Majority of Finger Prints are smudged - whether a mark is usable as fingerprint evidence-whether that can be done on eight or even less identical characteristics in an appropriate case- it is for expert to say - 2015 S.C. (1978) MSKLAWREPORTS



There is no gainsaying the fact that a majority of fingerprints found at crime scenes or crime articles are partially smudged, and it is for the experienced and skilled fingerprint expert to say whether a mark is usable as fingerprint evidence.
 Similarly it is for a competent technician to examine and give his opinion whether the identity can be established, and if so whether that can be done on eight or even less identical characteristics in an appropriate case. 

In this case there was the categorical statement of the Director, Finger Print Bureau, Phillaur, that one particular impression on the currency note was photographically enlarged alongwith the right middle finger impression of the respondent, that it was comparable, and there existed not less than eight points-of similarity i.e. matching characteristic details in their identical sequence, without any discordance, between its comparable portion and the corresponding portion of the photographically enlarged right middle finger impression. The Director graphically showed the eight points of similarity, in their same form and position and indicated the nature, direction and sequence of each point. He clearly stated that so many points of similarity could not be found to occur in impressions of different thumbs and fingers and that they were identical and were of one and the same person.

We have given our reasons for rejecting the statement of the respondent that the police got his finger impression on the currency not,.- while he was in custody at the police station. The respondent was an educated man who was employed as the Secretary of the local Co-operative Society and who had an influential maternal uncle. The, police could not therefore have obtained his fingerprints in the manner alleged by him and the respondent would have resisted, any such attempt to create irrebuttable evidence against him of a serious charge, like murder and he or his uncle would have exposed it immediately.

We have examined the evidence of the prosecution regarding the taking of specimen fingerprints of the respondent, their comparison and examination with the fingerprint on the currency note by the Director, Finger Print, Bureau, Phillaur, and his report Ex. P. BB.

As the impression mark A on the currency note was partly smudged and partly on the design and the printed writing, it was photographically enlarged along with the right middle finger impression of the respondent, and the two photographic enlargements were marked A/A and 1/1 respectively. 
The Director has given the opinion that the photographically enlarged impression marked A/A was "partly smudged but, otherwise, it is comparable and there exist sufficient (not less than 8) points of similarity i.e. matching ridge characteristic details in their identical sequence, without any discordances, between its comparable portion and the corresponding portion of the photographically enlarged right middle finger impression of Ajit Singh marked 1/1.
" The Director has further stated that he had graphically shown the 8 points of similarity "in their same form and position" and had indicated the "nature, direction and sequence of each point" in it's relevant circle.

He has expressed the categorical opinion that so many points of similarity could not be found to occur in impressions of different thumbs and fingers and that they were therefore "identical" or were "of one and the same person." 

There were other impressions also on the currency notes, but they were either sufficiently smudged and partly interfered with by the design and the printed matter or were sufficiently faint and were rejected as unfit for comparison.

Nothing- substantial has been urged to challenge the opinion of the, Director of the Finger Print Bureau, and all that has been argued is 841 that as there were only,, 8; points, of similarity, there was not enough basic for the expert's opinion about the identity of the fingerprints.

Reference in, this connection has, been made to B. L. Saxena's. fixation of Handwriting, Disputed Documents, Finger Prints, Foot Print.$ and Detection, of Foregeries", 1968 edition, page 247, Walter R.Scott's "Fingerprint Mechanics" page 62, and, M. K Mehta's "The Identification of Thumb Impressions and, the Cross- Examination of Finger Print Experts" 2nd edition page 28.We have gone through these books but they do not really support the argument of- the learned counsel for the respondent.

While referring to the old practice of looking for a minimum of 12 identical characteristic details, Saxena has admitted that the modern view is that six points of similarity of pattern are sufficient to establish the identity of the, fingerprints. Walter Scott has stated that "as a matter of practice, most experts who work with fingerprints constantly satisfy themselves as to identity with eight or even six points of identity. 

Mehta has also stated that in the case of blurred impressions the view of some of the Indian experts is that if there were three identical points, they would be sufficient to prove the identity.
There is no gainsaying the fact that a majority of fingerprints found at crime scene or crime articles are partially smudged, and it is for the experienced and skilled fingerprint expert to say whether a mark is usable as fingerprint evidence. 
Similarly it is for a competent technician to examine and give his opinion whether the identity can be established, and if so whether that can be done on eight or even less identical characteristics in an appropriate case. 
As has been pointed out, the opinion of the Director of the Finger Print Bureau in this case is clear and categorical and has been supported by adequate reasons. We have therefore no hesitation in accepting it as correct.- 2015 S.C. (1978) MSKLAWREPORTS

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