RES GESTAE UNDER INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT

Section 6 of the Indian Evidence Act is a direct manifestation of the doctrine of res gestae as followed in England. This section provides that facts, though not in issue, but are so connected with fact in issue as to form part of the same transaction are relevant. They may occur at same time or place or at different times and places. The rational in making certain statements or facts relevant under Section 6 is on account of spontaneity and immediacy of such statement or fact in relation to the fact in issue.

Same transaction: The term ‘same transaction’ has not been defined in the Act. According to Stephen, a transaction is a group of facts connected together to be referred to by a single legal name, a crime, a wrong, a contract or any other subject of enquiry which may be in issue. The test for determining whether the fact forms the part of same transaction or another depends upon whether they are related to one another in point of purpose or as cause and effect or as probable and subsidiary acts as to constitute one continuous action. [Sukh v. State of U.P. (1999) 9 SCC 507]. 

For example if the deceased has been killed by a speeding truck, the witness had not seen the incident but the speeding truck. The deceased stated to him what had happened with him in the accident. The court held that the statement of the deceased to the witness to be admissible as res gestae. [R v. Foster, (1834)6 C & C 325]

Psychological facts or words accompanying physical acts: The words spoken by the person doing the act or by the person to whom they were done or by bystanders are relevant as a part of same transaction, provided they are contemporaneous with transaction and there is no interval so as to give time and opportunity for fabrication. In R v. Bedingfield, [1879] 14 Cox C.C. 341, a woman came out of her room with a cut on her throat and she remarked ‘O dear aunt ! see what B has done to me’. The court held  this statement to be admissible under the rule of res gestae.

The statement should not be a mere narrative of past occurrence. For example in Sanwal Das v. State of Bihar, AIR 1974 SC 778, ‘A’ assaulted ‘B’ on the neck with a knife and this is seen by bystanders who exclaimed ‘A’ is killing ‘B’. The exclamation is as much part of the transaction of murder as the gushing out of the blood from the wound inflicted on the neck.

On the other hand, in State of A.P. v. Panna Satyanarayan, AIR 2000 SC 2138, the accused murdered his wife and daughter. The father of deceased wife stated that the father of accused told him on telephone that his son had killed the deceased. There was no finding as to whether such information was given either at the time of commission of crime or immediately thereafter so as to form part of the same transaction. The statement was held not to be relevant under Section 6.

Time and Space:  Section 6 specifically provides that the fact forming part of same transaction may occur at same time and place or at different times and places. Thus, the act or transaction may be completed in a moment of time or, if there are connecting circumstances, it may extend to a period of days, weeks or even months. Similarly, no limitation can be imposed as to territorial boundaries within which the transaction must occur and it may cover the breadth of a country.

For example a person is charged for waging a war against State in pursuance of which properties were destroyed and troops were damaged. Even though the acts were committed at different times and places, but they form part of general transaction. [Ill. (b) to Section 6]. Thus, such facts may be proved by giving evidence even if it is hearsay or even if committed at different time and places provided they are part of same transaction.

Hearsay and res gestae

Supreme Court in Gentela Vyayavardhan Rao v. State of A.P., AIR 1996 SC 2791 held that rule embodied in Section 6 is an exception to general rule that hearsay evidence is not admissible. Hearsay evidence simply means that the person has not seen the actual happening of the incident but he has heard it from others. As a general rule evidence must be direct and hearsay evidence is not admissible in the court. However, if such evidence forms the part of same transaction so as to qualify as res gestae then the evidence may be given. Doctrine of res gestae constitutes as an exception to the principle of hearsay. In R v. Foster, the witnesses had only seen speeding vehicle and not the incident. The injured person explained to him the nature of the accident. The witness was allowed to give evidence of what the deceased said because it formed the part of same transaction i.e. res gestae. Supreme Court in Sukhar v. State of U.P., 1999 (7) JT 537 held that for bringing hearsay evidence within the provision of Section 6, what is required to be established is that it must be almost contemporaneous with the acts. There should not be an interval which will allow fabrication.

Author & Former Judge

Comment (1)


Priya

Comprehensively written with relevant information. Thank u sir

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