Section 19 , Indian Evidence Act

The post has been contributed by Mr. Rajiv Joshi. He is a lawyer, practicing in the Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh. He has 17 years of legal experience and deals with civil, criminal, service revenue and consumer matters. He may be reached at rajivjoshiadvocate@gmail.com.

From all the sections which constitute admissions between sections 17 to 31, it is section 19 which is most complicated. The language of the section is very complicated. As per J Tyabji in (1913) 25 MLJ 329 “That section consists of a rather involved complex sentence, but if it were printed in the following form –

  • Statements made by persons whose position or liability it is necessary to prove as against any party to the suit, are admissions,
  • if such statements would be relevant,

(a) as against persons

(b) in relation to such position or liability in a suit brought by or against them, and

  •  if they are made whilst the person making them occupies such position or is subject to such liability”.

It would be clear in the –

  • first place that the main proposition contained in the section lays down that certain statements are admissions not that they are relevant,
  • in the second place, that before a statement can be considered to be an admission under section, 19.
  • There are three qualifications which the statement musthave twoo of them having reference to the person making the statement, or the declarant, viz.  that he must occupy some such position or liability as is necessary to be proved against any party to the suit, he must be occupying such position or be subject to such liability when he makes the statement. The third qualification has reference to the nature of the statement, viz., that the statement is such that in a suit brought by or against the declarant it would be relevant (a) as against the declarant (b) in relation to such position or liability.

This third qualification is, in my opinion, both necessary and sufficient to restrict the operation of the section in accordance with what I have stated to be the object of this section, viz., not to lay down that certain statements are relevant or admissible but merely to add to the category of persons who may be the declarants. The statement referred to in Section 19 becomes admissible only provided that they satisfy the requirement of Section 17, as regards their nature, and Section 21 or any of the following sections, as regards their relevance.

In short, Section 19 provides that in certain cases the declarant need not be a party to the suit, and that section must be read with direct reference first to Section 17, which provides (inter alia) that a statement must be made by the persons thereinafter mentioned in order to fall within the definition of an admission, and Section 19 must secondly be read with reference to sections ’21 et seq which provide when statements that are admissions are relevant.”

      CJ Sadasiva Aiyar in the same judgment cited supra, terms the language of the section as “metaphysically worded”. But this judgment is a classic example to uncover the complexities of this section. Actually, the import of the section comes out to be that the section 19 explains the fact that who can be the “declarant”. This section, in short, implies a category of “person” who is actually a third person but occupies some “position or liability” and the suit has been filed by or against him, and he makes the statement while he still occupies such position or such liability. There has been some controversy as to whether the statement made by such a person would be admissible under section 19 or is it an admission under section 17 or 21. One view was that the section just elaborates the category of the “declarant” and the admission made by such person is not relevant under section 19 but may qualify to be called as an admission if it passes the test or 17 or 21. Be that as it may, the illustration goes a step further to declare the statement as admission relevant under section 19.

    The provisions of section 19 thus contemplate the possibility of a situation where a co-obligee has made a statement to his own detriment and to the detriment of the other co-obliged. The implications of the statement are of course weighed in view of sections 17,21 or 58.

             The section may be metamorphically worded as pointed by the learned Judge, but the same is a legislative genius as well for it contemplates and at least tries to crystallize into words a situation in which a party other than the “maker” himself binds a co-obligee.

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