The expression ‘Relevancy of a fact’ is not defined under the Indian Evidence Act. Section 3 of the Act only defines ‘relevant fact’ as one fact is relevant to another when one is connected to the other in the manner provided under Section 6 to 55 of the Act. Thus, this definition also does not clarify what are relevant facts and what is relevancy. In general, relevant facts are those facts which are so connected with the fact in issue framed between the parties which suggest an inference as to the existence or non-existence of fact in issue.

Meaning of relevancy: According to Phipson, relevancy denotes connection of two events as cause and effect. So, relevancy denotes connection between two facts such that the existence of one fact renders the existence of other fact probable or improbable. This is called logical relevancy based on deductive reasoning. Relevancy is that attribute of the fact that it is related to fact in issue or relevant fact in one or the other way specified in Indian Evidence Act.

However, the Indian Evidence Act does not recognize all facts which are logically relevant. It allows the party to prove only those facts which are expressly declared as relevant under Section 6 to 55 of the Act. Section 5  of the Act makes it very clear that evidence is to be given only for fact in issue and relevant fact and of no others. So, only legally relevant facts, are allowed to be proved and not logically relevant fact. All facts which are logically relevant may not be legally relevant. Whatever is legally relevant is also logical relevant but not vice versa. For example, confession made to a police office may appear to be logically relevant but it is not legally relevant. Question of relevancy is a question of law which is decided by the judge and it can be raised at any stage in the proceedings.

Admissibility of fact: Unlike relevancy of fact which explains what may be proved by the parties, admissibility on the other hand, is based on strict legal rules rather than logical reasoning. It relates to the permissibility of the evidence to prove a particular fact in any proceeding.

It provides the mode of proving fact in issue or relevant fact. It declares whether certain types of evidences are admissible or are to be excluded for instance, Section 5 of the Act provides that evidence for proving only fact in issue and relevant fact are allowed and for no others. This proposition is further strengthened by reading Proviso to Section 165 which provides that the judgment of the court should be based on relevant facts duly proved.

Further Section 136 of the Act provides that the court shall admit any evidence and allow it to be duly proved if it is satisfied that the fact, if duly proved, would be relevant. Thus, by reading these provisions, it appears that all admissible facts are necessarily relevant.

Admissibility presupposes relevancy. Admissible evidence should be received by the court unless there is a legal reason for its rejection. Facts should not be received in evidence unless it is both relevant and admissible. The question of relevancy arises with the question of admissibility of evidence i.e. if in a trial a party proposes to prove a particular evidence that would be a question of admissibility of evidence but answer to that question would depend upon the question as to whether the fact sought to proved is relevant or not and later that relevant fact will be admissible only if it has been duly proved. Thus, if we start from Section 5 it states the evidence can be given only of fact in issue or relevant fact as given from Section 6-55 of the Act. Thus if any person wishes to adduce any evidence then he has to prove that that evidence is either the fact in issue or is a relevant fact.

Its manifestation is found in Para I of Section 136 also which provides that whenever any party proposes to give the evidence then the judge may ask that party to show that in what manner the evidence  he proposes to give, if proved, would be relevant and may allow it only if he thinks that evidence, if proved, would be relevant.

Further Para 2 of Section 136 provides that if the party proposes to prove a fact is depended on some other fact & will be relevant only if that  other fact is proved. In such a case court shall require the party to prove that other fact first on which the fact of which he proposes to give evidence, is depended. For example if in a case, any person wishes to give evidence of dying declaration then he should first prove the fact of death of A as dying declaration will be a relevant fact only when A is dead. Hence, if the fact of death of A cannot be proved then court will not allow the evidence of dying declaration as this fact will not be relevant if the other fact cannot be proved. Though it permits the proving of the second fact first upon an undertaking [see illustration (a) or (b)]

Para 3 of Section 136 provides that when one alleged fact depends on other alleged fact being first proved then the judge may in his discretion permit or require any of the evidence to be given first. The difference between Para 2 and Para 3 is that in Para 3 both the facts are alleged fact & one of such alleged fact depends on other alleged fact. [see illustration (c) & (d)]

Even further Section 165 proviso provides that judgment must be based upon facts declared by this Act to be relevant and duly proved. This section thus mandates two requirements. Firstly, judgment can be based upon relevant fact only and secondly, such relevant fact must be duly proved. Thus, when the party who proposes to adduce evidence has proved that that evidence is relevant in said matter then he is further required to duly prove that relevant fact. Thus that relevant fact will be taken into account in judgment only when that relevant fact is duly proved and even after proving relevancy of a fact, if that fact cannot be duly proved then that fact will not be taken into account in judgment.

Author & Former Judge

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