Chapter – VI: Of the Exclusion of Oral by Documentary Evidence (Section 91 – 100)

Section 91: Evidence of terms of contracts, grants and other dispositions of property reduced to form of document

When the terms of a contract, or of a grant, or of any other disposition of property, have been reduced to the form of a document, and in all cases in which any matter is required by law to be reduced to the form of a document, no evidence shall be given in proof of the terms of such contract, grant or other disposition of property, or of such matter, except the document itself, or secondary evidence of its contents in cases in which secondary evidence is admissible under the provisions hereinbefore contained.

Exception 1—When a public officer is required by law to be appointed in writing, and when it is shown that any particular person has acted as such officer, the writing by which he is appointed need not be proved.

Exception 2—Wills admitted to probate in India may be proved by the probate.

Explanation 1—This section applies equally to cases in which the contracts, grants or dispositions of property referred to are contained in one document, and to cases in which they are contained in more documents than one.

Explanation 2—Where there are more originals than one, one original only need be proved.

Explanation 3—The statement, in any document whatever, of a fact other than the facts referred to in this section, shall not preclude the admission of oral evidence as to the same fact.


Section 92: Exclusion of evidence of oral agreement

When the terms of any such contract, grant or other disposition of property, or any matter required by law to be reduced to the form of a document, have been proved according to the last section, no evidence of any oral agreement or statement shall be admitted, as between the parties to any such instrument or their representatives in interest, for the purpose of contradicting, varying, adding to, or subtracting from, its terms:

Proviso (1)—Any fact may be proved which would invalidate any document, or which would entitle any person to any decree or order relating thereto; such as fraud, intimidation, illegality, want of due execution, want of capacity in any contracting party, want or failure of consideration, or mistake in fact or law.

Proviso (2)—The existence of any separate oral agreement as to any matter on which a document is silent, and which is not inconsistent with its terms, may be proved. In considering whether or not this proviso applies, the Court shall have regard to the degree of formality of the document.

Proviso (3)—The existence of any separate oral agreement, constituting a condition precedent to the attaching of any obligation under any such contract, grant or disposition of property, may be proved.

Proviso (4)—The existence of any distinct subsequent oral agreement to rescind or modify any such contract, grant or disposition of property, may be proved, except in cases in which such contract, grant or disposition of property is by law required to be in writing, or has been registered according to the law in force for the time being as to the registration of documents.

Proviso (5)—Any usage or custom by which incidents not expressly mentioned in any contract are usually annexed to contracts of that description, may be proved:

Provided that the annexing of such incident would not be repugnant to, or inconsistent with, the express terms of the contract.

Proviso (6)—Any fact may be proved which shows in what manner the language of a document is related to existing facts.


Section 93: Exclusion of evidence to explain or amend ambiguous document

When the language used in a document is, on its face, ambiguous or defective, evidence may not be given of facts which would show its meaning or supply its defects.


Section 94: Exclusion of evidence against application of document to existing facts

When language used in a document is plain in itself, and when it applies accurately to existing facts, evidence may not be given to show that it was not meant to apply to such facts.


Section 95: Evidence as to document in unmeaning reference to existing facts

When language used in a document is plain in itself, but is unmeaning in reference to existing facts, evidence may be given to show that it was used in a peculiar sense.


Section 96: Evidence as to application of language which can apply to one only of several persons

When the facts are such that the language used might have been meant to apply to any one, and could not have been meant to apply to more than one, of several persons or things, evidence may be given of facts which show which of those persons or things it was intended to apply to.


Section 97: Evidence as to application of language to one of two sets of facts, to neither of which the whole correctly applies

When the language used applies partly to one set of existing facts, and partly to another set of existing facts, but the whole of it does not apply correctly to either, evidence may be given to show to which of the two it was meant to apply.


Section 98: Evidence as to meaning of illegible characters, etc

Evidence may be given to show the meaning of illegible or not commonly intelligible characters, of foreign, obsolete, technical, local, and provincial expressions, of abbreviations and of words used in a peculiar sense.


Section 99: Who may give evidence of agreement varying terms of document

Persons who are not parties to a document, or their representatives in interest, may give evidence of any facts tending to show a contemporaneous agreement varying the terms of the document.


Section 100: Saving of provisions of Indian Succession Act relating to wills

Nothing in this Chapter contained shall be taken to affect any of the provisions of the Indian Succession Act (10 of 1865) as to the construction of wills.


IMPORTANT CASE LAWS

1. Objective of Section 91 of the Act:

Roop Kumar vs Mohan Thedani, AIR 2003 SC 2418 : “……Section 91 relates to evidence of terms of contract, grants and other disposition of properties reduced to form of document. This section merely forbids proving the contents of a writing otherwise than by writing itself; it is covered by the ordinary rule of law of evidence, applicable not merely to solemn writings of the sort named but to others known some times as the “best evidence rule”. It is in reality declaring a doctrine of the substantive law, namely, in the case of a written contract, that of all proceedings and contemporaneous oral expressions of the thing are merged in the writing or displaced by it……….”


2. Section 91 and 92 of the Act:

R. Janakiraman v. State, (2006) 1 SCC 697 : “….Section 92 is supplementary to Section 91 and corollary to the rule contained in Section 91………The rule contained in Section 92 will apply only to the parties to the instrument or their successors-in-interest. Strangers to the contract (which would include the prosecution in a criminal proceeding) are not barred from establishing a contemporaneous oral agreement contradicting or varying the terms of the instrument. On the other hand, Section 91 may apply to strangers also…..”


 

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