Proved : Section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act defines ‘proved’. According to this Section, 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 a particular case, to act upon supposition that it exists. In M. Narsimha Rao v. State of A.P., AIR 2001 SC 318 Supreme Court held that  proof does not mean proof to rigid mathematical demonstration but such evidence as would induce a reasonable man to come to a conclusion. It depends upon degree of possibility of having existed.

Matters before it’ : Section 3, while defining the team ‘proved’, used the expression ‘matters before it’ instead of evidence which shows that the court can consider all other matters than evidence such as demeanour of witnesses, local inquiry conducted by the court, etc. for reaching to the conclusion.

Disproved: Section 3 provides that a fact is said to be disproved when, after considering the matters before it, the court either believes that it does not exist or considers its non existence so probable that a prudent man ought (to act upon a supposition that it does) not exist. Thus, this standard of proof should be of ordinary prudence in person who will judge its existence or non-existence from the standard of circumstances before him. The definition of the term ‘disproved’ is only the converse proposition of ‘proved’.

Chaturbhiug Pandey v. Collector of Raigad, AIR 1969 SC 225 Supreme Court held that under Section 3 the proof or disproof of a fact is to be tested on the touchstone of belief of the court or the probability or otherwise of a prudent man. There is no standard by which the weight of the evidence of the parties can be ascertained.

Not proved: Section 3 provides that a fact is said to be not proved when it is neither proved nor disproved. In other words, the man of ordinary prudence neither believes that the fact exists nor he believes that it does not exist.

There is a difference between ‘disproved’ and ‘not proved’. The word ‘disprove’ is akin to ‘false’. What is disproved may normally be taken to be a false thing. When a fact is said to be disproved, a person arrives at the firm and fixed decision after considering the matters before it. On the other hand, a fact which is ‘not proved’ may be true or false. A doubt lingers about its truth. The phrase ‘not proved’ is the result of careful scrutiny of the person of ordinary prudence that the fact neither exists with certainty nor its non-existence is proved with certainty. Thus, ‘not proved’ is a provision between existence and non-existence of the fact in the mind of a man of ordinary prudence.

Proof: In State of West Bengal v. Orilal Jaiswal, AIR 1994 SC 1418 Supreme Court held that proof is the effect of evidence. It is considered with establishment of material facts in issue in each particular case by proper legal means to the satisfaction of the court by evidence, admissions, presumptions, judicial notice, etc. Such proof does not mean rigid mathematical demonstration but it must be such as would induce a man of ordinary prudence to come to a conclusion.

Standard of Proof: The standard of proof in civil and criminal cases are different. In a civil case a mere preponderance of probability is sufficient basis of decision, on the other hand, in criminal cases a much higher degree of proof is needed before a person is convicted and his guilt must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. In criminal cases the accused is always presumed to be innocent until the prosecution proves him guilty and the evidence must exclude every reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused.

Author & Former Judge

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