Experts V: Handwriting Experts

Section 45 of The Evidence Act, 1872 allows for an opinion of an expert as a relevant fact when the Court has to form an opinion upon a point of foreign law, science or art or as to the identity of handwriting or finger impressions.

In Murari Lal v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (1980) 1 SCC 704 this Court held that it would be unsafe to convict solely on the opinion of a handwriting expert.

The more developed and the more perfect a science, the less the chance of an incorrect opinion and the converse if the science is less developed and imperfect. The science of identification of finger-prints has attained near perfection and the risk of an incorrect opinion is practically non-existent. On the other hand, the science of identification of handwriting is not nearly so perfect and the risk is, therefore, higher.”

Commenting on the imperfect nature of the science of identification of handwriting this Court in State of Maharashtra v. Sukhdev Singh, (1992) 3 SCC 700 held:

But since the science of identification of handwriting by comparison is not an infallible one, prudence demands that before acting on such opinion the Court should be fully satisfied about the authorship of the admitted writings which is made the sole basis for comparison and the Court should also be fully satisfied about the competence and credibility of the handwriting expert.”

To compare archaeological evidence with handwriting analysis is flawed. Underlying this submission is an erroneous appreciation of the knowledge, skills and expertise required of an archaeologist.

Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, M Siddiq v. Mahant Suresh Das, [Civil Appeal Nos. 10866-10867 of 2010].