Calling Forensic Expert as court witness under Section 311 CrPC– Held incumbent on trial court where veracity of CFSL report challenged: Bom HC

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Mridula Bhatkar, J. allowed a writ petition directed against the order of Special Judge (CBI) whereby he allowed prosecution’s application filed under Section 293 CrPC.

The prosecution had filed an application under the said Section for exhibiting the CFSL report without examining the forensic expert. The said application was opposed by the petitioners on the ground that they were challenging the veracity of the said report as well as the competence of the forensic expert, and therefore they requested that the expert shall be called as a witness for cross-examination. The Special Judge, however, allowed the aforesaid application of the prosecution. Aggrieved thereby, the petitioners filed the instant petition.

The High Court noted that the petitioners were facing trial under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The conversation relevant to the case was a disputed issue in the trial. The limited question before the Court was whether the said expert to be called as a court witness under Section 311 CrPC. The Court further noted that the trial court had exhibited the CFSL report to which the petitioners raised an objection and wanted to test the truthfulness and veracity of the exhibited document. According to the Court, in all terminology and considering the position of the law, it was necessary for the trial court to call the forensic expert as a court witness under Section 311 enabling both the parties to cross-examine the witness. In such view of the matter, the petition was allowed. [Navin Laxman Tamboli v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 4325, dated 31-10-2018]

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