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Key Takeaways:

  • General Classification of Presumptions
  • Differences between Presumption of Fact and Presumption of Law
  • Explanation of Section 4 of the Indian Evidence Act
  • Presumption as to documents under the Indian Evidence Act
  • Presumptions in other laws


In general, presumption refers to the process of determining a few facts on the basis of possibility or as the result of specific actions taken in general that strengthen the possibility. When such a possibility has a high degree of substantiation, facts may usually be ascertained. A presumption in law means conclusions drawn by the court regarding the existence of certain facts.

Presumptions are used by courts to draw conclusions regarding the existence of particular facts. The burden of proof does not always need to rest with the party deemed to be in the right to rely on presumed facts.

The fundamental principle of presumption states that when one factor of the case or set of circumstances is thought to be the primary fact and other relevant facts are proven, then the facts might be supposed to be proved until shown otherwise. Section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act  addresses the concept that 'the court may presume the existence of any fact which it thinks likely to have happened with regard being had to the common course of (i) natural events, (ii) human conduct, (iii) public and private business, in their relation to the facts of the particular case.’



A person must conclude facts about what has occurred from what they have heard and seen in order to establish a presumption of fact. We call this a material or natural assumption. Since assumptions are regarded as advantageous, they are instances of circumstantial evidence. Apprehending criminals and people in conflict with the law will be more challenging because the legal system is unable to establish every truth.

Conditions where the Court may use the presumption of facts:

  • Foreign Judicial Records:

Section 86 highlights the notion that the court possesses the discretionary authority to establish presumptions concerning the authenticity and accuracy of certified copies of judicial records from a foreign nation, provided that the document complies with local or national regulations.

  • Abetment as to Suicide by a Married Woman:

Section 113A addresses the assumption that a married woman’s spouse or any member of his family assisted her in taking her own life. A few requirements have been set forth by the court to determine whether a married woman’s suicide complies with the requirements outlined in the provision. Should they, the court will assume that the husband or a family member assisted the suicide.

The essentials are:

A.    The presumption that a married woman who has been married for 7 years has committed suicide.

B.    According to Section 498A of the IPC, the wife has been subjected to cruelty by her husband and his family members or relatives.

In the case of Mangal Ram & Anr vs. State of Madhya Pradesh, the accused’s wife had not been to her married home in a long time and had lived with her parents for a considerable amount of time. One month after moving back into her married house, she took her own life. As a result, the court concluded that the accused was accountable for the woman’s demise, and Section 113B of the Indian Evidence Act applies to this case. Her spouse and in-laws, however, provided evidence that the death was not brought on by a harsh reason. In that instance, the court decided that the presumption could be refuted and was no longer valid, leading to the accused’s acquittal.


Presumption of law are those conclusions and convictions that the law itself establishes or presumes. It can be divided into rebuttable and irrebuttable presumptions of law.


Rebuttable Presumptions are specific presumptions that are accepted as proof of high quality and maintain their validity unless they are shown to be false. The simplest example would be: if someone is found in possession of stolen stuff, it is evident that they are either the thieves or the recipients.

In the case of State of M.P. vs. Sk. Lallu, the newlywed bride suffered harsh beating from her in-laws from the first day of their marriage until she eventually passed away from burn injuries. The accused can be punished by the court using the application of presumption.


A legal inference or assumption that a fact exists that cannot be refuted by more evidence or reasoning is known as an irrebuttable presumption. It is also referred to as a necessary or conclusive presumption. With this kind of assumption, the burden of proof is shifted to the other side, which is powerless to refute the assumption. An example of an irrebuttable presumption is the idea that a child who is younger than seven years old cannot commit a felony. This implies that the law assumes that a child is incapable of committing a crime, even in the event th there is a proof to the contrary. No amount of true reasoning can refute this assumption.

Conditions where the court may use the presumption of law:

  • Presumption of innocence

It states that the one who proclaims the facts, not the one who disputes them, bears the burden of proof. The legal principle known as the presumption of innocence states that everyone is presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty or the court determines that they are responsible for actions that are illegal.

In, Dataram Singh vs. State of Uttar Pradesh & Anr, the Supreme Court held that an individual shall be presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

  • Birth during Marriage:

The Indian Evidence Act addresses a child born during the marriage. According to the section, if a child is born while the couple’s love marriage is still in effect it is definitive evidence that the child is legitimate.

