THE HON'BLE SRI JUSTICE K.C.BHANU of Andhra Pradesh High Court in an election petition in Regu Maheswara Rao vs Vhyricherla Kishore Chandra ... Decided on 31 December, 2010, elaborately discussed following decisions regarding “Proof of Document”

GOPALA KRISHNAJI KETKAR V MOHAMMED HAJI LATIF AIR 1968 SC 1413 , wherein it was held thus: "We are unable to accept this argument as correct. Even if the burden of proof does not lie on a party the Court may draw an adverse inference if he withholds important documents in his possession which can throw light on the facts at issue. It is not, in our opinion, a sound practice for those desiring to rely upon a certain state of facts to withhold from the Court the best evidence which is in their possession which could throw light upon the issues in controversy and to rely upon the abstract doctrine of onus of proof."

SAIT TARAJEE KHIMCHAND AND OTHERS V YELAMARTI SATYAM AND OTHERS AIR 1971 SC 1865, wherein it was held thus: "THE plaintiffs wanted to rely on Exhibits A-12 and A-13, the day book and the ledger respectively. The plaintiffs did not prove these books. There is no reference to these books in the judgments. The mere marking of an exhibit does not dispense with the proof of documents. It is common place to say that the negative cannot be proved. The proof of the plaintiffs' books of account became important because the plaintiffs' accounts were impeached and falsified by the defendants' case of larger payments than those admitted by the plaintiffs. The irresistible inference arises that the plaintiff's books would not have supported the plaintiffs."

DATTATREYA V RAGHUNATH GOPALRAO KAWATHEKAR AIR 1971 SC 2548, wherein it was held thus: "What facts and circumstances have to be established to prove the execution of a document depend on the pleas put forward. If the only plea taken is that the executant has not signed the document and that the document is a forgery, party seeking to prove the execution of a document need not adduce evidence to show that the party who signed the document knew the contents of the document. Ordinarily no one is expected to sign a document without knowing its contents but if it is pleaded that the party who signed the document did not know the contents of the document then it may it certain circumstances be necessary for the party seeking to prove the document to place material before the court to satisfy it that the party who signed the document had the knowledge of its contents."

SMT. VIJAYA KARI V SMT.KONDAMURI SWARNALATHA AIR 1983 AP 181, wherein it was held thus: "Under the Educational Rules every school is obligated to maintain register of admissions with the prescribed particulars and such records can be considered as official records admissible under Sec 35 of the EVIDENCE ACT, 1872. Section 35 of the EVIDENCE ACT, 1872 provides that the document or record maintained pursuant to any legal obligation is an official document admissible under section 35 of the EVIDENCE ACT, 1872.

ISHWAR DASS JAIN V SOHAN LAL AIR 2000 SC 426, wherein it was held thus: "The mode of proof of documents required to be attested is contained in Sections 68 to 71 of the Evidence Act. Under Section 68, if the execution of a document required to be attested is to be proved, it will be necessary to call an attesting witness, if alive and subject to the process of Court and is capable of giving evidence. But in case the document is registered then except in the case of a will it is not necessary to call an attesting witness, unless the execution has been specifically denied by the person by whom it purports to have been executed. This is clear from Section 68 of the Evidence Act. It reads as follows : "section 88 : If a document is required by law to be attested, it shall not be used as evidence until one attesting witness at least has been called for the purpose of proving its execution, if there be an attesting witness alive, and subject to the process of the Court and capable of giving evidence : Provided that it shall not be necessary to call an attesting witness in proof of the execution of any document, not being a will, which has been registered in accordance with the provisions of the Indian Registration Act, 1908, unless its execution by the person by whom it purports to have been executed is specifically denied."

STATE OF HARYANA V RAM SINGH AIR 2001 SC 2532 , wherein it was held thus: "SECTION 51a of the Act is to the same effect. In Land Acquisition Officer and Mandal Revenue Officer v. V. Narasaiah, (2001 AIR SCW 867 : AIR 2001 SC 1117) (supra), it was held that by virtue of Section 51-A, a certified copy of a document registered under the Registration Act, 1908 including a copy under Section 57 of the Act may be accepted as evidence of the transaction recorded in such documents. It is open to the Court to accept the certified copy as reliable evidence and without examining parties to the documents. This does not however preclude the Court from rejecting the transaction itself as being mala fide or sham provided such a challenge is laid before the Court." The above decision has no application to the present facts of the case in view of the fact that by virtue of Section 51-A of the Land Acquisition Act, the Court can accept the certified copy as a reliable evidence. Even under Evidence Act, also a certified copy of the registered sale deed is admissible in evidence in certain circumstances and does not need to be proved by calling a witness.

