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Judicial proceedings in India are governed by the concepts of description and standard of evidence. According to the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, proof refers to the establishment of facts through permissible substantiation. In court, the standard of proof determines the degree of certainty required for substantiation of claims in the court.

“Beyond reasonable doubt,” which assures a greater level of certainty to prevent wrongful convictions particularly in criminal cases. While “Preponderance of probabilities," states that claims are more likely to be true than not which likely ensures, that the legal decisions are based on absolute and convincing evidence, maintaining the balance between justice and individual rights.

Standard of proof:

It refers to the degree of certainty and the degree of substantiation necessary to establish proof in a criminal or civil proceeding.

preponderance of the evidence

It’s based on the standard of evidence which in utmost civil cases where the party bearing the burden of proof likely to present such evidence which is further satisfying and convincing than that presented by the other party or which shows that the fact to be proven is more probable and not unreasonable.

clear and convincing

In such case, being the standard of proof needed for some civil cases or movements in which the party bearing the burden of proof must show that the truth of the allegations is largely probable.

The concept of proof is primarily defined in Section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. 

It states:

Evidence: "Evidence" means and includes—

(1) all statements which the Court permits or requires to be made before it by witnesses, in relation to matters of fact under inquiry;

(2) all documents including electronic records produced for the inspection of the Court;

Proved: A fact is said to be proved when, after considering the matters before it, the Court either believes it to exist, or considers its existence so probable that a prudent man ought, under the circumstances of the particular case, to act upon the supposition that it exists.

Beyond a reasonable doubt:

"Beyond a reasonable doubt" is a standard of proof which is used in criminal trials. 

It states that the evidence, when presented must be so absolute and convincing that there is no reasonable doubt left in the mind of an individual about the defendant's guilt.

This means that the judges must be almost certain that the accused committed the crime. 

It also helps to ensure that confidence is of greater level of the defendant’s guilt before a conviction is secured, which helps in safeguarding individuals from wrongful convictions.

Criminal Proceedings:

In criminal cases, the burden of proof relies entirely on the prosecution, which must prove the defendant's guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." 

Providing the evidence, when presented must be so absolute and convincing that there is no reasonable doubt left in the mind of an individual about the defendant's guilt which means that the judges must be almost certain that the accused committed the crime.

The purpose is to protect the rights of the accused and reduce the risk of wrongful conviction of the innocent individuals.

Civil Proceedings:

In civil cases, the standard of proof is" preponderance of the evidence."

It states that the substantiation supplied by using one party is more likely to be real or reasonable than the opposite party, or that it barely will increase chances in prefer of one party over the other. 

Unlike in criminal cases, civil cases usually involve disputes among non-public events bases on property rights, contracts and many others.

In comparison with criminal cases, in civil cases lower burden of proof is present which displays to the reality that the results are much less intense, comparable as monetary damages or equitable relief.

The Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, both establishes the framework for the burden of proof in India.

The Indian Penal Code (IPC)

The IPC lays down substantive criminal law in India, defining punishment for different kinds of offences but does not, itself, spell out what should constitute the burden of proof for different kinds of offences. 

The Indian Evidence Act, 1872

The Indian Evidence Act is the primary piece of legislation that governs the laws of evidence before Indian courts. Some sections of the Act that define the burden of proof are specifically important.

Sections 101-104: Burden of Proof

Section 101:

This section states that-

Whoever desires any Court to give judgment as to any legal right or liability dependent on the existence of facts which he asserts, must prove that those facts exist. When a person is bound to prove the existence of any fact, it is said that the burden of proof lies on that person.

Section 102: This section states that the burden of proof in a suit or proceeding lies on the person who would fail if no evidence were given on either side.

Section 103: This section states that the burden of proof as to any particular fact lies on that person who wishes the court to believe in its existence, unless it is provided by any law that the proof of that fact shall lie on any particular person.

Section 104: This section states that the burden of proving any fact necessary to be proved in order to enable any person to give evidence of any other fact is on the person who wishes to give such evidence.

Section 105: Burden of Proving Exception

Section 105 of the Indian Evidence Act is particularly relevant in criminal cases. 

It states that when a person is accused of an offense, the burden of proving the existence of circumstances bringing the case within any of the General Exceptions in the IPC, or within any special exception or proviso contained in any other part of the same Code, or in any law defining the offense, is upon him, and the court shall presume the absence of such circumstances.

Classification of Burden of Proof

According to Indian law, the person who makes a claim or asserts a fact has the responsibility to give evidence to support it. This is known as the burden of proof. While, in certain legal circumstances, exceptions may apply. It’s important to note that this burden of proof provides three different interpretations.

  • Persuasive Burden: The burden of persuasion refers to the responsibility of a party to convince a judge or jury that a fact or element is more likely true than not. This means that it is the duty of the party to present evidence that will persuade the fact-finder that a particular proposition of fact is indeed true.
  • Evidential of Burden: The evidential burden of proof refers to the obligation of providing sufficient evidence to raise a specific issue, rather than providing enough evidence to establish the facts.
  • Admissibility of Evidence: The burden of Proof also applies to the admissibility of evidence. This means that the party introducing evidence must ensure that it meets the legal standards and rules of evidence to be admissible in court.

