whether it is possible to identify the age of the ink on a document when the time gap pleaded is only about 4 years.= Therefore, it is clear that no useful purpose will be served by referring the document to the Handwriting Expert

THE HONBLE SRI JUSTICE V. RAMASUBRAMANIAN          

CIVIL REVISION PETITION Nos.6069 of 2016 AND BATCH      

07-04-2017

Polana Jawaharlal Nehru. Revision Petitioner

Maddirala Prabhakara Reddy. Respondent  

Counsel for petitioner  : Sri A. Bhaskara Chari

Counsel for respondent: Sri V.S.R. Anjaneyulu

<Gist:

>Head Note:

? Cases referred:
1)  AIR 1964 Supreme Court 529
2)  1993 (3) ALT 446
3)  2011 Crl. Law Journal 4152
4)  2011 (6) MLJ 524


HONBLE SRI JUSTICE V.RAMASUBRAMANIAN          

Civil Revision Petition Nos.6069 and 6071 of 2016

COMMON ORDER:    

        These revisions arise out of the dismissal of two applications
filed by the petitioner/defendant, seeking the reopening of his
evidence and also for sending the suit promissory note Ex.A.1 for
examination to a Handwriting Expert.
        2. Heard Mr. A. Bhaskara Chari, learned counsel for the
petitioner/defendant and Mr. V.S.R. Anjaneyulu, learned counsel for
the respondent/plaintiff.
        3. The respondent herein filed a suit in O.S.No.1263 of 2015
against the petitioner herein, for recovery of money on the basis of a
promissory note dated 08-12-2012. The petitioner herein filed a
written statement contending, inter alia, that he borrowed an amount
of Rs.8,00,000/- from a person by name Raghava Arjuna Rao on
13-08-2010 and also created a mortgage in his favour; that at the
time of borrowal, the said Ragha Arjuna Rao took his signatures in a
blank promissory note and a blank cheque; that though the entire
mortgage debt was discharged by him, the said Raghava Arjuna
Rao filed a suit in O.S.No.63 of 2013; that the petitioner never
borrowed any money from the respondent herein and that with the
assistance of the said Raghava Arjuna Rao, the respondent
fabricated the blank promissory note given by him and filed the
present suit.
        4. The trial Court framed issues and evidence on both sides
was closed and the matter was posted for arguments on 11-11-
2016. At that time, the defendant, who is the petitioner herein, filed 2
applications, one for reopening his evidence and another for sending
the promissory note for examination by a Handwriting Expert. But
both these applications were dismissed by the trial Court, forcing the
petitioner to come up with the above revisions.
        5. Interestingly, this is not a case where the petitioner denies
his signature in the suit promissory note. His only case is that he
signed a blank promissory note on 13-08-2010 and gave it to one
Raghava Arjuna Rao and that the said promissory note was filled up
by the respondent herein in June, 2014 to come up with the present
suit. Paragraph 5 of the affidavit of the petitioner filed in support of
the applications out of which the present revision petitions arise
reads as follows:
       5. I further submit that I signed on the empty promissory note
and cheque in August, 2010 and handed over the same to the
Sankarasetty Raghava Arjuna Rao. The plaintiff and Sankarasetty
Raghava Arjuna Rao, the 2nd attestor and the scribe filled up the
empty portion of the promissory note and cheque in the year June
2014.  On specific verification the signature on the promissory
note and the matter on Ex.A.1 promissory note clearly discloses
the variation. As such, it is necessary to sent the Ex.A.1
promissory note to the handwriting expert for deciding the age of
the ink used for putting signature and the age of the ink used for
filling the matter of the promissory note as there is a clear
variation of 4 years approximately between the age of the ink used
for putting the signature and the age of the ink used for filling up
the matter in the empty promissory note.

