Forensic Science: Legal Aspects of fingerprint examination

India was perhaphs one of the earliest nation to adopt finerprint as the most and establishing way of finding evidence and arriving at the conclusion. In 1858, William Herschel, chief magistrate of the Hoogly district in Joongipur, India, has given the first used the fingerprint has for the signing of the contract. This was later adopted has the permanent form of making contract as it was one of the unique form. After getting and tracing many of the fingerprints, he realised tht every fingerprints are unique and no two fingerprints are same.

The statutory provision of the fingerprint examination in Indian law can be seen in the Indian constitution, CrPc, Indian Evidence act. There is need in understanding the conflict between article 20(3) of the Indian constitution and fingerprint examination of an accused and also the evidentiary value of the fingerprint. Through the judicial interpretation of the topic, there will be a better understanding of the need of fingerprint expert, fingerprint value in the court, fingerprint as uncorroborated evidence and when the fingerprint is rejected.

In the constitution the conflict comes with the article 20(3) of the Indian constitution which states that no person can incriminate against themselves. In the case of The State of Bombay v Kathi Kalu Oghad and Others, 1961 AIR 1808, stated that in the matter of fingerprint, even though it is taken against the wish of the accused will amount to constitutional. It was also held in the case State of U.P. v. Sunil, (2017) 14 SCC 516, the court held that the fingerprint, footprint, handwriting are all the parts of the evidence and it don’t amount unconstitutional to the article 20(4) of the constitution.

The identification of Prisons’ Act states for the authorities of the fingerprints, like section 4 of the Act permits a police officer of the rank of sub- inspector or an investigating officer above this rank to fingerprint an accused, arrested for an offence punishable with at least one year’s rigorous imprisonment. The section 4 and 6 of the same act gives the power to specimen to collect all the possible means.

 In the evidence act, section 73 also covers the concept of the fingerprint. The court may direct any person present in the court to give his fingerprints, if the same is required for comparison with questioned fingerprint by the court. Section 311 of the CrPc, 1973 also covers the concept of the fingerprint.

Section 45of the Indian Evidence act states that the evidence of a fingerprint and the expert examining it. In the case of Keshavlal v. State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 2002 SC 1221, the Supreme Court stated that in the view of the consistent eyewitness accounts, the absence of fingerprint evidence is not fatal to the case. There was a case of forgery and fraud; the court held that there is no requirement of the fingerprint expert is required. In the case of Sadashio Mundaji Bhalerao v. State of Maharashtra, (2007) 15 SCC 421, the court held that the expert opinion has helped in concluding with the case as the fingerprint in the case was found through the spoon method and it was on the sale receipt.

In the case of Munna Kumar Upadhyay v. State of A.P., (2012) 6 SCC 174, the court held that the fingerprint always act as the corroborative evidence and it should always be based upon the circumstantial evidence. The case of B.A. Umesh v. High Court of Karnataka (2011) 3 SCC 85, also held that the fingerprint evidence are the part of the circumstantial evidence and it is corroborative in nature. And in this case, the sample of two fingerprints found on the crime scene were matching with each other resulting that the accused is one accused and not the various accused.

Therefore, the fingerprint is not unconstitutional and through various judicial interpretations it is confirmed. The court also confirmed and concluded that the fingerprint is corroborative evidence.


Symbiosis Law School

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