Section 51 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872

Illustration:

An expert may give an account of experiments performed by him for the purpose of forming his opinion.

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Comments:

According to Section 51 the opinion of an expert is not relevant unless it is supported by reasons and materials. The court will not be satisfied only on the opinion of an expert. The opinion will be accepted if he states the ground on which he arrived at that opinion. Thus the correctness of opinion must always be supported by grounds and materials.

The opinion of an expert and other persons who are competent to give opinion under sections 47, 48 and 49 is of no value unless the ground on which opinion is based are disclosed. The opinion must be supported by facts and reasons.

Relevancy of Character:

Sections 52 to 55 provide for relevancy of character of the parties to the proceeding. Section 52 refers to the relevancy of character of parties to the civil suit and not the character of witnesses, whereas Sections 53 and 54 deal with the relevancy of character in criminal cases, As regards the meaning of the word ‘character’ the explanation to Section 55 lays down that it includes both reputation and disposition.

According to the Webster dictionary the meaning of ‘character’ “is a combination of peculiar qualities impressed by nature or by habit of the person which distinguish him from other.” “Character and reputation are as distinct as are destination and journey”—WIGMORE.

As to relevancy of character of the parties Woodroffe says—“when a party’s general character is itself in issue whether in civil or criminal proceedings, the proof must necessarily be received of what the general character is or is not. But when general character is not in issue it is as a general excluded.”

It is the general principle of law that the evidence of character is not admissible as relevant fact. It is not admissible because it renders the conduct imputed as probable or improbable. In civil cases the evidence of character to prove conduct imputed is irrelevant. Likewise in criminal cases ‘bad character’ of the accused is not accepted. Nevertheless, the evidence of character has a role to play in doubtful cases. There are mainly two exceptions to the general rule that the character of a person is not admissible as a relevant fact, namely:

1. In civil proceedings evidence of character as affecting damages is admissible; and

2. In criminal cases the fact that a person accused of an offence is good character, is relevant.