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Ram Jas and ors. Vs. Surendra Nath and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberFirst Civil Appeal No. 30 of 1966
Judge
Reported inAIR1980All385
ActsEvidence Act, 1872 - Sections 4, 79 to 90A, 90(2), 90A(1), 90A(2) and 114
AppellantRam Jas and ors.
RespondentSurendra Nath and anr.
Appellant AdvocateH.N. Tilbari, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateS.D. Misra and ;K.N. Misra, Advs.
Excerpt:
.....- the presumptions under evidence act are only the inferences which a logical and reasonable mind normally draws - sections 90 and 90a are not similar - sub-section(2) of section 90a will override and nullify section 90 if the document, though more than twenty years old, is the basis of the suit or the defence or is relied upon in the plaint or written statement - held, not possible. - - section 90 may, therefore be amended by adding the words 'or a duly certified copy of registered document purporting to be thirty years old' after the words 'thirty years old' and before the words 'is produced'.it is felt that a good deal of the time of courts is wasted in recording evidence called to prove formally registered documents ana other documents of which duly certified copies have been..........the court becomes entitled or bound to raise that presumption.'presumptions are either of law or fact. presumptions of law are arbitrary consequences expressly annexed by law to particular facts; and may be either conclusive, as that a child under a certain age is incapable of committing any crime; or rebuttable, as that a person not heard of for seven years is dead or that a bill of exchange has been given for value. 'presumptions of fact are interences which the mind naturally and logically draws from given facts, irrespective of their legal effect. not only are they alwavs rebuttable, but the trier of fact may refuse to make the usual or natural inference notwithstanding that there is no rebutting evidence.' (phipson on evidence, twelfth edition para 9),14. the presumptions under.....
Judgment:

Hari Swarup, J.

1. The following question of law has been referred to us for our opinion :--

'Whether Sub-section (2) of Section 90-A of the Evidence Act as amended by the U. P. Civil Laws (Reforms and Amendment) Act controls the operation of Section 90(1) and (2) of the Evidence Act as amended by the said U. P. Civil Laws (Reforms and Amendment) Act, 1954.'

The question arose in the following circumstances :--

A certified copy of a registered will was pressed in evidence in the case and a presumption about its execution, attestation and writing was sought to be raised by reason of Section 90(2) of the Evidence Act. The Civil Judge did not accept the plea on the ground that the provisions of Section 90 were not attracted. The learned single Judge before whom the appeal came up for hearing was of the opinion that in the circumstances of the case the presumption could be raised, meaning thereby that the conditions contemplated by Section 90 of the Act were present. The other objection which was taken before learned single Judge was that because the document was the basis of the suit no presumption about its due execution could be raised by reason of Sub-section (2) of Section 90-A of the Evidence Act. As a Division Bench in Om Prakash v. Bhagwan, : AIR1974All389 had taken a different view the learned single Judge referred the question to a Division Bench. The Division Bench, finding that the decision in Om Prakash's case (supra) needed reconsideration and the question was of general importance, referred the question for the opinion of a larger Bench. It is how the question has come before us.

2. Section 90 of the Evidence Act was amended by the U. P. Civil Laws (Reforms and Amendment) Act 34 of 1954, in two ways. The existing section was renumbered as Section 90(1) and for the words 'thirty years' the words 'twenty years' were substituted and Sub-section (2) was added which was in the following terms:--

''(2) Where any such document as is referred to in Sub-section (.1) was registered in accordance with the law relating to registration of documents and a duly certified copy thereof is produced, the Court may presume that the signature and every other part of such document which purports to be in the handwriting of any particular person, is in that person's handwriting, and in the case of a document executed or attested, that it was duly executed and attested by the person by whom it purports to have been executed or attested.'

3. After Section 90 Section 90-A was added which runs as under:--

'90-A (1) Where any registered document or a duly certified copy thereof or any certified copy of any document which is part of the record of a court of justice, is produced from any custody which the court in the particular case considers proper, the court may presume that the original was executed by the person by whom it purports to have been executed.

(2) This presumption shall not be made in respect of any document which is the basis of a suit or of a defence or is relied upon in the plaint or written statement.

The explanation to Sub-section (1) of Section 90 will also apply to this section.'

4. The controversy has arisen because this particular document can fall both under Sub-section (2) of Section 90 and Sub-section (1) of Section 90-A, it being a duly certified copy of a registered document. Section 90(2) deals with documents more than 20 years old. Section 90-A. makes no such distinction between the documents. It is urged that because Section 90-A makes no distinction between an old and new document it will cover even the documents more than 20 years old and if such a document falls in the exception contained in Sub-section (2) of Section 90-A the presumption either under Section 90(2) or 90-A(1) will not be available. The contention of the other side is that Sub-section (2) does not apply to documents falling under Section 90 and that the presumption available in Section 90 being independent of the presumption under Section 90-A would not be nullified by Sub-section (2) of Section 90-A.

