This article is written by Gargi Lad. In this article the author talks in detail about Section 294 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (1973). Further, the article delves into why and which all documents do not need a formal proof, it also lays down the procedure that courts follow. The article draws a distinction between the new provision and the old one, and analyses the same to find whether the newer provision (Section 330 of the Bhartiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita) is better than the older one (Section 294 of Code of Criminal Procedure).


The entire objective of Section 294 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC)  is to expedite the trials in criminal cases to provide for fast and speedy justice. The aim is also to avoid wasting the court’s time in procedures, and to give uninterrupted attention to speedy disposal of such matters. The provision also doesn’t intend to interrupt the court’s procedures by taking a short cut and compromising on principles of fair and just trial. It instead relies on the principle and promotes speedy justice for the aggrieved. It provides the manner in which the documents relied upon by the prosecution or the defence need no formal proof, and can be utilised for further arguments.

This is done by way of producing the document in court, for the opposite party to admit or deny the genuineness of the document. If the contesting party does not question the genuineness then the document is deemed to be genuine. Section 294 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) is a procedural provision that elaborates when and how a document is admitted as evidence in the court. It provides how to file for such a document, how such a document should be included in a list, so as to let the opposite party know what all documents are being submitted, the list shall be as mandated by the state government’s rules. It also provides that the prosecution or the accused should be called to admit or deny the document’s genuineness. 

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Section 294 of CrPC is a crucial element of all criminal cases, due to the urgency of matters and paucity of time, however it has paved its way to cases under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act (1881) as well which will be talked about further. Section 138 clearly shows malicious intent however it is in quasi criminal nature since the remedy available is of both civil and criminal nature. 

How are proofs of documents recorded

Mere production of the document in court does not make the document admissible as evidence, it ought to be duly proved by the party presenting the document as evidence in court. The execution of such documents has to be proved by admissible evidence, like by the person who prepared the document or the one who signed it. 

For this, we first understand what a document is as per Section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act (1872) (IEA). Section 3 of the IEA defines a document as anything that is inscribed or written on any substance by way of alphabets, figures or even numericals. For anything to be considered to be a document under Section 3, the intention of the maker shall be to record whatever is inscribed or is in writing. The court also admitted electronic records as documentary evidence, as the intention is to maintain a record. Further in the same section, the definition of “proved” also exists, which mentions that when the court either believes the existence of that matter or fact or considers that a prudent man will assume the existence of that matter or fact in the given circumstances, then it is said to be proved. 

Hence for a document to be proved in front of the court, the court shall either completely believe the existence of the document or the party should remove any reasonable doubt that may arise in the mind of the judge, so as for the judge to assume its existence since it raises no reasonable doubts in his mind.

A document is said to be proved if following three criteria are satisfied:-

  1. Firstly, the execution of a document, i.e. the signature on a document or the handwriting of a person on a document
  2. Secondly, the contents of a particular document
  3. Third, truthfulness with respect to the contents of the documents.

Oral evidence can help prove the contents of the document. However, the evidence that is being provided should be admissible evidence. Proof of execution should not be equated with proof of facts of a document when, in a specific case, the facts of the document itself are in issue. In any case, if a party wishes to prove the contents of the document, then the original document should be presented before the court. The court further  laid down in the case of G. Subbaraman v. State (2018) that if the party wishes to submit any secondary evidence in front of the court as a form of admissible evidence, that party should prove the existence of the primary document or evidence.

In accordance with the IEA, different modes have been prescribed for providing proof of documents, which are as follows:-

1. Admission by the person who himself has written or for that matter, signed the document.

2. Calling a witness or a person in the presence of whom the document in question was signed.

3. Calling a person who is clearly acquainted with the writing that has been made by the person who was supposed to sign the document. 

4. Calling upon a handwriting expert who can compare and verify the handwriting at hand (the disputed document and handwriting written in real time) in court.

5. Calling the person who, in routine, has received these documents in the course of business or through official duty.

What kinds of documents require proof 

Under Chapter V of the IEA, we find documentary evidence, which is any matter that has something written, inscribed or described on it by words, numbers or figures like a contract or invoice. Usually, the courts rely heavily on documentary evidence over oral evidence, as it is considered to be more trustworthy. The doctrine of Vox Audita Perit, Littera Scripta Manet shows how documentary evidence is more reliable since spoken words or oral evidence can be misunderstood or mistaken for. In the case of Krishnammal v. Paramasivan (2011) , the court held that since older and ancient manuscripts were provided as evidence in court, they were of more value than mere audio or oral evidence, applying this doctrine of Vox Audita Perit, Littera Scripta Manet.

