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Admissions Evidence Act

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Admissions under Indian evidence act

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Understanding Admission in Evidence Act

An "admission" denotes a statement of fact that relinquishes or obviates the need for evidence by acknowledging the truth of the opponent's assertion.


Admissions find acceptance because a party's conduct in a proceeding, whether through actions, speech, or written statements, which blatantly contradicts the truth of their argument, constitutes a relevant fact to the dispute.


Admissions are considered a relatively weak form of evidence, and the court retains the discretion to dismiss them if it finds, based on other circumstances, that they are untrue.

 
 

Case Laws

Admissions in Evidence act come in various forms; they are deemed to be on record if they appear in pleadings, responses to interrogatories, or are inferred from the pleadings due to non-traversal (Uttam Singh Duggal & Co. Ltd. v United Bank of India AIR 2000 SC 2740). 


However, a statement that resembles an admission on a mixed question of fact and law cannot be classified as an admission under Section 17, as only admissions of fact bind the maker, not those regarding questions of law (Ram Bharose Sharma v Mahant Ram Swaroop (2001) 9 SCC 471).


Merely admitting to putting a thumb impression or signature on a document without knowledge of its nature and contents does not equate to admitting the execution of the document. Such admissions at best imply inferences.


The court must thoroughly scrutinise the statement, ensuring it is clear, unequivocal, and comprehensive, without any doubt or ambiguity. Moreover, it's imperative to consider the statement in its entirety.


Although statements made in a book are not deemed conclusive admissions, they can serve as additional circumstances when considered alongside other evidence (Karan Singh (Dr.) v State of J&K (2004) 5 SCC 698).


For instance, in this case, a statement in a book authored by the claimant indicated that valuable articles in the State Treasury belonged to his father, Maharaja Hari Singh.


If a party's admission does not encompass all the evidence required for legal proof of a fact in issue, it constitutes only a partial admission (M.M. Chetti v Coomaraswamy AIR 1980 Mad. 212).


For example, when a person seeks exemption under an Urban Land Ceiling Act, it doesn't imply admission that the land in question falls under the Act's purview, as the court may determine that the Act doesn't apply to the land.



Reasons for the Admissibility of Admissions


Admissions are considered relevant evidence due to following factors:


Waiver of Proof: When a party admits a fact, it eliminates the need to prove that fact against them, serving as a waiver of proof.


However, admissions are inherently weak evidence, and the court retains the authority to reject them wholly or partially, or to demand further proof. Hence, waiver of proof alone cannot solely justify the relevance of an admission.


Statement Against Interest: Admissions in evidence actrepresent statements against the interest of the maker, which lends them credibility. It's improbable for someone to voluntarily make a false statement against their own interest.


Nonetheless, Section 17 doesn't mandate that a statement must be detrimental to the maker; it also encompasses self-serving statements.


Evidence of Contradictory Statements: Admissions can serve as evidence of contradictory statements, discrediting the party's case.


However, it's worth noting that a party can establish all statements made by their opponent regarding the case facts, and they don't necessarily have to be inconsistent with their own case.


Evidence of Truth: Perhaps the most widely accepted reason for the relevance of admissions is that any statements a party makes about the facts of the case, whether favourable or unfavourable to their interest, are deemed relevant as representations or reflections of the truth against them.


Essentially, what a party admits to be true can be presumed to be so.


Admissions as Hearsay


PARKE B, in examining the nature of admission evidence and distinguishing it from hearsay, articulated:


"The rule concerning the production of the best evidence does not apply here (regarding oral admissions about document contents). This rule is based on the assumption that a party will present inferior evidence than warranted by the case's nature.


However, statements made by a party to the suit do not suffer from that deficiency. Therefore, we believe it is a valid principle that admissions made by a party to a suit may be used against them."


There's no consensus on whether admissions should be classified as hearsay. A noted commentator remarked:


"Whether an admission constitutes an exception to the hearsay rule depends on one's definition of hearsay. If we define hearsay as an out-of-court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted, then an admission clearly falls within this definition.


It must be acknowledged that the rule admitting admissions predates the hearsay rule and is an essential element of the established doctrine that evidence of any relevant conduct of a party is admissible against them."


A passage from Wigmore on Evidence, which has been endorsed by the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court, elucidates:


"The concept behind the hearsay rule is that an extrajudicial assertion is excluded unless there has been an adequate opportunity to challenge the grounds of assertion and the credibility of the witness through cross-examination by the opposing party.