5. Sub-section (2) opens with the words 'this presumption' which normally would mean the presumption permitted by Section 90-A and not the presumption available in any other section including Section 90. The further provision in Section 90-A to the effect that the explanation to Sub-section (1) of Section 90 will also apply to this section, makes it further clear that Section 90-A is a section independent of Section 90 of the Act.

6. In Om Prakash v. Bhagwan : AIR1974All389 the document produced was more than 20 years old but it formed the basis of the defence. Considering Ss. 90 and 90-A of the Evidence Act the Court observed:--

'It is not disputed by the learned counsel for the defendants-appellants that the sale deed in question was the basis of the defence and was relied upon by the defendants in their written statement. Nothing therefore in Section 90 or Section 90-A of the Evidence Act as amended by the U. P. Civil Laws (Amendment) Act 1954 will come to the assistance of the defendants-appellants and the Courts will not draw a legal presumption in favour of the defendants-appellants that it was executed by Smt. Reoti Devi.

7. Except for this conclusion contained in the judgment there is no discussion from which we may benefit for making an interpretation of Sections 90 and 90-A of the Evidence Act.

8. It may be relevant to quote the objects and reasons as contained in the Report of the U. P. Judicial Reforms Committee 1950-51, on the basis of which Section 90 was amended and Section 90-A was introduced. It runs as under:--

'As it has been held by the Privy Council in 1935 ALJ page 847, that the presumption of Section 90 of the Evidence Act does not apply to certified copies of documents which are over thirty years old and considerable difficulty is experienced by parties to a suit to prove such old, documents as witnesses in such cases are either dead or cannot be found it is proposed that the presumption of Section 90 may be extended to certified copies of registered documents, the originals of which are over thirty years old. It is necessary to rely on copies when the originals are not traceable or are lost. Section 90 may, therefore be amended by adding the words 'or a duly certified copy of registered document purporting to be thirty years old' after the words 'thirty years old' and before the words 'is produced'.

It is felt that a good deal of the time of courts is wasted in recording evidence called to prove formally registered documents ana other documents of which duly certified copies have been filed, even if there is no real contest with regard to the execution of these documents e. g., in suits based on custom quite a number of transfer deeds have to be filed to establish a custom and formal proof of these documents has to be adduced before the documents are admitted into evidence. It is, therefore, desired that courts may be empowered to apply the presumption mentioned in Section 90 to such documents to a limited extent, i. e., formal execution of these documents may be presumed and need not be proved. A new section as Section 90-A may be added in the following form or in some other words carrying out the intention referred to above.' In Dalsingar v. Sita Ram (1969 All WR (HC) 188) a learned single Judge considered the matter and held that the two sections were independent of each other and Section 90 was not controlled by Section 90-A and accordingly Sub-section (2) of Section 90-A could not bar the raising of the presumption if the case was covered by Section 90. The reason given by the learned single Judge was as under:--

'Before considering the section it would not be improper to see the purpose for which the U. P. Act 24 of 1954 was enacted. Under Section 90 of the Evidence Act a document which was more than thirty years old was not required to be proved. In order to extend the presumption available under Section 90, the committee which was appointed to enquire into the system of administration of justice in the State recommended that the presumption should be extended to a certified copy of the document as well. If the purpose of the committee was to enlarge the presumption in respect of certified copies, Section 90-A(2) would have the effect of curtailing the presumption in cases where the document is the basis of the suit or of defence.'

9. The principle which has been applied by the learned single Judge in this case also becomes evident from the following example. If a document optionally registrable under Section 18 of the Registration Act and so registered, which is more than 20 years old is produced in original it may be hit by Sub-section (2) of Section 90-A, but if the same document was unregistered then it will not be hit by Sub-section (2) of Section 90-A. This could not be the intention of law as that will make the Court raise presumptions in respect of an unregistered document and not to raise the same presumptions if the document is registered. Registration of a document gives it greater authenticity and it would not be reasonable to expect that the legislature will place a registered document at a lower level than a similar unregistered document when it comes for proof in a Court.

10. In Risal v. Deputy Director of Consolidation, U. P., Lucknow, (1970 All WR (HC) 634) another learned Judge took the view that Sections 90 and 90-A are independent provisions, and the document which is more than 20 years old cannot be hit by Sub-section (2) of Section 90-A. The same view was taken by another learned Judge in Deo Chand v. Deputy Director of Consolidation (1971 All LJ 992).