As per Section 61 of the Indian Evidence Act, the contents of any kind of document can be proved via primary or secondary evidence. 

From a bare reading of Section 62 which talks about how primary evidence is given, we can see that the document itself ought to be presented in court, whereas as per Section 63, secondary evidence to prove the document is given by way of providing certified copies or by an oral admission by a person who has seen the document.

Documents under the Indian Evidence Act are further classified as public and private documents. Private documents are agreements, letters or emails usually exchanged between the parties in dispute. While public documents are birth or death certificates, an F.I.R., or even an electricity bill, the courts deem public documents to be authentic and rely on them more as there is less chance of tampering with such documents as compared to private documents.

During the exhibition of the documents, the court primarily focuses on two basic aspects with respect to documents. The first is the mere existence of the document and the second is the validity and proof of the contents that are present in the document which are further supported by a witness who has adequate knowledge of the same. When the documents are marked, the contents and facts stated in the document are not given any consideration. It is left open for final evaluation after a proper cross examination. Only after the latter criteria is met, the courts come to a conclusion on whether the document and the content of the document speak the truth or not. Any objection with respect to any document is clearly indicated in the statements that are made by the parties. There can either be an objection to the mere existence of the document or the objection can be related to the contents of the document as well. The mode of proof has to be changed based on the facts and circumstances of the case.

Brief about Section 294 CrPC

Section 294 of the CrPC is a procedural provision that provides for how a document may be admitted in a court of law without giving formal proof. The procedure that is established under this provision states that documents may be listed and presented in the court and documents mentioned in the list can only be produced in court for the opposite party to accept or deny their genuineness. Any such document that is not mentioned in the list cannot be presented for admission or denial. 

According to subsection 3 of Section 294, if the genuineness is not disputed, then the document will be deemed to have a status like a document that is duly proved in court and can be read as evidence in further stages.

What documents don’t require proof as per Section 294 

Section 294 is a special provision or an exception to the rule that every document ought to be proved in court. Documents like an FIR and X-ray reports are also considered documents under Section 294 CrPC.

The provision clearly lays down the phrase “not disputed” for the document whose genuineness is not disputed and is said to be proved in court without any formal proof.

Documents may be produced by the prosecution; the accused person need not be mandated to admit or deny the genuineness of such documents, as it may be violative of Article 20(3), as no person who is accused of a crime shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. This was never the intent of the legislature when introducing Section 294, but rather to shorten serious and urgent proceedings. Any formal document presented as evidence in front of the court can be proved without a signature. However, the document or documents shall be arranged in a list, and the opposite party shall be called upon to accept or deny the authenticity of the document.

The provision, in a proviso, also explains that the courts possess discretionary power whether they wish to question the signature on the document or ask for proof of that signature. Thus, if there is any such document that was presented in court but was not admitted, then it ought to be proved in the court of law, abiding to appropriate procedures that would be used otherwise to prove a document. The procedure includes the examination and cross examination of witnesses in the court regarding the contents of the document.

Importance of Section 294 CrPC

This section holds importance in the proceedings and trials of the accused in most cases since it can increase the pace of the trial by avoiding the unnecessary and extra hassle of formally proving an obvious document. This section, however, does not ignore the principles of natural justice and gives each side the opportunity to be heard and the opportunity of a fair trial; rather, it upholds the principles of natural justice by expediting the trials.

Essentials of Section 294 CrPC

  • The document can be filed by any party: the prosecution or the accused
  • The documents to be presented as proof should be listed.
  • The list of such documents shall be in the format specified by the state government.
  • The prosecution or accused may be called upon to admit or deny the authenticity of the document.
  • If the document is admitted to be genuine by the party, it can proceed to act as a form of evidence for further trials and proceedings.
  • If denied, the document will have to go through the route of proving it via examination, cross examination of witnesses, etc. The traditional method or approach to proving a document.

