Oral evidence can also be used to prove a case in criminal trials says Bombay High Court

Observing that in a criminal trial a ‘proof’ beyond reasonable doubt is expected, the Bombay High Court recently held that a case can be proved even by ‘oral’ evidence and no ‘documentary’ evidence is required. The HC has accordingly dismissed a petition challenging the criminal process, issued against a man on a complaint by his brother, under the charges of fraud and forgery. The ruling was made by a single-judge bench of Justice Anant Badar while hearing a writ petition filed by Surendra Chaudhari.

Chaudhari, had challenged the criminal process issued against him by a Metropolitan Magistrate, Thane. The Magistrate had issued the process in February 2014, in response to a complaint filed by Surendra’s real brother Vishwanath Chaudhari.

According to Vishwanath’s complaint, he had paid nearly Rs. 4.50 lakh to Surendra to purchase a land near Narivali village in Thane district. The complaint stated that Surendra had told his elder brother that the land will have to be registered in his name as this would help them get nearly 50 per cent discount. The plaint also stated that later on in 2007, Vishwanath learnt that his brother has sold the land to a developer, that too without informing him. Thereafter, he filed a complaint under the charges of fraud and forgery. On the other hand, Surendra while challenging the process, argued that there was no ‘proof’ that substantiated Vishwanath’s plaint.

After hearing the submissions advanced, Justice Badar said, “In a criminal trial, proof beyond reasonable doubt is expected. There is no provision in law which compels a complainant to prove his or her case only by documentary evidence. A case can be proved even by oral evidence.”

“In the instant case, the complaint itself demonstrates that the entire transaction took place orally. In this view of the matter, non-availability of documentary evidence cannot be given an overbearing importance,” Justice Badar added.

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