THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TERMS “RELEVANCY” AND “ADMISSIBILITY” IN INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT
The term “Relevancy” and “Admissibility” are the two most important aspects in the law of evidence while adjudicating any case by the court.
The word ‘Admissibility’ in general means something being valid or the quality of being accepted, permissibility, allowing something or something being permissible. Whereas in respect of law, the concept of admissibility is related to the Admissibility of facts and evidences.
RELEVANCY VS ADMISSIBILITY
Relevancy: Facts that are relevant and related to facts in issue and case. There may be many facts that are present in the case but not all facts are admissible and permissible to be proved. These facts generally logical facts which might and might not be admissible. It is the understanding and judicial mind of the court to decide which fact to be considered as relevant and for which evidence can be given.
Admissibility: Admissibility of fact and of evidence is done based on its relevancy in respect to the fact in the issue of the case.
It is generally considered that first the question of relevancy arises and after that the question of admissibility. The court will admit on relevant facts
The Indian Evidence Act 1872 is an ‘Adjective law’ describing the pleading and evidence through which the substantive laws are practiced. In a trial, there are some ‘Facts in issue’ which need to be proved to the satisfaction of the courts for deciding the case. These facts in issues will either be proved by the prosecution leading to conviction or disapprove by the defense leading to acquittal. The facts in the issue are the pivotal point/s in a trial around which the other supporting facts revolve, which if proved through evidence will support the fact in issues leading to the conviction. Proving and disproving the facts in the issue is a matter of trial.
This article focuses on the topics’ ‘Admissibility of Fact’ and ‘Admissibility of Evidence’. Admissibility of facts means what facts are to be taken into consideration to decide upon the facts in the Issue and to decide the case. Whereas Admissibility of Evidence means what facts are permissible to prove particular evidence in the trial.
There are few pertinent questions that arise under the terms “Relevancy” and “Admissibility”
- In any particular civil or criminal case, what facts are admissible?
- Whether all material facts which are related to the facts in the issue of the case, are admissible and can be proved?
- Or if there are any categorical requirements to be fulfilled before a fact to be considered admissible for proving the fact in the issue?
- What evidences are admissible to prove these facts.
ADMISSIBILITY OF FACT
Admissibility of fact is discussed in Section 165 proviso 1 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872. In every case, there are some facts in the issue that can be proved either by direct evidence or by proving the relevant facts which are in relation to the fact in issue. These relevant facts are said to be relevant if they come into the ambit of Section 6 to 55 of the Indian Evidence Act. According to Section 165 proviso 1, a judgment, in any case, shall be delivered based on relevant facts which are duly proved to the satisfaction of the court. Only the relevant facts are the facts for which evidence shall be taken into consideration to prove them. For better understanding the following illustration will help:
Case 1:- Arushi Talwar case
In this present murder mystery, the following were facts in issue
Facts in Issue:
- Who murdered the two victims even when the door was locked from inside?
- Who raped the girl victim?
Now to prove these facts in the issue we might look for either a ‘Direct Evidence’ or ‘Relevant facts’. The following could be direct evidences and relevant facts:-
Direct Evidences: Evidences which is directly prove fact in issue and need no interference are direct evidences. CCTV footage, Eyewitnesses, fingerprints, DNA report in case of the report are some examples of Direct Evidences.
Relevant facts: These are the logical facts supporting the facts in the issue when proved. A suspected man was seen out of the house late at night, a man following the victim girl and talking to the other deceased victim soon before the death, the same suspected man was in possession of the weapon used to kill both the victims.
The fact that the victim ate something might be a fact but not a relevant fact which if proved will help the court in deciding the case.
So, the question arises what facts are admissible?
Only those facts which are logically as well as legally relevant to the fact in issue and as per section 6 till 55 of the Indian Evidence Act and which are duly proved by evidences to the satisfaction of the court. These facts must not be prohibited to be proved by any existing provision of law.
CASE LAW:- In Lakshmandas Chaganlal Bhatia v. State, laid down the following to be “relevant facts:
- Facts necessary to explain a fact in issue or relevant fact;
- Facts which support or rebut an inference by a fact in issue or a relevant fact;
- Facts establishing the identity of anything or person whose identity is relevant;
- Facts which determine the time and place at which any fact in issue or relevant fact happened;
NOTE:- Not every fact which is relevant must be admissible, but, every admissible fact must be relevant. The relevant fact can be understood as genus and admissibility and species.
ADMISSIBILITY OF EVIDENCE
During trial, one party proposes to prove a particular fact by any evidence. The question on the admissibility of evidence arises whether or not the evidence can be accepted to prove the fact. In any case, initially, the question of admissibility of evidence arises after the admissibility of evidence has been accepted the said fact shall be considered by the court to be used for deciding the case or not.
Taking the reference of the above mentioned Arushi Talwar case the fact that Mr. ‘A’ saw the suspected man outside the house of the victim during the late night is a matter of admissibility of the evidence which when proved will help in coming to a decision. An evidence proving the previous conduct of the suspected man need not be proved as it may not be able to prove a relevant fact.
Under Section 136 of The Indian Evidence Act, the party is allowed to give evidence of fact which is a relevant fact and which evidence is admissible and not to otherwise, while Proviso 1 to Section 165 of the Indian Evidence Act provide that Judgement be based only on relevant facts which are duly proved, thus it is implicit here that, only relevant facts which are duly proved will be taken into consideration for judgment to be passed. For the admissibility of the evidence following essentials shall be full filled:-
- Only evidences for relevant facts of which the evidence is admissible, directly on the facts in Issue.
- The evidence so admissible is duly proved unless has been prohibited by any express provision of law. Like Section 25 which makes the confessional statement before the police officer being inadmissible.
- The proof of the document must be strict as per the provisions prescribed, such as Section 64 which mandates that the Document be proved by way of primary evidence and as per chapter V of the Evidence act.
- The basic rules related to evidence should not be violated. Some examples like rules related to prohibition of hearsay evidence, rules related to oral and documentary evidence etc.
SE LAW:- In Ram Bihari Yadav vs. State of Bihar Hon’ble Supreme Court, has observed the expressions ‘Relevancy and Admissibility’ are usually used as synonyms but in actual their legal implications are different. Facts which are relevant may not be admissible; so also facts which are admissible may not be relevant,
For example: Questions permitted to put in cross-examination to test the credit of witnesses, though not relevant are admissible.
CASE LAW:- In the case of Sris Chandra Nandy v Rakhalananda [AIR 1941 PC 16] Lord Atkin stated that “…it is not open for any judge to exercise a dispensing power, and admit evidence not admissible by the statute because to him it appears that the irregular evidence would throw light upon the issue.”
CASE LAW:- In State of Gujarat vs Ashulal Nanji Bisnol, the Hon’ble Gujarat High Court stated “there is no express or implied mandate laid down in the Indian Evidence Act with respect to ‘relevancy’ and ‘admissibility’. The phrase “admissible and relevant”, means that admissible for the consideration of the judge, “admissible and relevant” for the consideration of the judge to pronounce the judgment in a case. The statements or documents which are not relevant and admissible, cannot be taken on the record. It is nowhere provided in the Indian Evidence Act that the material which the judge thinks not relevant or inadmissible, cannot be brought on record. Evidence and material which may not be relevant or admissible cannot be prevented from placing on record.
CONCLUSION:- Admissibility of evidence is decided based on the provisions of the Act or any other relevant written law, not from the deduction of the facts itself. All logically relevant facts are not legally relevant and all legally relevant facts may not be logically relevant.