In Shanta Ram vs. Smt. Dargubai, the Bombay High Court expressed its views that the child born out of void marriages would be deemed to be a legitimate child, regardless of any nullity, all such children would not acquire the same right of succession as the original successor would enjoy.


When a fact is assumed to be true based on other known or proven facts, this is known as a mixed presumption. Components of both law and facts are present in this kind of assumption. The majority of presumptions are standards of evidence that, absent proof to the contrary from the other side mandate a particular outcome in a case. When a presumption is made, the burden of proof is shifted to the other side, who might then make efforts to refute the assumption.

Section 4 of the Indian Evidence Act defines May Presume, Shall Presume, and Conclusive Proof.


Whenever the Act provides the court with the authority to presume fact, it can either consider the fact to be proven unless and until it is proven false, or it can request proof of the claim. The court has the authority to assume a fact or decline to make such a presumption whenever the phrase “may presume” appears in the legislation.

The Indian Evidence Act’s Sections 86 to 90A, 113A, 114, and 114A give the prerequisites for May Presume.

The Indian Evidence Act, 1872, Section 114, gives the courts the authority to assume the presence of certain facts based on the usual course of natural events, human behavior, and public and private business in relation to the facts of the case and question. Until they can be refuted, the assumption is a crucial legal instrument that courts can use to derive conclusions from the scant facts and evidence.

 State of Maharashtra vs. Manubhai Pragjibhai: In situations where an accused individual is found in possession of stolen items shortly after the theft, this case established the presumption of guilt. A compelling case for the owner can be made to refute the assumption.


When this act directs the court to presume a fact, it will consider that fact proven until it is refuted. When the phrase “shall presume” is used, the court will presume in such a situation. The court has no option because it is required by law to establish a presumption and accept a fact as proven unless and until it is refuted.

The Indian Evidence Act’s Sections 79 to 85C, 89, 105, 111A, and 113B give the required presumptions for Shall Presume.

Section 113B of the Indian Evidence Act says that in cases where a person is suspected of being the cause of a woman’s dowry death and it can be demonstrated that the woman was cruelly or harassed by the suspect shortly before she passed away due to or related to a dowry demand, the court will assume that the accused party was responsible for the woman’s dowry death.

Gurbachan Singh vs. Satpal Singh: In this case, evidence in the form of circumstantial evidence indicated that the accused had repeatedly belittled and mistreated the wife, accusing her of being the mother of an illegitimate child, to the point where the wife felt pressure to end her life. Seven years had passed since the marriage when the suicide was carried out. According to the Supreme Court, a presumption could be made under Section 113B.


The court shall not permit evidence to be presented in an attempt to refute a fact that this act declares to be conclusive proof of another. It is well established that no other evidence may be introduced to refute or change the aforementioned conclusiveness when an act is considered to be decisive proof of a particular factual condition or legal theory.

Sections 41, 112, and 113 of the Indian Evidence Act and Section 82 of the Indian Penal Code both contain Conclusive Proof.

Section 112 of the Indian Evidence Act, of 1872, deals with the legitimacy of a child born from wedlock. According to the law, if a kid is ‘born during the continuous of a valid marriage between his mother and any man or within 280 days after its dissolution, the mother remaining unmarried shall be conclusive proof that he is the legitimate son of that man unless it is shown to be that the parties to the marriage had no access to each other at any time when he could have been begotten.’ It should be emphasized that the Act’s Section 112 requires conclusive proof, so Sections 4 and 112 must be read in pairs.

Section 113 of the Indian Evidence Act prescribes that a notification published in the Official Gadget about the cession of glands to the native state is regarded as definitive evidence of a legitimate session that took place on the specified date. There is no evidence to refute this ultimate decision.

Gautam Kundu vs. State of West Bengal: In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that:

  • Courts cannot simply order a blood test.
  • A prima facie case must exist in which the husband must prove “non-access” in order to refute the presumption arising under Section 112 before a test can be ordered.
  • The court must carefully consider the potential consequences of requesting the blood test, including whether it will result in the mother being labelled as unchaste and her child as a bastard.


1.    Definition: 

When presumptions are formed based on individual facts, such as related facts or a collection of related information, they are known as Presumptions of Fact.

