In a judgement passed by Kerala High Court in 2016, the order stated how much reliance cannot be put on wedding photographs to decide on returning the gold ornaments to the wife by the husband while settling divorce cases.
Justice C.T. Ravikumar held,
The very practice of passing orders for returning gold ornaments merely by looking at photographs and assessing their weight without considering whether the claim is plausible can only be a perverse application of evidence.
The court was considering a petition filed by Mohammadali of Ferook College PO, Kozhikode, against a lower court order asking him to return the gold ornaments he had received after his marriage to Rahiyanath, his former wife.
Family Court Observations
The family court found that there would be no difficulty in concluding that the bride was in possession of 80 sovereigns of gold ornaments on the date of marriage.
High Court Overruled
The High Court observed,
Nowadays it is a fact that imitation gold ornaments made of other metals and ornaments plated with gold are available in the market. It is hard to distinguish and identify such ornaments if worn together with original ornaments when photographed.
Adding further, the court said,
In such circumstances, blind acceptance of all photographed ornaments as pure gold ornaments and further making calculation regarding the weight of each such ornament without any other reliable proof would be unsafe.
Hitherto no technology has been developed to identify whether an ornament appearing in a photograph is gold or not.
Considering the present-day value of gold, such blind acceptance and ordering the return of gold ornaments might put the person called upon to return the same in indebtedness, it said.
Excerpts From The Order
16. I may now, consider the tenability of the reliance placed 29 on Ext.P12 photographs by the learned Sessions Judge. As noticed hereinbefore, the learned Sessions Judge held that if the photos were relied on there would be no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that the first respondent (the petitioner therein) was in possession of 80 sovereigns of gold ornaments as on the date of marriage with the petitioner. Nowadays, it is a fact that imitation gold ornaments made of other metals and ornaments plated with gold are available in market and it will not be able to distinguish and identify such ornaments if worn together with original gold ornaments and photographed, with naked eye. In such circumstances, blind acceptance of all photographed ornaments as pure gold ornaments and further, making calculation regarding the weight of each of such ornaments for the purpose of finding the verity of the claim made for the return of gold ornaments given to the bride at the time of marriage without any other reliable proof would be extremely unsafe. Hitherto no technology has been developed to identify whether an ornament appearing in a photograph is gold or not.
17. Considering the present day value of gold such blind acceptance and ordering for the return of gold ornaments based on determination made purely relying on such photographs might put the person called upon to return the same in indebtedness and to toil and moil throughout the rest of the life for none of his faults, to redeem from it. It is also to be noted in this context that on account of of dexterity and peculiarity in the making of a gold ornament it may appear to have more weightier than its original weight. In such circumstances, the very practice of passing orders for returning of gold ornaments merely by looking at photographs and assessing its weight for the purpose of passing orders to return gold ornaments without considering the question whether the claim is plausible can only be a perverse appreciation of evidence. The discussions made by the learned Sessions Judge in the impugned order for reversing the findings of the learned Magistrate would reveal that Ext.P12 series were heavily relied on and the same reads thus:-
31 “The photos explicitly depicts the gold ornaments worn by the petitioner. I gone through Ext.P4 and found that almost all the gold ornaments described in Ext.P4 is found worn by the petitioner. Therefore, Ext.P4 can be relied upon to gather the truth of the fact that PW1 received gold ornaments worn by her. If the photos are relied upon, there is no difficulty in coming to a conclusion that the petitioner was in possession of 80 sovereigns of gold ornaments as on the date of marriage.”
18. I have already found that Ext.P4 could not have been relied on as a piece of reliable, corroborative evidence. In short, I have no hesitation to hold that the learned Sessions Judge went wrong in interfering with a merited consideration of the matter by the trial court.
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