Evolution of Res Gestae: Res gestae was originally used by the Romans to indicate “acts done” or “actus.” It was characterised as facts composing the same transaction by English and American writers. The facts that are automatically or naturally a part of the same transaction are known as res gestae. They are the actions that are self-evident. These facts become significant in the nature of the fact in issue because of their connection to the main transaction. Circumstantial facts are admitted to be part of the res gestae, or original evidence of what occurred. Physical occurrences, such as gestures, can also be accompanied with statements. Things stated or done in the course of a transaction are referred to as res gestae.
Scope and Ambit of Section 6: Facts that are so closely related to the fact in issue that they form part of the same transaction, even though they did not occur at the same time and place, are relevant.
The res gestae doctrine refers to the idea enshrined in Section 6 of the law. The facts that can be proven as part of res gestae must be unrelated to the facts in question but linked to them. Although hearsay testimony is not allowed in a court of law, it may be admissible if it is res gestae and provides credible proof. The reason for this is the immediacy and spontaneity of such a statement, which leaves little time for concoction.
The circumstances in Res gestae are all part of the same transaction. As a result, it is necessary to consider what a transaction is, when it begins, and when it concludes. Any fact that is unrelated to the primary transaction is not a res gestae and thus inadmissible. Circumstantial proof of a state of mind, so-called “linguistic acts,” verbal components of acts, and certain non-verbal behaviour all fall under the notion of res gestae.
Illustrations: Following are the illustrations:
- Cry of an injured person
- Witness’s cry to see a murder take place
- Sound of a bullet
- A person’s attack of a bullet
- Gestures of a person dying
Meaning of transaction: A crime, contract, error, or any other subject of inquiry that may be called into question by a single name is defined as a transaction in this section. It encompasses both the immediate cause and effect of an act or event, as well as the other essential antecedents of its occurrence across an acceptable time, pace, and cause and effect distance.
Relevance of Evidence: Evidence relating to the principal subject matter is relevant since it is one and the same part of the transaction. Two independent misdeeds may be so inextricably linked that establishing one requires proving the other, and in this case, proving that one cannot be prosecuted without proving the other.
If there was a nexus between the offence charged and the other charges, or the two acts formed part of the same transaction to fall within Section 6, the accused’s proof of other offences would be relevant and admissible. An offence that is fully separate and unrelated from the Trial crime res gestae is not acceptable just because it occurred at or around the same time as the Trial offence res gestae.
Relevance of facts: Facts that are the cause, effect, or occasion of relevant facts or facts in question, or that comprise the state of affairs in which they occurred, or that offered an opportunity for their occurrence or transaction, are relevant. In the previous section, facts that are part of the same transaction are admissible. Evidence relating to incidental facts is admissible where they occur, a reasonable presumption has been formed as to the disputed matter, and the evidence is reasonably conclusive. The section provides for the admission of several classes of facts related to the transaction under inquiry which are-
- As being the occasion or cause of a fact,
- As giving an opportunity for its occurrence,
- As being its effect, and
- As constituting the state of things under which it happened.
Test of Admission of Evidence Under Res Gestae: First, the judge must consider the circumstances surrounding the specific statement to ensure that the event was as unusual, beginning, or fanatical as it was to dominate the victim’s thoughts, resulting in his statement being an instinctive reaction to that event, with no real opportunity for reasoned reflection.
In order to be sufficiently spontaneous, the statement must be so closely related with the event that it can be truthfully argued that the announcing mind was still dominated by the event. As a result, the judge must be satisfied that the occurrence that served as the statement’s trigger mechanism was still active.
The possibility of reporting facts narrated in the statement if just the typical inaccuracy of human recollection is relied on pertains to the weight to be assigned to the statement, not its admissibility, and is thus a question 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?
The Say of the Judiciary: The admissibility criteria is based on Bedingfield’s exact current method, as opposed to Foster’s more flexible and accommodating approach. In Ratten’s case, the Privy Council abandoned the test of contemporaneity in favour of the test of “spontaneity and engagement” in order to clarify this uncertainty.
Lord Wilberforce contended in Ratten’s case that the test should not be debatable whether making the remark constituted part of the transaction in some way. This can be difficult to prove, which is why he stressed spontaneity as the test’s foundation. He stated that hearsay evidence may be admitted if the statement providing it is made under circumstances of involvement or pressure (always of approximate but not exact contemporaneity) that eliminate the possibility of concoction or distortion to the manufacturer’s benefit or the accused’s detriment.
Principle of Admissibility of Declarations Accompanying Acts: Following are the points:
- The statement (oral and written) must be related to or relevant to the act in question; it is not admissible merely because it is made in conjunction with an act. Furthermore, the statement must connect to and explain the occurrence that it is accompanying, rather than independent facts that occurred before or after it, unless they are part of a continuous transaction.
- The remark must be made at the same moment as the fact, not just a recounting of events from the past.
- The statement and the act can be made by the same person or by a different person, as in the case of victim, assailant, and bystander statements. It is permissible to collect the statements of all parties involved in the common purpose in a conspiracy.
- A declaration is not proof of the reality of the stated items, even if it is admissible to explain, confirm, or clarify the purpose of the conduct.
Cases: Following are the cases:
- Vasa Chandrashekhar Rao v Ponna Satyanarayana: The accused murdered his wife and daughter. The deceased’s father’s deposition that the accused’s father called him and told him his son had killed the dead was deemed inadmissible. The court had to decide whether the accused father’s deposition could be included under Section 6 and whether Res Gestae would constitute a hearsay exemption.
Failure to determine whether the information given by the accused father to the deceased’s father, who murdered his wife and daughter, was rejected to accept the evidence as relevant under Section 6 either at the time of the crime or shortly afterwards to form part of the same transaction.
- Bishna v State of West Bengal: Both witnesses arrived unconscious shortly after the incident and discovered Prankrishna’s death and a wounded Nepal. One of them discovered Prannkrishna’s and Nepal’s mothers crying and learned from an eyewitness that their evidence about the entire occurrence and the roles performed by each of the appellants was admissible under Section 6 of the Evidence Act.
Expansion of the Doctrine of Res Gestae: Courts have gradually broadened the scope of this section to include situations involving domestic abuse, child witnesses, and other issues. Domestic violence and assault cases invariably involve a shocking event, which frequently involves the issue of ecstatic outbursts. Only the victims are able to identify the suspected perpetrator in these circumstances. As a result, such victim evidence must be accepted. Rape mainly occurs in isolated cases. As a result, there is no eyewitness to such an event. Rape and domestic abuse cases are unlike any other type of crime.
Conclusion: When evidence cannot be brought to any other section of the Indian evidence statute, it is usually brought to res gestae. Legislators wanted to avoid situations where cases were dismissed owing to a lack of evidence. If a statement made under Section 6 is not admissible, it may be used as corroborative evidence under Section 157.
This theory should never be extended indefinitely, according to the Court. As a result, Indian courts have traditionally applied the “continuity of transaction” rule. Section 6 of the Evidence Act prohibits the admission of any comment made after a long period of silence that is not a response to the occurrence. However, because there was ample proof that the victim was still under the stress of excitement and that everything stated was a reaction to the occurrence, judges allowed some statements that were made after a lengthy period of time had passed since the transaction occurred.
Section 6’s strength is its ambiguity. In this section, there is no distinction between the terms transaction and transaction. It varies depending on the circumstances. Every criminal case should be assessed on its own merits. If the evidence is demonstrated to be part of the same transaction, it is admissible under Section 6, but whether it is credible or not is up to the judge’s discretion.