In exceptional circumstances, wherever the court deems fit, the court may ask for the signature on the document to be proved to avoid any doubts regarding the forgery of such a document.

Objective of Section 294 CrPC

As per a recent Kerala High Court judgement, the court has determined that the object of this provision is to provide momentum to the pending criminal cases and to have speedy disposal of such cases. The provision also aims to avoid the recording and procedure of unnecessary evidence and to stick to what is relevant evidence. This helps in speedy disposals of urgent cases as there is only relevant evidence recorded by easier procedures. 

How to make an application under Section 294 CrPC 

Section 294(1)  talks about how an application under Section 294 CrPC can be made. The party may file an application invoking the section, attach all the above documents, and make a list of the same for the knowledge of the other party. Such an application may vary from state to state, as there may be different rules applicable.

In the case of Niwas Keshav Rautq v. The State Of Maharashtra (2015), the court relied on the landmark case of State of Maharashtra v. Ajay Dayaram Gopnarayan (2013)  in order to interpret Section 294 of CrPC. The court made the observation that the provision requires that the particulars of the document, which ought to be filed with the court, be included in a list. Whichever document is not included in the list cannot be presented in court for admission or rejection by the opposite party. They ought to be proved by other means: by examination and cross examination of witnesses in court.

Judicial pronouncements 

Guddu v. State of Chattisgarh (2022) 

The facts of the above case are that the appellants were convicted for murder by the trial court. The body of the deceased was sent for a postmortem, and an axe stained with blood was recovered. The case makes relevance for this provision in the manner that the post mortem report was presented in court, but Mr. Binod, who conducted the post mortem, was not present on the day of examination. The counsel for the accused made no objections to the report produced in court and hence the court decided the death to be of a homicidal nature. The counsel further asserted that, as per Section 294(3) of the CrPC, the report shall be read as evidence, and no dispute can now be raised since the accused made no objections when it was presented.

The appellate court, which was hearing the matter, was of the opinion that the trial court should have heard the doctor and examined him; if he was absent, the trial court should have examined the witnesses or assistants who conducted the postmortem on the deceased.

Further relying on precedent and the judgement of Vijendra v. State of Delhi (1997), wherein the division bench held that a post mortem report is not a substantive piece of evidence but mere notes that the doctor made while performing the post mortem. The report itself says nothing; the doctor should come to court and give his statement on the report and the doctor shall be examined on the same, only then can the report be held to be substantive proof.

In the case of Akhtar v. State of Uttaranchal (2009), the Supreme Court held that if the genuineness of any document presented in court is not disputed by the opposite party, it may be held as substantive proof. Hence, relying on the same, the postmortem report shall be admissible in court as proof without the examination of the doctor. The appellate court was of the opinion that the procedure for Section 294 of the CrPC was not followed by the trial court; if the doctor wasn’t present on that very day he should have been summoned on the other day and the failure to do so by the trial court judge shows a lack of procedure. 

The Karnataka High Court in the case of Boraiah @Shekar v. State  (2002) had emphasised the importance of following the proper procedure that has been laid down in Section 294(1) of the CrPC. Every party must file a list of the particulars of specific documents in order to avail themselves of the benefits of Section 294 of the CrPC. A document can be read as evidence in any case or in any trial where the genuineness of the document is not in question before the court. There should also be some sort of record that clearly proves that the defence was given an opportunity to accept or deny the genuineness of the document in question before the court. The court also held that Section 294 of the CrPC will dispense only when proof is shown of the signature of the person to whom it purports to be signed. Lastly, the court stated that although the report is substantive evidence and the genuineness of the postmortem report might not be in question in a particular case, it is important to take the opinion and suggestion of the doctor with regards to the contents of the postmortem report. In any case where the court feels that calling the doctor who made the Postmortem report is necessary, they can do so by examining the doctor under Section 311 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

This case provides a nuanced analysis of how the ambit of Section 294 is; it shows that a lack of procedure by the court for admitting documents of such an important nature may lead to injustice at times. This also shows us how important this provision is to the court and how it helps in decision making; however, the use shall be in the proper manner as envisaged under the CrPC. 

Shakun Singh v. Chandeshwar Singh (2021)

In the above case, the cheque was dishonoured by the bank owing to a difference in the words and figures written. However, it was found that the accused had given stop payment instructions to the bank and deliberately written wrong figures on the cheque. A malicious and criminal intent was established against the accused.

