Report No. 69
Entries in Public Records and other Published writings
14.1. An entry in any public or other official book, register, or record, stating a fact in issue or relevant fact, and made by a public servant in the discharge of his official duty, or by any other person in performance of a duty specially enjoined by the law of the country in which such book, register, or record is kept, is itself a relevant fact. under section 35.
14.2. The principle upon which the entries mentioned in section; 35 are received in evidence is the official or statutory duty of the person who keeps the book, register or record to make such entries after satisfying himself of their truth.
14.3. It is not that the writer makes the entries contemporaneously, or of his own knowledge1. The entry is admissible irrespective of knowledge2. In .Saraswati Dasi v. Dhanpat Singh, 1882 ILR 9 Cal 434, it was observed by the Calcutta High Court (Garth C. J.) that the section is confined to the class of cases where the public officer has to enter in a register or other book some actual fact which is known to him, but this view has not been approved of in Shoshi Bhooshan Bose v. Girish Chander Mister, ILR 9 Cal 434 where it was held that entries in a register kept by a public servant under a statute are admissible irrespective of personal knowledge.
1. Doe v. Andrews, 15 QB 756 (Erie, J.).
2. Wraham v. Phanindra Nath, (1915) 19 CWN 1038 (copy of another entry).
14.4. The real reason for admitting these entries is that no person in a private capacity can make such entries. They are admissible, though not confirmed by oath or cross-examination, partly because, in some cases, they are required by law to be kept, and in all cases they are made by authorised and accredited persons appointed for the purpose and under the sanction of the official duty, partly on account of the publicity of the subject matter, and, in some instances, of their antiquity. Where it is not shown that it is so made, the entry is in admissible1. Moreover, though the facts stated in these entries are of a public nature, it would often be difficult to prove them by means of sworn witnesses.
(a) Remarks of the Privy Council in Raja Bommarauze v. Rangassamy, (1885) 6 MIA 249;
(b) Samar Dasadh v. fugal Kishore, 1897 ILR 23 Cal 370 (371).
14.5. With reference to public documents Lord Blackburn said in Sturla v. Freccid, LR 5 App Cas 623.
"I understand a public document to mean a document that is made for the purpose of the public making use of it and being able to refer to it. I think the very object of it must be that it should be made for the purpose of being kept public. so that the persons concerned in it may have access to it afterwards."
14.6. Records, says Lord Chief Baron Gilbert1, "are the memorials of the legislature, and of the King's courts of justice, and are authentic beyond all manner of contradiction"; they are said to be "monuments veritatis at vetustatis vestigia"2 as also "the treasure of the king3-4".
1. Gilbert Evidence, p. 7, 4th Edn.
2. Co Litt 118a, 293b.
3. 11 Edn., IV. I.
4. Best Evidence, (1922), p. 202, para. 218.
14.7. It may be noted that these rules of evidence are not confined to a particular country. Indian registers of baptism have been admitted as evidence in English Courts1. Indian registers of marriages and deaths, kept under the authority of the East India Company, have been admitted in English Courts2. Registers of marriages compiled by the Secretary of State for India, from periodical reports transmitted to him by the various religious denominations in India, have also been admitted in the English Courts3.
1. Queen's Proctor v. Fry, 4 PD 230.
2. Ratcliffe v. Ratcliffe, (1859) 1 Sw&Tr 467.
3 Regan v. Regan, 69 LT 720.