When presumptions are accepted in specific conditions, there are instances when the court itself assumes certain facts without the need for proof, it is known as Presumption of Law.

2.    Performance:

The presumption of Fact can always be refuted and disputed once supporting proof has been established.

Presumptions of Law are not supported by concrete evidence they are conclusive presumptions.

3.    Discretionary Power of Court:

In the Presumption of Fact, the court is endowed with the discretion to assume any or all of the facts.

In the Presumption of Law, the court lacks discretion and must presume certain facts since the law presumes them to be true.

4.    Source of Presumption:

Presumption of Fact is derived from natural law, human experience in general, and customary practice.

The sources of Presumption of Law are the statutes, judicial conventions, and practices.



When an authorised officer provides copies of public papers for review, those copies are known as certified copies. The authenticity of these certified copies is presumed by Section 79 of the Indian Evidence Act. This section states that when a certified copy is accompanied by a valid certificate, the court will assume it to be authentic. Additionally, the court assumes that the officer signing the documents is the official with the title stated in the certificate. The certified copy of the public document must be accompanied by a certificate supplied by the authorised authority attached to the document's authenticity. The officer must sign the certificate with their name date and designation. The authorised authorities should additionally seal the certificates whenever needed.


In Section 85A of the Indian Evidence Act, the court will assume that any electronic document claiming to be an agreement with the parties’ digital signatures on it was created in that manner by appending the parties' digital signatures.


In Section 85B of the Indian Evidence Act, unless the opposite is demonstrated the court will assume in any proceedings involving a secure electronic record that it hasn’t been altered since the particular movement in time to which the secure status pertains.

Unless proven differently the court will argue all proceedings required in secure digital signatures that:

Nothing in this section shall create any presumption regarding the authenticity and integrity of the electronic record or any digital signature, with the exception of a secure digital signature that is attached by the subscriber with the intention of signing on approving the electronic record.


In Section 85C of the Indian Evidence Act, if a subscriber accepts a certificate, the court will assume, unless the opposite is demonstrated, that the information included in the certificate is accurate, with the exception of any material designated as subscriber information that has been verified.


The Indian Evidence Act Section 89, offers a number of presumptions about the proper execution of papers that are not produced. The court of assumes that all documents asked for examination attested, stamped, and executed in accordance with legal requirements of the documents are not delivered even after the notice time.


The Indian Evidence Act Section 90 addresses the thirty-year-old document presumption. Any document provided for investigation is presumed by the courts to have been properly seized, and the signature on the document matches the signature of a person whose custody it was. Additionally, the court assumes that any handwriting found on the document is that of the person in possession of it. The court further assumes that if a document is attested or performed, it was properly executed and attested by the parties it purports to be executed and attested by. When a document is under proper custody, it indicates that it is in the person scared and in its natural habitat.


The Indian Evidence Act Section 90A lays forth the different presumptions pertaining to Electronic Records that are five years old. This section states that when an electronic document is obtained for investigator purposes from the appropriate custody and this older than five years the court will assume certain facts. It is assumed that the digital signature either belongs to the person who approved it to the specific person whose possession the record is. When an electronic record is in proper custody it signifies that it is in the owner's care and in its natural location. The section states that no custody is deemed unlawful if it can be demonstrated that the custody originated lawful in the specific circumstance in question.




This principle presumes that all actions taken by minors or those who are in conflict with the law have been done so voluntarily and without malice. This approach was applied from the beginning of the legal process until the conclusion of the aftercare program. It states that the presumption of innocence should applied to all activities covered or expressly stated in the rule regardless of the act committed, the circumstances, and whether it is carried out independently under the supervision of adults or the influence of peers.



Section 29 of the POCSO Act states that the special court hearing the case “shall presume” the accused is guilty when someone is charged with sexual assault against a minor.


Legal presumptions are arbitrary modifications that do not require factual evidence to be supported. When a court makes a presumption about a fact, it does not need to be verified. The application of presumptions under the Indian Evidence Act 1872 may be largely unexplored. But how it is used will have a big impact on how we view the ‘burden of proof’ for the prosecution and defense.

Therefore, these presumptions can help the judiciary efficiently assist in providing society with timely and comprehensive justice.

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