How can Signature & Handwriting be Proved?

Different ways to prove signature & handwriting

The signature and handwriting of a person can be proved in the court by different ways depending on the facts of each case, as per the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act, 1882 (IEA) and they are as follows: –

By admission of the adverse party

The signature or the handwriting of a person in a document can be proved by admission of the party against whom the document is tendered, under Section 21 of the IEA.

An admission is not a conclusive proof, but substantive evidence of the fact admitted needs to be duly proved. When a statement is against the interest of the person making it there is a presumption of truth.

By opinion of an expert u/s 45 IEA

A handwriting expert can compare signature or handwriting of a person with that of the admitted handwriting or signature to prove it and that is relevant,  as per Section 45 of the IEA.

The science of handwriting is not an exact science. Therefore, a handwriting expert can certify only a probability but not with certainty. The expert evidence on handwriting is a weak one and court should give abundant caution in considering such opinion evidence in deciding any matter. But the apex court says that there is no rule that the expert opinion should not be acted upon.

An expert witness is the one who has devoted time and study to a special branch of learning. He is specially skilled on those points on which he has to state his opinion. The section does not prescribe any attainment, standard or experience for considering a person as an expert. It is the duty of the judge to decide whether the skill of a person who is giving evidence is sufficient to be considered as an expert.

Under this section, the expert forms his opinion by making a scientific comparison of the signature or handwriting in question and the admitted signature or the handwriting of the person.

Expert evidence as to the handwriting is opinion evidence and it can rarely take the place of substantive evidence. The expert is expected to provide reason to support opinion and that is a relevant fact under Section 51 of the IEA. If an expert gives no reason in support of his opinion or he does not show that he possesses special knowledge or skill, the court should not rely on his opinion as expert opinion. Before acting on such opinion evidence it should be corroborated with other evidence. The credibility and competence of an expert is a material question.

The purpose of expert opinion is primarily to assist the court in arriving at a conclusion. Such an expert opinion is not binding up on the court. The court is expected to analyse the expert opinion, read it in conjunction with the other evidence, or record it and then form its final opinion.

In short, expert opinion is merely an aid to the court in arriving at a conclusion. It is optional for the court to accept or reject it.

By a person acquainted with the person’s handwriting u/s 47

What the section says is that when the court has to form an opinion as to the handwriting of any person the opinion of the person acquainted with the handwriting of such person is admissible in evidence, under Section 47 of the IEA.

The court has power to direct any person present in the court to write any word or figures for the purpose of enabling the court to compare the words or figures so written with any words alleged to have been written by such person.

Under this section, the witness can be cross examined if the other party is not convinced of his acquaintance with the signature or handwriting in question.

By proving the signature and handwriting u/s 67 IEA

The signature and handwriting in question can be proved by proving the signature and handwriting of the person alleged to have signed or written the document.

That means, to prove that a person has signed the document or has written it wholly or in parts, the signature or the handwriting of the document must be proved to be in the person’s handwriting.

Merely proving the signature of a document does not mean that the body of the document has been proved. But a signature of a documents by a person turns the whole document into a statement by him.

By comparison of signature or handwriting u/s 73

The signature and handwriting of a person can be proved by comparing the signature or writing in question by the court itself with the admitted or proved signature or handwriting.

That means, the court can compare the signature and handwriting. Though the court is competent to compare the signature or handwriting, the prudence suggest that it should not do so of its own.

Court can compare signatures in cheque with that of bank

In a cheque case under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act (NI Act), if the accused disputes the signature on the cheque, then the court can summon certified copies of the signatures from the bank to compare it with the signature appearing on the cheque, says the Supreme Court in Ajitsinh Chehuji Rathod v State of Gujarat and another.

The signature on a cheque carries a presumption of genuineness as per Section 118(e) of the NI Act. Hence, the accused should lead evidence to rebut the presumption of genuineness of signature.

In this issue, the SC points out that the certified copy of a document issued by a Bank itself is admissible under the Bankers’ Books Evidence Act, 1891 without any formal proof thereof. Hence, the certified copy of the specimen signature maintained by the Bank can be procured with a request to the court to compare the same with the signature appearing on the cheque by exercising powers under Section 73 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.

in short, in cheque dishonour cases, the court can compare signatures on cheques with certified copies of specimen signatures (IEA).

Proving the signature or handwriting of documents to be attested

The proof of the signature and handwriting relating to the documents which are required to be attested as per law, is specifically provided for under Section 68 & 69 of the IEA.

In such cases, one of the attesting witnesses need to be brought to the court for examination. If that is not possible because they are dead or cannot be found or otherwise, the document needs to be proved by proving the signature or handwriting, as in the case of other documents that need not be attested.

Ground of expert opinion is also relevant

When any opinion of the expert is relevant, the grounds on which such opinion is based are also relevant, under Section 51 of the IEA.

The opinion of an expert is no evidence without assigning the reason for such opinion


In short the signature and handwriting of a person can be proved by

  1. Calling the person, who wrote it as a witness
  2. Who saw it written or signed
  3. Expert evidence u/s 45 IEA
  4. Who is qualified to express opinion u/s 47 IEA
  5. A comparison of signature or handwriting u/s 73 IEA
  6. Admission of person against whom it is tendered

Additional reading

  1. State (Delhi Administration) v Pali Ram [ 1979 AIR 14]
  2. Rajeshbhai Muljibhai Patel v The State of Gujarat [ AIR 2020 SC 81]
  3. Indian Evidence Act, 1872
  4. Ratamlal & Dhirajlal : The Law of Evidence, 25th ed, 2015