Meaning of Res Gestae
Res gestae of any case properly consists of portion of that actual word’s happenings out of which the right or liability, complained or asserted in the proceeding, necessarily arises. The term has been used in two senses. In the restricted sense it means world’s happenings out of which the right or liability in question arises. In the wider sense it covers all the probative facts by which the res gestae are reproduced to the tribunal where the direct evidence of witness or perception by the court are unattainable.
Every facts in the Evidence Act is a part of other facts. There is no fact which is unconnected with other facts. Section 6 lays down that the facts which are so connected with the facts-in-issue that they from part of the same transaction are relevant facts. The principle underlying Section 6 is sometimes termed as res gestae. This phrase as explained means simply a transaction, i.e,, “things said or done in course of the transaction.”
Woodroffe defines the term ‘res gestae’ as those circumstances which are the automatic and undersigned incidents of a particular litigated act and which are admissible when illustrative of such act. These incidents may be separated from the act by a lapse of time more or less appreciable. A transaction may last for weeks. The incident may consist of sayings, and doings; they may comprise things let undone as well as the things done. They may be necessary incidents of the litigated act in the sense that they are part of the immediate preparation for an emanation of such act and are not produced by the calculated policy of the actors. They are the acts talking for themselves, not what people say when talking about the act.
Also Read Doctrine of Res Gestae: Important Points
In other words, they must stand on an immediate causal relation to the actual incident. There must not be a chance for fabrication or concoction which may lead to manufacturing of the evidence. The test of admissibility of evidence as part of res gestae is whether the act, declaration or exclamation is so intimately interwoven or connected with the principal facts or event which it characterizes as to be regarded as a part of the transaction itself and also whether it showed premeditation for the purpose of manufacturing testimony.
Circumstantial facts are declared relevant and admitted in evidence, though they are not in issue if they are so connected with the fact-in-issue, as to form part of the same transaction, whether they occur at the same time and place, or at different time and places. Such facts are admitted as forming part of res gestae, i.e., being part of the original proof of what has taken place. Thus if the question is whether certain goods ordered from B were delivered to R. The fact that the goods were delivered to several intermediate persons is a ‘relevant fact’ or again, if the question is whether A waged war against the King by taking part in armed insurrection in which property was destroyed and troops were attacked, the happening of these mediate events may be proved though A may not have been personally present at all of them.
According to Stephen: “A transaction is a group of facts connected together as to be referred to by a single name, as a crime, a contract, a wrong or any other subject of enquiry which may be in issue.” A transaction may consist of physical acts as also words accompanying such physical acts. Thus where A is accused of the murder of B by beating him-whatever was said or done by A or B or the by standers at the beating, or so shortly before or after it as to form part of the transaction, is a relevant fact and forms part of the same transaction.
A transaction may be truly known when all its relevant parts are known is not in isolation with each other. Thus in O’ Leary v. Regem, (1946) 73 C.L.R., evidence was admitted of assaults, prior to killing committed by the accused during what was said to be a continuous orgy.
Explanation of res gestae
The best explanation of the principle which admits evidence of res gestae is this that the affairs of men consist of a complication of circumstances, so intimately interwoven as to be hardly separable from each other.
Each owes its birth to some proceeding circumstance, each in turn becomes the prolific present of others; each during its existence, has its inseparable attributes, and its kindred facts, material affecting its character, and essential to be known, in order to a right understanding of its nature.
(a) The deceased and many other were celebrating Holi. The accused fired at the deceased. Some of the witnesses arrived at the scene of occurrence immediately after occurrence. The by-standers informed the witnesses that the accused fired at the deceased. The evidence of the witnesses to the effect that the accused fired at the deceased. The evidence of the witnesses to the effect that the accused fired at the deceased, is relevant. (Jetha Ram v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1979 SC 22).
(b) The accused dragged the deceased from his house to chowk area and began to beat him. Z who was present when the beating began ran to the village police Patel, namely, Lakshman, while the beating was in progress, and told him that the deceased was being beaten by the accused. The statement of Patel before the Court that Z told him that the accused were beating the deceased was held relevant. (Badruddin v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1981 SC 1223).
Thus as is apparent from the above cases that the statement of the by- standers can be regarded as parts of the transaction. In application of this principle the court have been very strict and cautious because of the reason that statement can easily be concocted.
The evidence of the statement in R. v. Christie was excluded by the court. This was a case of an indecent assault upon a young boy. Shortly after the incident the boy made certain statement to his mother by which he described the offence and the man who assaulted him. The reason for excluding this statement by court was that the boy’s statement was so separated by time and circumstances from the actual commission of the crime that it was not admissible as part of the res gestae. However it has been held by the Supreme Court in (R.M. Malkani v. State of Maharashtra, (1973) 1 SCC 477), that a contemporaneous tape record of a relevant conversation is a relevant fact. It is res gestae.
In the case of Basanti v. State of H.P., (1987) 3 SCC 227, Supreme Court, of India held that where the person suspected of murder explained away the absence of the deceased by saying that he had left the village, such statement will be retreated to be a part of the transaction hence a res gestae.
According to Section 6-“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 times and places.”
1. That facts, not in issue, are relevant, if by their connection with the facts in issue they form part of the same transaction.
2. Such fact may have occurred at the same time and place as the fact-in-issue have occurred at different times and places.
The above provision which is a reproduction of Section 6 of the Indian Evidence Act is based on the English Principle of res gestae..
