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Question: What is the difference between burden and onus? What are presumptions in the case of burden of proof as to ownership and proof of good faith?Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [What is the difference between burden and onus? What are presumptions in the case of burden of proof as to ownership and proof of good faith?]AnswerThe concepts of burden of proof and onus of proof in the context of the Indian Evidence Act can be understood as follows: Burden of Proof:...

Question: What is the difference between burden and onus? What are presumptions in the case of burden of proof as to ownership and proof of good faith?

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [What is the difference between burden and onus? What are presumptions in the case of burden of proof as to ownership and proof of good faith?]

Answer

The concepts of burden of proof and onus of proof in the context of the Indian Evidence Act can be understood as follows:

Burden of Proof:

The burden of proof is a fundamental principle in criminal jurisprudence, but it is not explicitly defined in the Indian Evidence Act. It essentially means the responsibility of proving a fact in a case. Section 101 of the Indian Evidence Act states that whoever wants a court to decide a legal right or liability based on certain facts they assert must prove the existence of those facts. In simpler terms, if you make a claim in a legal case, it's your responsibility to provide evidence to support that claim.

For instance, in a theft case, the prosecution must prove that all the conditions required to constitute theft have been met. These conditions are the facts in issue, and the obligation to prove them is the burden of proof.

There are two key principles related to the burden of proof:

Onus Probandi: This principle states that the burden of proof generally falls on the party making an affirmative claim. In other words, if you allege something, you must prove it.

Factum Probans: This principle is about proving a fact. It's the process of presenting evidence to establish the truth of a particular fact.

Onus of Proof:

The term "onus of proof" is not explicitly defined in the Evidence Act, but it is discussed in the Act and through court judgments. In criminal law, there's a general rule that the prosecution has the duty to prove the burden in a case. However, there is an exception when the accused is required to prove their case, and this is known as the onus of proof shifting to the accused. The onus of proof refers to the burden of producing actual evidence, which can shift from one party to another during the course of a legal proceeding. This shifting of the burden is a continuous process as evidence is presented.

Section 102 of the Indian Evidence Act clarifies that in a suit or proceeding, the burden of proof lies on the person who would fail if no evidence were given on either side. For example, if A sues B for land that B is in possession of and claims it was left to A by the will of C, B's father, the burden of proof is on A because if no evidence is presented by either side, B would be entitled to retain possession.

Difference Between Burden of Proof and Onus of Proof:

The key difference between the two lies in their nature and application:

a) Burden of Proof remains constant and falls on the party asserting a fact from the beginning of the case.

b) Onus of Proof is about the burden of producing actual evidence, and it can shift between parties during the course of a legal proceeding.

In the case of Anil Rishi v. Gurbaksh Singh, Appeal (civil) 2413 of 2006, it was observed that a distinction exists between a burden of proof and onus of proof. The right to begin follows onus probandi. It assumes importance in the early stage of a case. The question of onus of proof has greater force, where the question is which party is to begin.

Concept of Presumptions under the Burden of Proof

The concept of presumptions under the burden of proof in the legal context involves making certain conclusions about the existence of specific facts. These presumptions are exceptions to the general rule that the party asserting the existence of particular facts bears the initial burden of proving them. Presumptions essentially relieve the party in whose favor they apply from the responsibility of proving those facts.

Presumptions play a crucial role in legal proceedings by streamlining the burden of proof and helping to establish a fair and efficient judicial process. They provide a framework for determining how evidence is considered and how the burden of proof may shift throughout the course of a case.

Presumptions can be categorized into three types: factual presumptions, legal presumptions, and mixed presumptions. For instance, when a certified copy of an original document is presented in court, the law presumes that this copy is an authentic reproduction of the original document, as outlined in Section 79 of the Act. Similarly, Section 85 of the Act establishes that when a power of attorney is presented in court, it is presumed to be issued by a genuinely authorized person.

In cases where the prosecutor successfully establishes specific facts, the court is required to acknowledge their existence and rely on these circumstances. In essence, after the court is satisfied with the prosecution's case, the burden of proof shifts to the accused, as the accused is typically the one with knowledge of all the events and actions involved in the case.

In cases involving ownership and proof of good faith, there are certain presumptions that come into play. Here are the relevant provisions:

a. Presumption as to ownership (Section 110 of the Indian Evidence Act):

Section 110 of the Indian Evidence Act deals with the presumption of ownership of certain property like stolen goods. It states that when property that has been stolen in the possession of a person shortly after the theft, the court may presume that the person either stole the property or received it knowing it to be stolen, unless the accused can provide a reasonable explanation for their possession of the property. The burden of proof is on the accused to show that they came into possession of the property lawfully.

This means that if a person is found in possession of recently stolen property, the law presumes that they are the thief or at least knew that the property was stolen unless they can prove otherwise.

b. Presumption of good faith (Section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act):

Section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act deals with the presumption of good faith. It states that the court may presume the existence of good faith in transactions in which parties are dealing with each other in the ordinary course of business, or when a person has possession of stolen property and can show that they acquired it in good faith.

This means that when a person is involved in a business transaction or is in possession of property, and they claim that they acted in good faith, the court may presume that they indeed acted in good faith unless there is evidence to the contrary. The burden of proof may shift to the opposing party to prove that the person did not act in good faith.

In both cases, the presumption is not absolute, and it can be rebutted by evidence to the contrary. The Indian Evidence Act provides for these presumptions to facilitate the process of proving ownership and good faith in certain situations, but the final determination depends on the facts and evidence presented in the specific case. If the accused can provide a reasonable explanation or evidence to counter these presumptions, it may impact the outcome of the case.

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Mayank Shekhar

Mayank Shekhar

Mayank is an alumnus of the prestigious Faculty of Law, Delhi University. Under his leadership, Legal Bites has been researching and developing resources through blogging, educational resources, competitions, and seminars.

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