Sec. 6 : Relevancy of facts forming part of same transaction – 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.
(a) 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.
(b) a is accused of waging war against the Government of India by taking part in an armed insurrection which property is destroyed, troops are attacked and gaols are broken open. The occurrence of these facts is relevant, as forming part of the general transaction, though A may not have been present at all of them.
(c) A sues B for a libel contained in a letter forming part of a correspondence. Letters between the parties relating to the subject out of which the libel arose, and forming part of the correspondence in which it is contained, are relevant facts, though they do not contain the libel itself.
(d) The question is, whether certain goods ordered from B were delivered to A. The goods were delivered to several intermediate persons successively. Each delivery is a relevant fact.
Facts which are not themselves in issue may affect the probability of the existence of facts in issue and be used as the foundation of inference respecting them ; such facts are described in Act as relevant facts. Every fact is a part of other facts. Sec. 6 lays down that the facts which are so connected with the facts in issue that they form part of the same transaction are relevant facts. A definition of the word ‘same transaction’ is given by Stephen who says, “ a transaction is a group of facts, connected together to be referred to by a single legal name, a crime, a contract, a wrong or any other subject of enquiry which may be in issue. The rule of efficient test for determining whether a fact forms part of the same transaction or another “depends upon whether they are so related to one another in point of purpose, or as cause and effect, or as probable and subsidiary act as to constitute one continuous action.”
Doctrine of res gestae or parts of transaction
Apparently the phrase is well established in Law of Evidence. It has been used in two senses. In the wider sense it covers all the probative facts by which res gestae are reproduced to the tribunal where the direct evidence of witness or perception by the court are unattainable. In restricted meaning res gestae imports the conception of action by action. To be clear, in the restricted sense “facts which constitute the res gestae must be such as so connected with the very transaction or fact under investigation as to constitute a part of it.” They are the acts talking for themselves not what people say when talking about the acts.
The section is quite apparently based upon the English doctrine of res gestae. This Latin phrase means “things done” and when translated into English means “things said and done in the course of a transaction”. Every case that comes before a court of law has a fact story behind it. Every fact story is made of certain acts, omissions and statements. Every such act, omission or statement as throws some light upon the nature of the transaction or reveals its true quality or character should be held as a part of the transaction and the evidence of it should be received.
“To state a fact or event in isolation without reference to its antecedents in time, place or surrounding circumstances, may render the fact, difficult or even impossible to comprehend. Other facts or circumstances may be so closely connected with the fact in issue as to be, in reality, part and parcel of the same transaction. Such ancillary facts are described as forming part of the res gestae of the fact in issue, and may be proved.
The expression res gestae as applied to a crime means the complete transaction from its starting point in the act of the accused until the end is reached. What in any case constitutes a transaction depends wholly on the character of the act and the circumstances of the case. It frequently happens that, as evidence of circumstances may be resorted to for the purpose of proving the commission of a particular offence charged, the proof of those circumstances involves the proof of other acts either criminal or apparently innocent. In such cases it is proper that the chain of evidence should be unbroken.
The words spoken by the person doing the act, or by the person to whom they were done or by the bystanders are relevant as a part of the same transaction, but it should be borne in mind that such statements or declarations, as they are called, in order that they might be admissible as res gestae should be contemporaneous with the transaction in issue, that is, the interval should not be made as to give time and opportunity for fabrication and connection and they should not amount a mere narrative of a past occurance. If the statement is answer to a query after lapse of some time it cannot be treated as res gestae. At the time of murder the cry of deceased ‘save me’ and that of the children that their mother was being killed are relevant as res gestae.
In Ratten v The Queen A man was prosecuted for the murder of his wife. His defence was that the shot went off accidently. There was evidence to the effect that the deceased telephoned say : “Get me the police please”. Before the operator could connect the police, the caller, who spoke in distress, gave her address and the call suddenly ended. Thereafter the police came to the house and found the body of a dead woman. Her call and the words she spoke were held to be relevant as a part of the transaction which brought about her death. Her call in distress showed that the shooting in question was intentional and not accidental. For no victim of an accident could have thought of getting the police before the happening. This then is the utility of the doctrine of res gestae. It enables the court to take into account all the essential details of a transaction.
A transaction can be truly understood only when all its integral parts are known and not in isolation from each other.
