Uttarakhand High Court: No Presumption of Truth in Government Records under S. 35 of Evidence Act

uttarakhand NAINITAL high court HC
uttarakhand NAINITAL high court HC

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Published on: January 14, 2024 at 13:38 IST

The Uttarakhand High Court has clarified that Section 35 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, does not imply an automatic presumption of the truth of facts recorded in government records. Instead, the provision focuses on the admissibility of documents.

The Court’s clarification came in response to a case challenging two orders. The first order directed the framing of charges under Sections 324, 504, and 506 of the Indian Penal Code against the petitioner, a government employee. The second order upheld the first one.

Justice Ravindra Maithani, presiding over the case, stated, “A bare reading of Section 35 of the Act does not reveal that anything recorded in a Government record, on its face value, should be presumed to be true, unless otherwise proved. What Section 35 of the Act speaks of is that the documents mentioned therein shall be admissible.”

The petitioner, a government employee on duty during the incident, asserted the endorsement of his duty status by superior officers. He argued that the investigating officer failed to consider this crucial aspect.

Additionally, the petitioner presented a certificate from a government officer as evidence, relying on Section 35 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, which pertains to the relevancy of entries in public records made in the performance of duty.

However, the Court rejected the petitioner’s plea, emphasizing that the admissibility of documents under Section 35 does not automatically presume the truth of the recorded facts. The Court stated, “The petitioner claims that he was not present at the place of the incident. He relied on a certificate issued by the Government officer. In view of Section 35 of the Act, the certificate may be relevant, but the fact written in it needs to be proved separately, in accordance with the law.”

Addressing the petitioner’s plea of alibi, the court noted that the defense of alibi must be proven after the prosecution has presented its case. The Court emphasized, “The plea of alibi that is being relied on by the petitioner may not be a ground to discharge. It has to be proved by the petitioner once prosecution leads evidence in the case. Therefore, this Court is of the view that the courts below did not commit any error in directing that the charges shall be framed against the petitioner.”

Ultimately, the Court found no merit in the petitioner’s arguments and dismissed the petition during the admission stage.

Case Title: Ganesh Datt Badhani v. State of Uttarakhand & Anr.

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