Sunday 25 November 2018

Leading judgment of Supreme court on use of genealogy in litigation

After a brief narration of the facts, mentioned above, before going to the oral, documentary and circumstantial evidence, it may be necessary to state the well established principles in the light of which we have to decide the conflicting claims of the parties. It appears that the plaint genealogy is the very fabric and foundation of the edifice on which is built the plaintiff's case. This is the starting point of the case of the plaintiff which has been hotly contested by the appellant. In such cases, as there is a tendency on the part of an interested person or a party in order to grab, establish or prove an alleged claim, to concoct, fabricate or procure false genealogy to suit their ends, the courts in relying on the genealogy put forward must guard themselves against falling into the trap laid by a series of documents or a labyrinth of seemingly old genealogies to support their rival claims.

19. The principles governing such cases may be summarised thus:

(1) Genealogies admitted or proved to be old and relied on in previous cases are doubtless relevant and in some cases may even be conclusive of the facts proved but there are several considerations which must be kept in mind by the courts before accepting or relying on the genealogies:

(a) Source of the genealogy and its dependability.

(b) Admissibility of the genealogy under the Evidence Act.

(c) A proper use of the said genealogies in decisions or judgments on which reliance is placed.

(d) Age of genealogies.

(e) Litigations where such genealogies have been accepted or rejected.

(2) On the question of admissibility the following tests must be adopted:

(a) The genealogies of the families concerned must fall within the four-corners of Section 32(5) or Section 13 of the Evidence Act.

(b) They must not be hit by the doctrine of post litem motam.

(c) The genealogies or the claim cannot be proved by recitals, depositions or facts narrated in the judgment which have been held by a long course of decisions to be inadmissible.

(d) Where genealogy is proved by oral evidence, the said evidence must clearly show special means of know ledge disclosing the exact source, time and the circumstances under which the knowledge is acquired, and this must be clearly and conclusively proved.


Civil Appeal Nos. 494-496 of 1975

Decided On: 20.04.1983

State of Bihar Vs. Radha Krishna Singh and Ors.

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
A. Vardarajan, S. Murtaza Fazal Ali and V. Balakrishna Eradi, JJ.

Citation: AIR 1983 SC 684.
Read full judgment here: Click here

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