Why is it that a Judge is always required to follow a set of rules in order to ascertain facts of a case and administer justice? Why can he not simply follow his logical reasoning, thereby determining right or liability of parties? The answer is not very far to seek.
There is a very fundamental difference between general reasoning and the law. One should not misunderstand law as mere common sense, which requires logic only and which can be applied generally to ascertain any form of question. Law formulates conditions that constrain this freedom of logical operation. In general practice, a Judge is often misled by lawyers through arguing artificial points of logic. Limitations on free use of logic are, therefore, important in order to discourage this practice. These very limitations and conditions have been drafted, by eminent jurists like Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, into the codified law of evidence. As Judges are supposed to administer justice in a very short time frame, free use of logic on a vast collection of facts cannot be allowed to sustain.
Law of evidence may be considered as the most significant law for Judges because of its capacity in helping them deliver quick and speedy decisions. The rules of evidence law assist Judges by filtering less relevant or more time-consuming facts from being admitted for evidence. Therefore, a strong understanding of the law of evidence and its application becomes core necessity for aspiring judges.
Role of Judges and of Evidence Law
What fundamental role do the Judges play in our legal system? -- To ascertain the truth and administer justice. When a plaintiff approaches the court, he brings with himself a number of facts that constitute an alleged legal right in him and a parallel liability in the defendant, who would also affirm or deny plaintiff’s pleadings with an almost equal quantity of facts. Thus, all of a sudden, the Judge is bombarded with a long list of facts out of which he has to choose a few that matter and that are material to the case. It is at this stage that the role of evidence law comes into play.
Facts, which the parties come up with, have been sufficiently dealt with in the substantive law. For a case to stand, the plaintiff has to prove the alleged facts as per the definitions given under substantive law. If he fails to prove any one of the set of facts that according to law constitutes a right in him, his suit is liable to be dismissed. Similar would be the consequence if the defendant succeeds in disproving any one of the requisite facts.
To prove or disprove a fact, proper weightage is calculated and awarded to each relevant fact, thereby making terms such as “admissibility”, “presumption”, “impeachment”, “confirmation”, etc., very common during the examination of witnesses and evidences. All these terms have been influenced by the theory and usage of the Judge & his “twelve men” appointed without bias to deliver natural justice as per the codified rules of law. Hence, in every legal proceeding, the rules that hold supreme importance are those of the law of evidence.
PRAVEEN KUMAR SINGHMAR