BHIMAPPA AND OTHERS V ALLISAB AND OTHERS AIR 2006 KAR 231, wherein it was held thus: "It has to be established by producing documents under which he is claiming title, most of the time under a registered document. Insofar as documents are concerned Section 61 of the Evidence Act mandates that the contents of documents may be proved either by primary or secondary evidence. Primary evidence means the documentary evidence produced for inspection of the Court. Therefore, when a particular fact is to be established by production of documentary evidence there is no scope for leading oral evidence and there is no scope for personal knowledge. What is to be produced is the primary evidence, i. e. , document itself"

RAMJI DAYAWALA AND SONS (P) LTD V INVEST IMPORT (1981) 1 SCC 80 , wherein it was held thus: "Undoubtedly, mere proof of the handwriting of a document would not tantamount to proof of all the contents or the facts stated in the document. If the truth of the facts stated in a document is in issue mere proof of the handwriting and execution of the document would not furnish evidence of the truth of the facts or contents of the document. The truth or otherwise of the facts or contents so stated would have to be proved by admissible evidence, i. e. by the evidence of those persons who can vouchsafe for the truth of the facts in issue"

MADHOLAL SINDHU V ASIAN ASSURANCE CO. LTD. AND OTHERS AIR 1954 BOMBAY 305 wherein it was held thus: "This proposition sounded to me a novel one. I had in fact never heard any such argument before. Section 67, Evidence Act only permitted the proof of the signature or handwriting of the person signing or writing the document to be given and considered it to be sufficient in those cases where the issue between the parties was whether a document was signed or written wholly or in part by that person. It did not go so far as to say that even if it was proved that the signature or the handwriting of so much of the document as was alleged to be in the handwriting of the person, was in his handwriting, it would go to prove the contents of that document. No doubt the proof in so far as it was sought to be given in the evidence of Balkrishna Bhagwan Dekshmukh of the signature or handwriting of the said various documents could have established that those documents were signed or written in the handwriting of Deshpande, Paranjape or Jamnadas, but the matter could rest there and would carry the plaintiff no other. It certainly could not prove that the contents of those various documents which were thus proved to have been signed or written by Deshpande, Paranjape or Jamnadas were correct, and unless the plaintiff succeeded in proving the correctness of the contents of those various documents, he would not advance any step towards proving his case. Mr.Taraporewalla for the bank an Jamnadas supported Mr.Somjee in his submission. He submitted that once the signatures were proved the letters as a whole were roved, through the Court might say that the contents thereof were not proved in the sense that they were true. He submitted that the Court could admit those documents in evidence with that reservation, a reservation which to my mind went to the root of the whole matter and deprived the documents of all value whatsoever even if they might be admitted by the Court in evidence."

RANGAYYAN AND ANOTHER V INNASIMUTHU MUDALI AND OTHERS AIR 1956 MAD 226, wherein it was held thus: "The words of S.11 are very wide, and it may be safely laid down that all evidence which would be held to be admissible by English law would be properly admitted under this section of the Act. Collateral facts which, by way of contradiction, are inconsistent with a fact in issue or another relevant fact i.e., which makes the existence of a fact in issue or a relevant fact impossible or highly improbable, or which, by way of corroboration are consistent with existence of a fact in issue or a relevant fact i.e., tend to render the existence of a fact in issue or a relevant fact highly probable are themselves made relevant by the present section."

NAGUBHAI AMMAL AND OTHERS V B.SHAMA RAO AND OTHERS AIR 1956 SC 593, wherein it was held thus: "AN admission is not conclusive as to the truth of the matter stated therein. It is only a piece of evidence, the weight to be attached to which must depend on the circumstances under which it is made. It can be shown to be erroneous or untrue, so long as the person to whom it was made has not acted upon it to his detriment, when it might become conclusive by way of estoppel."