Case laws:

M.S. Reddy Vs State Inspector of Police, A.C.B., Nellore-

In this case it was held that the primary burden of proof falls on the prosecution. It is unfair to place this burden on the defendant, and it is imperative for the prosecution to present their case based on their own findings. Allowing the defendant to present their evidence first may  give an undue advantage to the prosecution, as it would provide them with an opportunity to poke holes in the defense's arguments and employ strategies to strengthen their own case. 

it was established that the prosecution has the initial burden of proof. It is unjust to require the defendant to shoulder this burden. The prosecution must construct its case using its own evidence. Allowing defendants to present their evidence before the prosecution could provide an opportunity for the prosecution to gain an advantage, potentially using tactics to weaken the case.

Savithri Vs Karthyayani Amma-

In this case there was a question whether there is execution of a will and is it being executed by coercion. The Hon’ble court in this case held that each party had to prove its allegations which means the one alleging that the will was executed by coercion has to prove the same.

Special Development Area Vs Pooran lal

In the present case a complaint was lodged stating that the person was carrying out unauthorized construction. A suit was filed upon which the court held that the burden of proof lies on the complaining authority and that it is for him to prove that the land belongs to him and that he is carrying out unauthorized construction.

Mahboob Sab Vs Union of India

In this case a person was found dead on the spot as he fell out from a running train. A turned into filled upon which the defendants stated that the individual who was deceased was not a bonafide passenger as he did now not have the train ticket. The court held that burden of proof was on the person claim such a fact to be in existence and as a result, the defendants were required to prove that the deceased was traveling without a ticket.

Beyond Reasonable Doubt

The burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt, in criminal trials. A judge or jury can not condemn anyone if there's a reasonable doubt that any person is guilty of the offence. There's no clear description or guidance for what it means to guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt.

The actuality of reasonable doubt is eventually determined by how a judge or jury evaluates a case. After careful and unprejudiced review of all data in a case, the conclusion should be grounded on reason and common sense.

According to some Courts," beyond a reasonable doubt" means" substantiation of such a satisfying character that a reasonable person would not vacillate to calculate on and act on it.". As a result, asserting a solid defense when accused of a crime is better way to defend oneself. Any valid doubt can prohibit or stop the government from proving its case. 

Preponderance of Probability

The burden of proof is by a preponderance of the evidence, in civil cases. A preponderance of the evidence indicates that anything is more likely to be true than false. In a particular injury suit, a victim just needs to convert a judge or jury that their claim more than 50% of being true. When deciding whether there's a preponderance of the evidence, the quality of the evidence will be more applicable than the volume.

According to Section 101 of Indian Evidence Act, when a person asks any Court to deliver judgement as to any legal right or responsibility depending on the actuality of data which he asserts, he's needed to establish the actuality of those data.

Case laws 

Hanumant Govind Nargundkar and Anr. v. State of Madhya Pradesh 

In this case the Supreme Court of India highlighted the rigorous standards required for convictions based on circumstantial evidence. The court emphasized that circumstantial evidence must be fully established, consistent only with the hypothesis of guilt, and exclude any reasonable alternative hypothesis.

The judgment criticized the lower courts for relying on the unreasonable testimony of an eye witness under police influence, noting that there was no direct evidence linking the accused to the crime. The Court state the necessity of a complete chain of evidence, free of reasonable doubt, for a conviction also highlighting the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" requires the prosecution to remove all reasonable doubt from the minds of the judges or jury to secure a conviction.

Inder Singh v. State of Punjab 

In this case, the Supreme Court of India Inder Singh's conviction for murder, emphasizing that the harmonious and believable witness testaments and contesting particular substantiation met the legal standard of evidence beyond reasonable doubt. The Court noted that minor disagreement in testaments don't undermine their trustability and stressed the significance of assessing the summation of substantiation. This judgment also highlighted the balance between providing justice by condemning the guilty and safeguarding the innocent from wrongful conviction

Sambasivan v. State of Kerala 

In this case, the Supreme Court of India addressed whether the High Court was correct in overturning a trial court's acquittal. The trial court had acquitted the accused grounded on the evidence of substantiations, supposed unreliable due to union conflict. The High Court reassessed the substantiation and set up the trial court's conclusions incorrect, leading to a conviction.

The Supreme Court reiterated that while appellate courts have the authority to reverse acquittals, they should do so only if the trial court's findings are patently wrong or manifestly incorrect. Despite procedural setbacks by the High Court, the Supreme Court upheld its decision as the trial court's judgment was set up to be untenable

Suresh Ladak Bhagat Vs State of Maharashtra

The Court stated that an accused can only be convicted when investigation brings in materials which could be converted into permissible substantiation and can be read as proof. Unless the prosecution can prove its case beyond reasonable distrust and give conclusive evidence the burden to explain the circumstances of wife’s death doesn't lie upon the accused.


The burden of proof is governed by the conception that whoever makes a claim must give substantiation or evidence. This rule is subject to the principles of burden of proof, which give that the party who asserts or denies a claim bears the burden of proof. This means that whosoever takes a case to Court against someone differently must be suitable to establish the fact he claims. The burden of proof on defendants in criminal cases is grounded on the substantiation presented to the court, which establishes that he committed the offence as contended. An indicted can only be assumed shamefaced grounded on the data presented to the court by the complainant in agreement with the case's burden of proof.

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