Admission & Its Relevancy u/s 17- 23 & 31 of IEA

What is admission?

Admission, under Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (IEA), is a statement in oral, documentary, or electronic form by a party to the case or his authorised agent or by the other parties the statute permits.

The statement must be indicative of some inference relating to the matter in dispute or a related fact.

By admission the person agrees that the fact asserted by the other party is true. Admission of fact in court helps in dispensing with the production of evidence during judicial proceedings.

Admission includes confession as well, but confession refers to the admission of guilt by the person.

Admission is not a conclusive proof

An admission is the best evidence against the party making it. Admission must be voluntary. Admitted fact is presumed to be true until the presumption is rebutted by the other party, or if it varies with the circumstances which it was made.

However, an admission is not conclusive proof of the matter admitted but it may operate as estoppel (Section 31 of IEA). One can adduce evidence to rebut the admission and disproof it.

Admission must be clear, specific, and unambiguous and in the own words of the person making it. An admission must be read in its entirety and no statement out of context can constitute admission of any fact.

Who can make admissions?

Party to the proceedings and an agent authorised by such party can make admission (Section 18 of IEA).

Admission of the agent is admissible as the principle is bound by the acts of the agent in law. But admission made by a party’s witness cannot be treated as admission made by the party. Partners are agents of one another in partnership and the statement made by one partner is admissible as evidence against the others. But an admission of the guardian does not bind the minor.

If a person is representing any other person as a representative character in a suit, he cannot make an admission of behalf of the person he represents. But a statement made by a person as trustee, in a representative nature, does not bind him personally. But if the representative person has proprietary of pecuniary interest in the subject matter of the case that representative person can make admission during the continuance of such interest.

Statements made either by the parties interested or by the persons from whom the parties to the suit have derived their interest are admissible during the continuance of the interest of the person, who is making the statement, in the disputed matter. For example, when a deceased father admitted that the defendant was his second wife the admission was binding on the plaintiff.

When a fact pleaded in a plaint is not specifically denied but pleaded ignorance about it then it amounts to admission. Admission of facts made by a pleader in the conduct of a suit on his client’s behalf is binding on the client.

When several people are jointly interested in the subject matter of a suit the admission of any one of these persons are receivable against himself and the other persons also. But he admission of a statement by one of the several defendants in a suit is no evidence against another defendant in the case.


Admission of a third person against his own interest

A third person making an admission against his own interest must prove his position or liability against a party to the suit if the person occupies such a position.

For example, when a landlord dies and the tenant questions the title of the lady living with him, then the document showing that the lady is his wife then the right of the lady was proved by the admission (Section 19 of IEA).

Admission by a 3rd party referred to by a party to the case

In case a party to the proceeding makes an express reference of a disputed matter to a third party for information, the party making a reference is bound by the declaration of that party, if that would aid the settlement of the disputed matter in the court (Section 20 of IEA).

When a party to the dispute refer to the other party, a third person for an opinion or information then the opinion of the third person is binding on the first party.

Admission is relevant as against the person who makes it

Admissions are relevant and may be proved against the party making it or his representative in interest and not against any other party. A statement of admission can be presumed to be true only when it is against his interest only and that may be proved. Admissions must be proved or used against the person making it. Then it is substantive evidence.

What is admitted by a party as a fact, must be presumed to be true, unless the presumption is rebutted. The other party can bring in evidence and rebut that the statement admitted is untrue.

For example, in a dispute the plaintiff says the document is genuine, but the defendant says it is not genuine. Then the plaintiff must prove what the defendant says is not true, and the defendant should prove what the plaintiff says is not true.

That means admissions cannot be proved by the person making it or on behalf of him, except in some conditions specified in Section 21 of IEA. The exceptional conditions are:

  1. when the admission is such a nature that if the statement of the person making it were dead, it would be relevant as between third party disputes under Section 32(2) of IEA. This has no reference to dying declaration.
  2. When the admission is regarding the state of mind or body or mental or bodily feelings, and if it is accompanied by conduct rendering its falsehood so improbable, the admission would be relevant.
  3. If the admission is relevant otherwise as an admission.

Oral admission relating to contents of a document

Oral admissions relating to the contents of a document are not relevant, unless the party proposing to prove them shows that he is entitled to give secondary evidence of the contents of such document under Sections 63 and 65 of the IEA or the genuineness of the document is in question (Section 22 of IEA).

The contents of a document, which is capable of being produced, must be proved by the instrument itself and not by oral evidence.

But oral admissions as to the contents are admissible when the party is entitled to give secondary evidence of the contents of such document coming under Sections 63 and 65 of IEA.

The secondary evidence includes oral accounts of the contents of a document given by some person who has seen it, under Section 63 of the IEA.  Secondary evidence of the contents of such document can be given under the circumstances mentioned in Sub-sections 65 (a), (c) & (d) of IEA. The circumstances are, when the original is in possession of opposite party, original lost or destroyed, and original not easily moveable.

Admission relating to contents of electronic documents

Oral admission relating to the contents of electronic record are not relevant, unless the dispute is regarding the genuineness of the electronic record produced is in question (Section 22A of IEA).

The Section allows oral admission as to the contents of an electronic record, only as an exceptional case, as stated above.

Admission not relevant in some civil cases

No admission is relevant in civil cases, if the parties agreed to an express condition that evidence of it is not to be given or the court can infer that the parties agreed to a condition not to give evidence (Section 23 of IEA). This provision excludes admissions by word or conduct made by parties in the course of negotiations to settle litigation, from evidence in the court. Mediatory settlement in adalats is an example of this.

But this section does not prevent any lawyer from disclosing any communication with the client in matters of illegal matters or questions of fraud (Section 23 of IEA).

Additional reading

  1. The Indian Evidence Act, 1872
  2. The Law of Evidence, 25th ed, by Ratanlal & Dhirajlal
  3. Confession under Indian Evidence Act
  4. Bharat Singh v Bhagirathi : AIR 1966 SC 405
  5. Bishwanath Prasad v Dwaraka Prasad : AIR 1974 SC 117