11. The interpretation of law has to take into consideration the purpose ot law, and if it is a law relating to procedure then also the impact it is calculated to have on the course of litigation and decision making.

'Law is commonly divided into substantive law, which defines rights, duties and liabilities; and adjective law, which defines the procedure, pleading and proof by which the substantive law is applied in practice.

The rules of procedure regulate the general conduct of litigation; the object of pleading is to ascertain for the guidance of the parties and the court the material facts in issue in each particular case; proof is the establishment of such facts by proper legal means to the satisfaction of the court, and in this sense includes disproof. The first mentioned term is, however, often used to include the other two.

'The province of the law of evidenceis therefore twofold, viz. to lay downrules as to what matter is or is not admissible for the purpose of establishingfacts in dispute and as to the manner inwhich such matter may be placed beforethe court. Whether any proof is requiredor not is a question of law, (Phipson onEvidence, Twelfth Edn. Para 1)'.The law of evidence does not affect substantive rights of parties, but only laysdown the law for facilitating the courseof justice. The Evidence Act lays downthe rules of evidence for purposes of theguidance of the Court. It is procedurallaw which provides, inter alia, how a factis to be proved.

12. Section 4 of the Evidence Act deals with presumption.

'Section 4 -- Whenever it is provided by this Act that the Court may presume a fact, it may either regard such fact as proved, unless and until it is disproved, or may call for proof of it.

Whenever it is directed by this Act that the Court shall presume a fact, it shall regard such fact as proved, unless and until it is disproved, When one fact is declared by this Act to be conclusive proof of another, the Court shall, on proof of the one fact, regard the other as proved and shall not allow evidence to be given for the purpose of disproving it'.

13. Part I of the Evidence Act deals with relevancy of facts and Part II deals with proof. Chapter V of Part II deals with documentary evidence and one of its sub-chapters concerns presumptions as to documents. It contains Sections 79 to 90-A. Sections 79 to 90-A deal with different conditions and circumstances in which a particular type of presumption can be raised. If the circumstances exist for the raising of a presumption under any of the provisions of the Evidence Act the Court becomes entitled or bound to raise that presumption.

'Presumptions are either of law or fact. Presumptions of law are arbitrary consequences expressly annexed by law to particular facts; and may be either conclusive, as that a child under a certain age is incapable of committing any crime; or rebuttable, as that a person not heard of for seven years is dead or that a bill of exchange has been given for value.

'Presumptions of fact are interences which the mind naturally and logically draws from given facts, irrespective of their legal effect. Not only are they alwavs rebuttable, but the trier of fact may refuse to make the usual or natural inference notwithstanding that there is no rebutting evidence.'

(Phipson on Evidence, Twelfth Edition Para 9),

14. The presumptions under the Evidence Act are only the inferences which a logical and reasonable mind normally draws. Facts and circumstances (from) which certain inferences follow are indicated in various provisions of the Evidence Act running from Sections 79 to 90-A. As already seen the sections of the Evidence Act Lay down different circumstances in which a presumption is to be raised. Whenever the law permits the raising of a presumption the Court can by reason of Section 4 of the Evidence Act raise the presumption for purpose of proof of a fact. If the presumption is available in one section it can raise it under that section. If it is not available in one section and is available in another section, then the Court can raise presumption under that section. It all depends upon the circumstances available in the case as applicable to a particular document. Hence, even if the case falls under Section 90-A and sub-section (2) thereof is applicable and no presumption can be drawn under Section 90-A(1) it will not exclude the Court from drawing the presumption, if the circumstances permit it to be drawn, under any other provision of the Evidence Act including Section 90 of the Act. The presumption, if available under Section 90, can, therefore, be raised by the Court even after coming to the conclusion that a presumption under Section 90-A is not available.

15. The presumptions available under Sections 90 and 90-A are also not similar. Section 90(2) permits the raising of the presumption in respect of the signature, handwriting, execution and attestation, while Section 90 permits a presumption only in respect of execution. Section 90 deals with documents which are more than 20 years old while Section 90-A places no such restriction and includes also documents from judicial record Neither of the two sections, therefore, can be said to be occupying a field which the other exclusively occupies. They deal with different fields and different circumstances and permit different types of presumptions to oe raised.

16. For the reasons given above it is not possible to hold that Sub-section (2) of Section 90-A will override and nullify Section 90 if the document, though more than twenty years old, is the basis of the suit or the defence or is relied upon in the plaint or written statement. We are, therefore, of opinion that Om Prakash v. Bhagwan : AIR1974All389 does not lay down the correct law.

17. For the reasons given above we answer the question in the negative. Let this opinion be laid before the learned single Judge dealing with the appeal.


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