All logically relevant facts are not legally relevant and all legally relevant facts may not be logically relevant

Satwik Singh


“Editor’s Note: The paper is on the relevancy of facts under the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.”


The Indian Evidence Act is very unique in nature. This is because it was introduced some 141 years ago. The mere fact that it was introduced so many years ago does not make it unique, it is unique because in such a long time it has not been amended many times. To stay unchanged for such a long time is a very special achievement indeed because it is not considered obsolete by any means. It was introduced by Sir James Stephen who was vested with this responsibility back in the year 1871. The Indian Evidence is very important for our country. This is because our country follows the Due Process Model, which opposite of the crime control model where the police and court play an active role in solving the veracity of the allegations made. In the Due Process Model it is the parties of the suit on whom the burden of proof is vested. Thus it is very important to have a guideline for the submission of evidence. In the later section of the project it will be seen how important role the Evidence Act plays in our justice system. The Act not only regulates the procedure for the admission of the evidence it also looks after which evidence will not be admissible under Indian Evidence Act. The fact that India follows the due process model means that theoretically the discretionary powers of the judge is very large. To prevent the judge from being arbitrary in nature while admitting evidence of a case, it is imperative that the judge is made subject to a standard set of guidelines which is to be followed across the board.  This fact of denying the judge the misuse of his discretionary powers is all the more important in the present times when corruption is rampant in our country. This Indian Evidence Act is objectively used to give true justice and so that corrupt elements cannot subvert the justice system. A very important fact also that needs to be brought to the forefront is that the Indian Evidence Act deals with two important terms that are, evidence and admissibility. The admissibility has not been defined but it is based on the factor of relevancy which has been defined. The relevancy is based on the section 5 and section 7 of the Indian Evidence Act. The procedural side of the law is the law that lays down the guidelines for the courts to search for the truth by examining the evidence produced before it[1].

Relevancy of Facts

Before looking into the relevancy of the facts it is very important to see what constitutes the facts itself. The term fact has been described under section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act. In the layman terms fact simply means a thing that exists. That is anything that is tangible is termed as a fact in layman terms. For the purposes in the evidence act it is not confined to the tangible nature even the feelings, state of mind and personal opinions are construed under the broad umbrella of facts. Facts can also be divided as Physical and Psychological in nature[2]. The Indian Evidence Act does not give the definition of the word Relevant but surprisingly from section 5 to section 55 the relevancy of the facts are dealt with. The main problem in this regard is deciding which fact is legally relevant as well as logical in nature. A fact may be logically relevant to a particular case but there is no guarantee that it will be legally admissible in the courts. So all the evidences that are to be produced in the courts have to pass two hurdles it has to be both logically relevant and legally admissible at the same time. Example in this regard would be the case of “State of UP v. Raj Narain[3] where it was shown that not all relevant facts are admissible .The case of “Ram Bihari Yadav v. State of Bihar”[4] is a very important case which helps us to understand the concept of clearing the two hurdles and the distinction between relevancy and admissibility. The force of the section lies in the last four words where it is meant that relevancy is actually the test of admissibility .The Supreme Court in this case said that in most cases the two words admissibility and relevancy are used interchangeably with each other but their legal implication are very different because often relevant facts such as communication between the spouses in marriage is important but not legally admissible[5]. An important section with regard to the relevancy of the facts is section 6 of the Indian Evidence Act which speaks about the relevancy of the facts which form the part of the same transaction. The Indian Evidence Act has very intelligently created a category for the relevancy of facts. The facts which are directly connected to the issue such as motive, cause, effect are most relevant this is contained in sections 6 to section 16 of the Indian Evidence Act. The next important relevant facts were the confessions (sections 17 to section 31) followed by decisions in other cases or the precedents established by law (section 40 to section 44). The principle of section 6 is called Res Gestae this simply means a transaction or a thing done.

Admissibility of Facts

The admissibility of facts is the most important factor in deciding whether a particular piece of evidence will help in solving the case. The question of the admissibility of evidence is undoubtedly a question of law[6]which is decided by the judge[7]. Admissibility is founded and based on law and not logic. So surprisingly facts that have no logical relevancy to the issue at hand might be legally admissible in the courts. The main aim of the trial is to find out the truth. To find out the truth generally the widest possible ambit is given so that all evidence can be put before the judges so that a correct decision can be taken. Also it is very interesting to note that after an evidence has been declared both logically relevant and legally admissible, the fact about how it has been gathered is irrelevant for the purpose of the case[8]. Sometimes there may be a situation when it is practically impossible to differentiate between an evidence that is admissible and evidence that is not. That is if the inadmissible is mixed up with admissible evidence to such an extent that both cannot be separated, then the whole evidence has to be rejected but this will not hold true if the evidences can be segregated on the basis of their admissibility[9]. There is no distinction between the rules of admitting evidence when it comes to criminal and civil cases[10]. The omission to object about the relevancy of the evidence by the opposing party or by the court itself does not mean that the evidence has been rendered admissible[11]. It is the court’s responsibility and duty to reject the evidences which are not admissible. In this regard it is very important to note that it does not matter in the court of law about how particular evidence has been obtained. For all practical purposes even the evidence which has been illegally obtained might be legally admissible. The mere fact that the method of obtaining it is illegal has no effect on the admissibility[12].The court is only interested in deciding the relevancy of the evidence to the given case. The landmark judgment in this regard is the case of “Magraj v. R K Birla[13]. But it does not mean that the court will not look into the originality of the evidence procured that is it will check whether the evidence is free from tampering and mutilation. Example of a logically relevant fact which is not legally admissible will be the confession made by the accused in police custody. The fact that an accused is confessing before the police seems logically relevant but the problem with this sort of situation is that the police may be too eager to solve a case before them and thus they may torture a suspect into accepting the accusation. In the due process model, the rights and freedoms of the individual are more important and all care and precaution is taken to protect these freedoms. So any confession made in police custody is not legally admissible in courts.

