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WHEN THERE IS NO ORIGINAL DOCUMENT – TO PRODUCE SECONDARY EVIDENCE OF DOCUMENT ONE MUST FOLLOW SEVERAL PROCEDURAL LEGAL ASPECTS IN DOCUMENTS AND ITS CERTIFICATION. WITHOUT THAT IT IS ILLEGAL TO ASSUME AND PRESUME OVER DOCUMENTS

Section 65 of the Evidence Act provides that in cases where the originals have been destroyed or lost, the party may adduce any secondary evidence of the contents of the document. The words "any secondary evidence of the contents of the document is admissible" are very significant and clear enough to exclude any other construction to be placed on them. The word "any" indicates that the party can adduce any kind of secondary evidence. What are public documents is described in Section 74 of the Evidence Act. The definition of "certified copies" is to be found in Section 76 of the Evidence Act. That section provides that any public officer having custody of a public document which any person has a right to inspect, shall give that person, on demand, a copy of it on payment of the legal fees prescribed therefor together with a certificate written at the foot of such copy that it is a true copy of such document or part thereof as the case may he, and that such certificate shall be dated and subscribed by such officer with his name and official title and shall be sealed whenever/ such officer is authorized by law to make use of a seal and that such copies so certified shall be called as "certified copies". That clause 'of Section 65 of the Evidence Act which provides that "in case of (e) or (f) a certified copy of the document but no other kind of secondary evidence is admissible" seems to 'apply to a case in which a public document is still in existence on the public records, and that provision appears to have been intended to protect the originals of public records from the danger to which they would be subject by constant production of such documents in Courts in 'evidence, and the said, clause does not interfere with the general rule of evidence given in Clause (c) i.e., in cases where the original is destroyed or lost.

Regarding issuance of certified copy of public documents, Section 76 Indian Evidence Act reads as follows: "Every public officer having the custody of a public document, which any person has a right to inspect, shall give that person on demand a copy of it on payment of the legal fees therefor, together with a certificate written at the foot of such copy that it is a true copy of such documents or part thereof, as the case may be, and such certificate shall be dated and subscribed by such officer with his name and his official title, and shall be sealed, whenever such officer is authorized by law to make use of a seal; and such copies so certified shall be called certified copies."

Gurubasappa And Ors. vs Gurulingappa AIR 1962 Mys 246, ILR 1961 KAR 878 In deciding this question, it would be necessary to consider the true scope and effect of sections 91 and 92 of the Evidence Act. Chapter VI of the Evidence Act which begins with section 91 deals with the exclusion of oral evidence by documentary evidence, section 91 of the Act provides: "When the terms of a contract, or a grant, or of any other disposition of property, have been reduced to the form of a document, and in all cases in which any matter is required by law to be reduced to the form of a document, no evidence shall be given in proof of the terms of such contract, grant or other disposition of property, or of such matter, except the document itself, or secondary evidence of its contents in cases in which secondary evidence is admissible under the provisions herein before contained". The normal rule is that the contents of a document must be proved by primary evidence which is the document itself in original. Section 91 is based on what is described as best evidence rule. The best evidence about the contents of a document is the document itself and it is the production of the document that is required by section 91 in proof of its contents. In a sense the rule enumerated by section 91 can be said to be an exclusive rule inasmuch as it excludes the admission of oral evidence for proving the contents of a document except in cases where secondary evidence is allowed to be led under the relevant provisions of the Evidence Act. Section 92 of the Evidence Act runs as follows: "When the terms of any such contract, grant or other disposition of property, or any matter required by law to be reduced to the form of a document, have been proved according to the last section, no evidence of any oral agreement or statement shall be admitted, as between the parties to any such instrument or their representatives in interest, for the purpose of contradicting, varying, adding to or subtracting from, its terms". It is manifest that section 92 excludes the evidence of oral agreement and it applies to cases where the terms of a contract, grant or other disposition of property have been proved by the production of the relevant documents themselves under section 91 of the Act. In other words, after the document had been produced to prove its terms under section 91, the provisions of section 92 of the Act come into operation for the purposes of excluding the evidence of any oral agreement or the statement for the purpose of contradicting, varying, adding to or subtracting from its terms. It would be noticed that sections 91 and 92 are in effect supplementary to each other. Section 91 would be frustrated without the aid of section 92 and section 92 would be inoperative without the aid of section 91. Since section 92 excludes the admission of oral evidence for the purpose of contradicting, varying, adding to or subtracting from the terms of the document properly proved under section 91, it may be said that it makes the proof of the document conclusive of its contents. Like section 91, section 92 can be said to be based on best evidence rule.

Bhinka And Others vs Charan Singh 1959 AIR 960, 1959 SCR Supl. (2) 798 " The Court shall presume to be genuine every document purporting to be a certificate.......... which is by law declared to be admissible as evidence of any particular fact, and which purports to be duly certified by any officer -of the Central Government or of a State Government................................................ Provided that such document is substantially in the form and purports to be executed in the manner directed by law in that behalf. The Court shall also presume that any officer by whom any such document purports to be signed or certified, held, when he signed it, the official character which he claims in such paper ". Under this section a Court is bound to draw the presumption that a certified copy of a document is genuine and also that the officer signed it in the official character which he claimed in the said document. But such a presumption is permissible only if the, certified copy is substantially in the form and purported to be executed in the manner provided by law in that behalf.

C.H. Shah vs S.S. Malpathak And Ors. AIR 1973 Bom 14, Section 79 only raises a rebuttable presumption with regard to the genuineness of certified copies and that too only if they are executed substantially in the form and in the manner provided by law. ……………………..Section 79, as laid down by the Supreme Court in Bhinka's case already referred to above it must be shown that the certified copy was executed substantially in the form and in the manner provided by law. There would, therefore, be a check or safeguard in so far as the officer certifying it in the manner required by law would have to satisfy himself in regard to the authenticity of the original and in regard to the accuracy of the copy which he certifies to be a true copy thereof. On the other hand if the original of a public document is to be admitted in evidence without proof of its genuineness, there would be no check whatever either by way of scrutiny or examination of that document by an officer or by the Court.

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