PRESUMPTION OF FACTS

By | September 24, 2016
Decision

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Section 114: Court may presume existence of certain facts– The Court may presume the existence of any fact which it thinks likely to have happened, regard being had to the common course of natural events, human conduct and public and private business, in their relation to the facts of the particular case.

Illustrations
The Court may presume. –

(a) that a man who is in possession of stolen goods soon after the theft is either the thief or has received the goods knowing them to be stolen unless he can account for his possession.
But the Court shall also have regard to such facts as the following, in considering whether such maxims do or do not apply to the particular care before it; as to illustration (a)- a shopkeeper has in his till a marked rupee soon after it was stolen, and cannot account for its possession specifically but is continually receiving rupee in the course of his business.

Presumption, meaning of. — A presumption is a rule of law that attaches definite probative value to specific facts or directs that a particular inference as to existence of one fact not actually known shall be drawn from a fact which is known and proved. It furnishes prima facie evidence of the matter of which it relates and relieves the party of the duty of presenting evidence until his opponent has introduced evidence to rubut the presumption. It raises such a high degree of probability in its favour that it must prevail unless clearly met and explained. Presumptions hold the field in the absence of evidence unless clearly met and explained. Presumption hold the filed in the absence of evidence but when facts appear presumptions go back. Presumptions may be either of law or fact and when of law may be either conclusive or rebuttable but when of fact are always rebuttable. Mixed presumption are those which are partly of law and partly of fact.

Court may presume the existence of certain facts.– If a fact is likely to have happen in the common course of natural events according to general human conduct, according to public and private business, in their relation to the facts of the particular case, the court may presume the existence of such fact. This section gives the courts very wide power. If a fact must happen in the ordinary course of events the court may presume it and the party denying its existence has to rebut it.

In a criminal case the burden of proof always lies on the prosecution, for the accused is to be presumed to be innocent. The illustration (a) is an exception to this general rule. This illustration lays down that as soon as it it has been established that the prisoner was found in possession of stolen goods shortly after they were stolen, it may be presumed that he is, either a thief or has received the goods knowing them to be stolen, unless he can account for his possession.
The presumption permitted by illustation (a) does not arise until the prosecution has established the following facts :–

(1) The ownership of the article — Before a presumption may be raised under illustration (a) against an accused to the effect that he is a thief or has received an article knowing it to be stolen, it must be proved that the article which was recovered from his possession, belonged to somebody else and was in his possession sometimes back.

(2) The commission of theft — The second ingredient to be proved by the prosecution in order to give rise to a presumption under illustration (a) is the proof of theft of the article recovered from the possession of the accused. The prosecution must prove that a theft was committed in respect of the property recovered from the possession of the accused.

In the case of Union Territory of Goa v. B. D. D’Souza and others, the accused was unable to give any evidence about the stolen things. The presumption can be made under Section 114. The accused were guilty under Section 411, I.P.C. But from the fact that the stolen article was recovered from the accused after one month of theft, it shall not be presumed that the accused had committed murder.

(3) Recent Possession — Mere recovery of stolen property from the possession of accused does not give rise to presumption under illustration (a). For presumption under illustration (a) the possession must be recent. The presumption permitted to be drawn under section 114, illustration (a) has to be read along with the important time factor. If article are found in the possession of a person soon after the theft, presumption of guilt may be permitted. But if a thing is recovered long after no presumption can be drawn.

Whether the possession is recent or not must be determined by the nature of the articles stolen. If the article is of a nature likely to pass from hand to hand, the periods elapsed between the committing of theft and the recovery must be very short. If the period is not very short no presumption can be raised that the person in possession is a thief, or that he received the article knowing it to be stolen. But if the article is of such a nature that it cannot change hands easily a longer period may be taken to be recent. In such cases the prosecution has to prove that the accused stole away the article himself or he received it knowing it to be stolen.
(4) Possession must be exclusive– In order to raise the presumption legitimately the possession of stolen property should be exclusive as well as recent. Finding of it on the person of the accused or in a locked up house in a room or in a box of which he kept and the key of which he was in exclusive possession would be a fair ground from raising the presumption under this illustration; but if the articles stolen were only found in house or in a room in which he lived jointly with others or in an open box to which others have access, no definite presumption of his guilt could be made.

In Trimbak v. State of M.P., court observed that, when the filed from which the ornaments were recovered was an open one, and accessible to all and sundry, it is difficult to hold positively that the accused was in possession of these articles. The fact of recovery by the accused is compatible with the circumstance of somebody else having placed the articles there and of the accused somehow acquiring knowledge about their hereabouts and that being so, the fact of discovery cannot be regarded as conclusive proof that the accused was in possession of these articles.
Conviction for offences other than theft on recovery.—

In Nagappa Dondiba v. State of Karnataka It was held that the recovery of ornaments of deceased which she was wearing before the murder, at the information of accused cannot connect the accused with murder unless some evidence to connect him with murder. No presumption of murder can be drawn under illustration (a)

Presumption of murder by recovery of article of deceased.– In Wasim Khan v. State of U.P., the question as to whether presumption should be drawn under section 114(a) is a matter which depends on the evidence and circumstances of each case. The nature of recovery, the matter of their acquisition by the owner , the manner in which the article were dealt with by the accused, the place of recovery, the length of period of recovery, the explanation of the accused or some of them. A recent and explained possession of stolen articles of deceased can be well be basis of presumption of murder.

Accused’s Explanation—

The following proposition regarding the burden of proof to criminal trial may be deduced from the decided cases.

(1) That in a criminal trial the onus of proving the main issue is always on the prosecution,

(2) that under illustration (a) to this section the Court may, but is not obliged to make the presumption therein mentioned,

(3) that even if the Court makes the presumption under illustration (a) the onus of the general issue is still on the prosecution,

(4) that it is not the law that if the accused fails to account for his possession of the goods alleged to be stolen, he must be convicted, if the other proved facts of the case do not prove his guilt,

(5) that the accused is entitled to acquittal if he can give explanation which were reasonably true although the court may not be convinced of its truth.

(6) that the accused is not required to prove his explanation by adducing evidence,

(7) that the accused need not give any explanation unless he is asked to account for his possession.

Author: Mayank Shekhar

Mayank is a student at Faculty of Law, Delhi University. Under his leadership, Legal Bites has been researching and developing resources through blogging, educational resources, competitions, and seminars.