Section 74: Public documents—
The following documents are public documents—
(1) documents forming the acts or records of the acts—
(i) of the sovereign authority,
(ii) of official bodies and tribunals, and
(iii) of public officers, legislative, judicial and executive, of any part of India or of the Commonwealth, or of a foreign country;
(2) public records kept in any State of private documents.
Section 75: Private documents—
All other documents are private.
Section 76: Certified copies of public documents—
Every public officer having the custody of a public document, which any person has a right to inspect, shall give that person on demand a copy of it on payment of the legal fees therefor, together with a certificate written at the foot of such copy that it is a true copy of such document or part thereof, as the case may be, and such certificate shall be dated and subscribed by such officer with his name and his official title, and shall be sealed, whenever such officer is authorized by law to make use of a seal; and such copies so certified shall be called certified copies.
Explanation—Any officer who, by the ordinary course of official duty, is authorized to deliver such copies, shall be deemed to have the custody of such documents within the meaning of this section.
Section 77: Proof of documents by production of certified copies—
Such certified copies may be produced in proof of the contents of the public documents or parts of the public documents of which they purport to be copies.
Section 78: Proof of other official documents—
The following public documents may be proved as follows—
(1) acts, orders or notifications of the Central Government in any of its departments, or of the Crown Representative or of any State Government or any department of any State Government,—
by the records of the departments, certified by the heads of those departments respectively,
or by any document purporting to be printed by order of any such Government or, as the case may be, of the Crown Representative;
(2) the proceedings of the Legislatures,—
by the journals of those bodies respectively, or by published Acts or abstracts, or by copies purporting to be printed by order of the Government concerned;
(3) proclamations, orders or regulations issued by Her Majesty or by the Privy Council, or by any department of Her Majesty’s Government,—
by copies or extracts contained in the London Gazette, or purporting to be printed by the Queen’s Printer;
(4) the Acts of the Executive or the proceedings of the Legislature of a foreign country,—
by journals published by their authority, or commonly received in that country as such, or by a copy certified under the seal of the country or sovereign, or by a recognition thereof in some Central Act;
(5) the proceedings of a municipal body in a State,—
by a copy of such proceedings, certified by the legal keeper thereof, or by a printed book purporting to be published by the authority of such body;
(6) public documents of any other class in a foreign country,—
by the original, or by a copy certified by the legal keeper thereof, with a certificate under the seal of a Notary Public, or of an Indian Consul or diplomatic agent, that the copy is duly certified by the officer having the legal custody of the original, and upon proof of the character of the document according to the law of the foreign country.
IMPORTANT CASE LAWS
1. Evidentiary Value of a Public Document:
Octavious Steel Co. Ltd. v. Endogram Tea Co. Ltd, AIR 1980 Cal 83 : “…..Section 74 of the Evidence Act includes public document and records of private documents. The public documents, in true sense of the term are those documents to which the public has the right of inspection and can take certified copies thereof and they must be records of the final act of the officer concerned. Records relating to intermediary stages would not be regarded as public documents.…….”