INTERPRETATION CLAUSE OF INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT 1872

    INTRODUCTION

    Interpretation Clause is a clause inserted in a statute or contract declaring the interpretation that is to be put upon certain words. It is basically a written document that defines words and phrases used in the document itself. Evidence plays a very significant role in determining the occurrence of events that have happened or that will take place eventually. It is not governed by substantive or procedural law, but by adjective law, which defines the pleading and procedure by which substantive laws are put into practice.

    INTERPRETATION CLAUSE

    Madras High Court has provided that interpretation clause or definition clause is twofold:

    a) to provide a key to the proper interpretation of the Act

    b) to shorten the language and to avoid repetition of the same words which are continued in the definition.

    I. COURT

    According to Section 3, “Court”- includes all Judges and Magistrates, and all persons, except arbitrators, legally authorized to take evidence. It is an inclusive definition.

    Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee v. Union of India 1994 SC (6) 731

    A court is an agency created by the sovereign for the purpose of administering justice.

    Brijnandan Sinha v. Jyoti Narain 1956 AIR 66

    Supreme Court held the definition of a court is not exhaustive definition in Indian Evidence Act. It is only an inclusive definition and thus it is applicable only to Indian Evidence Act.

    Manubhai Patel v. State of Gujarat AIR 1992 Guj 10

    Court of Lokayukta is a civil court and hence Indian Evidence Act applies. While recording evidence, the Lokayukta has powers of a Civil Court under the Civil Procedure Code, inter alia, of summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath.

    Haralal v. State Industrial Court A 1967 B 174

    The very object of submission to an arbitrator is to have an expeditious dispute solving without getting into the tedious and elaborate procedure of a regular trial or technicalities.

    II. FACT

    “Fact” means and includes-

    (1) any thing, state of things, or relation of things, capable of being perceived by the sense;

    (2) any mental condition of which any person is conscious.

    Phipson – No satisfactory definition of the term ‘fact’ has been or perhaps can be given. Broadly, it applies to whatever is the subject of perception or consciousness.

    Sigmund Freud divided mind into 3 parts:

    a) conscious level

    b) sub-conscious level

    c) unconscious level

    Report of 69th Law Commission

    ‘thing’ has been defined – ‘that which is or maybe in any way an object of perception, knowledge or thought, a being and entity.

    Bentham classified fact into two broad categories:

    i) Physical facts – those facts which can be perceived by the five senses of a man

    ii) Psychological facts – those facts which cannot be seen by others but of which a man is conscious.

    There is direct evidence for physical facts but psychological facts are inferred from behaviour.

    Reputation is an opinion. Opinions are not facts. However, an opinion which becomes a composite opinion and is so widespread and widely accepted becomes a fact. The word ‘reputation’ is nothing but a composite opinion.

    Factum probandum and Factum probans

    Factum Probandum refers to the ultimate fact to be proven, or the proposition to be established. Factum Probans refers to the evidentiary facts by which the factum probandum will be proved.

    Illustrations

    (a) That there are certain objects arranged in a certain order in a certain place, is a fact.

    (b) That a man heard or saw something, is a fact.

    (c) That a man said certain words, is a fact.

    (d) That a man holds a certain opinion, has a certain intention, acts in goods faith or fraudulently, or uses a particular word in a particular sense, or is or was at a specified time conscious of a particulars sensation, is a fact.

    (e) That a man has a certain reputation, is a fact.

    III. RELEVANT

    Section 3 provides, “One fact is said to be relevant to another when the one is connected with the other in any of the ways referred to in the provisions of this Act relating to the relevancy of facts.” The related provisions are provided in Section 5 to Section 55 of the Act. A fact can either be logically relevant or legally relevant. Where a fact bears such casual relationship to the other that it makes its existence or non-existence probable, it is said to be a fact of logical relevance.

    Admissibility

    It implies allowed in court proceedings i.e. to be part of court proceedings. Only relevant facts are admissible as allowed by Indian Evidence Act. For example, a confession by a thief to police officer is logical but not legally relevant thus not admissible. Admissibility depends upon legal relevancy

    Is illegally procured evidence admissible

    Admissibility is not affected by the fact that evidence was procured illegally or unlawfully. In Indian Evidence Act, ends matter and means doesn’t matter regarding procurement of evidence. It’s only the evidence that matters.

    M. Patodia v. R.K. Birla 1971 AIR 1295

    Admissibility is independent of and irrespective of the fact as to how an evidence is procured, so even if an evidence is procured in an illegal manner or y improper means, such evidence remains admissible.

    R.M. Malkani v. State of Maharashtra 1973 AIR 157

    Illegality of procuration of evidence doesn’t render it inadmissible.

    IV. FACTS IN ISSUE

    Section 3 provides: “The expression “facts in issue” means and includes  any fact from which, either by itself or in connection with other facts, the existence, non-existence, nature or extent of any right, liability, or disability, asserted or denied on any suit or proceeding, necessarily follows.

    Explanation – Whenever, under the provisions of the law for the time being in force relating to Civil Procedure, any Court records an issue of fact, the fact to be asserted or denied in the answer to such issue is a fact in issue.