For instance, if Jones made an out-of-court statement, 'The party-opponent Smith borrowed fifty dollars,' Smith is entitled to cross-examine Jones on that assertion. However, if Smith himself made the out-of-court statement, 'I borrowed fifty dollars,' it would be absurd for Smith to demand an opportunity to cross-examine himself before his assertion is admitted against him.


Consequently, the objection based on the hearsay rule dissolves because the fundamental premise of the rule— the necessity and prudence of providing an opportunity for cross-examination—is absent."

 
 

Persons who can make admissions


Sections 18 and 19 indicate the individuals authorised to make admissions.


Section 18 outlines five categories of individuals capable of making admissions:


  1. Party to the proceeding: Any individual involved in the legal proceedings.

  2. Agent authorised by such party: An agent duly authorised by the aforementioned party.

  3. Party suing or sued in a representative character: Individuals acting on behalf of others in a representative capacity, making admissions while holding such representation.

  4. Person with proprietary or pecuniary interest: Individuals with a vested interest in the subject matter of the proceeding during the existence of said interest.

  5. Person from whom the parties derive their interest: Individuals from whom the parties involved in the suit have obtained their interest in the subject matter during the continuance of such interest.


Section 19 addresses admissions made by individuals whose position or liability must be established against any party to the suit:


Statements made by individuals whose position or liability needs verification against any party to the suit are deemed admissions if such statements would be relevant against them concerning their position or liability in a suit brought by or against them.


Additionally, these statements must be made while the individual making them occupies such a position or is subject to such liability.


Against Whom Admissions May be Proved


Section 21 establishes the general principle that admissions are relevant and admissible against the person who makes them or their representative in interest. However, for an admission to be utilised against the person making it, it must be clear and unambiguous.


Admissions serve as substantive evidence in their own right, as per Section 17 and Section 21, although they are not conclusive proof of the matters admitted.


Admissions, once duly proven, are admissible evidence regardless of whether the party making them testified or not, and irrespective of whether they were confronted with those statements during their testimony if they made contrary statements.


In certain circumstances, an admission may operate as an estoppel. The effect typically given to admissions is destructive rather than constructive.


Whether the admissions are true or not is immaterial; the crucial point is that they undermine the force of inconsistent statements made later.


A contractor's final bill, explicitly stating it as a final settlement of their claim under the contract, can be admitted against them as an admission of finality. However, the person against whom an admission is proved has the opportunity to demonstrate that it was mistaken or untrue.


If an admission is duly proven, and the person against whom it is proved fails to show it as mistaken or untrue, the court may decide the case accordingly. An erroneous admission doesn't bind the person making it.


An admission must be considered as a whole, but the court is not obligated to believe or disbelieve the statement in its entirety. An admission made by a party in a plaint signed and verified by them may be used against them in other suits, but it's not regarded as conclusive, and the party can challenge its truth.


The value of an admission depends on the circumstances in which it was made. If an admission in a pleading is subject to a condition, it must be either accepted subject to that condition or not accepted at all.


An admission is distinct from a former statement of a witness used to contradict them. While an admission can be proved without confronting the maker with their earlier statements, a prior statement of a witness is used to discredit their credibility and must be put to them as required by Section 145.


Exceptions

Admissions cannot be proven by or on behalf of the person who makes them, as individuals naturally tend to make statements favourable to themselves. For instance, a person's opinion on the valuation of their property under acquisition is deemed irrelevant due to this principle.


However, three exceptions are laid down in the section:


  1. Statements of deceased persons relevant in disputes between third parties—This exception allows a person to prove their own statement if the circumstances suggest that if they were deceased, the statement would have been relevant in a dispute between third parties.

  2. Explanation of state of mind or body or mental or bodily feeling—Under this exception, the state of a person's mind or body, relevant under Section 14, can be proven through statements narrating such facts indicating the state of mind or body. These statements should have been made at or around the time when such a state existed.

  3. Facts otherwise relevant—This exception stipulates that facts relevant under Sections 6 to 13 will not be rendered inadmissible simply because they may be proven on behalf of the person making them. For example, a person seeking exemption from the Urban Land Ceiling Act for their land is not considered to have admitted that the Act applies to their land, as the Act's application to a specific situation is a question of law.

 
 


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