waived, rescinded, modified or altered by another written agreement of equally solemn character. The rule applies to all registered instruments, whether or not, registration is compulsory under the law. "[Para No.17]

01 October 2020

Investigating Officer cannot withheld relevant evidence that would favour the accused and in such cases adverse inference can be drawn against prosecution

If it appears impossible to convict accused inspite of witnesses are presumed to be true without any cross examination, the accused deserves to be discharge

    The Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Manjeet Singh Khera Vs. State of Maharashtra: 2013 (9) SCC 276 held as under:
Investigating Officer cannot withheld relevant evidence that would favour the accused and in such cases adverse inference cam be drawn against prosecution

"........8. The Court also noticed that seizure of large number of documents in the course of investigation of a criminal case is a common feature. After completion of the process of investigation and before submission of the report to the Court under Section 173 Cr.P.C, a fair amount of application of mind on the part of the investigating agency is inbuilt in the process. These documents would fall in two categories: one, which supports the prosecution case and other which supports the accused. At this stage, duty is cast on the investigating officer to evaluate the two sets of documents and materials collected and, if required, to exonerate the accused at that stage itself. However, many times it so happens that the investigating officer ignores the part of seized documents which favour the accused and forwards to the Court only those documents which supports the prosecution. If such a situation is pointed out by the accused and those documents which were supporting the accused and have not been forwarded and are not on the record of the Court, whether the prosecution would have to supply those documents when the accused person demands them? The Court did not answer this question specifically stating that the said question did not arise in the said case. In that case, the documents were forwarded to the Court under Section 173(5) Cr.P.C. but were not relied upon by the prosecution and the accused wanted copies/inspection of those documents. This Court held that it was incumbent upon the trial court to supply the copies of these documents to the accused as that entitlement was a facet of just, fair and transparent investigation/trial and constituted an inalienable attribute of the process of a fair trial which Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees to every accused. We would like to reproduce the following portion of the said judgment discussing this aspect:
"21.The issue that has emerged before us is, therefore, somewhat larger than what has been projected by the State and what has been dealt with by the High Court. The question arising would no longer be one of compliance or non- compliance with the provisions of Section 207 Cr.P.C. and would travel beyond the confines of the strict language of the provisions of Cr.P.C. and touch upon the larger doctrine of a free and fair trial that has been painstakingly built up by the courts on a purposive interpretation of Article 21 of the Constitution. It is not the stage of making of the request; the efflux of time that has occurred or the prior conduct of the accused that is material. What is of significance is if in a given situation the accused comes to the court contending that some papers forwarded to the court by the investigating agency have not been exhibited by the prosecution as the same favours the accused the court must concede a right to the accused to have an access to the said documents, if so claimed. This, according to us, is the core issue in the case which must be answered affirmatively. In this regard, we would like to be specific in saying that we find it difficult to agree with the view taken by the High Court that the accused must be made to await the conclusion of the trial to test the plea of prejudice that he may have raised. Such a plea must be answered at the earliest and certainly before the conclusion of the trial, even though it may be raised by the accused belatedly. This is how the scales of justice in our criminal jurisprudence have to be balanced."[Para No.63]
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