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Report No. 185

Sections. 52 to 55:

These sections deal with relevancy of character and go together.

Section 52

It refers to the question as to when in civil cases, character to prove conduct imputed could be relevant or irrelevant. It reads:

"52. In Civil cases, the fact that the character of any person concerned is such as to render probable or improbable any conduct imputed to him, is irrelevant, except in so far as such character appears from facts otherwise relevant."

Section 146(3) and 155(4) also deal with relevance of character, but those sections relate to character of a witness.

So far as Section 155(4) of the Evidence Act is concerned, the Law Commission had recommended in its 172nd Report for deletion of this subsection. Pursuant to the said recommendation, Parliament has now enacted the Indian Evidnece (Amendment) Act, 2002 (Act 4 of 2003) omitting Section 155(4). However, we note that under the same amendment a proviso has been inserted below clause (3) of Section 146 as follows:

"Provided that in a prosecution for rape, or attempt to commit rape, it shall not be permissible, to put questions in the cross-examination of the prosecutrix as to her general immoral character."

Sarkar (ibid p. 963) states that the last part of the section, however, makes character relevant if the facts make it relevant and these exceptions are as follows:-

(1) Character as affecting damages in cases of defamation, seduction, breach of promise, adultery (see Section 55 and Section 12)

(2) Character of accused (Section 53 and Section 54).

(3) Character of prosecutrix (Section Section 155(4) and Section (54). (Here it may be noted that in the 172nd Report of the Law Commission, it was recommended that Section 155(4) be deleted).

(4) Character of witnesses (Section 146, 153, 155).

(5) Character of animals, places and things.

(6) Character as affecting state of mind.

The 69th report states (see ch. 20 p. 555) no change is necessary in Section 52.

We agree that no change is necessary in Section 52.

Review of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 Back

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