Understanding the Concept of “Fact-in-Issue” and Relevant Facts under the Indian Evidence Act 1872

Fact-in-Issue: Defining the Key Terminology

Section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872 provides us with a comprehensive definition of “fact-in-issue.” It states that a “fact-in-issue” refers to any fact, either independently or in conjunction with other facts, that establishes or negates the existence, non-existence, nature, or extent of any right, liability, or disability asserted or denied in any legal proceeding.

To put it simply, when a court faces an issue of fact, the fact that is stated or denied in response to that issue becomes a “fact-in-issue.” In delivering justice, the court must draw conclusions based on the evidence presented. Therefore, facts that are undisputed require no further consideration or evidence, while disputed facts form the crux of the “fact-in-issue.”

The “fact-in-issue” can either directly or indirectly establish the existence of a disputed right or liability. Essentially, it refers to the matters that are under contention or subject to investigation in a case.

For instance, in a civil case, the “fact-in-issue” refers to the facts that one party alleges and the other party denies in their respective pleadings. Similarly, in a criminal case, the “fact-in-issue” consists of the facts alleged by the prosecution and denied by the accused.

Determining whether a fact is in issue involves two considerations:

  1. The fact must be in dispute between the parties involved.
  2. The fact must pertain to the question of rights or liabilities.

In specific cases, the Substantive Law or the relevant branch of procedural law will determine which facts are in issue. The court can only pronounce its judgment based on these established facts, which are proven to its satisfaction. In civil cases, the court frames issues related to the “fact-in-issue,” whereas in criminal cases, it frames charges based on the disputed issues.

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To illustrate this concept further, let’s consider a hypothetical scenario: A stands accused of the murder of B. During the trial, the following facts may be in issue:

  1. A causing B’s death
  2. A intending to cause B’s death
  3. A receiving grave and sudden provocation from B
  4. A’s unsoundness of mind rendering them incapable of understanding the nature of their actions at the time of the incident

Understanding “Fact-in-Issue” in Criminal and Civil Cases

In criminal cases, the charge itself constitutes the “fact-in-issue.” On the other hand, civil cases determine the “facts-in-issue” through the process of framing issues, as regulated by Order XIV, Rules 1-7 of the Civil Procedure Code.

While the existence of “facts-in-issue” must be established to the satisfaction of the court, their relevance plays a crucial role in influencing the court’s decision. In civil cases, the court frames issues based on the “fact-in-issue,” whereas in criminal cases, it frames charges based on the disputed issues.

Defining “Relevant Facts”

Section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872 also defines the term “relevant” with regard to facts. It states that one fact is deemed relevant to another when there is a connection between them as specified in the provisions of the Act relating to the relevancy of facts (Chapter II, Section 5-55). The term “relevant” implies that when applied to certain facts, they are connected in such a way that, according to the usual course of events, one of them, either alone or in conjunction with other facts, proves or renders probable the past, present, or future existence or non-existence of the other.

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In simpler terms, relevant facts are facts that are connected to one another in a way that can prove or disprove the facts in issue. Although relevant facts themselves are not the issues at hand, they form the foundation for drawing inferences regarding those issues. The Indian Evidence Act does not provide a specific definition of “relevant.” Instead, it establishes that a fact becomes relevant only when it is connected to other facts as indicated in the Act’s provisions on the relevancy of facts.

To clarify the concept further, we need to differentiate between relevancy and admissibility. All relevant facts may not be admissible as evidence, and not all admissible facts are necessarily relevant.

Distinguishing Between Facts-in-Issue and Relevant Facts

To summarize the distinction between “facts-in-issue” and “relevant facts,” let’s consider the following points:

  1. Fact-in-Issue: These are the facts alleged by one party and denied by the other in the pleadings of a civil case or by the prosecution and the accused in a criminal case.

  2. Relevant Facts: These facts have a connection to one another and can prove or disprove the facts in issue. While they are not the issues themselves, they serve as the basis for making inferences about the issues.

In conclusion, understanding the definitions and distinctions between “fact-in-issue” and “relevant facts” under the Indian Evidence Act is vital for comprehending legal proceedings and ensuring fair and accurate judgments. By analyzing the facts, establishing their relevance, and presenting them effectively, the court can arrive at just conclusions that uphold the principles of justice and truth.

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Indian Evidence Act MCQ