EvidenceEvidence LawLegal NotesRelevancy, Proof & Evaluation

PCS (J) Notes: Sec 7, Indian Evidence Act- Occasion, Cause, Effect, etc and Case Laws.

 

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Section 7 deals with a variety of facts such as those which constitute the occasion or cause of, or provide the opportunity for, the happening of the facts in issue or which show their effects.

The section thus provides for the relevancy of the following kinds of facts:

  1. Facts constituting the “Occasion”
  2. Facts which show the “Cause
  3. The “effects” of the principal facts;
  4. Facts which provide the “opportunity” for the happening of the principal fact, and
  5. Facts which constitute the “state of things” under wwwhich the principal facts happened.

 

Principle

This section is based on induction. The relevancy of facts is required to be ddetermined by human experience. What has been the effects of particular cause and what has been the constant cause of a particular effect in the past will be the same in the future. For Example, if a living being is cut on the ground necessarily there shall be bleeding and blood can be found at the place of occurance. Whenever a large quantity of human blood is found at any place by human experience it can be reasonably inferred that a human being has been injured. Thus, the bleeding is the effect of injury caused, and injury is the cause of bleeding. Similarly, when large number of trees are found to have fallen it shows that there must have been a storm. When tanks are filled with full water and rivers are found to be in spate it shows that there must have been a heavy rainfall.

In Spencer Cooper’s Case the body of the deceased was found in a tank. The question before the Court was whether the deceased had committed a suicide by jumping and drowning in the tank, or had been killed and then her body; was thrown into the tank? The stomach of the deceased did not contain any water. The prosecution tried to prove that a person who dies in water necessarily takes water into the belly. Whereas the defence counsel tried top prove that it is not necessary in all cases that the person dying in water must necessarily take water into the belly. Here the prosecution tried to prove by the general happenings of the world that a man drowned must have the water in stomach, whereas the other p[arty tried to prove that this general happening need not be present in all cases and that a man may be drowned and still may not have water in the stomach. These facts show the general “effect” of drowning.

Occasion

Evidence can always be given of set of circumstances which constitute the occasion for the happening of the principal fact. For Example, in R v. Richardson, the fact that the deceased girl was alone in her cottage at the time of the murder is relevant as it constituted the “occasion” for the murder. Illustration (a) to the section is also the same point. If a man claims that he was robbed of money on the occasion of a certain fair, he should be able to show that he had money with him, for otherwise, there would be no occasion to rob him. The fact that on the way he told one of his friends that he was going to the fair with the money would be relevant as this shows that he did have money with him.

Cause-

Cause” explains as to why a particular act was done. It helps the Court to connect a person with the act. The act in question must have been done by the person who had the cause for it. It, for example, a person is running short of money, that may “cause” him to take a loan. And if he denies the fact of the circumstances which became the cause of the loan. It has been held by the Calcutta High Court in Indian Airlines v. Madhuri Chowdhari, AIR 1965 Cal 252 that the report of an enquiry commission relating to an air crash is relevant under section 7 as establishment the “cause” of the accident.

Effect-

Every act leaves behind certain effects, which not only record the happening of the act, but al;so throw light upon the nature of the act. For Example, whether the  death of a particular person was caused bby suicide or by murder is often determined by looking at the effect of the event, for suicide and murder have different effects. One of the important facts which connect a person with the act in question is the footprints at the scene of the crime and the finger impression upon the objects that he might have touched, for example, in R. v. Richardson, where a young girl was killed in her cottage, the prints of the footsteps showed that they were those of a person who must have worn shoes, the soles of which had been newly mended and which had iron knobs or nail in them. This was one of the “effects” of facts in issue. The fact that the accused Richardon’s shoes corresponded exactly with the foot impression in dimension, shape of the foot, form of the sole and the number and position of the nails was relevant as it so surely established Richardon’s presence at the scene of the crime. Illustration (b) is on this point.

Opportunity-

The circumstances which provide an opportunity for the happening of a fact in issue are relevant. Often a person has to crave out for himself an opportunity to do the act in question. This may involve a break from the normal routine of his life. Evidence of opportunity thus becomes important as it shows that the act must have been done by the person who had the opportunity to do it. In R. v. Richardson, for example, the fact that Richardson left his fellow workers or about the time of the murder under the pretence of going to a Smith’s shop was relevant as this gave the accused this “opportunity”.

Illustration © speaks of a death caused by poisoning. The fact that the accused knew that habits of the accused which facilitated the poisoning is relevant. The illustration is close to the facts of R. v. Conellan. In this case the deceased suffered from a trifling ailment, for which he occasionally took a laxative draught. The draught was usually served by his mother. The accused knew all this and also the time at which it was usually served. He accordingly replaced the bottled with a bottle containing the poison. The mother innocently administered poison to her son of which he died. The fact of the accused’s knowledge the deceased’s habit was held to be relevant as it afforded an “opportunity” to the accused.

State of things- The facts which constitute the state of things under which or in the background of which the principal facts happened are relevant. This category of facts, as enumerated in section 7 would allow evidence of the state of relations between the parties, and, in the case of murder, the state of the health of the deceased and his habits, etc. in the Ratten v. Regina, (1971) RLR 930, for example, where the accused was prosecuted for shooting down his wife and he took the defense of accident, the fact that the accused was unhappy with his wife and was carrying on an affair with another woman was held to be relevant as it constituted the state of things in which the principal fact, namely, the shooting down, happened.

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