1. This revision petition has been filed against an order in C, M. P. No. 234 of 1970 filed by the complainant to send a document Ex- P3 to the handwriting expert for his opinion after comparing the same with the complainant's admitted signature.
2. The complainant had proposed the candidature of one Krishnareddi atache Panchayat Elections. It is alleged ihat the accused filed his own nomination in the same constituency showing that the complainant had also proposed Ms name and affixed his signature on the nomination form. A complaint was registered for offences under Sees. 465 and 471, IPC and the complainant had examined his witnesses. Some of the complainant's witnesses were also lurther cross-examined. At that stage, when P.W. 2 was to be cross examined, the complainant filed C. M. P. No. 234 of 1970 requesting the court to send the admitted signature of the complainant and the disputed signature for the opinion of handwriting experts That was opposed by the accused. Although the complainant filed the petition Under Sections 252 and 510, Criminal P.C., the learned Magistrate purporting to invoke his powers Under Section 540, Crl. P.C., directed that the document should be sent to an Expert.
3. In this revision petition, Mr. Padmanabhareddi learned Counsel for the petitioner, contends that Under Section 540 Crl. P.C. only a witness can be summoned for being examined or re-examined in a court if his evidence appears to be essential for a just decision of the case, but a document cannot be sent for the opinion of an expert. I find t sufficient force in this contention. Under Section 540 Criminal P- C. only a witness may be called or recalled in the discretion of the court and where it appears to the court that the evidence of any witness is essential for a just decision of the case, it becomes the duty of the court to summon him and examine him irrespective of whether he is cited as a witness by the complainant or not. Whether the evidence of such witness would help the complainant or accused is also not material for invoking this power. This power may be invoked in order to arrive at the truth in the matter. But all the same the power Under Section, 540 Criminal P, C, in view of the wording of the Section is related to the summoning of a witness and not to sending a document for the opinion of an expert. The court however having ample power to summon, any witness could also summon an expert and put the document for his opinion. But even an expert cannot give any opinion as to whether the disputed signature is that of the complainant or not without scientifically examining the same. For that purpose he has to examine the document before giving evidence. After he is summoned, if his opinion is to be , of any value, he must be given an opportunity to examine the document and asked to give his opinion only thereafter. If the magistrate thought that the opinion of the expert was necessary for the .iust decision of the case, he could have summoned the expert- In fact this position is not disputed by the learned Counsel for the petitioner. That procedure having not been adopted, the order directing the document to be sent for the opinion of the expert cannot be sustained. That order is therefore set aside.
But that does not conclude the matter. The Magistrate is called upon to decide, whether the signature on Ex. P3 is that of the complainant or whether it was forged, and whether the accused was guilty of offences Under Sections 465 and 471. IPC The opinion of the handwriting expert is therefore of' great value in deciding this question. Though the opinion of the expert by itself is not conclusive of the matter, the court would be helped to a large extent in arriving at the genuineness or other-j wise of the complainant's signature on' Ex. P3. When the Court thought; that the evidence of the expert was, necessary for a iust decision ofj the case, I feel it is eminently aj fit case in which .this Court should direct that the document should be sent for the opinion of the Expert Under Section 561-A, Criminal .P.C., more so because even the Magistrate could have summoned the expert as a witness to give his evidence-Under Section 540, Cr.PC, and that would have necessitated the adjournment of the proceedings for enabling the expert to scientifically examine the signatures. That cumbersome procedure could be obviated by this Court by directing the document to be sent to an expert and after receiving the opinion of the expert, leaving it to the magistrate, to examine the expert in exercise of his powers Under Section 540 Criminal P.C. I therefore order accordingly.
4. In the result, the criminal revision case is allowed. The order of the learned magistrate is set aside, but the document Ex. P3 is directed to be sent for the opinion of an expert in exercise of the powers of the High Court Under Section 561-A; Criminal P.C. leaving it to the discretion of the Magistrate to examine the expert or not after the receipt of the opinion.