In Sections 52, 53, 54 and 55, the word “character” includes both reputation and disposition; but except as provided in Section 54, evidence may be given only of general reputation and general disposition, and not of particular acts by which reputation or disposition were shown.
Section 55 is an exception to the general rule laid down in Section 52 of the Act, which provides that the character of the party in civil case is not relevant. According to this section the character of the party to a civil suit is relevant if it is of such a nature as to affect the amount of damages which the plaintiff ought to receive. In such type of cases damages are always in issue. For example, in case of adultery the plaintiff’s bad character may be proved; in case of divorce the husband’s cruel character is relevant. Similarly, in case of breach of promise of marriage the plaintiff’s character being immoral may be relevant. Thus the plaintiff’s bad character in case of adultery, husband’s cruel character in divorce case or plaintiff’s immoral character in breach of promise of marriage would affect the amount of damages.
Definition of character:
The explanation of the Section 55 defines the word ‘character’ which includes both reputation and disposition. Evidence cannot be given of particular facts, but only of general reputation and general disposition. Disposition success the inherent qualities of a person, reputation means the general credit of a person amongst the public.
Section 55 lays down that,—(i) it is applicable only in a suit for damages, (ii) the character of the plaintiff only is relevant and (Hi) such character of the plaintiff is relevant only as to affect the amount of damages to be awarded to the plaintiff.