Report No. 185
Section 22 deals with the question as to when oral admissions as to contents of documents are relevant.
Section 22 says that "oral admissions as to the contents of a document are not relevant, unless and until the party proposing to prove them shows that he is entitled to give secondary evidence of the contents of such document under the rules hereinafter contained, or unless the genuiness of a document produced is in question."
Now the contents of the document are provable by the production of the document itself (sections 62, 64) except where secondary evidence is admissible under sections 65 and 66. This section lays down that the contents of a document cannot be proved by oral admissions unles.-
(1) the party proposing to give such evidence can make out a case for admission by secondary evidence under section 65, or
(2) the genuiness or forgery of the document itself is in question. In the latter case, oral admission of a party that it is or is not genuine is admissible if the document is produced, although such admission involves a statement as to the contents of it. Written admission of the contents of a document stands on a different footing and is admissible under section 65(b) (see Sarkar, 15th Ed., 1999 p. 406).
This rule is different from the rule in England asstated in Slatterie v. Pooley: (1840) M&W 669: (151 E.R. 579) under which admissions are receivable to prove the contents of documents without notice to produce and without accounting for the absence of the originals. This was criticized in Landless v. Quesak 8. Ir.L. R 382 and that was why the Indian law in section 22 was differently enunciated. The Privy Council too pointed out the dangerousness in accepting verbal admissions as to contents (Sheo Parshad v. Jaggar Nath (1884) 10. I.A. 79 (PC).
No doubt, the English Law remains the same even today (See Phipson, 15th Ed., para 28.04, 28.14 and 46.11).
There is some ambiguity in the last part of section 22 which the 69th Report proposed to correct (see para 9.74). In this context, we may refer to Sarkar's Evidence (15th Ed., 1999 p. 407) quoting Norton (p.153).
"The effect of the last clause of this section seems to be, that if such a document is produced, the admission of the parties to it, that it is or is not genuine, may be received."
We accordingly agree with the 69th Report that section 22 be redrafted as follows (see para 9.74).
"22. When oral admissions as to the contents of a document are not relevan.-
(a) unless and until the party proposing to prove them shows that he is entitled to give secondary evidence of the contents of such document under the rules hereinafter contained; or
(b) except where a document is produced and its genuineness is in question."
This section introduced by Act 21/2000 does not require any further amendments. We recommend accordingly.