Police records and FIR are not substantive piece of evidence [Karnataka HC]

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The High Court of Karnataka in the case of Sri Sri. Ravi v. Thammanna & Ors and United India Insurance Company Limited comprising of a bench of Justice N. S. Sanjay Gowda held that The records maintained by the Police during the course of their investigation cannot really be considered as substantive evidence and cannot be taken as proof the facts stated therein

The court made reference to the Supreme Court judgement in Baldev Singh & Another V. State of Punjab, wherein the following observations were made, “FIR is not a substantive piece of evidence, it is only relevant in judging the veracity of prosecution case and the value to be attached to it depends on the facts of each case. Only the essential or broad picture need be stated in the FIR and all minute details need not be mentioned therein. It is not a verbatim summary of the prosecution case.”

The Karnatakacourt observed, “In this view of the matter, it is clear that the records maintained by the Police during the course of their investigation cannot really be considered as substantive evidence and cannot be taken as proof the facts stated therein. The reliance, therefore, placed upon by insurers on the documents which are essentially records of the prosecution cannot be a determinative factor or actual proof of the occurrence of the accident.”

The court relied on the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of Anita Sharma and Others Vs. The New India Assurance Company Limited to highlight evidentiary value of police records, wherein it was cited that, “It would hardly need a mention that the plea of negligence on the part of the first respondent who was driving the pick-up van as set up by the claimants was required to be decided by the learned Tribunal on the touchstone of preponderance of probabilities and certainly not on the basis of proof beyond reasonable doubt.”

Considering the precedent and the facts of the case court held that, the reliance placed by insurers on the records of the prosecution cannot be a determinative factor of the occurrence of the accident. There is no provision under the MVA or its Rules which indicate that the police records are to be considered as formal proof. Thus enhancing the compensation of claimant and dismissing appeal of Insurance company.

The court dismissing the appeal remarked, “Accordingly, the appeal filed by the claimant is allowed in part. Thus, the claimant is entitled for enhanced compensation of `3,13,440/-, with interest at 6% p.a. on `3,05,440/- (`3,13,440/- less `8,000/- awarded towards future medical expenses) from the date of petition till realisation. The Insurance Company is directed to deposit the amount of compensation within a period of two weeks from the date of receipt of a certified copy of this judgment.”

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