EvidenceJudicial ExamLegal Notes

PCS (J) Notes: Evidence Act, Sec 14, State of mind, body or bodily feeling

 

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Facts showing- (a) The existence of any state of mind, such as intention [illus. 9i) & (j)], knowledge [illus. (a), (b), (c) & (d)], good faith [illus. (f), (g) & (h)], negligence [illus. (n)], rashness [illus. (k)], ill-will [iilus. (e)], or goodwill towards any particular person; or

(b) the existence of any state of body or bodily feeling, [illus. (i) & (m)]-

Are relevant when the existence of any such state of mind, or body, or bodily feeling is in issue or is relevant.

This section declares the facts, which show the existence of any state of mind, such as, intention, knowledge, negligence, good faith, ill-will, rashness, goodwill or  body, or bodily feeling are relevant when such state of mind or body or bodily feeling is in issue or relevant. What has to be kept inmind is that this section admits of evidence only to the extent of proving state of mind, body or bodily feeling and not to prove the existence of the fact in issue, for eg. In murder case this section would only admit as regards the state of mind of the accused and not as regards whether the murder was actually committed.

State of mind:

In most crimes as well as civil wrongs, the state of mind of the accused or of the defendant is an important of the offence. For eg. A person is liable for receiving stolen property (Sec 411 IPC) only if and if he had the  “knowledge” of the fact that the property in question was stolen. As per section 3, facts are either physical or psychological. The fact of his receiving stolen property can be seen through eyes by anybody present on the scene of the occurrence. But, whether he had the “knowledge” that the property was stolen is not possible for others to gauge. Psychological facts are the subject of consciousness and mind of a man is their seat. This mental state cannot be perceived y others. They themselves know it and can state them. If they themselves are allowed to state their state of mind, then most of the criminals would go unpunished. Even then, a man’s state mind is a matter of fact capable of proof. The state of mind cannot be established through direct proof, for example, through the testimony of witness: their existence can only be ascertained either by the confession of the person whose mind is their seat, or by presumptive inferences from physical facts.

This section does not seem to lay down any principle. It rather leaves the whole thing at the discretion of the court. The section says that in essence that when a state of mind has to be proved every fact from which it can be inferred is relevant. Thus evidence can be given to prove the mental state that the stolen property was received with knowledge that it was stolen, it may be shown that he was in possession of many other stolen articles or he was hiding them or was willing to sell the same away at a throw away price. The accused may show that he refused to sell below its natural price, as this would show his bonafide possession.

Intention- Illustration (i) & (j) deal with intention.

Knowledge- Illustration (a), (b), (c), (d)

Good faith/Bad Faith- Illustration (f), (g), (h)

Negligence- Illustration (n)

Rashness- Illustration (k)

Ill-will- Illustation (e)

Explanation 1: Illustration (o) & (p)

This explanation lays an important restriction upon this scope of the section as regards the state of mind. The explanation is to the effect that in order to prove a state of mind, evidence can be given of only such facts as will prove the state of mind not in general, but in reference to the particular matter in question. For example, where A is prosecuted for intentionally shooting down B, it may be shown that he previously attempted to shoot down the B in order to p[rove his guilty state of mind, but not of the fact that he is in the habit of intentionally shooting at people.

In case of R v. Prabhudas, (1874) 11 Bom 90, the accused was found in possession of a number of documents apparently forged or being prepared for the purpose. It was held not relevant in a prosecution for forging a promissory note as it would only show a tendency to commit crimes of a class and not an intention to commit the particular crime.

In Emperor v. Haji Sher Mohd. (1921) 52 Bom LR 214, the accused were charged under section 400, IPC for belonging to gang of habitual dacoits. The prosecution sought to prove that some of the accused had been previously convicted to theft or had been ordered to give security for good behaviour on the ground of being habitual thieves. It was held that the evidence was not admissible under section 14 because the offence of which the accused were being tried was particular one of belonging to a gang of dacioits and simple theft or bad livelihood would not show an intention to belong to a gang of dacoits. What has to be shown is a conduct of exact description and not of similar description.

The case that the court has to exercise is to see that when for the purpose of proving a particular state of mind, evidence is offered of other crimes in which the accused was  involved, they must be crimes of p[precisely the same kind with which the accused  is presently charged. Where the charge is that of intentional murder and robbery, instances of other dacoites by the same person would not be relevant, for they would not show an intention to cause the death of a particular person but where the charge is that of bogus transaction for imparting innocent looks to a shady deal, subsequent bogus transaction to cover up the earlier ones would be relevant as this would go to rebut the defence of a person mixed up in the transaction that his involvement was for an innocent purpose.

