This article on Facts which need not be proved under the Indian Evidence Act has been written by Arkadyuti Sarkar, a student currently pursuing his B.A. LL.B from Shyambazar Law College under the University of Calcutta.
As a general rule of law, the party to a suit is required to establish his cause before the Court by adducing either oral or documentary evidence which includes electronic evidence. However, under certain scenarios, provided under the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, where the parties to a suit are not required to provide evidence in favor of their assertions.
Section 56 to Section 58 of the Indian Evidence Act contains the provisions related to non-imperativeness of admission of evidence by the parties to the suit before the Court to endorse the credulity of their statements.
Facts which are judicially noticeable need not be proven
According to Section 56 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the facts of which the Court will take judicial notice need not be proved.
Simply put, any judicially noticeable fact does not require to be proven before the Court. Now for comprehending this statement, first understanding the meaning of the clause “taking judicial notice” is necessary.
This expression means recognizing something without proof of being existing or truthful. Judicial notice is the acknowledgement by the Court on certain matters which are so infamous or transparently established that their existential evidence is deemed inessential. The clear reason behind this is that such facts are expected to be within the ambit of knowledge of the Judge and therefore any attempt of proving them would indirectly undermine the judicial competency.
According to Lord Stephen, certain facts are so notorious by nature or have such authentic assertion and accessible publications that they do not require any proof. The Court, if it is unknown to such facts, can inform itself about them, in prior to taking evidence. These facts are deemed to be judicially noticed.
This Section has to be understood in unison with Section 57, reckoning the instances when the Court shall take judicial notice such that adducing any evidence would be unnecessary.
Facts of which the Court must take judicial notice
According to Section 57 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the Court shall judicially notice the following facts:
- All existing laws within the territory of India;
- All previously enacted legislations or future legislations made by the UK Parliament, and all local and personal legislations made under its direction;
- Articles of war for the Indian Army, or Navy, or Airforce;
This refers to the Articles contained in the Army Act (XLVI of 1950), for soldiers, officers, etc.
The Parliamentary proceedings of the United Kingdom, the Indian Constituent Assembly, and any other provincial or State Legislature;
This refers to all legislative and other proceedings by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Indian Constituent Assembly referred to the Central Legislature of the British India, however, subsequent to Independence it refers to the legislative and other proceedings held in the Upper House and the Lower House of the Parliament. The provincial or the State Legislatures refer to the Legislative Assemblies located in all the States constituting the Union of India. For Eg: the State of West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, etc.
- The accession and the sign manual of the existing Sovereign of the United Kingdom and Ireland;
Accession refers to the attainment or acquisition of a position of rank or power; and Sign Manual is the signature of the Sovereign, by affixation of which it expresses its pleasure either by order, or commission, or warrant. Here the Sovereign refers to the King or Queen of the United Kingdom.
- The Seals of all the Indian Courts, the seals of all the Courts outside India established under the jurisdiction of the Central Government or the Representative of the Crown, the Seals of the Admiralty Courts and of Public Notaries, and all other seals which any person is authorized of using under the Constitution or a Parliamentary Act of the U.K. or an Act or Regulation having a legal operation in India;
- The accession to office, names, titles, functions, and signatures of the persons occupying any public office, in any state, if the fact of their appointment has been declared by notification in the Official Gazette;
- The recognition of the existence, title, and national flag of every State or Sovereign by the Government of India;
- The time divisions, the geographical divisions of the world, public festivals, facts and holidays which are promulgated by notification in the Official Gazette;
- The territories which are located under the paramountcy of the Government of India;
- Any “notification” related to commencement, continuance, and termination of animosity between any other State or body of persons and the Government of India;
In simpler words, any declaration by the Government of India in relation to the beginning of hostility, continuation of hostility, and end of such hostility. For Eg: Declaration of War, continuation of war, and end of war.
- The identity of the judicial officers and members, including their deputies, subordinate officers, assistants, including all the officers acting towards executing the judicial process. Also of all the advocates, the attorneys, the proctors, the vakils, the pleaders and other persons legally authorized to appear or act before the Court;
- The rule of the road, either at land or at sea.
In case of road, the horses and all other forms of vehicle should keep to the left side of the road. At sea, it is the rule that ships and steamboats, on coming across, shold port their helms for passing on the port or left side of each other; steam boats should stay away from the route of sailing ships; and every vessel, while overtaking another vessel should stay away from its way.
In all these cases, including all matters related to public history, literature, science or art, the Court may refer to appropriate books or documents.
On being called upon to take judicial cognizance by any person, the Court may refuse to do so unless and until that person produces any such book or document which it may consider necessary to enable it to do so.
