Introduction - 

     Sections 93 to section 100 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872 lay down rules for interpretation of.  documents. Section 3 of the said Act defines Documents. 

Meaning and Definition of Documents -  

Section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act defines “Document”. “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.


Interpretation of Documents -



  • Exclusion of evidence to explain or amend ambiguous document (Section 93) - 


       When the language used in a document is, on its face, ambiguous or defective, evidence may not be given of facts which would show its meaning or supply its defects.

Illustrations - 

(a) A agrees, in writing, to sell a horse to B for “Rs. 1,000 or Rs. 1,500”. Evidence cannot be given to show which price was to be given.

(b) A deed contains blanks. Evidence cannot be given of facts which would show how they were meant to be filled.


  •  Exclusion of evidence against application of document of existing facts (Section 94) 


        When language used in a document is plain in itself, and when it applies accurately to existing facts, evidence may not be given to show that it was not meant to apply to such facts.

Illustrations - 

A sells to B, by deed “my estate at Rampur containing 100 bighas”. A has an estate at Rampur containing 100 bighas. Evidence may not be given of the fact that the estate meant to be sold was one situated at a different place and of a different size.



  • Evidence as to document unmeaning in reference to existing fact (Section 95) - 


       When language used in a document is plain in itself but is unmeaning in reference to existing facts, evidence may be given to show that it was used in a peculiar sense.

Illustration A sells to B, by deed “my house in Calcutta.” A had not house in Calcutta, but it appears that he had a house at Howrah, of which B had been in possession since the execution of the deed. These facts may be proved to show that the deed related to the house at Howrah.


  • Evidence as to the application of languages which can apply to one only of several persons (Section 96) - 


          When the facts are such that the language used might have been meant to apply to any one, and could not have been meant to apply to more than one of several persons or things evidence may be given of facts which show of those persons or things it was intended to apply to.


Illustrations - 

       (a) A agrees to sell to B, for Rs.1,000 “my white horse”. A has two white horse. Evidence may be given of facts which show which of them was meant.

       (b) A agrees to accompany B to Hyderabad. Evidence may be given of facts showing whether Hyderabad in the Deccan or Hyderabad in the Deccan or Hyderabad in Sind was meant.


  • Evidence as to the application of language to one of two sets of facts to neither of which the whole correctly applies (Section 97) - 


       When the language used applies partly to one set of existing facts and, partly to another set of existing facts, but the whole of it does not apply correctly to either, evidence may be given to show to which of the two it was meant to apply.

Illustration - 

  A agrees to sell to B “my land to X in the occupation of Y.” A has land at X, but not in occupation of Y, and he has land in the occupation of Y, but it is not at X. Evidence may be given of facts showing which he meant to sell.



  • Evidence as to meaning of illegible characters, etc. (Section 98) -


      Evidence may be given to show the meaning of illegible or not commonly intelligible characters, of foreign, obsolete, technical, local or provincial expressions, of abbreviations and of words used in a peculiar sense. Illustration A, a sculptor, agrees to sell to B, “all my moods” A has both models and modeling tools. Evidence may be given to show which he meant to sell.


  • Who may give evidence of agreement varying term of document (Section 99) -


      Person who are not parties to document, or their representatives in interest may give evidence of any fact tending to show a contemporaneous agreement varying the terms of the document.

Illustration - 

          A and B make a contract in writing that B shall sell certain cotton, to be paid for on delivery. At the same time they made an oral agreement that “three months” credit shall be given to A. This could not be shown as between A and B, but it might be shown by C if it affected by his interests.



  • Saving of provisions of India Succession Act relating to Wills. (Section 100) - 


Nothing in this Chapter contained shall be taken to affect any of the provisions of the Succession Act (10 of 1965) as to the construction of Wills.


See also...

Hearsay Evidence is No Evidence!







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