Rule of Res Gestae

Introduction

It has always been a general rule that the conviction of accused should always be based upon direct evidence so that no innocent get punished. The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 contains specific provisions which make only direct evidence admissible. Court also while giving judgement considers direct evidence admissible to form the conviction. However, there are some provisions which make room for the indirect evidence as well in cases where no direct evidence is available. It is the Rule of Res Gestae that makes indirect evidence admissible under Section 6 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 if specific requirements are fulfilled as discussed under this article.

Hearsay Rule

Hearsay evidence means statements of those people who have heard about the crime from other people who were the witness to the crime when it took place. Thus, it does not form a part of the direct because there is always a scope of fabrication that comes into play in the statement of these people and they cannot be considered as the witnesses to the case. It has been taken as a general rule under the evidence law that the hearsay evidence is not admissiblein the court of law because there is always a question whether it is true or not.

 It is only the direct evidence that is admissible as evidence as per Section 60 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 which clearly says that only the oral evidence of those people is admissible who have seen the crime or who have heard it.

 However, in some cases where there is no direct evidence available then comes the role of the Rule of Res Gestae which is taken as an exception to the hearsay rule and makes it admissible under the court of law if all the essentials of Section 6 are fulfilled.

Meaning of Res Gestae

Section 6 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 specifies about the rule of res gestae. It says that-

“Relevancy of facts forming the part of the same transaction– Facts which, though not in issue are so connected with a fact in issue as to form part of the same transaction, are relevant, whether they occurred at the same time and place or at different time and places.”

The Rule of Res Gestae takes into consideration all the acts in the surrounding circumstances to the principle act which forms the part of the same transaction. This includes an act that generally explains the main act itself which includes both the physical act and the oral statement made which should be contemporaneous. This means that it should be done at the time of the act or immediately thereafter so that there is scope of fabrication.

It takes into consideration all the all the things happening around the crime that takes place. It may consist of a series of acts or a single act. It may happen for a smaller period of timeor may extend for a longer period of time such as acts taking place for several months or days.

 Its starting point is from the first act of offence committed by the accused and the end point is to the final act of offence committed by the accused. All the things happening in between that time that is though not the principle act but is so much connected with the principle act that it forms the part of that principle fact and is taken into consideration.

Rabindra Sahoo v. State Of Orissa[1]

In this case it was observed that the Doctrine of Res Gestae is an exception to the hearsay rule and is admissible under the court of law. There are some requirements that are needed to be fulfilled such as the act should be simultaneous or immediately be performed after the incidence of crime so as to form a part of the same transaction. There must be some connection with fact in the issue.

Babulal Choukhani v. Western India Theatres Ltd.[2]

In this case it was observed there is still a lot of uncertainty in the definition of Res Gestae. There is no exact definition given of the same and Section 6 is only considered as Res Gestae only. There is no separate definition given for the same. 

Development of the Doctrine of Res Gestae

It was in the case of R v. Bedingfield[3] in which this doctrine was discussed. However, a restricted approach was used in this case. In this case a woman came out of her room and told her aunt about the person who cut her throat. The court observed that the evidence given by the aunt cannot form part of the Res Gestae because the statement was made by the victim to the aunt after the whole incidence was over. What was necessary was that the statement had to be made during the act of crime being committed to form part of Res Gestae.

Later on, in the case of Rutten v. Regina[4] a widened approach was used. In this case women contacted the telephone operator to connect the call to the police however she couldn’t connect the same to the police. Later on, she was found dead. Husband was accused of her murder. He claimed that the death took place by accident. However, the court accepted the evidence of the call and stated that no call to police could have been made if the death took place by accident. The call formed part of Res Gestae.

So, the development which took place between the two cases was that in the Bedingfield case no evidence was accepted if it came after the incidence was over but in the Rutten case court accepted that statement made immediately after the incidence could be taken as evidence and forms part of Res Gestae.

Connection with Fact in Issue

Section 3 of The Indian evidence Act, 1872 specifically states that a fact is said to be relevant to another when it is connected to another in the way referred under the provisions of Act that is from Section 6-55.

Section 5 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 evidence can only be given for those facts in issue only to which the act has declared it as relevant and for no other.

So, in order to constitute a part of Res Gestae a fact may not be directly in connection with that of the fact in issue. What is necessary is that there should be some connection of the fact with the fact in issue. There must be some indirect connection in order to constitute the part of Res Gestae.

Thakur Dass v. State of Himachal Pradesh[5]

It was observed that the acts forming a part of Res Gestae must be connected with the fact in issue. Section 5 of The Evidence Act tells us about the fact that forms the part of facts in issue and some casual connection with those facts in issue is necessary to form a part of Res Gestae.

Same Transaction

A transaction can be defined as a certain group of facts which are joined together with each other which happens systematically, including all facts from the starting to end. Generally, when several acts are committed within the same time and same place, it increases the chance that all the acts are connected with each other so as to form a part of the same transaction. However, when we read Section 6 we can clearly see that acts may be committed at different times and different places still they may form a part of the same transaction.

What is necessary is that there should be some indirect or causal connection between the facts so that they can form a part of the same transaction. All these facts should be connected with the main fact in such a way that it narrates the main fact itself. These facts are not the main fact itself and are indirect in nature but they have some connection with the main fact that is why they can be taken into consideration when there is no direct evidence.

