Facts concerning state of body and mind (Sections 14,15 & 16)


Facts are either physical or psychological (mental). The physical facts are perceived by senses. A assaults B, here the facts of B being assaulted by A can be seen by eyes by anyone present on the scene of occurrence. While psychological facts on the other hand, are the subject of consciousness and mind of a man in their seat. A assaults B with the intention of killing him, here the intention of A is in his mind and this state of mind cannot be perceived by someone else, only he himself knows it and can state it.

Someone can testify to his own intention but if he swears to the contrary to his intention, it would not serve the purpose. If that would be the only manner of  proof of a man’s intent, most of the offenders would go unpunished of the offences in which the proof of mental state is essential. These kinds of facts, however are incapable of direct proof of the testimony of witnesses, their existence can only be ascertained either by the confession of the person whose mind is their seat or by presumptive inferences from physical facts. But a witness must speak the facts and the inference from those facts be drawn by the court. Under this section, evidence is admissible to explain the state of mind, though it does not otherwise bear upon the issue to be tried. As regards this principle there is no difference in civil and criminal cases. The subject of the existence of state of mind is one of the most important topics. In criminal cases, sometimes they are the main considerations and in civil cases also they are often very material as for example in the cases of fraud, malicious intention or negligence.


Section 14 renders the following kinds of facts relevant:

  1. Facts showing existence of any state of mind towards any person such as-
  • intention,
  • knowledge,
  • good faith,
  • negligence,
  • rashness,
  • ill-will, or
  • good-will
  1. Facts showing the existence of any-
  • state of body, or
  • state of bodily feeling,

in so far as the existence of any such state of mind or body or bodily feeling is in issue or relevant.

The section further provides two explanations-

  1. A fact relevant as showing the existence of a relevant state of mind must show that the state of mind exists in reference to the particular matter in question and not in general.
  2. But where upon the trial of a person accused of an offence, the previous commission by the accused of an offence is relevant within the meaning of this section, the previous conviction of such person shall also be a relevant fact.


  • B is accused that he received certain stolen goods knowing them to be stolen and it is proved that he was in possession of a particular stolen article. The fact that at the same time, he was in possession of several other stolen articles will be highly relevant, because it tends to show that he knew each and all of the articles of which he was in possession to be stolen.
  • A is sued by B for fraudulently representing to him that C was a solvent man, whereby B being induced to trust C who in reality was insolvent, suffered a big loss. The fact that when A represented C as being solvent, C was considered as solvent by his neighbours and also by the persons dealing with him, will be relevant as displaying that A made the representation in good faith.
  • A sues B for negligence in providing him with a carriage for hire not reasonably fit for use, whereby A was injured. The fact that B’s attention was drawn on other occasions to the defect of that particular carriage is relevant. The fact that B was habitually negligent about the carriages which he let to hire is irrelevant


Whenever there is a question whether an act was accidental or intentional, or done with a particular knowledge or intention, Section 15 of the Evidence Act renders such a fact relevant that shows the act forming part of a series of similar occurrences, in each of which the person doing the act was concerned.

Illustration- A is accused of burning down his own house in order to gain benefit from the insurance company. The facts that A used to live in many houses successively each of which he insured, in each of which a fire mishap took place, and after each of those accidents A received payment from a different insurance offices, will be deemed as relevant, as showing that the fires were not accidental.

  1. v. Harissan Orien (1951) 2 ALL ER 726“A distinction must be made between accident and intention. The appellant was found in a dwelling house about 1 o’ clock in the morning. He was tried for burglary. In his defense, he pleaded that he had no recollection of entering the house and must have done so in a state of automatism. It was held in this case, the real defense was, that the act was involuntary. It was not the defense of accident”


According to Section 16 of the act, wherever there is a question whether a particular act was done, the existence of any course of business, according to which it naturally would have taken place, is a relevant fact.

Illustration: The question is that whether a postal document reached A. The fact of it being posted in its due course, will be relevant.

Under section 16 it has been laid down that when the existence of any course of business is natural to produce a certain result, the mere proof of such existence of the course of business will give a presumption that the result was produced. In commercial transactions the presumption is that the usual course of business was followed by business the parties thereto.

The presumption under this section is only permissible and not an inevitable presumption. Section 16 does not compel a court to draw presumption.

Balbhaddar v. I.T. Commissioner AIR 1957 Punjab 284 – “The presumption attaches to the postal peon’s report ‘refused’. The writing of endorsement ‘refused’, falls within the ambit of “common course of business” of the postman and therefore even without any formal proof, evolves the presumption that it was written on refusal by the addressee.”

Author: Rudra Gupta,
B.A. LL.B. 5th Semester, Aligarh Muslim University.

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