Updated: Aug 25, 2020


“Proved”. –– A fact is said to be proved when, after considering the matters before it, the Court; either believes it to exist, or considers its existence so probable that a prudent man ought, under the circumstances of the particular case, to act upon the supposition that it exists.

SCOPE : The expression 'proved' is defined under Section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act and that definition applies to civil and criminal cases.


In Vijayee Singh v. State of U.P, (1990) 3 SCC 190, the Supreme Court explained the principle of Section 3 as under: ". ...Section 3 while explaining the meaning of the words "proved", "disproved" and "not proved" lays down the standard of proof, namely, about the existence or non-existence of the circumstances from the point of view of a prudent man.

· The Section is so worded as to provide for two conditions of mind,

ü first, that in which a man feels absolutely certain of a fact, in other words, "believe it to exist" and

ü secondly in which though he may not feel absolutely certain of a fact, he thinks it so extremely probable that a prudent man would under the circumstances act on the assumption of its existence.

· The Act while adopting the requirement of the prudent man as an appropriate concrete standard by which to measure proof at the same time contemplates of giving full effect to be given to circumstances or condition of probability or improbability. It is this degree of certainty to be arrived where the circumstances before a fact can be said to be proved.

· What is required is production of such materials on which the court can reasonably act to reach the supposition that a fact exists.

· Proof of the fact depends upon the degree of probability of its having existed.

· The standard required for reaching the supposition is that of a prudent man acting in any important matter concerning him.

Fletcher Moulton L.J. in Hawkins v. Powells Tillery Steam Coal Co.Ltd., (1911) 1 K.B. 988 observed like this: “Proof does not mean proof to rigid mathematical demonstration, because that is impossible; it must mean such evidence as would induce a reasonable man to come to a particular conclusion”

In reaching the conclusion the court can use the process of inferences to be drawn from facts produced or proved. Such inferences are akin to presumptions in law.

Law gives absolute discretion to the court to presume the existence of any fact which it thinks likely to have happened. In that process the court may have regard to common course of natural events, human conduct, public or private business vis-a-vis the facts of the particular case. The discretion is clearly envisaged in Section 114 of the Evidence Act.

In R. Puthunainar Alhithan v. P.H. Pandian, (1996) 3 SCC 624, the Supreme Court held that an inference from the proved facts must be so probable that if the Court believes, from the proved facts, that the facts do exist, it must be held that the fact has been proved. The inference of proof of that fact could be drawn from the given objective facts, direct or circumstantial.

SETTLED PRINCIPLE ON QUALITY OF “PROOF” IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL CASE : It is now well settled that though the definition of the expression "proved", is the same in Sec.3 for both civil and criminal trials, the law unquestionably and indisputably demands that there must be proof beyond doubt in a criminal case; whereas proof by the test of balance of probabilities is sufficient in a civil trial. On this aspect also there is no question or dispute at all. Both schools of thought accept that in a criminal case there must be proof beyond doubt; whereas in a civil case proof by the test of balance of probabilities is sufficient.

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