1. Part of the same transaction.-A transaction is a group of facts so connected together as to be referred to by single legal name, as a crime a contract, a wrong or any other subject of inquiry which may be in issue.
2. Proximity of time and place.-Where the transaction consists of different acts, in order that the chain of such acts may constitute the same transaction they must be connected together by proximity of time, proximity or unity of place, continuity of action and community or purpose or design. The test of admissibility of evidence as part of res gestae is whether the act, declaration or examination is so intimately interwoven or connected with the principal facts as to be regarded as part of the transaction itself and also whether it negatives any pre-meditation or purpose to manufacture testimony.
Reason of the Res gestae
If facts form part of the transaction which is the subject of inquiry, manifestly evidence of them rightly ought not to be excluded. Moreover, such fact forming part of res gestae in most cases could not be excluded without rendering the evidence unintelligible, for every part of a transaction is connected with every other part as cause on effect. The reason behind this rule is that the affairs of men consist of complication of circumstances so intimately interwoven as to be hardly separable from each other. Each owes its birth to some preceding circumstances, and each in turn becomes the prolific parent of others; each during its existence, has its inseparable attributes, and is kindred to facts materially affecting its character, and essential to be known, in order to a right understanding of its nature. According to some jurists the rule ‘res gestae’ evidence is embodied in Sections 6 to 9 and 14 of the Indian Evidence Act.
(i) To prove that the defendants were common cheats the facts that they falsely represented themselves to be persons of property on several occasions and to different persons, are admissible (R. v. Roberts).
(ii) A is robbed and murdered. In this case, evidence of robbery e.g., possession of stolen property, will be relevant for proof of murder as well. (Queen v. Sami, 13 Mad 426).
Sections 7, 8, 9 & 14 of Indian Evidence Act
Under Section 7 those facts which-
(a) are occasion or cause of the (fact-in-issue) or of relevant fact;
(b) being their effect;
(c) give opportunity for their occurrence;
(d) constitute the state or things under which they happened.
Under Section 8 motive, preparation and conduct are relevant. Thus the facts which constitute motive, or shaws preparation or refers to the previous or subsequent conduct of any party or agent are relevant.
Under Section 9, the following facts are relevant.—
(a) Facts which are necessary to explain a fact-in-issue or irrelevant fact.
(b) Facts which are necessary to introduce a facts-in-issue or relevant fact.
(c) Facts which support an inference suggested by a facts-in-issue or relevant fact.
(d) Facts which rebut an inference suggested by a facts-in-issue view or relevant fact.
(e) Facts which establish the identity of anything or person whose identity is relevant.
(f) Facts which fix the time or place at which the facts-in-issue or relevant fact happened.
(g) Facts which show the relation of parties by whom any such facts was transacted. and under Section 14, facts which show the existence of state of mind,or of body or bodily feeling are relevant.
Test for Admission of Evidence under Res Gestae
First, the judge must take into consideration the circumstances in which the particular statement was made to satisfy him that the event was as unusual or beginning or fanatical as it was to dominate the victim’s thoughts, so that his statement was an instinctive reaction to that event, thus giving no real opportunity for reasoned reflection.
The statement must be so closely associated with the event that aroused the statement that it can be fairly stated that the declaring mind was still dominated by the event in order to be sufficiently spontaneous. Therefore, the judge must be satisfied that the event providing the trigger mechanism for the statement was still in operation.
With regard to the possibility of reporting facts narrated in the statement if only the ordinary error of human recollection is relied on, this goes to the weight to be attached and not to the admissibility of the statement and is therefore a matter for the jury.
The test to be used in deciding whether a statement made by a bystander or a victim indicating an attacker’s identity is admissible can be submitted as-
- Was that spontaneous?
- Was the identification relevant?
- Has there been any real possibility of error?
- Was there a concoction opportunity?
In Vasa Chandrasekhar Rao vs. Ponna Satyanarayan and Ors (MANU/SC/0394/2000) the offender had killed his wife and daughter. The deposition was made by the father of the accused that he made a phone call to the accused andsaid over thecall that his soon had killed the deceased. The contention raised before court was, whether this statement of the accused’s father can be recognised under the doctrine of res gestae. Unable to determine the time of phone call, where this same information was relayed, whether it was done simultaneously with the commission of the crime or immediately after, this evidence was held inadmissible under the said principle.
In Bishna and Ors vs. State of West Bengal MANU/SC/1913/2005 two witnesses arrived at the place of occurrence right after the incident has taken place and found the body of the deceased named Prankrishna and injured Nepal in an unconscious state. One of the witnesses heard the mother of Prankrishna and Nepal sobbing and heard the entire scenario from an eye witness and the role played each of the appellants. However, their testimony was inadmissible as it was recognised under the doctrine of hearsay evidence.
We can conclude from the above discussion that court has always believed that this doctrine should never be unlimitedly extended. For this reason, the “continuity of transaction” test was always considered by Indian courts. Any statement made following a long gap that was not a response to the event is not admissible under Section 6 of the Evidence Act. But courts allowed some statement that was spoken after a long gap from the occurrence of the transaction because there was enough evidence that the victim was still under the stress of excitement and so everything that was said was a reaction to the occurrence.
The strength of Section 6 is its vagueness. There is no distinction in this section between the word transaction used. It varies from case to case. Every criminal case on its own merit should be judged. The evidence is admissible under Section 6 if it is proven to be part of the same transaction, but whether it is reliable or not depends on the discretion of the judge.