Report No. 77
3.8. Means of proof.-
The various means of proof were classified as human or divine. The human means of proof were sub-divided into documents witnesses and possession. There is the famous text of Yajnavalkya1 enumerating three means of proof. There were even directions for comparison of handwriting.2 In the absence of human proof, divine proof (orders) supplied the deficiency.3
After evidence had been led, a decision had to be rendered on the basis of certain recognised principles. These principles are enumerated in some of the smritis4 as eight-fold, namely, the three means of proof5 (pramanas), logical inference, the usage of the country, oaths and ordeals, the edict of the king and the admissions of the litigants. The successful party was entitled to a jayapatra (document of success). Rendering of the judgment represented the fourth and the last stage of the law suit.6 Several modes of execution were known.7 These included, inter alia, imprisonment, sale, demand for additional security and fine.
1. Yajnayalkya, 11, 22 (100 A.D.-300 A.D.); Kane History of Dharmasastras, Vol. 3, p. 304.
2. Vishnu, VIII, 12; M.K. Sharan Court Procedure in Ancient India, (1978), p. 96.
3. Yajnavalkya, 11, 22.
4. Sukra, IV, 5.271; Kane History of the Dharmasastra, Vol. 3, p. 379.
5. Documents, witnesses and possession.
6. Kane History of the Dharmasastra, (1972), Vol. 3, pp. 260 and 379.
7. M.K. Sharan Court Procedure in Ancient India, (1978), p. 183.