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PRESUMPTION OF GENUINENESS OF OLD DOCUMENTS DOES NOT APPLY TO CERTIFIED COPIES

Section 90 of the Evidence Act, lays down the presumption regarding signature and every other part of a thirty year old document to be in that person's handwriting by whom it purports to be signed and executed and permits raising of presumption of its due execution and attestation provided the document is produced from the custody which is proper in Court's view, in the circumstances of the case. The presumption under Section 90 is available and can be raised if thirty years old original document is produced. It does not apply where original is not produced. It does not apply to copy of document even namely the certified copy thereof.

Presumption under Section 90 does not apply to a copy or a certified copy even though thirty years old: but if a foundation is laid for the admission of secondary evidence under Section 65 of the Evidence Act by proof of loss or destruction of the original and the copy which is thirty years old is preduced from proper custody, then only the signature authenticating the copy may under Section 90 be presumed to be genuine. (Sri Lakni Baruan And Others vs Sri Padma Kanta Kalita & Ors AIR 1996 SC 1253.)

This section deals with the admissibility of ancient documents without proof in the usual manner. The rule is founded on Necessity and Convenience. It is extremely difficult and sometimes impossible to prove the handwriting or signature or execution of ancient documents after the lapse of many years. The words duly executed and attested merely mean execution and attestation according to the formalities prescribed by the law. It is therefore presumed that all persons acquainted with execution and of the documents, if any, are dead, and proof of those facts are dispensed with. The presumption relates to the execution of the document, i.e. signature, attestation, etc, in other words, its genuineness. Therefore, under Section 90 of the Indian Evidence Act, it can be presumed that the said Deed is duly executed and attested. The presumption so drawn only relates to the fact that the signature and every other part of such document, which purports to be in the handwriting of any particular person, is in that person's handwriting, and, in the case of a document executed or attested, and that the said document is duly executed or attested by such person. But, the proof of signature or handwriting does not establish that whatever is stated in the document is also correct. That must be proved like any other fact. That has to be proved not only by production of documents but by proving its contents as well. There is no presumption that the document has the legal effect it purports to have. It does not involve any presumption that the contents of the documents are true or that it had been acted upon. Such allegation has to be proved on adducing relevant evidence. It does not involve any presumption of correctness of every statement in it which may contain narratives of past events, or that the contents of the document are true, or that it has been acted upon. Though documents are declared admissible without proof, if produced from proper custody, the credit to be given to them depends on the discretion of the court, and the particular circumstances of each case. It has nothing to do with the question of their relevancy which must be determined in accordance with the rules regarding relevancy. Hence, no presumption under Section 90 of the Evidence Act, could be raised to the effect that the adoption recorded in the deed is proved, when the recitals in the documents show that the person who is adopted is not capable of being taken in adoption, and the deed is not executed by the person giving the boy in adoption. (Gangavva And Ors. vs Ningavva And Ors. ILR 2008 KAR 1667)

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