What is the main function of the Rule of Evidence?

The main function of rule of evidence is to narrow down the scope of dispute before the Court to the facts relating to that matter which have logical probative value in determining a fact and to prevent giving judgments based on illogical conclusions or prejudices and as an aid to the administration of justice. Broadly speaking, evidence has been classified in six categories i.e. (a) direct and indirect evidence or substantial evidence (b) primary and secondary evidence (c) oral and documentary evidence (d) real evidence (e) original and hearsay evidence and (f) presumptive evidence.

 “Direct evidence” means that the existence of a given thing or fact is proved either by its actual production or by testimony or demonstrable declaration of someone who has himself perceived it. “Direct evidence” is evidence which if believed establishes a fact in issue. It requires no mental process on the part of Tribunal of fact nor to draw conclusion sought by proponent of evidence other than acceptance of evidence etc. Direct evidence consists of either testimony of witnesses who perceived the facts or the production of documents which constitutes fact which is in question. Sometimes it is called original evidence arising from the personal knowledge of the witness. However direct evidence proves existence of facts in issue without any inference or presumption. There is another term “percipient evidence” which is a term given by some authors to direct evidence having a slightly distinct meaning. It is said that this term not only avoids any possibility of confusion but is also more appropriate to describe the opposite of hearsay evidence. “Percipient evidence” is evidence of fact which a witness personally perceives using any of his senses.

 “Indirect evidence” also known as substantial evidence is that which give rise to a logical inference that such fact exists. “Substantial evidence” may be either “conclusive” or “presumptive”. It is conclusive when there is connection between principal fact and the evidentiary fact. It is presumptive where facts rest on a greater or lesser degree of probability. The effect of substantial evidence on consideration must be such as not to admit more than one solution and must be inconsistent with any explanation that the fact is not proved. By direct or presumptive evidence one may say that other facts are disapproved from which existence of given facts may be logically inferred.

By indirect or presumptive evidence we mean that other facts are thus proved from which existence of given facts may be logically inferred. Substantial evidence consists of evidence of circumstances none of which speak directly to the facts in issue but from which those facts may be inferred. In cases where evidence is of substantial nature circumstances from which conclusion of a fact is to be drawn should in first instance be fully established and all the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of wrong doer. The circumstances should be of conclusive nature and they should be such so as to exclude every hypothesis but the one proposed to be proved. In other words there must be a chain of evidence so as to complete and not to leave any reasonable ground for conclusion consistent with effect and must be such as to show that within all human probability the act must be done by a person.

 It is the function of the Court to separate grain from chaff and accept the fact what appears to be true and reject the rest.

In Kundan Lal Rallaram v. Custodian, Evacueen Property, Bombay, AIR 1961 SC 1316, the Apex Court referring to Section 118 said that it prescribes a special rule of evidence applicable to negotiable instrument. The presumption contemplated thereunder is one of law and obliges the court to presume inter aila that negotiable instrument or endorsement was made or endorsed for consideration and burden of proof of failure of consideration is thrown on the maker of the note or the endorser, as the case may be. But this occasion would arise only when the execution of document is admitted. The question of consideration does not arise if the very execution of document is denied by the defendant. This is what was also held in Bharat Barrel and Drum Manufacturing Co. (supra). In para 12, the Apex Court said:

“Upon consideration of various judgments as noted hereinabove, the position of law which emerges is that once execution of the promissory note is admitted, the presumption under Section 118 (a) would arise that it is supported by consideration. Such a presumption is rebuttable.”