        6. In other words the only purpose for which the petitioner
wants to send the suit promissory note for examination by the
Handwriting Expert is to show that the age of the ink was nearly 5
years old and not one year old, when the suit was filed.
        7. But, prima facie, the attempt of the petitioner to establish
the age of the writing, appears to be far-fetched. According to the
petitioner, his signature was made on 13-08-2010 in the promissory
note. But Ex.A.1 bears the date 08-12-2012. The suit was filed in
December, 2015. The cheque allegedly issued by the petitioner and
which bounced, was dated 02-07-2014. The returned cheque and  
the cheque return memo are filed as Exs.A.3 and A.4. The petitioner
has not made any prayer for referring the age of the writing in the
cheque for examination by the Handwriting Expert.
        8. In any case, it is highly doubtful that it is possible for a
Handwriting Expert to fix the age of the ink where the dispute with
regard to the age is only 4 years. At least if the time gap is about 30
to 40 years, it may perhaps be possible for the handwriting expert to
fix the age. But when the time gap pleaded is just about 4 years, I do
not think it is possible to fix the age.
        9. Several decisions were cited on both sides and I shall take
up those decisions for consideration in the chronological order.
        10. In Shashi Kumar Banerjee and others v. Subodh
Kumar Banerjee , the Supreme Court quoted from the book of
Osborn, on Questioned Documents, to the effect that the chemical
tests to determine age also, as a rule, are a mere excuse to make a
guess and furnish no reliable data upon which a definite opinion can
be based. The Supreme Court actually cautioned that even if the
disputed documents are referred to experts and their opinion
obtained, such opinion constitutes only an opinion and cannot take
the place of substantive evidence.
        11. Taking clue from what the Supreme Court said in Shashi
Kumar Banerjee, a learned Judge of this Court extracted in Uppu
Jhansi Lakshmi Bai v. J. Venkateswara Rao , another passage
from the same author Osborn to the following effect:
         There are those also who pretend to say how old a writing is by
merely examining it with a hand magnifier or a microscope. This always
is an exhibition, either of ignorance or of dishonest presumption. The
chemical tests to determine age also, as a rule, are a mere excuse to
make a guess and furnish no reliable data upon which a definite opinion
can be based as can easily be demonstrated by fair tests on documents
of known age."

        12. However, Mr. Bhaskara Chari, learned counsel for the
petitioner placed strong reliance upon a three successive decisions
of a learned Judge of the Madras High Court to the effect that it is
possible for a Handwriting Expert to fix the age of the writing.  In his
decision in A. Sivagnana Pandian v. M. Ravichandran  and which
was followed in Elumalai v. Subbaramani , the learned Judge of
the Madras High Court quoted the certain excerpts from the latest
edition of Examination of Disputed Documents by Bhuvan. But
none of the portions extracted by the learned Judge from the book,
throw any light upon the question whether it is possible to identify
the age of the ink on a document when the time gap pleaded is only
about 4 years.
        13.  In a rather painstaking exercise, the learned Judge of the
Madras High Court has quoted extensively from (i) Forensic
Science in Criminal Investigation and Trials by B.R. Sharma, (ii)
Suspect Documents their scientific examination by Wilson Harrison
and (iii) Scientific Examination of Questioned Documents by Jan
Seaman Kelly. But none of those portions indicate any where that
the outcome of such examination of the ink could be very fruitful.
      14. It is an admitted fact that the science relating to forensic
examination of Handwriting, especially in relation to the fixation of
the age of the ink, is not perfect. In cases of this nature any
reference of a document to the Handwriting Expert just for the
purpose of finding out whether the ink was 5 years old at the time of
institution of the suit or 3 years old at the time of institution of the
suit, is not likely to bring any fruitful result.  Interestingly in one of the
books relied upon by the learned Judge of the Madras High Court,
namely Handwriting Forensics by B.R. Sharma, Chapter 25
contains a Glossary under the title Documenpaedia. In the said
chapter, there is an interesting portion relating to INK AGE.  This
portion reads as follows:
INK AGE: Age of the writing can sometime be given in relative terms.
Upkeep of the document plays an important role.  Ink has been
extensively studied to fix the age of the documents.  There are two
aspects which have been explored. 
        The compositions of inks in common usage have been changing   
continuously.  It was the carbon ink (known as Indian Ink) to start with.  It
changed to irontannin inks, then to water-soluble dye inks and later to
organic solvent inks as for ball pens.  New dye inks are coming up
continuously.  Thin Layer Chromatography (LTC) can easily identify the
ink dye even from an ink line without visibly damaging the writing line.
High Performance TLC gives better results.  The date of induction of a
particular ink, therefore can be ascertained with the help of its
manufacturer.  If a document is purported to be written prior to its
induction of the ink, it is obviously false.
In some countries data relating to induction of various inks is kept for
ready reference.
        Some inks fade with time.  The extent of fading may give some idea
about the age of the writing.
        Inks diffuse in the paper.  The extent of diffusion may give some guess
about the age of writing.
        Iron inks become darker in colour with age.  The shade of the ink may
give some idea of the age of writing.
        In some countries age marker chemicals, usually radioactive materials,
are added to the ink.  They indicate the age of the writing.
        Fresh ink is easily smudged.  Older inks do not smudge easily.  The
ease of smudging may give a rough estimate of the age of the writing.

       The methods listed above look impressive. But in practice it is
seldom that correct age of the document can be determined as there are
many variables which affect the changes in the ink.

       Age markers can give correct age of the writings.  However, they
are not used in India.

      15. Therefore, it is clear that no useful purpose will be served
by referring the document to the Handwriting Expert. Hence, the
dismissal of the applications by the Court below cannot be found
fault with. Therefore, the Civil Revision Petitions are dismissed.

        As a sequel thereto, miscellaneous petitions, if any, pending
shall stand closed.
________________________  
V. RAMASUBRAMANIAN, J    
Date: 07-04-2017

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