VEDANTHAM SATYAVATHI V P.VENKATARATNAM 1988 (1) ALT 915, wherein it was held thus: "The Evidence Act lays down the rules for proving a document. The proof of a document consist of two parts. Its genuineness and the contents of the document. So far as the genuineness is concerned, it is dealt in Sections 67 to 73 of the Act. So far as the contents are concerned, the rules are embodied in Section 61 to 66. If the document is sought to be proved the signature and also the handwriting must be proved. That is the rule laid down in Section 67. There are other modes of proving the signature either by expert evidence as provided in Section 45 or by producing the evidence of a person who is acquainted with the signature as envisaged by Section 47. Sometimes the internal evidence also may furnish proof of genuineness of the document as laid by the Supreme Court in Mubarik Ali Ahmed v State of Bombay (2 supra). The first rule of proving the contents of document is producing the document itself. Its contents can be proved either producing the document itself which is the primary evidence or by secondary evidence as contemplated under Sections 62 to 66. This is the mode of proving the contents of the document and genuineness of the document."

OM PRAKASH BERLIA AND ANOTHER V UNIT TRUST OF INDIA AND OTHERS AIR 1983 BOM.1, wherein it was held thus: "Secondly, Ss. 61 and 62 read together show that the contents of a document must, primarily be proved by the production of the document itself for the inspection of the Court. It is obvious that the truth of the contents of the document, even prima facie, cannot be proved by merely producing the document for the inspection of the Court. What it states can be so established."

M.CHANDRA V M.THANGAMUTHYU AND ANOTHER (2010) 9 SCC 712, wherein it was held thus: "We do not agree with the reasoning of the High Court. It is true that a party who wishes to rely upon the contents, and only in the exceptional cases will secondary evidence be admissible. However, if secondary evidence is admissible, it may be adduced in any form in which it may be available, whether by production of a copy, duplicate copy of a copy, by oral evidence of the contents or in another form. The secondary evidence must be authenticated by foundational evidence that the alleged copy is in fact a true copy of the original. It should be emphasized that the exceptions to the rule requiring primary evidence are designed to provide relief in a case where a party is genuinely unable to produce the original through no fault of that party."

UMESH CHANDRA V STATE OF RAJASTHAN (1982) 2 SCC 202, wherein it was held thus: "A perusal of the provisions of Sec. 35 would clearly reveal that there is no legal requirement, that the public or other official book should be kept only by a public officer but all that is required is that it should be regularly kept in discharge of her official duty. This fact has been clearly proved by two independent witnesses, viz. , DW 1, Ratilal Mehta and DW 3. Sister Stella. The question does not present any difficulty or complexity as in our opinion the section which would assist in this behalf is S. 35 of the Evidence Act which provides for relevancy of entry in the public record"

KUMARI MADHURI PATIL AND ANOTHER V ADDITIONAL COMMISSIONER, TRIBAL DEVELOPMENT AND ANOTHER (1994) 6 SCC 241, wherein it was held thus: "THE entries in the school register preceding the Constitution do furnish great probative value to the declaration of the status of a caste. Hierarchical caste stratification of Hindu social order has its reflection in all entries in the public records. What would therefore, depict the caste status of the people inclusive of the school or college records, as they then census rules insisted upon. Undoubtedly, Hindu social order is based on hierarchy and caste is one of the predominant factors during pre-constitution period. Unfortunately instead of dissipating its incursion it is being needlessly accentuated, perpetrated and stratification is given legitimacy for selfish ends instead of being discouraged and put an end by all measures, including administrative and legislative. Be it as it may, people are identified by their castes for one or the other is a reality. Therefore, it is no wonder that caste is reflected in relevant entries in the public records or school or college admission register at the relevant time and the certificates are issued on its basis. The father of the appellants admittedly described himself in 1943 and thereafter as a Hindu Koli. In other words his status was declared a Koli by caste and Hindu by religion. Kolis are admittedly OBCs. His feigned ignorance of the ancestry is too hard to believe. The averment in the affidavit that the entries were mistakenly made as Hindu Koli is an obvious afterthought. The anthropological moorings and ethnological kinship affirmity gets genetically ingrained in the blood and no one would shake off from past, in particular, when one is conscious of the need of preserving its relevance to seek the status of Scheduled Tribe or Scheduled Caste recognized by the Constitution for their upliftment in the Society. The ingrained Tribal traits peculiar to each Tribe and anthropological features all the more become relevant when the social status is in acute controversy and needs a decision. The correct projectives furnished in pro forma and the material would lend credence and give an assurance to properly consider the claims of the social status and the concerned officer or authority would get an opportunity to test the claim for social status of particular cast or tribe or tribal community or group or part of such caste, tribe or tribal community. It or he would reach a satisfactory conclusion on the claimed social status. The father of the appellant has failed to satisfy the crucial affinity test which is relevant and germane one. On the other hand the entries in his school and college registers as Hindu Koli positively belies the claim of his social status as Scheduled Tribe."