Report No. 60
3.31. Section 3(18)-definition of "document".-
We now come to the definition of "document". The definition of "document" will be better understood if four elements are studied separately. The first is the concept indicated by the word "matter", which may be described as the "mental element". The matter recorded on the document here means an idea,-what is regarded in Copyright law as the proper subject-matter of copyright. The second element of the definition is indicated by the words "written etc.". This may be called the manual (or mechanical) element; and coupled with this is the third element of symbols, indicated by letters, figures or marks. These symbols have meaning only because they are intended to be used, or may be used, for the purpose of recording the idea represented by the first element. Finally, there is the substance upon which these processes are brought to bear, i.e., upon which the mental element is recorded (by mechanical means) through symbols.
This last one is the material-a purely physical object. It is a defect in the present definition that it defines a "document" in terms of what has been described above as the mental element. The ordinary meaning of the expression "document" is the material or substance upon which (as explained above) the other processes operate. Notwithstanding the fact that a similar defect is found to exist in the definition in the Indian Penal Code, and in the Evidence Act, and notwithstanding also the fact that the present definition has been there for almost a century, we consider it proper to modify it so as to bring it nearer to the reality. The starting point for the definition should be the substance.