The Court of Appeal held in another case that a statement made to a police officer by the victim of an assault identifying the assailant while moving with the police in his car was relevant as showing that he had seen the victim of an assault and who committed it.
Acts or Omissions as Res Gestae
So far as acts and omissions accompanying a transaction are concerned, much difficulty does not arise. Nature of the transaction itself indicates what should be its essential parts. In case of Milne v Leisler a question was whether a contract had been made with a person in his personal capacity or as an agent of another. The fact that the contractor wrote a letter to his broker asking him to make inquiries was held to be relevant.
Statements as Res gestae
Statements may also accompany Physical happenings. In the application of this principle the courts have been very strict and cautious. For statements can be easily concocted. Hence the principle that the statement should have been made so soon before or after or along with the incident that there was hardly any time to deliberate and thereby to fabricate a false story.
In case of R v. Bedingfield a woman, with a throat cut, came suddenly out of a room, in which she had been injured and shortly before she died, said : “Oh dear Aunt, see what Bedingfield has done to me.” It was held that the statement was not admissible. Anything uttered by the deceased at the time the act was being done would be admissible, as, for instance if she has been heard to say something, as “don’t Harry”. But here it was something, stated by her after it was all over. The statement was also held to be not relevant as dying declaration because she did not have the time to reflect that she was dying.
In case of R v. Christie an indecent assault was made upon a young boy. Shortly after the incident the boy made certain statements to his mother by which he described the offence and the man who assaulted him. The evidence of the statement was excluded. Remarked 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.
The emphasis of the courts seem to be that “the words should be at least de recenti and not after an interval which should allow time for reflection and concocting a story.” The statement should be an exclamation “forced out of a witness by the emotion generated by an event” rather than a subsequent narrative. The courts have stressing the necessity for close association in time, place and circumstances between he statement and the crucial events.
It has been held by the Supreme Court in R. M. Malkani v State of Maharashtra, that “a contemporaneous tape-record of a relevant conversation is a relevant fact. It is res gestae”. Here the act of the assailant intruding into the courtyard during dead of the night, victim’s identification of the assailant her pronouncement that appellant was standing with a gun and his firing the gun at her, all circumstances so intertwined with each other by proximity of time and space that the statement of the deceased became part of the same transaction. Hence it is admissible under Section 6 of the Evidence Act.
In Rattan Singh v. State of H. P. it was held that where shortly before the incidence in which a woman dies of gunshot, she exclaimed that a man was standing near her with a gun in his hand, the statement was held to be sufficiently proximate in time to the happening as to be a part of the same transaction.
Res Gestae and Hearsay
Hearsay evidence means the statement of a person who has not sent he happening of the transaction, but has heard of it from others. But such evidence can be given if it is a part of the transaction.
In Sukhar v. State of U.P., One morning while deceased was going on the road, Accused caught hold of his back and fired a pistol shot towards him, deceased raised an alarm on account of which PW 1 and PW 2 reached the scene of occurrence and that point of time, deceased fell down and the accused made his escape. The two witnesses, brought deceased to the police station whereupon the police recorded of the statement of deceased and started investigation.
During trial the prosecution witnesses PWs 1& 2merely stated as to what they heard from the injured at the relevant point of time and according to PW 2, the injured had told him that the assailant had fired upon him. While the trial was pending the injured died.
The High Court heavily relied upon the statement of PW 2. Counsel for the appellant strenuously contended that the evidence of the Evidence of PW 2 cannot be held to be admissible under Section 6 of Evidence Act inasmuch as what the injured told the witness when the witness when the witness reached the scene of occurrence and the factum of alleged shooting by the accused at the injured cannot be said to have formed part of the same transaction.
The Supreme Court said that Section 6 of the evidence act is an exception to the general rule hereunder the hearsay evidence become admissible. But for bringing such hearsay evidence within the provisions of Section 6, what is required to be established is that it must be almost contemporaneous with the acts and there should not be an interval which allow fabrication. The statement sought to be admitted, therefore as forming part of res gestae must have been made contemporaneously with the acts or immediately thereafter.
With reference to above explanation and referring to the case of Rattan Singh v. State of H.P., the court held that the statement indicating that the injured told that the accused has fired at him, would become admissible under Section 6 of the Evidence Act.