 Gentela Vijayavardhan Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh[6]

In this case it was observed that an act can form a part of Res Gestae only when it forms the part of the same transaction. It must be contemporaneous so there is no fabrication. Act must have some connection with the main act and so the interval should be between them so as to form a part of the same transaction.  

Kaside Rajender v. The State[7]

In this case the Rule of Res Gestae was applied. A person called the police immediately after the incidence of crime. Police reached there within five minutes and recorded the statement. It was held that the statement formed the part of the same transaction as it was immediately made after the crime. The interval was not sufficient to fabricate the statement.

Sawal Das v. State of Bihar[8]

In this case, the husband killed his own wife. Due to this children made a scream. The court held that the scream is admissible as evidence under Section 6 because it formed the part of the same transaction with that of principal act. The cry was closely connected with the main act that was of murder.

Contemporaneous Act

Contemporaneous Act means the act committed at the same time and same place. This means that the act which forms the part of the Res Gestae must be committed at the time when the crime is occurring simultaneously along with it or the act must be committed immediately after the incident.

The reason for not giving any time space is that it can lead to the fabrication. Thus, time becomes an essence and only the spontaneous act can form the part of Res Gestae.

Krishna Kumar Malik v. State of Haryana[9]

In this case it was observed that Section of the evidence is declared as an exception to hearsay rule but there are some requirements that need to be fulfilled such as it is necessary that the act which is declared as admissible as evidence must be contemporaneous or should have been done immediately after the crime.

Sukhar v. State of Uttar Pradesh[10]

In this case as well it was observed that to make as evidence admissible under the hearsay rule it is necessary that the act should be done spontaneously or immediately thereafter so that there is no scope of fabrication.

In the act committed immediately thereafter it is necessary that after the criminal act gets over it still has an influence and all the acts committed in that influence are admissible.

Now there are two types of act that form the part of the Res Gestae-

1.     Physical Act

Any physical act which is committed at the time by the person committing the crime or by the person on whom crime is committed or any bystander can come under this. What is necessary is that the physical act must be committed simultaneously or immediately after the act of crime. There should be any time space between the act of crime and the physical act taken into consideration. They should form the part of the same transaction and must be connected with the main act.

2.     Physical Act Along With Words

It is not only the physical act that forms the part of the Res Gestae. Statements made or words spoken by the person who commits a crime or on whom crime is committed or by any person who is nearby come under this. The statement or words must be spoken simultaneously or immediately after the crime so there is no misleading statement. They should form the part of the same transaction and must have some connection with the main act.

Criticism

There are certain loop holes under this due to which an innocent person may be convicted. First of all the evidence under Res Gestae is completely indirect and the conviction is done without any direct evidence.

This rule specifically states that the act should be contemporaneous however there is always a scope of fabrication as all the evidence is indirect.

The term “same transaction” has nowhere been defined under The Evidence Act. So, it is still not clear of what act can form a part of the same transaction. There is a lot of uncertainty regarding this. 

Conclusion

From the above discussion we can conclude that Res Gestae has been declared as an exception to Hearsay Rule and it makes the indirect evidence admissible. Act forming a part of Res Gestae must be contemporaneous or must be performed immediately after the act so as to form a part of the same transaction.

The act can be physical or can be oral. It must have some connection with the principal act. Principal act is the one which forms the fact in issue. This rule still has some loopholes due to its uncertainty and lack of clarity. There is always a fear of convicting an innocent person.

References

  1. http://jcil.lsyndicate.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/HEARSAY-RULE-AND-DOCTRINE-OF-RES-GESTAE-%E2%80%93-AN-ANALYTICAL-STUDY-WITH-REFERENCE-TO-INDIAN-EVIDENCE-ACT-1872-7.pdf
  2. https://indiankanoon.org/search/?formInput=admissibility%20of%20hearsay%20evidence-
  3. https://www.latestlaws.com/articles/critical-analysis-of-doctrine-of-res-gestae-under-indian-evidence-act-by-nidhi-garg/
  4. http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-500-res-gestae-a-judicial-analysis.html
  5. http://www.legalservicesindia.com/law/article/1029/5/Res-Gestae-Section-6-Indian-Evidence-Act-1872
  6. Batuk Lal, The Law of Evidence, Central law Agency, 22nd Edition, 2018

Questions

  1. What is hearsay evidence? Can it be admissible under the court of law?
  2. Define Res Gestae with reference to The Indian Evidence Act,1872?
  3. Explain along with the cases restrictive and wider approach of Res Gestae?
  4. What is the importance of time under Res Gestae?
  5. What do we mean by the term “same transaction” under Section 6 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872?

[1] 06.July.2015

[2] AIR 1956 CAL 105

[3] (1695) 6 Skin 402

[4] (1971) 1 WLR 801 (PC)

[5] 1992 Cri.L.J. 2415

[6] AIR 1996 SC 2791

[7] Cr. Appeal No. 75/2011

[8] AIR 1974 SC 778

[9] S.L.P.(Crl.)No.8021/2009

[10] (1999)9 SCC 507

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