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EXPERT OPINION

EXPERT OPINION

  

 

 

WHAT IS EXPERT OPINION?

Expert opinion is expressed by the person who has special knowledge related to his field. Once an expert gives an opinion, an ordinary person cannot change that opinion. The expert needs a scientific criterion to prove his conclusion, by which he can prove the truth of his point. On the basis of such evidence, the court can decide its favor and punish someone.The court itself determines whether the evidence given by the expert is honorable or not. Only experts of the same field can express a different opinion on the judgment of the expert other than the court.

 

ACCORDING TO INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT, 1872, The general rule under it is that a witness must have been allowed to either Relevant Fact or Fact-in-Issue related to an issue. ), But neither does the court pay attention to what is his opinion related to that fact, nor is it generally allowed to speak to the witness.

Significantly, this principle of Evidence Act applies in both criminal and civil cases. Obviously, the opinion of any person, other than a judge in a case by which a final decision is to be pronounced in that case, is considered irrelevant to the decision of that case.


UNDER SECTION 45 OF THE INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT, 1872, the opinion of such persons / experts can be considered as relevant, who have special skills in the field of foreign law, or science, or art, in the identification of any handwriting or in the field of fingerprints. (And where the court has to form an opinion related to all these subjects).


SEC 45. OPINION OF EXPERTS - When the court has to form an opinion about foreign law or science or on any thing of art or the exclusivity of handwriting or fingerprints, then on that matter such foreign law, science or art or handwriting Or in the question of exclusiveness of fingerprints, the opinion of special skilled people is a relevant fact. Such individuals are called experts.




WHO IS AN EXPERT?

The court cannot form a correct judgement without the help of a person with special skills or experience in a particular subject. When the court needs an opinion in a subject which requires special assistance, the court calls an expert, a specially skilled person. The opinion given by a third person is considered as relevant facts if the person testifying is an expert.

For example, the court was confused that a letter has been written by person ‘X’ or not. The court calls a handwriting expert to find out the same. This person will be known as an expert and the opinion which he gives in the case is relevant.

Expert is defined under section 45 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872. The court needs an expert to form an opinion upon:

Foreign law

Science & Art

Identity of Handwriting

Identity of finger impression

Electronic evidence

NOTE: Only in the expertise in the above-said fields, a person’s opinion is considered to be an expert opinion. If a field not mentioned above requires an opinion, it is not considered as an expert opinion. There have been cases such as:

The disposition or temper of animals

Colour, weight or scale of similar facts

Age of a person

If a man or women were intimate

If a person was intoxicated or not

If an expert is giving an opinion, it is considered as a relevant fact for the case. An expert has devoted his time in learning a special branch of expertise and thus is specially skilled in the subject. It can include:

Superior knowledge, and

Practical experience




DUTY OF THE EXPERT:-
a) An expert is not a witness of fact.
b)His evidence is of advisory character.
c) An expert deposes and does not decide.
d) An expert witness is to furnish the judge necessary scientific criteria for testing the accuracy of the conclusion so as to enable the judge to form his independent judgment by application of the criteria to the facts proved by the evidence.

 



ROLE OF EXPERT WITNESS

The specialist is usually called upon to see the severity of the injury, the state of the crime, and the trauma. It is concluded from the expert's statement that what is the correct position and who is guilty.

1. Sometimes the Tribunal and the Panch also take expert opinion to evaluate their decision so that it is decided that no aspect of their decision is left undiscovered.

2. The expert has many responsibilities, especially in criminal trials and in proving incriminating evidence. Experts play the ultimate role in proving crime by falsifying evidence like these.

3. The experts give their testimony in a completely impartial manner and prove the crime of the guilty person without any further assistance.

 

 

ABDUL RAHMAN V. STATE OF MYSORE (1972) OF MYSORE HIGH COURT CR. In the judgment of LJ 407, the opinion of a professional goldsmith was considered relevant as an expert opinion to test the purity of gold, although that goldsmith had no formal qualification, his only qualification was his experience.

In another case, the principal of a deaf and mute school was accepted as an expert for the purpose of certifying disability - Kishan Singh vs. N. Singh AIR 1953 P&H 373.

 

IN THE CASE OF RAMESH CHANDRA AGGARWAL V. REGENCY HOSPITAL LIMITED ET AL. (2009) 9 SCC 709) the court observed that the specialty of an expert witness and his evidence is that he possesses appropriate skills in a subject unknown to the court. The same was also outlined in a previous Supreme Court decision, State of Himachal Pradesh v. Jai Lal and others (1999) 7 SCC 280.

 

In view of the language of Section 45 and Section 45A, it is necessary that before a person can be portrayed as an expert, it is necessary that there should be some material on record which can show that he is a member of that area. Expert, and one who has proper skills in that particular field, and is well versed in that subject. Such a person must have studied that subject or gained special experience in it.

Thus, before the testimony of an expert witness is admissible, his qualifications as an expert must be shown, showing that he possesses the necessary qualifications in that subject or that he has acquired specialized skills in that field by his experience.




WHAT IS THE EVIDENTIARY VALUE OF AN EXPERT OPINION

The data given by the expert are relevant and admissible. If any oral evidence contradicts the data/ report; it will not make the data evidence obsolete. But, as per section 46, in case any fact is in contradiction to the opinion of the expert, that fact becomes relevant. If the opinion of the expert is relevant, the contradictory fact becomes relevant even though it was not relevant as such. The value of expert opinion depends upon the facts on which he is based and the competency of such expert in forming a reliable opinion.

However, the personal appearance of the expert in the court can be excused unless the court expressly asks him to appear in person. In such a case, where the expert is excused, he can send any responsible officer who is well versed with the facts of the case and the report and can address the court with the same.

If a judge relies upon the opinion of the expert only and not on the facts and the testimony of ordinary witnesses to give judgement then is the weakness of the case. This is because even if a person is an expert in his field, he cannot be termed as a direct witness and cannot give a statement on the facts of the case. He is just giving an opinion as per the evidences given to him and cannot draw a conclusion regarding the guilt of the accused in all the cases.

The evidence given by the expert is just an opinion and is not a fact-based testimony and thus are given slight value. This is the reason that eye-witnesses or other factual witnesses are given a priority over the expert’s opinion. This is because opinion evidence cannot supersede substantive evidence. No expert can claim that he could be absolutely sure that his opinion was correct, expert depends to a great extent upon the materials put before him and the nature of the question put to him.

However, the evidentiary value of an expert’s opinion depends upon the facts and circumstances. For example, if there is a dispute as to who is the biological parent of a child, the DNA report of the Medical expert is of great importance. If the expert says that the DNA of the child or parents matches, than it is a relevant fact in deciding the case.

But in case if a handwriting expert says that the signatures matches or not matches with the person; this fact does not hold much value because there can be a possibility that the person has practiced a lot to copy the signature. But on the other hand, DNA cannot be copied or changed.

Privy council once observed that ‘there cannot be any more unsatisfactory evidence than that of an expert.” In the case of Emperor v. Kudrat [16], the court held that when the expert is giving an opinion upon the age by observing only the height, weight and tooth; it cannot be relied upon.

The court must be satisfied that the accused is guilty. The court cannot hold him guilty mere because an expert has said that in his opinion, the person is guilty. The court needs to look into the evidence along with the opinion of the expert before giving any judgement or order.

 


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