Distinction between Relevancy and Admissibility

The previous part of the project dealt with the matter of relevancy and the admissibility of the facts         . It is very important therefore to clearly describe the distinction between the two. The first and foremost distinction between the two is that admissibility of the evidence is strictly based on the strict questions of law whereas the relevancy is not a question of law rather it is based on the probability and the logic[14].The next fundamental difference between the two is the basic feature of the two. That is admissibility decides whether relevant evidence has to be admitted or not whereas the relevancy declares whether the evidence is logically relevant to the facts of the given case[15].

Facts which are Legally not admissible but Logically Relevant

These are the most important for the purpose of the solving of a case because they seem very logically connected to the issue however due to some reason they are not legally admissible under the Indian Evidence Act. Section 24 under the Indian Evidence Act is very important in this regard.  It is related to confession made due to threat, inducement or a promise. Confession has been defined as “it is an admission made at any time by a person charged with a crime stating or suggesting the inference that he committed that crime[16]so there are two conditions which need to be fulfilled when a confession is made either the confession must be direct with the accused stating explicitly that he has committed the crime or an inference can be made from his statements about his involvement in the crime. Since confession is a very important piece of evidence it is very important to examine whether the confession has been made out of free will or it has been made through coercion. Only confessions made out from free will can be accepted[17]. The evidence will be admissible only after the court is totally satisfied that the accused was a free man at the time of confession and that his movements were not controlled by the police or any other investigative agency for the purposes of securing the confession[18]. Also the case where the accused makes a confession thinking that the authorities would soften their attitude towards him then that confession is said to be non voluntary[19]. Another section which deals with the logically relevant but legally inadmissible facts is section 25 which deals with the confession made to a police officer. The main principle behind rejecting the confession made under the police officer is that the evidence is considered to be untrustworthy. As for the timing of the confession is concerned all confessions made to the police before or during the investigation are considered to be invalid[20]. It is important to note that only confessions made in presence of police are not admissible however all the statements that the accused has given to the police can be proved and used against the accused[21].However confessions made to the magistrate under section 164 CrPC which is admissible in the court.

Section 52 also talks about facts which are logically relevant but not legally admissible. It deals with the prior conduct and character of the accused. The main example of this section is cases of rape where the defence side in most cases tries to blame the victim by questioning the character of the victim. The prior conduct might seem logically relevant but it is not legally admissible. However according to section 53 in criminal cases the previous good conduct does become relevant. Section 122 also is of this type. The communication between the spouses is logically relevant but not legally admissible.

Facts which are Legally admissible and relevant but not Logically Relevant

 This is completely different to the previous section where legally relevant facts are not legally admissible.  Here the facts are legally admissible but not logically relevant. Section 146 of the Indian Evidence Act is the section relevant here because it talks about the questions in the cross examinations of the witness. This is logically irrelevant because during the cross examination the witness might under pressure and nervousness accept all the charges put by the opponent lawyer and this might subvert the judicial process. Also the cases where custody battle is fought, the child might be brainwashed by the mother and this is logically not relevant because it is commonly known fact that small children are very close to their mothers. Section 53 is also an example of the same where the prior conduct is relevant in criminal cases this is not logically relevant because prior good conduct is no guarantee that the accused will not go back on his previous vitiated conduct.

Section 11 is a very important section as it talks about the facts which are not relevant now but might become relevant at later stage due to further investigation. It has to be read with other important sections of the Indian Evidence Act that is sections 32 and 33. This section does not fall under the previous categories but it is important from the independent standpoint as it talks about the facts which are not logically relevant at the present moment but can become potentially very important for the case.


To conclude it must be said that the Indian Evidence Act is very important for a country like us which follows the due procedure model and is a great check on the powers of the arbitrariness of the judges. The legal admissibility and the logical relevancy both are very important for the evidence to be used properly for any particular case. These two hurdles have to be crossed and it does not matter if the fact is logically relevant but not legally admissible because it renders the evidence useless.

Edited by Amoolya Khurana

[1] Ram Jas vs Surendra Nath. AIR 1990 All 385

[2] Batuk Lal, The Law of Evidence (20th, Central Law Agency, 2013) 9

[3] AIR 1975 SC 865

[4] AIR 1998 SC 1850

[5] Ibid.

[6] Bibhabati Devi v Ramendra Narayan AIR 1947 PC 19

[7] Section 136e

[8]Public Prosecutor v Kalagana Rao (1969) 2 Andh WR 449

[9] Gurmukh Singh v. Commisioner of Income Tax AIR 1944 LAH 353.

[10] R v Mallory(1884)13 QBD 33

[11] Jagdish Chandra de v Harihar de AIR 1924 Cal 1042

[12] Sarkar, Law of Evidence (15th, Wadhwa and Company, 2001) 95

[13] ALL 1971 SC 1295

[14] Batuk Lal, The Law of Evidence (20th, Central Law Agency, 2013) 62

[15] Ibid

[16] Batuk Lal, The Law of Evidence (20th, Central Law Agency, 2013) 166

[17] Francis Stanly v. Intelligence Officer Narcotic Control Bureau, Thiruvananthapuram, AIR 2007 SC 794 at p 796

[18] Kusuma Anjkama Rao v, State of A.P. AIR 2009 SC 2819 at p 2824

[19]R.K.Dalmia v. Delhi Administration, AIR 1962 MP 132

[20] Husaniya v. Emperor , AIR 1936 Lah 380

[21] Jailal v. Emperor, 81 IC 347.

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