Modes of proving the handwriting of a person

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Modes of Proving the Handwriting of a Person

Introduction

                        Art. 78 of Qanun-e-Shahadat Order 1984 provides that if a document is alleged to be signed or have been written wholly or in part by any person, the signature or handwriting of so much of the document as is alleged to be in that person’s handwriting must be proved to be in his hand writing. Article 61 lays down the mode of proving such signature or handwriting. It provides that when the court has to form an opinion as to the person by whom any document was written or signed, the opinion of any person acquainted with the hand writing of a person by whom it is supposed to have been written or signed is a relevant fact.

Mode of proving handwriting of a person

In order to prove identity of handwriting any mode not forbidden by law can be restored to. Two modes are indicated in Articles 59 and 61. There can be other modes through which identify of handwriting can be established. The ordinary methods of proving handwriting are:-

  1. By calling a person as a witness who wrote the document.
  2. Saw it written or signed.
  3. Who is qualified to express an opinion as to the handwriting by virtue of Art. 61.
  4. By comparison of the handwriting as provided u/art. 84.
  5. By admission of the person against whom the document is tendered.
  6. By expert evidence u/art 59
  7. By internal evidence afforded by the contents of the document.

Persons acquainted with the handwriting

U/Art. 61 any person other than an expert, who is acquainted with the handwriting of another, may give his opinion as to identity of handwriting. A person may be acquainted with the handwriting of a person in three ways:

  1. When he has seen the person write.
  2. When he has received communication purporting to be written by that person in answer to documents purporting to be written by himself, although neither of them saw each other write.
  3. When in the ordinary course of business documents purporting to be written by that person have been habitually submitted to them.

This kind of non-expert evidence is in most cases better than expert evidence, if the person deposing to it is disinterested and has in any of the ways above acquired a good knowledge of the character of one’s handwriting or signature. But the strength of such evidence varies with the degree of a person’s knowledge of the handwriting of another, i.e., the opportunities he had of seeking him write or the number of times he has received and read correspondence written by him, or the length of time which has passed after he saw the last writing.

Once a witness states in his examination-in-chief that he is acquainted or familiar to the handwriting of a person the details as to how he is acquainted with it is a matter of explanation to Article 61, it is the duty of cross examiner to bring to light, if the competency of such a witness is questioned by the cross examiner. If no such cross examination is made, it will be assumed that the competency of a witness was not challenged.

Expert opinion

U/Art. 59 of Q.S.O 1984, handwriting may be proved by the testimony of an expert, competent to make the comparison on a scientific basis. In order to rely on the evidence of an expert the court must be fully satisfied that he is a truthful witness and also a reliable witness fully adept in the art of identification of handwriting in order to opine whether the alleged handwriting has been made by a particular person or not.

Evidence f handwriting expert is a weak type of evidence. Much reliance cannot be placed on such evidence unless supported by documents. It is only confimatory evidence cannot be given preference where confidence inspiring and worthy of credence evidence is available.

Comparing handwriting by the court itself

No legal bar exists for a court to compare the disputed hand writing itself. Court can even take a view contrary to the opinion of a handwriting expert, if ti is of the view, after its own comparison, that departure was warranted from the report of handwriting handwriting expert. Appreciation of evidence by a judicial forum includes the power of a court to itself examine and compare the disputed signature.

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