Presumption: Meaning and Types

The Indian Evidence Act, of 1872, is a piece of legislation that codifies, defines, and amends Indian evidence law. All legal actions that are brought before any court inside the boundaries of India are covered by this Act. It also applies to court martial (but not to any actions taken in accordance with the Air Force Act, the Indian Navy Discipline Act, or the Army Act). However, it does not apply to any arbitration-related proceedings or affidavits submitted to a court.

What is Presumption?

Presumption is the process of establishing facts based on the possibility of specific acts. When this possibility has a high value, it makes it possible to comprehend the facts of specific activities. It refers to the conclusions the court reached based on the evidence. These inferences are made by the court based on the best reasonable technique of reasoning that is appropriate to the circumstances, and they may be positive or negative. The most fundamental rule is that once any element (fact) of the case is established as a core fact, all supporting facts are assumed to have been established until disproven.

According to Section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act, a court has the authority to assume the existence of any fact if it believes that the fact is relevant to the case and that the fact occurred in the normal course of human behaviour, natural events, or business of a public or private nature.

Types of Presumptions

Types of presumptions can be studied under the following headings −

Rebuttable Presumptions

Rebuttable presumptions are presumptions that can be refuted because they are refutable presumptions. Even if it can be challenging to estimate the scope of these assumptions, their veracity can only be taken for granted until disproven. For instance, it is obvious that a guy or anyone else is either a "thief" or a "receiver" if they are in possession of stolen goods. That is a prime example of rebuttable presumptions.

Irrebuttable Presumptions

Irrebuttable It is impossible to refute these suppositions with additional information or reasoning. Because of this, the described hypothesis is considered to be a conclusive hypothesis or presumption, and its untruth cannot be established. Children under the age of seven are thought to be criminally incompetent.

However, according to Section 4 of the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, Presumptions can be of three Different Types

May Presume

"The court may, in its discretion, assume any/certain/a small number of facts, at which point it may either accept the assumption as true or require additional evidence to support it in order to confirm or deny it." According to Section 4 of the "Indian Evidence Act" (IEA), the facts in question might be regarded as established as long as they are not disapproved. The phrase "may presume" relates to presumptions that can be refuted under Section 4 of this Act.

Shall Presume

Instead of conveying a firm assertion or a desire to prove any certain fact, "must presume" really does that. According to Section 4 of the Indian Evidence Act, "must suppose" refers to the idea of assuming facts or groups of facts unless they are refuted by the other side. The presumption's path cannot be changed by the court using any other discretion. According to Section 4 of the Indian Evidence Act, a "shall presume" is also known as a "presumption of law."

Conclusive Proof

"Strong conclusions and proofs can be assumed by a court because it is not only logical to do so but also because these presumptions are meant to benefit society as a whole rather than just the individual." A presumption will be sustained even if it is refuted by evidence that supports it since the law has absolute authority and will not admit evidence that contradicts the presumption. "Conclusive presumption, the strongest sort of presumption, is governed by sections 41, 112, and 113 of the Evidence Act as well as section 82 of the Indian Penal Code."

Presumption as Legitimacy

The legitimacy of the child is presumed to be true according to Section 112 of the IEA, 1872, which is rebuttable. Since a person's position is determined by birth, the law firmly presumes validity. This provision codifies the legal principle that the birth of a child when a valid marriage is still ongoing or within 280 days of its dissolution with the mother still unmarried shall serve as conclusive evidence of the child's legality.

By presenting convincing proof that the husband and wife were not in close proximity to one another at the time the child could have been conceived, the assumption of legitimacy can be disproven. As a result, a child's legitimacy is assessed from the moment of birth, and evidence of non-access must be provided starting with conception.

This section's guiding premise is that it is improper to investigate the paternity of a child whose parents "had access" to one another as a matter of public policy.

Only concrete evidence of a lack of access can displace or refute a marriage; neither a simple balance of probabilities nor any condition that raises questions can do so. When maternity, rather than paternity, is in question, Section 112 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, is not applicable. Paternity is always presumed, but maternity is always a matter of fact.

Presumption as to Abetment of Suicide by a Married Woman (Presumption of Fact)

When it is unclear whether a woman's suicide was encouraged by her husband or a relative of her husband and it is established that she committed suicide within seven years of the date of her marriage and that her husband or the relevant relative had treated her cruelly, the court may infer, taking into account all other circumstances of the case, that the suicide was encouraged by her husband or the relevant relative of her husband.

In section 113-A, the word "may presume" denotes the existence of a Section 4 presumption of fact. Such assumptions are "those natural inferences which the 'common course of natural events,' human conduct, and public and private business indicate to us," according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The court has the discretion to make a presumption or not to make one.

Presumption as Dowry Death

The legislature has chosen to employ the phrase "must suppose" as a presumption of law in Section 113B of the Evidence Act, meaning that the court must draw the conclusion and has no other choice. In spite of the fact that it cannot be easily refuted, it is rebuttable. The evidence must be solid, distinct, convincing, and of a conclusive type in order to refute or repel it.

In accordance with Section 4 of the Indian Evidence Act, anytime the term "conclusive proof" is used, it means that the court must accept the proof of one fact as conclusive proof of the other and must not permit the presentation of evidence with the intent to refute it. and subsequently distributed the burdens of proof in cases brought under Section 304-B.

Until very strong, convincing, and conclusive evidence is presented in the accused's defence that the person has not committed dowry death, the court is required to accept the fact of dowry death when it is demonstrated that a woman was subjected to cruelty in connection with the demand for dowry prior to her death as proven.


Presumptions are arbitrary additions to the law that do not need proof of a fact. A fact does not need to be proven when a court assumes it. Under the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, presumptions' use may be mostly uncharted territory. However, how it is applied has significant ramifications for how we see the "burden of proof" on the prosecution and defence.


Q1. Is a presumption evidence?

Ans. A presumption is seen as sufficient proof of the presumed fact to be taken into account by the jury, even if the evidence is presented to refute it.

Q2. Are presumptions rebuttable?

Ans. Mostly presumptions are rebuttable.

Q3. Can presumptions be applied in criminal cases?

Ans. Typically, the presumption is applied in criminal cases.

Q4. What is the burden of presumption?

Ans. The burden of presumption refers to the responsibility to prove or disprove a particular claim or assertion in a legal or evidentiary setting.

Q5. What are incorrect presumptions?

Ans. Incorrect presumptions usually refer to assumptions or beliefs that are not based on fact or evidence, and may lead to biased or inaccurate conclusions. Incorrect presumptions can occur in various contexts, but they are particularly prevalent in legal proceedings, where they can have serious consequences.

Following are some examples of incorrect presumptions include −

  • Presuming guilt − Assuming that a person is guilty of a crime before all the evidence has been presented and evaluated. This can lead to an unfair trial and an innocent person being convicted.

  • Presuming innocence − Assuming that a person is innocent even when there is substantial evidence of their guilt. This can lead to a guilty person going free.

  • Presuming bias − Assuming that a witness, expert, or judge is biased because of their background, personal beliefs, or affiliations, without any evidence to support this assumption.

  • Presuming motive − Assuming that a person committed a crime because of a specific motive, without any evidence to support this assumption.

  • Presuming certain type of evidence is more reliable or credible − assuming that certain type of evidence is more reliable or credible than others, without considering the context, nature, and the facts of the case.