Report No. 185
The section deals with 'presumption as to Gazettes, newspapers, private Acts of Parliament and other documents'. It reads as follows:
"81. The court shall presume the genuineness of every document purporting to be the London Gazette or any Official Gazette, or the Government Gazette of any colony, dependency or possession of the British Crown, or to be a newspaper or journal, or to be a copy of a private Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom printed by the Queen's printer and of every document purporting to be a document directed by any law to be kept by any person, if such document is kept substantially in the form required by law and is produced from proper custody".
We agree with the 69th Report (see para 39.3) that the presumption in respect of (1) London Gazette, (2) the Government Gazette of any Colony, dependency or possession of the British Crown and a private Act of the UK Parliament printed by the Queen's Printer must be confined to the period before 15.8.1947. (see the recommendation in Section 37 of the Act also).
So far as newspapers and journals are concerned the presumption is only about their genuineness but not about the truth of their contents (Bawa Sarup Singh v. The Crown: AIR 1925 Lah 299).
The words 'proper custody' are explained in Section 90, Explanation.
Judicial notice of notification of appointment of public officers appearing in Gazettes is referred to in Section 57 (cl.7). As to proof of proclamations, orders in council etc. by production of Gazettes, these are covered by Section 78. We shall refer to few recent cases after 1977.
The Supreme Court held that the Gazette of Bombay Presidency, Vol. III published in 1879 is admissible under Section 35 read with Section 81(Bala Shankar Maha Shankar Bhattjee v. Charity Commissioner AIR 1995 SC 175. Till a decision is published in Gazette, it may not travel beyond the knowledge of its author and will remain cloistered (Kashmiri Lal v. State of Punjab: AIR 1984 P&H 87.
In R.S. Nayak v. A.R. Antulay : AIR 1986 SC 2045, it was held that there must be an assumption that whatever is published in the Government owned paper correctly represents the actual state of affairs relating to Government business until the same is successfully challenged and the real state of affairs is shown to be different from what is stated in the Government publication. In Laxmi Raj Shetty v. State of Tamil Nadu AIR 1988 SC 1274 and S. Bangarappa v. G.N. Hegade : 1992 Cr. LJ 3788 (Karn), it was held that the presumption of genuineness stated in Section 81 to a newspaper report cannot be treated as proof of facts reported there.
The translated copy of a news item cannot be considered by the Court as a document in the absence of the newspaper. (Binod Kumar Jain v. Gauhati Municipal Corp.) (AIR 1994 Gauhati 96).
News item on Doordarshan and newspapers were held to be mere hearsay and could not be relied upon: (Nachhattar Singh v. State of Punjab) (1985 Crl LJ (NOC/115 (FB).
We agree with the 69th Report, that Section 81 should be amended as follows:-
For the words, "The Court shall presume the genuineness of every document purporting to be the London Gazette," the words "The Court shall presume the genuineness of every document dated or issued before the fifteenth day of August 1947,purporting to be the London Gazette," shall be substituted.