Facts admitted need not be proved
According to Section 58, no fact requires to be proved in any suit which the parties to the suit, or their agents agree of admission at the hearing, or which they agree to admit in writing, prior to the hearing or which they under any existing rule of pleading are deemed to have been admitted through their pleadings.
However, the Court by exercising its discretionary potency may require the admission of such facts in some other way for submission.
Thus, this Section contains three circumstances:
- Facts which the parties to the suit or their agents agree to admit at the hearing.
- Facts which the parties to the suit or their agents agree to admit, prior to the hearing, in writing.
- Facts deemed to be already admitted by the parties to the suit through pleadings.
In this case, the appellants were Union Leaders of the Northern Railwaymen’s Union. They were accused of instigating other workmen towards striking and were booked under Rules 118 & 119 of the Defence Of India Rules, 1971. They were sentenced with 6 months of rigorous imprisonment by the Metropolitan Magistrate of Delhi. The conviction order was upheld in a Revision Appeal by the Additional Sessions Judge of the Delhi High Court.
However, the previous judicial decisions were set aside by the Supreme Court, which observed that mere summary instead of the exact words cannot be deemed as the ground for conviction. The statement of the only witness may although be truthful cannot be relied upon, in absence of the exact words which were delivered at the meeting by the accused. The list of facts of which the Court shall take Judicial notice under Section 56 to be read with Section 57 is non-exhaustive, and shall, therefore, depend upon the discretion of the Court and vary from case to case.
Here, in this case, the respondents were husband and wife by relation and had 2 shops located at Trivandrum. Their residences were also located in the vicinity of those shops.
The petitioners, i.e. the Officers of the Customs Preventive and Intelligence Unit, on obtaining information that foreign goods were being sold in those shops and also stored in the houses of the respondents, searched the shops and also the house premises and seized them.
A trial was held under the Customs Act, 1962 with the prosecution asserting that the respondents were guilty of committing an offense under Section 135(1) of the said Act.
However, the respondents contended that the seized and confiscated goods were not for sale and also the notifications by the Central Government are not laws for consideration under Section 57(1) of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, thereby pleading not guilty.
The Trial Court maintained the contention and ordered in favor of the respondents to which the petitioners appealed before the High Court of Kerala.
The High Court of Kerala after making due observations and considerations, overruled the trial Court’s decision and held that Central Government’s notifications are indeed laws within the ambit of Section 57(1) and therefore the respondents were held guilty.
In this case, the appellant along with the accomplices of four others were found guilty of murdering one Babdya and were convicted under Section 323 of the Indian Penal Code by the Trial Court.
The appellant was a friend of the main accused Subhash Maruti Avasare and was also acquainted with the family of the deceased. The appellant had gone to inquire of the whereabouts of the deceased at his house and was informed by his mother of the deceased’s absence at that time. The deceased after returning had been informed about it and then he allegedly disclosed to her mother that the accused no. 3 (Rakesh Tukaram Pawar) had asked for a bottle of beer from him and on his refusal had slapped him. He further disclosed that an attempt of assault with a knife was also made on him but he had managed to escape.
On 30.10.1996 at about 6:30 PM, i.e the day of the incident, the deceased had gone to a clinic of a doctor with his wife for medical check-up of their ailing son. After some time, the victim’s wife runningly returned home and informed the witness no.1 (the deceased’s mother) that some people had picked up a quarrel with her husband in front of the hospital of Dr. Babar.
The prime witness went to the spot with her daughter-in-law and witnessed her son being mortally stabbed by the appellants. By this time the victim’s father and his son had also arrived at the spot, and the accused-appellants escaped in the meantime. The deceased was first taken to a local hospital and then transferred to the Sassoon hospital, where he died due to his injuries.
A post mortem was conducted and the cause of death was deemed to result from 7 succumbed external injuries and 5 internal injuries.
The Trial Court after observing the reports and testimonies of the accused persons and witnesses of the cases convicted the accused persons. The decision of the Trial Court was maintained both by the High Court of Maharashtra and the Supreme Court.
In the light of the above provisions from the Indian Evidence Act and the judicial decisions, it can be concluded that facts judicially noticeable by the Courts, such as laws operating in India; articles of war; governmental seals; facts related to legislative, executive and judicial proceedings in India or any other Sovereign or State recognized by the government of India; the rule of the road, at the land or at sea, etc; need not be proved by the parties to a Suit.
It is imperative for providing evidence under Section 57 that exact words and not the gist of the assertion is necessary for the purpose of conviction as mere gist is insufficient. Also, every notification or order made by the Central Government under the empowerment of any legislation is deemed as an operating law under Section 57.
Also, the facts admitted by the parties to a suit either prior to or at the hearing by themselves or their agents need not be endorsed with evidence. Such admission includes written admission.
The Law of Evidence by Ratanlal & Dhirajlal (26th Edition), Published by LexisNexis in 2017.
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