1) Introduction :

           Witnesses and Documents are the Chief sources of evidence. A witness is person gives testimony or evidence before any Court. Evidence given by witnesses is called oral evidence while the evidence produced through the document is called documentary evidence. According to Section 3 of the Indian Evidence, 1872 documentary evidence means and includes all documents produced before the Court for its inspection. Documents are divided into two categories, Public Documents and Private Documents.   




2) The meaning of Documents: 

       In general, Document is a record or the capturing of some event or thing so that the information will not be lost. Usually, a document is written, but a document can also be in other forms like pictures and sound.  


Examples of documents: 

   Here are some examples of Documents - Birth Certificate, Bank Statement, Wills and Deeds, Newspaper issues, Individual newspaper stories oral history recordings, Executives orders etc. 

3) Definition Of Document: 

       The document can be defined as," a piece of written, printed or electronic matter that provides information or evidence or that serves as an official record.   

       Section 3 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 defines Document as,“Document” means any matter expressed or described upon any substance by means of letters, figures or marks, or by more than one of those means, intended to be used, or which may be used, for the purpose of recording that matter.

 Illustrations -

       A writing is a document; 

      Words printed, lithographed or photographed are documents; 

       A map or plan is a document; 

      An inscription on a metal plate or stone is a document; 

      A caricature is a document.


4) Types of Documents 

   Documents are divided into two categories  Private Documents and Public Documents.

Public Documents :  

According to Section 74 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 the Following Documents are Public Documents:

        (1) Documents forming the acts, or records of the acts— 
               (i) of the sovereign authority, 
              (ii) of official bodies and tribunals, and 
              (iii) of public officers, legislative, judicial and executive, of any part of India or of the Commonwealth, or of a foreign country; 

        (2) Public records kept in any State of private documents."


Private Documents : 

               As per Section 75 of Evidence Act, "all other documents other than those, enlisted in Section 74 of the Evidence Act are Private Documents."

 See in Detail >>> Public Documents 


See also......

 Distinction Between Public Document and Private Document  

Primary Evidence

Secondary evidence

Oral Evidence under the Indian Evidence Act 1872




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