The accused admitted the document, which is the cheque, and the signatures on the cheque through the procedure established under Section 294 CrPC. The court ruled that even though the documents, i.e the cheque was furnished as evidence as per the procedure established under Section 294, there was no prejudice caused to the complainant who had the right to examine the witness. When the court relied on Section 294 for the procedure of proving the document, it saved time on unnecessary procedures and there was a speedy disposal of the trial.  

Latest updates on Section 294 CrPC 

Lately, not only do criminal cases use Section 294 CrPC but also quasi criminal proceedings. Dishonour of cheques is one of the cases where Section 138 of the NI Act uses the procedure written and established under Section 294 CrPC. Often, Section 294 is used for criminal proceedings to speed up trials where relief is needed at the utmost priority. The same shall apply in cases of dishonour of cheques, as the aggrieved person needs urgent relief. 

Dayawati v. Yogesh Kumar Gosain (2017)

In the above case, the case for dishonour of cheque was to be settled by way of mediation. The court in this case was to follow a procedure in order to settle the case by way of mediation, which involved accepting or rejecting the documents as per Section 294 of CrPC. Though the NI Act is of a civil nature, Section 138 of the NI Act is of a quasi criminal nature. They arise out of a civil proceeding however may have a consequence of criminal nature. 

Updates in Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023

Section 330 of the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) elaborates on a condition where no formal proof of any document is required. The new provision is inclusive of the contents of the old provision, with an addition: the time limit of 30 days to admit or deny the document. However, the above time limit can be changed or the delay in admission of such documents may be condoned at the discretion of the court. 

One more additional proviso is added, which says that the expert may not be called upon in court unless the document presented is not disputed by either party in the dispute.

In the case of Guddu v. State of Chattisgarh, the postmortem report was disputed and the court came up with the reasoning that though the report was not disputed by the parties in dispute, there should still have been an examination of the expert or the doctor to aid the proceedings. This proviso helps the court to actually expedite trials without getting stuck in the procedural part of providing justice.

The additional time limit serves as a binding limit for either party so as to avoid unnecessary delay. This proviso adds value and is in line with the aim and objective of Section 294 of the CrPC, which is to not get tangled between procedures that are unnecessary and to increase the pace of those trials. Since a time limit is provided to either party, there will be no delay from their side to accept or deny the authenticity of the document, which will lead to a faster disposal of trials. In usual cases, either party, mostly the accused, would try to delay the process to avoid punishment. However, this proviso aims to cancel out the possibility of such a delay, which was done purposely to fail justice.

Section 330 of the BNSS is a fairly well thought and drafted provision wherein provisos were added keeping in mind case laws and precedents from the past.


Section 294 of CrPC deals with the concept and procedure of filing of documents by the accused person or by the prosecution. Section 294 of CrPC clearly states that the documents that have been filed by any of the parties of a case have to be included in a list. Along with that, it also makes it necessary to allow the opposite party to either admit or deny the genuineness of all the documents in question. However, it is to be noted that this section does not cover any case in which a witness wishes to produce additional documents during the trial as evidence. By giving the prosecution and the accused person a chance to present relevant documents Section 294 of CrPC aims to ensure fairness and transparency throughout the trial. Any delay that can be caused due to the admission of any irrelevant document is removed by this provision, as it helps expedite trials by avoiding any unnecessary delays. It becomes crucial for every court to examine and look after the genuineness of a document before admitting it as evidence in a trial.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

What if a document is not admitted under Section 294?

In such a situation, the court asks the party to prove the document via the traditional method as prescribed under the IEA, which includes the examination and cross examination of witnesses. 

What is the significance of Section 294 CrPC?

Section 294 of CrPC, provides a faster trial and speedy disposal of cases by avoiding unnecessary steps and procedures that are mandatory to be undertaken in all cases. This provision avoids unnecessary records and hence lets the adjudicating body focus on the matter rather than on the procedure and if it is being duly followed.

Who has the authority to invoke Section 294 of the CrPC?

Any party in the proceeding may present documents using this provision and may ask the other party to admit or deny the genuineness of such a document to aid speedy disposal of that matter.



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