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Res Gestae Evidence Act

Updated: May 18

Res Gestae in Indian Evidence Act


Understanding Res Gestae

According to Section 6 of the Indian Evidence Act, facts that, though not directly under consideration, are intricately linked to a fact in question, forming part of the same event, remain relevant regardless of whether they transpired at the same time and location or at different instances and venues.

The underlying principle of this section suggests that whenever an event, such as a contract or a criminal act, is the focal point, evidence can be presented regarding every detail that constitutes part of that event.

  • A "transaction" denotes a sequence of actions so interrelated that they can be collectively identified under a single term, such as a contract or a crime.

Broadly, a transaction could be described as any physical action or series of connected actions, accompanied by the words uttered during such actions.

  • A 'transaction' might involve a single occurrence unfolding over a brief period or a collection of events spanning a more extended duration, occurring at various times and places.

For disparate acts to form part of the same transaction, they must be linked by factors such as proximity in time or place, continuity of action, or a shared purpose or design.

Understanding a transaction comprehensively requires knowledge of all its constituent elements, rather than viewing them in isolation from one another.


Res Gestae and Evidence Act

Res Gestae refers to facts that constitute part of a transaction, often described by English and American writers as actions done in the course of an event. The instances outlined in illustrations (a) to (d) are all examples of Res Gestae.

The term Res Gestae aligns with the 'facts' mentioned in Section 6. However, it is also used in various other senses, such as equivalent to the fact in issue, details of the fact in issue, and the fact in issue along with surrounding circumstances.

According to Taylor, this expression encompasses everything reasonably considered as an incident of the event under consideration. Thus, Res Gestae comprises those circumstances that are the spontaneous and inherent incidents of a particular act, speaking for themselves rather than relying on what people say about the acts.

Circumstantial facts are accepted as part of Res Gestae, forming part of the original proof of what transpired. Statements may accompany physical events. For example, an injured person is likely to cry naturally.

In the case of an accident occurring in a public place, bystanders may engage in mutual conversation about the incident. The extent to which such statements can be considered part of the transaction depends on several guidelines:

  1. Spontaneous and simultaneous utterances are considered part of the transaction, such as what a person says during an event concerning the event itself.

  2. Statements must be contemporaneous with the fact, made either "during or immediately before or after its occurrence," and of a nature that lets the event speak for itself, not relying on what people say about the event. The words must be recent.

  3. If a statement is made after the act concludes and the maker has had time for reflection or deliberation (potential fabrication), or if it merely narrates past events, it is not relevant. The statement should be an exclamation "forced out of a witness by the emotion generated by an event" (G. Vijayavardhan Rao v State of A.P. AIR 1996 SC 2971).

  4. The statement must be a statement of fact, not an opinion.

Principle of Res Gestae

The principle of res gestae admits those facts that fall under the technical expression of res gestae, which encompasses actions and words spoken in the course of a transaction.

However, these facts must "form part of the same transaction." If the facts are indeed part of the transaction under inquiry, their evidence should not be excluded. The determination lies in whether these facts genuinely constitute part of the transaction before the court or if they are too remote to be considered integral to it.

A transaction refers to a series of connected facts that can be collectively referred to by a single legal term, such as a crime, a contract, or any other subject under investigation.

Roughly speaking, a transaction can be defined as any physical act or series of connected physical acts, accompanied by the words spoken during such acts. Every fact that is part of the same transaction as the fact in issue is considered relevant to the fact in issue, even if it is not directly in issue.

These facts may be admitted as evidence of the original occurrence, although they might be excluded as hearsay if they were not part of the same transaction. Acts performed at different times and places may still form part of the same transaction.

A key consideration is whether the statement or act was a spontaneous reaction of a person witnessing the event and thus forming part of the transaction. The statement must be substantially contemporaneous with the fact and not merely a narration of a prior event.

The court must satisfy itself that the statement was made in circumstances of spontaneity or involvement in the event to disregard the possibility of fabrication.

Case Laws

In the case of Rattan v Regina, Lord Wilberforce articulated a more rational approach to this doctrine, emphasising the need for close association in place and time, as well as the intrinsic spontaneity of the statement or act.

This aspect of the doctrine was applied in subsequent cases like Rattan Singh v State of HP, where statements made by the victim before her death were considered part of the transaction and relevant under section 6.

In its ordinary sense, a transaction refers to a business or dealing conducted between two or more persons.


Facts Forming Part of Same Transaction

Facts that are part of the same transaction are relevant, including statements made by bystanders witnessing the transaction. These statements are deemed relevant if they are made while the transaction is ongoing or so shortly before or after it as to be considered part of the same event.

For example, in a trial where A was accused of murdering B by shooting him, the fact that a person in the room with B saw someone with a gun pass a window into the room and exclaimed "there's Butcher" (a name by which A was known) was considered relevant.

In another case, the only evidence against an accused charged with causing grievous hurt was a statement made by the injured person to a third party immediately after the offence, in the presence of the accused, who did not deny the act at the time.

This evidence was deemed admissible under this section and Section 8, Illustration (g).

Similarly, in a prosecution involving the murder of a wife by her husband, father-in-law, and mother-in-law, the wife cried out for help upon being pushed into a room, and her children playing outside in the verandah exclaimed simultaneously that their mother was being killed. The exclamations of the children were admitted through the testimony of individuals who heard them.

Facts not so connected as to form part of same transaction

Statements of persons injured by burns in a bus fire, recorded by a Magistrate under the expectation of death, were deemed irrelevant due to the time gap between the incident and the recording of the statements.

In a murder case where a man killed his wife and daughter, evidence was presented that the wife's father received a phone call from the accused's father stating that his son was responsible for the deaths.

However, this communication was deemed irrelevant under Section 6 as there was no indication that it occurred immediately after the crime to form part of the same transaction.

Similarly, in a case where a husband was prosecuted for torturing his wife, witnesses testified about what the deceased told them regarding the torture and harassment.

The court ruled that such testimony lacked connection with the circumstances of the transaction leading to her death and was not admissible under Section 32.


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