The Allahabad High Court has reiterated that where the defence has admitted the postmortem report submitted by the prosecution as genuine, the same may be read as substantive evidence.
"If the defence has admitted the genuineness of the postmortem report before the trial court, the genuineness and veracity of the document stands proved and shall be treated as valid evidence under Section 294 Cr.P.C.," the bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Vivek Varma said.
At the trial stage in the present case, formal proof of the post-mortem report was dispensed with, as its contents were admitted by the defence. Further, on the basis of the testimonies of an eye-witness, the Appellant was held guilty and convicted for murder of his step-mother.
Before the high court, the Appellant submitted that the doctor, who conducted the postmortem examination of the deceased had not been examined in court. "Such a procedure adopted by the trial court could not be approved, as the contents of the postmortem report could not be admitted under Section 294 of CrPC, unless, the same was duly proved by the doctor, who had prepared the same," he submitted.
Holding this submission as "legally unsustainable", the high court said,
"in view of the settled position of law that if the genuineness of any document filed by a party is not disputed by the opposite party, it can be treated as substantive evidence under sub-section (3) of Section 294 CrPC" Reliance was placed on Akhtar v. State of Uttaranchal, (2009) 13 SCC 722.
The court went on to reiterate the object of enacting Section 294 in the following words,
"Section appears to be to avoid the time of the Court being wasted by examining the signatory of the document filed by the prosecution or the accused under Sub-section (1) of Section 294, Cr. P.C. to prove his signature and the correctness of its contents if its genuineness is not disputed by the opposite party."
The Court has placed reliance on Full Bench decision of the high court in Sadique & Ors. v. State of UP, 1981 CrLJ 379.
However on re-appreciation of the evidence placed on record, the court noted that the statement of key witnesses, on whose testimony the conviction was based, was in conflict with the post-mortem report. Thus, the court set aside the order of conviction. It held,
"On the cumulative evaluation of the evidence on record and testing the prosecution evidence on the anvil of probabilities we are of the view that the prosecution has failed to establish the guilt of the appellants beyond all reasonable doubts and as such the appellants are entitled to get the benefit of doubt."
Case Title: Bijendra Singh v. State of UP
Quorum: Chief Justice Govind Mathur & Justice Vivek Varma
Appearance: Advocates RS Yadav, Jitendra Pal Singh Chauhan and Ajay Kumar Srivastava (for Appellant);
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