This article is written by Aanchal Rawat, a student of R.N.P.I.S.L. & J currently in Second year pursuing B.com-L.L.B (Hons.).
The word Res Gestae is a Latin word which means things done, transaction or circumstance surrounding the subject is complete.
Section 6 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 is based on the doctrine of Res Gestae.
Facts not of issue, but connected with the fact in issue and forms part of the same transaction are relevant, irrespective of whether they occurred at the same time and place or at different times and places.
- Mahesh is accused of the murder of Mahila by beating her. Whatever Mahesh or Mahila or the bystanders said and did at the time of beating or shortly before it or after it as to form a part of the transaction is a relevant fact.
- Ishita ordered certain goods from Kirtan. Kirtan gave the goods for delivery, but it didn’t reach Ishita. Ishita accused him of not delivering the goods. The goods must have passed through several intermediate persons. These deliveries are a relevant fact that goods were delivered to several intermediate persons successively. Each delivery is a relevant fact.
Meaning of Res Gestae
Sometimes items of evidence are said to be part of the res gestae. If the nature and strength of the evidence is highly connected with the matter of issue then such evidence is admissible.
Res Gestae is an expression mainly used in the criminal law in connection with the contemporary of statements to residents.
Contemporaneous statements are relevant and in connection with the matter and can explain matters in issue, and then they will be admissible.
The term ‘same transaction’ has not been defined in the IEA, 1872.
“Same Transaction” denotes that a series of activities are linked together to present a continuous story.
Sir James Stephen in his book, “Digest of the law of Evidence” has defined the term “Transaction” as follows:
A group of facts which are connected to be mentioned by one legal name, a crime, a contract, wrong or any other subject of inquiry which may be at issue is transacted.
The word ‘transaction’ is difficult to be interpreted. It should be interpreted neither in any strict nor in a technical way, but its ordinary etymological meaning of “an affair” or “a carrying through.”
Efficient test is used to determine whether a fact forms a part of the transaction, it depends upon whether the facts are related to one another in point of purpose, or cause and effect or as probable acts and subsidiary acts as to form one continuous action.
For continuity of action and purpose proximity of time is not essential.
On the one hand, the mere proximity of time between several acts will not necessarily make them parts of the same transaction, while on the other hand, the mere fact that intervals of time between the various acts will not necessarily signify want of continuity. To find out whether a series of acts are part of the same transaction, it is essential to see whether they are linked together to present a continuous whole. Sec. 6 of IEA, 1872 lays down that fact, which form part of the same transaction are relevant.
Res Gestae and Admissibility of facts
Hearsay evidence’s exception is Res Gestae. If a fact or a statement of fact or opinion is closely associated with some act or issue, place or circumstances with some event which is in issue, then it forms a part of the same transaction as the act or the event in issue and will be admissible as evidence. The justification given to the acceptance of such evidence is that the light that it sheds upon the act or event in issue is such that in its absence, the transaction in question may not be fully or truly understood and may even appear to be meaningless, unexplainable or unintelligible.
Res Gestae of any case properly consists of that portion of actual world’s happenings out of the right or liability, complained or stated in the proceeding, necessarily arises.
- Restricted sense: It means the world’s happening out of which the right or liability in question arises.
- Wider sense: It covers all the facts which make the existence of something more probable or less probable than it would be without them, by which re gestae is reproduced to the tribunal where the direct evidence of the witness or perception of the court is unachievable. Statements may also accompany physical happenings, e.g., an accident, happened in a public place, some bystanders will make mutual conversation about the incident.
The question is to what scope, such statements can be regarded as parts of the transaction.
Criteria to be fulfilled before a statement can be admitted as evidence under section 6:
- The spontaneous and simultaneous utterance is a part of the transaction, e.g., what a person states during an occurrence in respect of the occurrence itself.
- The statement must be made either during or immediately before or after its occurrence, and of such a nature that the events speak for themselves the words must be at least de recenti.
- If the statement is made after the act is over for reflection and deliberation (fabrication); and/or it is the mere narration of past events, then it is not relevant.
- The statement must be a statement of fact and not an opinion.
- Kamlesh, while running in the street, crying that Hitesh has stabbed him, is a relevant fact.
- During the investigations of a crime if any statement is given it is considered as relevant facts.
- A man was accused for the murder of his wife. His pleaded that the shot went off accidentally. To rebut that defence, there was evidence of a telephone operator, who stated that before shooting; she had received a call from the address where the deceased lived with her husband. The telephone operator said that the call was from a female, who was sobbing and in a hysterical state she said, “Get me the police, please!” and gave the address. Before telephone operator could make the connection to the police station, the caller’s (deceased) call ended. And when, the police came to the house and found the body of a dead woman. Here the call and the words spoken by the deceased were held to be relevant as a part of the transaction which brought about her death.
- Newspaper Reporting: Whether or not a newspaper report can be relied upon by the High Court would depend upon the nature of jurisdiction being exercised by the High Court. If the question is of admissibility of a newspaper report in any appeal, obviously the Evidence Act is applicable; the High Court is required to go by the provisions of the Evidence Act.
- Inference of guilty: To justify the inference of guilt, the circumstances from which such an inference is sought to be drawn, must be incompatible with the innocence of accused.
Res gestae and Hearsay Evidence
Hearsay evidence is that statement which is given by a person who has not seen the happening of the transaction but has heard of it from outside. Such evidence can be given if it forms a part of the transaction.
Sec. 6 of the IEA, 1872, is an exception to the hearsay evidence rule. It admits certain carefully safeguarded and limited exceptions and makes the statement admissible when such statements are proved to form a part of the res gestae.
Criticism of Res Gestae Doctrine
- The doctrine of res gestae applies to ‘hearsay’ evidence also, which is not considered a good piece of evidence.
- Collateral facts are res inter alios actae, (i.e., transactions between others, for example, statements made behind the accused’s back and to be used as evidence against him.
- According to Professor Stone, “no evidential problem is so shrouded in doubt and confusion”. The rule is useless and harmful. Useless as every part of it is covered by some other rule.
Harmful as it confused the limitations of other rules. The limits of res gestae are not easy to define.
- The Facts differ so greatly that no fixed principle can be laid down as to the matters that will form part of a transaction. As the nature of Res Gestae is confusing it is not included in the Indian Evidence Act.
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