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Report No. 69

II. Cognate Provisions

17.9. Besides this section, 45 there are other statutory provisions which are of relevance of the evidence of experts. e.g. in the Cr. P.C. and also in the Workmen's Compensation Act and other special Acts. We need not so into details thereof. In our Report1 on the Workmen's Compensation Act, we have had occasion to consider several other aspects of the subject, which were relevant to that Act. In the present discussion, we shall deal only with those points which are important for a consideration of section 45.

1. 62nd Report (Report on the Workmen's Compensation Act).

III. History of Expert Evidence

17.10. Origin of expert evidence.-

For a proper appreciation of the nature and importance of expert evidence, a brief history would be useful. The origin of expert evidenc.- in the form in which it is now admitte.- is interesting. In the beginning, before jury trial was much developed, there were two modes of using expert knowledge in England.

(i) to select the Jurymen such persons as were by experience specially fitted to know the class of facts which were before them, and

(ii) to call to the aid of the court skilled persons whose opinion it might adopt or not, as it pleased1.

1. Learned Hand Historical and Practical Considerations Regarding Expert Testimony, (19( 1902) 15 Harvard Law Review 40.

17.11. This was at a time when juries were not only judges of fact, but also witnesses. When they became mere triers of fact, i.e. when their two functions were thus separated, and "opinion" and "fact" became demarcated, nevertheless the use of experts. "being established and convenient", remained unaffected, even though other opinion evidence disappeared1. In other words, when, as a result of this change in the functions of the jury. the courts evolved the rule against the admission of opinion and hearsay evidence, the use of experts remained as a means of assisting the jury to interpret matters of fact bearing scientific implications2.

1. Cf. Learned Hand Historical and Practical Considerations Regarding Expert Testimony, (19( 1902), 15 Harvard Law Review 40, 50.

2. Learned Hand Historical and Practical Considerations Regarding Expert Testimony, (19( 1902), 15 Harvard Law Review 40, 50.

17.12. The procedural changes that evolved as a result of this development are of interest. Experts were no longer summoned by the court (as before), but by the parties. Moreover, experts became "witnesses", and ceased to occupy the position of special jurors. That, in substance, is the present position.



Indian Evidence Act, 1872 Back




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