    Generally, in criminal cases the charge constitutes the facts in issue whereas in civil cases the facts in issue are determined by the process of framing of issues.

    Illustrations

    A is accused of the murder of B.

    At his trial the following facts may be in issue:-

    That A caused Bs death;

    That A intended to cause Bs death;

    That A had received grave and sudden provocation from B;

    That A, at the time of doing the act which caused Bs death, was, by reason of unsoundness of mind, incapable of knowing its nature.

    V. DOCUMENT

    “Documents” means any matter expressed of described upon any substance by means of letters, figures or marks, or by more than one of those means, intended to be used, or which may be used, for the purpose of recording that matter.

    Dharmendra Nath Shastri v. R. AIR 1949 All 353

    In English law, the word “document” applies to the material on which the writing is written but in Indian Law, it applies not to the material but to the matter written upon it.

    Z.B. Bukhari v. B.R. Mehta 1975 AIR 1778

    It has been held by the court in this case that tape records are documents

    State of Maharashtra v. Praful Desai (2003)

    It was held that although word ‘video conferencing’ does not exist in Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, however, law must change with changing times. Thus, Code of Criminal Procedure needs to be changes. As long as accused and pleader are present, video conferences is a document and admissible


    Illustrations
    A writing is a document;

    Words printed, Lithographed or photographed are documents;

    A map or plan is a document;

    an inscription on a metal plate or stone is a document;

    A caricature is a document.

    VI. EVIDENCE

    “Evidence” means and includes

    (1) all statements which the Court permits or requires to be made before it by witnesses, in relation to matters of fact under inquiry;

    such statements are called oral evidence;

    (2) all document including electronic records produced for the inspection of the Court,

    such statements are called documentary evidence;

    Norton: Circumstantial evidence can be proved through direct evidence.

    Phipson: Evidence means the testimony which may be legally received in order to prove or disprove some fact in dispute

    Lacunae in definition of ‘evidence’

    Definition of oral evidence uses only ‘witness’ word and thus it is incomplete. Thus, confession of accused against co-accused under Section 30 of Indian Evidence Act is not covered. The concept of ‘real evidence’ is not discussed.

    Whitley Stocks: The definition of evidence is incomplete since many aspects are missing.

    Broad division of evidence

    a) Primary Evidence

    b) Secondary Evidence

    Lucas v. Williams

    Primary Evidence is the evidence which the law requires to be given first. Secondary evidence is the evidence which may be given in the absence of primary evidence.

    c) Direct Evidence

    d) Circumstantial Evidence

    Direct Evidence is that which proves a fact in issue or dispute without the aid of any inference or presumption. It is evidence to the precise point. Circumstantial evidence is proof of facts or fact from which taken singly or collectively, the existence of particular fact in issue maybe inferred or presumed as necessary or probable consequence.

    Circumstantial Evidence

    Circumstantial Evidence or Indirect Evidence does not prove the point in question directly but establishes it only be inference. It means a fact from which other fact is inferred. Chain of circumstances must be so complete as to leave no doubt for the hypothesis for the guilt of the accused

    Miran Baksh v. Emperor

    A circumstantial evidence, if the circle is complete stands at equal footing with that of direct evience.

    As per Wigmore, circumstantial evidence is of two types:

    1. Conclusive circumstantial evidence
    2. Presumptive circumstantial evidence

    Conclusive evidence is enough by itself. Presumptive evidence is where inferences are drawn which are not complete by themselves but form a part of chain of circumstances.

    Following are the essential ingredients to prove Circumstantial Evidence:

    1. The circumstances from which conclusion of guilt has to be drawn should be fully proved.
    2. All the circumstances should be conclusive.
    3. All facts consistent only with the hypothesis of guilt must be taken.
    4. The facts must form such a chain of circumstances that there is no other option but guilt of the accused. Hon’ble Supreme Court provided, in relation to this, that the chain of circumstances is so complete as to leave no room for doubt but for the hypothesis of guilt of the accused.
    5. The circumstances should exclude the possibility of guilt of another person.
    6. Bodh Raj v. State of Jammu & Kashmir 2002 – The chain of evidence must be so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show that in all probability the accused committed the act.

    State of Himachal Pradesh v. Diwana & ors. 1995 CriLJ 3002

    If two views are possible after seeing the entire chain of circumstances then the view that he is innocent should be taken because there is presumption of innocence with accused.

    VII. PROVED

    A fact is said to be proved when, after considering the matters before it, the Court either believes it to exist, or considers its existence so probable that a prudent man ought, under the circumstances of the particular case, to act upon the supposition that it exists.

    VIII. DISPROVED

    A fact is said to be disproved when, after considering the matters before it, the Court either believes that it does not exist, or considers its non-existence so probable that a prudent man ought, under the circumstances of the particular case, to act upon the supposition that it does not exist.

    IX. NOT PROVED

    A fact is said not to be proved when it is neither proved nor disproved.

    X. INDIA

    “India” means the territory of India excluding the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

    REFERENCES

    1. For preamble of Indian Evidence Act – https://legalacharya.com/lawoftheland/indian-evidence-act-1872-preamble/
    2. For extent and applicability of Indian Evidence Act – https://legalacharya.com/lawoftheland/extent-and-applicability-of-indian-evidence-act-1872/