Section 16 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872


(à) The question is, whether a particular letter was dispatched.

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The facts that it was the ordinary course of business for all letters put in a certain place to be carried to the post, and that particular letter was put in that place, are relevant.

(á) The question is, whether a particular letter reached A. The facts that it was posted in due course, and was not returned through the Dead Letter Office, are relevant.



Section 16 lays down that whenever there is a question whether a particular act was done, the existence of a general course of business or office within which it would have naturally been done, is relevant and admissible. When an act is done an inference may be drawn that it would have been done in general course of business. A kind of presumption is attached to the evidence relevant under the section. It is based on the maxim, omnia proesuomuntur rite esse acta, which means that all acts are presumed to be rightly done. For example if the latter was posted in due course and it was not returned, it may be reasonably presumed that the latter reached to the addressee [Illustration (b)].

The subject matter of the section is that “when the course of business usually followed is proved the probability is that there was no departure from the common course of business in the particular transaction.” It is this presumption that a general regularity, even in particular case, is not disturbed. The presumption is again fortified by the Illustration (f) to Section 114 which says that the court may presume that the common course of business has been followed in particular case. This, however, is rebuttable presumption.

Course of business:

This section relates to the common “course of business.” It means the professional or mercantile transaction of business; and the transaction or course of business is done by private person as well as by public official. It may generally be presumed that “the conduct of men in official and commercial matter, is to great extent, uniform.”

Posting of letter:

If a letter is posted it should reach to the destination. If the question arises as to whether a certain letter, telegram or money order reached the addressee, the evidence of the fact that they were sent to same course of business, is always relevant.

Private document:

“The credibility of private document is to be ascertained by the court while analyzing evidence on record.” The court refused permission to party producing document to rely upon said document on ground that it was in existence on a relevant day not proper.

Computer print-out:

When any information is stored in a computer, the print out of such information is considered to be a document and is relevant in respect of trade and business.