Presumption as to documents

February 1, 2024


In the realm of legal proceedings, the admissibility and weight given to documentary evidence play a pivotal role in establishing facts and reaching just conclusions. One crucial aspect of this process is the legal concept known as “Presumption as to Documents,” as stipulated in the Evidence Act. This provision is designed to streamline the evidentiary process, providing a framework for the admissibility and interpretation of various types of documents presented during legal proceedings.

Nature and Scope:

Presumption as to documents is primarily governed by Sections 79 to 90 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. These sections outline the presumptions that the courts may draw regarding the genuineness, authenticity, and accuracy of certain documents, thereby facilitating a more efficient and reliable adjudication process.

Presumption of Genuineness (Section 79): Section 79 of the Evidence Act establishes a presumption of genuineness for certain documents that satisfy specific conditions. When a document is produced from proper custody, and it is in a condition that creates no suspicion, the law presumes that it is genuine. This presumption serves as a practical tool for the courts in accepting documents that have been maintained in an appropriate manner. In Ram Chandra Agarwal v. Anandilal Podar (AIR 1954 SC 44) the Supreme Court emphasized that Section 79 creates a strong presumption of genuineness when a document is produced from proper custody and is in a condition that arouses no suspicion. The court elucidated that this presumption is not lightly to be displaced and requires clear and cogent evidence to the contrary.

Presumption as to Certified Copies (Section 80): Section 80 deals with the presumption regarding certified copies of public documents. It presumes that a certified copy of a public document is accurate and genuine unless proven otherwise. This provision simplifies the evidentiary process, particularly in cases involving official records and public documents. In Koteswara Rao v. S. Venkateswara Rao (AIR 1983 SC 984) , the Supreme Court affirmed the presumption under Section 80 regarding certified copies of public documents. It held that such copies are presumed to be genuine, and the onus to prove otherwise lies on the party challenging their authenticity. This decision reinforced the importance of relying on certified copies in legal proceedings.

Presumption as to Documents Thirty Years Old (Section 90): Section 90 introduces a special provision regarding the admissibility of documents that are thirty years old or more. According to this section, if a document is produced from the custody which the court considers proper, it is presumed to be genuine, and no further proof of its execution is required. This presumption recognizes the difficulty of producing original documents after a significant lapse of time and ensures that aged documents are not unduly burdened with stringent evidentiary requirements. In Kalevath Sankunny v. Subramania Iyer (AIR 1969 SC 575) the Supreme Court emphasized the significance of Section 90 by holding that when dealing with documents over thirty years old, if the document is produced from proper custody, the court may presume its genuineness without requiring further proof of its execution. This decision underscores the practical approach courts take when dealing with aged documents.

Application in Legal Practice:

In the day-to-day practice of law, understanding and strategically utilizing the presumptions outlined in the Evidence Act can significantly impact the outcome of a case. Lawyers often leverage these presumptions to simplify the burden of proof, especially when dealing with documents that fall within the ambit of Sections 79 to 90.


Presumption as to documents in the Evidence Act serves as a valuable tool in the administration of justice, streamlining the process of admitting and interpreting documentary evidence. By recognizing the practical challenges associated with proving the authenticity of documents, these legal presumptions contribute to the efficiency and fairness of legal proceedings. As legal professionals navigate the complexities of evidentiary rules, a thorough understanding of these presumptions becomes an essential aspect of effective advocacy and judicial decision-making.

Leave a Comment