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Report No. 69

XX. Fact

6.47. Section.-"Fact".-

The next definition to be considered is that of the expression "fact", defined in section 3 as meaning and including-

(1) any thing, state of things or relation of things, capable of being perceived by the senses;

(2) any mental condition of which any person is conscious.

The first clause of the definition of "fact" refers to external facts which are the subject of perception by the five senses1, and the second clause refers to internal facts, which are the subject of consciousness2. Illustrations (a), (b) and (c) are illustrations of the first clause; illustrations (d) and (e) of the second. Facts are, thus, (adopting the classification of Bentham)3, either physical-e.g., the existence of visible objects, or psychological-e.g., the intention or animus of a particular individual in doing a particular act. The psychological facts are incapable of direct proof by the testimony of witnesses; their existence can be ascertained only by the confession of the party whose mind is their seat or by presumptive inference from physical facts4. This constitutes the only difference between physical and psychological facts.

1. Rama v. Harakdhari, 47 LC 710.

2. Stephen Digest, Article 1.

3. Bentham Judicial Evidence, Vol. 1, p. 45.

4. Best Evidence, (1922), pp. 6 and 7.

6.48. The expression "fact" has a comprehensive connotation. The definition in the Act, taking this into account, is also comprehensive enough. The concept of "fact" is itself wide enough to cover not only things at rest, but also things in motion-acts and events1. The concept of "thing" is not confined to objects of right. As in metaphysics, it covers whatever is capable of being perceived by the senses or being contemplated by the mind. All phenomena are covered. As Immanuel Kant has said2.

"That all our knowledge begins with experience, there can be no doubt. For, how is it possible that the faculty of cognition should be awakened into exercise otherwise than by means of objects which affect our senses, and (which partly of themselves produce representations, partly rouse our powers of understanding into activity, to compare, to connect, or to separate these, and so to convert the raw material of our sensuous impressions into a knowledge of objects, which is called experience? In respect of time, therefore, no knowledge of ours is antecedent to experience, but (it) begins with it."

1. Bentham (Works), Vol. 6, p. 217.

2. Kant Critique of Pure Reason, Introductory Chapter, first para.

6.48A. Psychological facts.-

Bentham gave the following as important examples of psychological facts1:-

"1. Sensations: feelings having their seat in some one or more of the five senses-sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Sensations, again, may be sub-divided into those which are pleasurable, those which are painful, and those which, not being attended with any considerable degree of pleasure or pain, may be called indifferent.

2. Recollections: the recollections or remembrances of past sensations.

3. Judgments: that sort of psychological fact which, has place when we are said to assent to or dissent from a proposition.

4. Desires: which, when to a certain degree strong; are terms passions.

5. Volitions: or acts of the will etc."

1. Bentham (Works), Vol. 6, p. 236.

6.48B. Meaning of thing.-

"Thing"-an expression used in the definition-is defined1 in the Oxford English Dictionary as-"That with which one is concerned (in action, speech or thought); an affair, business, concern, matter, subject;. That which is done or to be done; a doing, act, deed, transaction; an event, occurrence, incident; a fact, circumstance, experience That which is said; a saying, utterance, expression, statement; with various connotations e.g. a charge or accusation made against a person, a form of prayer, a story, tale; a part or section of an argument or discourse; a witty saying, a jest.

Formerly used absol; (without article or qualifying word) also a thing, in indefinite sens.- anything, something. An entity of any kind. That which exists individually (in the most general sense, in fact or in idea); that which is or may be in any way an object of perception, knowledge or thought2, a being, an entity. (Including persons, when a personality is not considered." It is not thus confined to static phenomena.

In Webster's Dictionary3, "Thing" is defined to include; assembly, reason a matter of concern, affairs; a particular state of affairs; situation, complication; Deed, act, accomplishment, used commonly as cognate object of do; a product of work or activity ... the end or aim of effort or activity. Whatever exists or is conceived to exist as a separate entity or as a distinct and individual quality, fact or idea; a separate or distinguishable object of thought something that is said, told or thought.

1. The Oxford English Dictionary, (1933), Vol. 11, pp. 308-309.

2. Emphasis supplied.

3. Webster's Third New International Dictionary, (1966), Vol. 3, p. 2376.

6.48C. Legal meaning of "thing".-

In legal discussion also, the expression "thing" is used to refer to events. The word 'occurrence' has been judicially defined as that which occurs-an event, incident or happening1-and as that which occurs especially adversely-an appearance of happening2. Incidentally "occurrence", to the lay mind, and more so to the legal mind, has a much broader meaning than the word "accident". "As these words are generally understood, accident means3 something that happened in a certain way, while an occurrence means4something that came about in any way."

It would appear that there are precedents for taking the expression "thing" as covering every thing that exists or can exist in reality-physical or psychic, animate or inanimate, static or dynamic. Not only what exists without change, but also what represents a change or an event, is covered. If the body can feel or the mind can conceive of a subject, then it is a "thing". Every matter within the ambit of the physical or the intellectual apparatus of man can, therefore, be regarded as a "thing". It is not confined to what can be seen again and again-a permanent physical object. It covers also events or acts which can be perceived only once-phenomena which have a transient effect on the senses.

"Relation of things" would, in any case, seem to cover acts-see illustrations (b) and (c)-and events also, because an event represents a "relation" in point of time.

1. Jones v. Kansas City, 243 SW 2d (318, 320) (Mo. 1951).

2. Portaro v American Guarantee A Liaba. Ins Co., 210 F Suppl 411 (415) (N.D. Ohio 1962).

3. See Aerial Agricultural Eery. Inc. v. Till, 207 F Supp 50 (57) (N.D. Miss 1962) referred.

4. Vincent Veldorate Corpus Delicti, (1965) 39 TLQ 1 (3).

6.49. Recommendation.-

This discussion does not lead to any radical change in the definition. But the words "and includes" should be deleted, as confusing and inaccurate. We recommend accordingly.

Indian Evidence Act, 1872 Back

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