Evidence of previous convictions (Expn 2)

The second explanation says that where by virtue of the provisions in section 14 the previous commission of an offence by a person is relevant, the previous conviction of such person shall also be relevant to prove the particular state of mind or of body. Ordinarily previous convictions are not allowed to be brought before the judge for the year that they will unnecessarily prejudice his mind against the accused.  The record for previous conviction is  at best an evidence of bad character and section 54 excludes such evidence. Bad character proves neither the commission of offence nor the intention to commit it. In a case before the Supreme Court (Ram Lakhan Singh v. State of UP, AIR 1977 SC 1936) a witness told the trial court that the accused had been convicted for an earlier offence and that the belonged to a family of law breakers. Their lordship cautioned that such evidence should not have been admitted by the session Judge. But section 14 permits evidence of previous offences to be admitted whenever this is necessary to prove a particular state of mind or of body, and all that the second explanation says is that in such cases the previous conviction of the accused should also be relevant.

State of body or bodily feeling

Under this section, evidence can also be given of facts which state of a person’s body or bodily feeling can be inferred. In this regard, the statement of the affected person is a crucial, as he alone knows best of his body. The English case of Aveson v. Kinnaird, is a good illustration on the point as to show statements can give clue to bodily feelings. Illustration (m) is based on facts of this case. In this case there was an action upon a policy of life insurance on theof the plaintiff’s wife. She having died, the question was whether the statements, of the good health of the assured given at the time of affecting the policy were false. At about the time in question, she had received a visitor whom she had told in the course of casual conversation that she was in a bad state of health. The Court allowed the visitor to give evidence of this fact. The Court pointed out that statement wqas of her own account of the cause of action and of her bodily infirmity and she had made it unawares before she could contrive any statement for her own or her husband’s advantage and, therefore it was relevant.

Statement about one’s own bodily feeling are often of self-serving nature. Therefore, they should be taken into account with caution. And, section 21 provides that caution, according to which person is not permitted to prove his own statement as to the existence of any state mind or body unless the statement was made at about the time when such state of mind or body existed and it was accompanied by conduct rendering its falsehood improbable.

Similar facts, whether relevant

The Evidence Act does not make a mention of “similar facts”. However, there is nothing in the Act which prevents evidence of similar facts. But a note of caution has to be struck. Every case has to be tried on the basis of its own facts and not on the facts and decisions of other cases. A person charged with theft, the fact that he had been guilty of several thefts before, will not prove that he is guilty of present theft. Thus the evidence of similar facts, even if by the same person, is useless unless it has some probative value in reference to a fact in controversy.

As a general rule in order to prove that he accused is guilty of theft, the evidence of past or subsequent theft committed by him be are admissible, but with the following two limitations.

  1. Firstly, under the present section (section 14) similar occurrences are admissible only to the extent to show the state of mind of the accused and not to prove the existence of the fact in issue. Such similar facts can adduced in evidence only when the issue in question is the state of mind, that is, after the main fact in issue has been established (main issue is whether the theft was actually committed or not)
  2. And secondly, under the nest section 15 to overthrow the defence of the act ion question being a mere accident.

 

Where a man is on his trial for a specific crime such as forging a note or coin or receiving a stolen property, the issue is whether he is guilty of that particular act. To admit, therefore, as evidence against him to the effect that her is guilty of that particular act. To admit, therefore, as evidence against him to the effect that he forged notes or received stolen articles in the pasty is to introduce collateral fact. This cannot be done with the object of inducing the court to infer that because has committed a crime of similar description on other occasions he is to be presumed to have done the present act, but this evidence can be relied upon to establish to prove the criminal intent.

Illustration: A is charged of receiving stolen property knowing it to stolen. This offence is constituted of two facts:

  • That he received a stolen property, and
  • That at the time he received the property he knew it to be stolen. The fact that A was in possession of the stolen property. It has to ber proved by direct evidence. To prove that he received it with the “knowledge” of it being stolen; evidence may be led to the effect that at the same time A was in possession of many other stolen properties. Similar acts may be proved under section 14 to prove the state of mind of the accused, such as, intention, knowledge etc but they cannot be admissible to prove the commission of the actual act.

 

 

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