The Indian Evidence Act is also one of the few great pieces of work by the British rule passed in India by the Imperial Legislative Council in 1872. It contains a series of rules and related issues that stipulate the admissibility of evidence in Indian courts. Sir James Fitzjames Stephen (3 March 1829 – 11 March 1894) is the founder of this comprehensive legislation. It is a composition of eleven chapters and 167 sections and is one of the most way breaking legal measures introduced to India. [i]
This section tells us about the interpretation of words and expressions to be used in the following senses,
- Fact: “fact” means and includes,
(1) anything, state of things, or relation of things, capable of being perceived by the senses;
(2) any mental condition of which any person is conscious.
Relevant: “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 expression facts in issue: 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 in any suit or proceeding, necessarily follows.
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 documents, including electronic records, produced for the inspection of the Court; such documents are called documentary evidence. [ii]
Other words and expressions defined in this section are – “Court”, “Document”, “Proved”, “Disproved” and “not proved”.
Facts at issue:
Fact in issue simply means “the disputed facts“. In litigation or proceedings, generally, one-party claims that certain facts exist, while the other party denies the existence. In this case, the fact that it is accused by one party but denied by the other party is called a fact in issue. In other words, the controversial fact is the fact in issue.
For example, A accused B of theft, but B denies the performance of any such activity. Here, the question of whether B had committed theft or not, is a fact in issue.
The relevant facts are different from the facts at issue. These are facts that are not in dispute/issue, but they are related to facts that are in dispute/issue. But the connection must be real or logical. In other words, not all connections make the facts meaningful. To be relevant, the facts in question must be logically connected to the facts at issue. Events that are the cause or result of disputed “facts in issue” will be considered “relevant facts”.
For example, A is accused of B’s murder, and A denies any such act. C saw A with B on the day of the murder. Here, the question of whether A had committed murder or not is a “fact in issue” and the fact that C saw A on the day of murder with B will be the “relevant fact”, i.e., a fact connected to the fact in issue which either helps to prove or dis
|Facts at Issue||Relevant facts|
|1) A fact in issue is the ultimate facts in dispute, i.e., “principal facts” or “factum probandum”.||A relevant fact is which helps to prove/disprove the facts at issue, i.e., “evidentiary fact” or “Factum probandi”.|
|2) Facts at issue are significant in nature||Relevant facts are non-significant.|
|3) The facts at issue are the basis of the “law of evidence”.||They are part of the law of evidence.|
|4) These are confirmed by one party but denied by the other party.||The relevant facts are the foundation of the inferences made. [iii]|
It states that “Evidence may be given in any suit or proceedings of the existence or non-existence of every fact in issue and of such other facts as are hereinafter declared to be relevant, and of no others.”[iv]
This means that in the absence of evidence of “facts at issue”, it can be proved by the evidence of “relevant facts”. Section 5 of the law clearly stipulates that the facts at issue can be proved either by evidence of itself (facts at issue) or by evidence of relevant facts. The true importance of relevant facts is that when we have no evidence of facts at issue, we can provide evidence of relevant facts to prove facts at issue. Relevant facts are also called circumstantial or indirect evidence. Indirect evidence refers to all the evidence surrounding the facts at issue. However, the law does not use the term “circumstantial evidence” or “indirect evidence” to describe it.
Relevancy of facts:
The relevance of the facts is provided in chapter 2 of the IEA and a fact is presumed to be relevant to another when it is relevant under the provisions of Articles 6 to 55 of the Evidence Act. Facts can be logically or legally relevant. It is commonly said that “Every legally relevant fact is also logically relevant, but every logically relevant fact is not necessarily legally relevant or admissible”.
If a fact is connected with another fact, it is said to be logically relevant but it will only be legally relevant if the law establishes that the fact is relevant. Otherwise, it is unacceptable as evidence in court. Logically speaking, a fact may be related to a particular case, but there is no guarantee that the fact will be accepted by the court in law. Therefore, all the evidence that must be presented in court must be both logically relevant and legally admissible.
“Knowledge of facts at issue and knowledge of how to use existing evidence and relevant facts to prove, constitute the effective use of the rules of evidence. The identification of the facts at issue is essential to a systematic solution of problems of evidence. They provide the organizational structure and they operate at the highest level of versatility because solving almost all problems related to a particular evidence depends on maintaining a vivid understanding of the final evidence. Once the facts at issue in a particular case are clarified, one can focus on the exact way in which the evidence involved testifies against it. For relevant facts, since the thought is related to something, it can be determined that the relevant fact is admissible if related to the fact in issue and not by the exclusionary rule. One can focus on the exact way in which the evidence involved testifies against it. “
[i] Indian Evidence act
[ii] Indian Evidence act; section-3
[iii] Facts in issue and relevant act: https://www.srdlawnotes.com/2018/06/what-are-fact-fact-in-issue-and.html
[iv] Section 5 of IEA: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/94717/