Burden of Proof: Definition and Meaning

Burden of proof is one of the most essential elements of Indian legal system. Whether it is civil law system or criminal law system, in both the cases, burden of proof is essential. In criminal cases, burden of proof lies with prosecution whereas in civil cases, burden of proof lies with the person making the claim.

What does Exactly Burden of Proof Define?

The burden of proof, in its simplest form, refers to the necessity to prove a claim (in civil case) or allegation (in criminal case). Each side has the task of proving the facts that support or contradict their rival. A broad burden of proof principle is recognized under the Evidence Act.

Norms for the Burden of Proof

Its principle is built upon the concepts of onus probandi (burden of evidence) and factum probans (verifying a fact). While the weight of the evidence is constant, the burden of proof swings from one side to the supplementary.

Those facts that cannot be presumed to be true must be demonstrated.

Burden of Proof in Civil Litigation

By case type, different morals of proof apply. The presence of evidence is the legal term for the plaintiff's burden of proof in civil cases. To reap the benefits of evidence, plaintiffs must offer somewhat more or superior proof than the lawyer. From 51% of complainants to 49% of respondents, this is the case. The judge or jury must be persuaded that the defendant is "most likely" to be held accountable for the plaintiff's damages if the evidence carries a burden of proof.

Although testing has relatively modest standards, plaintiffs nevertheless need to present more proof than lawyers. If the plaintiff offers evidence that is of questionable quality, the judge may conclude that the plaintiff has failed to satisfy the burden of proof and the case is lost. The most crucial piece of evidence in a civil case is that the respondent has the burden of proving their defense.

Burden of Proof in Criminal Case

The most challenging legal issue is who is responsible for evidence in criminal prosecutions. This is practical, there is no question about it. This burden of proof was not defined by the judge. As Chief Justice Shaw pointed out nearly a century ago, do you have any valid reservations? It is a broadly understood yet difficult-to-describe idea. This is not merely a hypothetical concern. Because there is always room for doubt when it comes to human affairs and reliance on moral proof. It is a case where the jury departs in mind without being able to assert that they are morally convinced of the truth of the statement after carefully comparing and evaluating all the facts.

Generally speaking, prosecutors must overturn the defense's presumption of incorruptibility, which the constitution ensures in a proper legal process. This is in line with the prosecution's strategy of prosecuting non-innocent criminals. If there is even a remote chance that the accused is innocent, the case might not have strong, dependable proof, and the evaluator would be required to free the suspect. Various nations have different burdens of proof when a defendant asserts their defense in a criminal case.

Although the prosecution is in charge of accomplishing things correctly, other states impose the burden of proof on the defendant to accurately follow what happens. When the evidence is overwhelming or there is no room for a reasonable doubt, you are required to shoulder the burden of persuasion by exposing the weaknesses in your case. Depending on the state, the defendant may be required to demonstrate persistence and persuasion. The defendant's ordinary in this case is frequently the existence of proof beyond a judicious doubt. The defense of the defendant does not necessarily have to be established in a criminal case. If the prosecution proves its case, the accused is exonerated and need not present any evidence.

Initial Burden of Proof

The rule that the prosecution bears the initial burden of the defendant's criminal decision in a criminal proceeding still stands. The accused may be ruled not guilty if the prosecution cannot establish its case beyond a practical doubt. According to the Supreme Court, if the burden of proof is applied incorrectly, the entire judicial system will be compromised.

Burden of Proof in Indian Evidence Act, 1872

Part III, Chapter VII, and Sections from 101 to 111 of Indian Evidence Act extensively describe burden of proof. Some of the significant provisions are −

Section 101Burden of Proof: Anybody who wants a court to rule on a legal right or legal responsibility based on the presence of facts they claim must establish those facts. The burden of proof is supposed to rest with the party vital to establish the veracity of any claim.
Section 102Who Bears the Burden of Proof: In a lawsuit or other legal action, the burden of proof is on the party who would lose if neither side offered any evidence at all.
Section 103Burden of Proof as per Particular Facts: Unless another rule specifies that a definite individual must prove a truth, the burden of proof for every definite fact rest with the party that wants the court to accept it as true.
Section 104Burden of proving fact to be proved to make evidence admissible: The specific who anticipates to provide such evidence has the burden of establishing any truth that must be recognized before they can provide testimony regarding any other fact.
Section 105Burden of proving that case of accused comes within exceptions: The burden of demonstrating the existence of conditions falling within any of the General Exceptions in the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860), or within any special exception or proviso contained in any other part of the same Code, or in any law defining the offense, rests with the person accused of committing the alleged offense, and the court shall presume the absence of such conditions.
Section 106Burden of proving fact especially within knowledge: When a fact is specifically within the understanding of a person, it is up to him to provide evidence for it.
Section 107Burden of proving death of person known to have been alive within thirty years.
Section 108Burden of proving that person is alive who has not been heard of for seven years.
Section 109Burden of proof as to relationship in the cases of partners, landlord and tenant, principal and agent.
Section 110Burden of proof as to ownership.
Section 111Proof of good faith in transactions where one party is in relation of active confidence.

Case Laws

Some of the significant cases are −

Narayan Govind Gavate Etc vs State of Maharashtra (1976)

In this case, the Supreme Court dealt with the issue of burden of proof in criminal cases and stated that in a criminal case, the burden of proof lies on the prosecution and they must establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.

Vijayee Singh and Ors vs State of Uttar Pradesh (1990)

In this case, the Supreme Court dealt with the issue of burden of proof, particularly in cases where the accused pleads alibi as a defense. likewise, the Supreme Court held that in such cases, the burden of proof shifts to the prosecution to prove that the accused was present at the scene of the crime.


He who asserts must prove, according to the general principle about the burden of proof. According to the norm, the party that significantly argues in favor of the issue bears the burden of proof, not the party that disputes it. The rationale behind this rule is that the burden of proof rests with the party who brought the other person into court. In addition, proving a negative is far harder than proving an affirmative. The term "burden of proof" refers to both the legal burden of proving a case as well as the evidential burden, such as the burden of introducing the strongest evidence.


Q1. What is the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor?

Ans. According to the doctrine, it is the accused person, not the claimant, who has the burden of proving their innocence in cases of carelessness.

Q2. What situations put the onus of proof on the defendant?

Ans. In contrast to the common rule that the burden of proof lies on the party alleging a fact, the burden of proof is on the accused in cases of dowry death, custody rape, lack of consent in rape, suicide of a matrimonial woman, and custody death.

Updated on: 22-Feb-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started