Archives for Shri V.N.Sehgal

Age of Document – Determination of age of Share Transfer Document

Justice Newey of High Court of Chancery Division, London, (U. K.) in a case no. 5436 of 2002 titled Kalvinder Singh Sandhu- Applicant V/s Dr. Sukhvender Kaur- Respondent, observed that :

“Dr. Subhash Mittal, a forensic document examiner called on behalf of Dr. Kaur, expressed the view that the fluorescence documents at the issue tends to confirm that they are of the dates attributed to them. Mr. Gupta disputed the value of fluorescence evidence in the present context, but I do not think I can dismiss Dr.Mittal’s views as clearly without foundation.”

In this case two senior experts of Premier Forensic Science Institute namely Dr. S C Mittal and Shri V.N.Sehgal opined regarding the relative age of document which was not only accepted but also appreciated by the High Court of London.

The background of a case was that a contempt appeal was filed by Mr. Kalvinder Singh Sandhu in the high court of London, alleging that a huge number of shares were transferred in the back date by Mr. K S Sidhu the Managing Director of the Wimpy International in the name of his wife Dr. Sukhvender Kaur showing them as if they were transferred in the year in 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2007. Thus, disobeying the courts direction to make huge payment to his partner, against whom Mr. Sidhu had declared himself insolvent as entire assets of the company in the form of shares were transferred by him in the name of his wife and he had left with no money to pay to the applicant Mr. Sandhu denied the allegation and sought assistance from Premier Forensic Science Institute to determine age of the documents related with Transfer of Shares. The experts of this Institute examined the Share Transfer request letter, the signature of the applicant and the Transferee, Approval of Board of Directors in the AGM and relevant Share Transfer Forms duly filled, signed and attested. During investigation and examination it was observed that all the request letters for Transfer of Shares and the proceeding of AGM the Share Transfer Forms were in order and as per u/s 108 of the Companies Act, the Share Transfer Forms were filed and used within 60 days, as per rules for non-listed companies.

The examination of documents under U.V. Light reveals that the UV-Fluorescence of Controlled Samples of Share Transfer Form for the years 2010, 2011 & 2012 was very strong whereas it was very weak in respect of the Share Transfer Form issued from the period 2000-2004 and it was similar with the controlled samples of the contemporary period. All the records were binded in hard bound registers were intact and there was no evidence of tampering, opening of binding or substitution of pages. It was established from the record of the company that intimation of Transfer of Share was duly given to ROC (Registrar of Company) in the Annual Returns of the company for the period 2000 to 2009 and from year 2005 onwards annual Returns were filed in the Electronic modes and the same was available on the internet on the company’s as well as on the website ROC.

The forensic investigation and examination of the entire record of the company clearly established that the process of share transfer was well within the rules and procedure and any evidence of forgery or back dating was not found in them. UV fluorescence examination and its comparison with the documents of the contemporary period and controlled samples clearly showed the intensity of fluorescence of the Share Transfer Forms of the relevant period confirmed that they are of the date attributed to them.

Another senior forensic expert and Questioned Document Examiner Mr. A K Gupta, having a vast experience of examination of Questioned Documents Cases appeared on the behalf of KPMG and Truth Labs from the side of applicant Mr. Sandhu as expert witness. Mr. Gupta opined that the Share Transfer for the year 2000-2007 by Mr. Sidhu in the name of his wife were back dated on the ground that there were strong tremors in the signature of Mr. Sidhu in the year 2007 to 2009and extent of tremors was so much in the year 2009 that he could not even properly write the word ‘Director’ below his signature.

Mr. Gupta produced a juxtaposed chart showing Tremors in the share transfer forms and the related documents of the relevant period which formed the basis for opinion that all questioned document were back dated as he has shown tremors for period 20002004. However Mr. Justice Newey observed these tremors are on account of use of antidepressant drugs, in particular, which may impair some people’s muscular coordination. As a result, the extent to which a person’s signatures show signs of tremors may decrease as well as increase over time. He further pointed out in Year 2010 -2012 tremors were either missing or were very weak, therefore, the learned Judge didn’t relay on theory of tremor and rejected his opinion.

Upon his opinion the court observed that:

“Mr. Arun K. Gupta, a forensic document examiner of great experience who gave careful evidence, concluded that Mr. Sidhu’s Signatures on the disputed documents identified in paragraphs 37 and 38 (i) above, and also some of the documents referred to in paragraph 40, date from 2007 or later and not from the period during which the documents in Questioned were purportedly created (viz. between March 2001 and December 2004). Mr. Gupta based this conclusion principally on the evidence of tremor he perceived in the relevant signatures. The essence of his reasoning can be found in the following passages from his report:
“A study of these signatures reveals that KSS (i.e. Mr. Sidhu) was having free and fluent writing movement till 2006. He started showing debility of movement and hampering of muscular control resulting in appearance/onset of slight tremors in the signature of 2007… which got aggravated as seen in the signature of 2008…

The deterioration in his writing skill becomes highly pronounced subsequently as seen in the signature of 2009…. So much so that he could not even properly write the word ‘Director’ below his signature. The highly pronounced nature of tremor in 2009 disclosed in May 2010. While the text of the letter has not changed, the signature can be seen to be different.

Tremor can arise not only from ageing but from illness or medication; as Mr. Gupta accepted, antidepressant drugs, in particular, may impair some people’s muscular coordination. As a result, the extent to which a person’s signatures show signs of tremors may decrease as well as increase overtime (if e.g. the person recovers from an illness or ceases to take a medication). That means that a signature showing signs of tremor will not necessarily post -date one that is free of tremor; in fact, Mr. Gupta noted that signatures of Mr. Sidhu dating from 2010 and 2012 have shown a lesser degree of tremor than earlier signatures. In the present case, there is evidence that Mr. Sidhu was taking drugs for both hypertension and, perhaps more significantly, depression in the years after 1999. It is conceivable that the tremor Mr. Gupta observed in the signatures at issue could be attributable to Mr. Sidhu’s health and / or treatment. Mr. Gupta’s evidence is also weakened slightly – through no fault of his own – by the fact that he did not have available to him samples of Mr. Sidhu’s signature dating from 2003 0r 2004.”