Evidence Act, 1872, Section 45, 73 – Fingerprints – Thumb impressions – Expert – Finding by court – Comparison – While there is no doubt that court can compare the disputed handwriting/signature/finger impression with the admitted handwriting/ signature/finger impression, such comparison by court without the assistance of any expert, has always been considered to be hazardous and risky. When it is said that there is no bar to a court to compare the disputed finger impression with the admitted finger impression, it goes without saying that it can record an opinion or finding on such comparison, only after an analysis of the characteristics of the admitted finger impression and after verifying whether the same characteristics are found in the disputed finger impression. The comparison of the two thumb impressions cannot be casual or by a mere glance. Further, a finding in the judgment that there appeared to be no marked differences between the admitted thumb impression and disputed thumb impression, without anything more, cannot be accepted as a valid finding that the disputed signature is of the person who has put the admitted thumb impression. Where the Court finds that the disputed finger impression and admitted thumb impression are clear and where the court is in a position to identify the characteristics of finger prints, the court may record a finding on comparison, even in the absence of an expert’s opinion. But where the disputed thumb impression is smudgy, vague or very light, the court should not hazard a guess by a casual perusal. The decision in Muralilal (supra) and Lalit Popli (supra) should not be construed as laying a proposition that the court is bound to compare the disputed and admitted finger impressions and record a finding thereon, irrespective of the condition of the disputed finger impression. When there is a positive denial by the person who is said to have affixed his finger impression and where the finger impression in the disputed document is vague or smudgy or not clear, making it difficult for comparison, the court should hesitate to venture a decision based on its own comparison of the disputed and admitted finger impressions. Further even in cases where the court is constrained to take up such comparison, it should make a thorough study, if necessary with the assistance of counsel, to ascertain the characteristics, similarities and dissimilarities. Necessarily, the judgment should contain the reasons for any conclusion based on comparison of the thumb impression, if it chooses to record a finding thereon. The court should avoid reaching conclusions based on a mere casual or routine glance or perusal.
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