Public Documents are documents or records that are authenticated by the public
officer. Public documents also contain statements made by the public officer in
his official capacity that are admissible as evidence of the fact in civil
matters .They are made available to the public for reference and use.
Characteristics of public document:
Rangaraju vs. kannayal and ors.
Nature of public documents (sec 74 of Indian evidence act)
- Public documents must be prepared by public servant in his official
- Should be made available for the purpose of public reference and use.
- Test of publicity is that the Public should be interested in such
documents and should be entitled to check the mistakes or errors in such
documents and if there are any errors or wrongs in it they are entitle to
- It becomes a public document when the public has right to inspect such
official documents and those who are willing can obtain certified copy of
the same by paying prescribed fee.
74. Public documents.—the following documents are public documents:
- Documents forming the acts, or records of the acts:
- of the sovereign authority,
- of official bodies and tribunals, and
- of public officers, legislative, judicial and executive, 1[of any part
of India or of the Commonwealth], or of a foreign country; 1[of any part of
India or of the Commonwealth], or of a foreign country;
- Public records kept 2[in any State] of private documents.
Kinds of public documents and how they are proved: sec 78:
- Acts, notifications or orders and they are proved by certified records
certified by head of department.
- The Proceedings of the legislatures proved by proceeding published by
- Proclamation, orders or regulations proved by gazette notification.
- This Acts of the executive or the proceedings of the legislature of
foreign legislatures proved by official journals published by their
authority and by certified copy of legal keeper.
- Proceedings of municipal bodies in a state proved by printed published
books of authority.
- Public documents of any other class in a foreign country proved by duly
or of an diplomatic agent or by Indian consul, certified by notary public
that the copy is duly certified by legal keeper
Examples of public documents:
Documents that are not public documents:
- School register
Prem Chand Sao v State of Jharkhand,
The age of the accused had to be determined for the purposes of the Juvenile
Justice Act, 1986. There was a concurrent finding of courts below that he was of
the age between 19 and 20 years and, therefore, not a juvenile. This finding was
based upon the report of the Medical Board. The doctor who examined the accused
was not produced as a witness. The school leaving certificate showed the age to
be 15 years. No evidence was produced to show that the certificate was wrong.
The school records could not be doubted for the fact that the admission register
was not signed by the father of the accused. A school leaving certificate is a
document which falls within the ambit of section 74. It is admissible in
evidence perse without the need for any formal proof
- Census Report of India
- Birth and death registers of municipalities.
Narattam Das V. Md. Masadharali
- Records of National Bank
Gorantla Venkateshwarlu vs. B. Demudu.
Records of nationalized banks have been taken to be in the category of public
Documents. They are, therefore, admissible without further proof. The
examination of the person who prepared the document which is being offered in
evidence is not necessary.
Sri Keshava gupta vs. Coal India ltd.
Kitab Singh v Deputy Commissioner
- Charge sheet Orders of civil court, FIR:
Royal sundaram alliances vs. D. gunasekharan
Md Akbar v State of AP
Certified copies of the orders of the civil court and FIR were allowed to
be submitted because they are all public documents. They were
admissible in evidence
- Confessions recorded by magistrate u/s. 164 of Cr.P.C.
- Deposition of witnesses recorded by an officer of the Court.
- Entry in the register of power of attorney kept in the registration
- Village Records of the villages
- Sanction to prosecute.
- Notice u/s 106 of Cr.P.C.
- Record of information u/s.145 Cr.P.C
- Electoral Roll of all the districts
- Town Planning Reports by the Department of State Development
Sl Sharma vs. Delhi development authority
- Medico-legal report
Dalip Kumar alias pinkie vs. state
In a medico-legal case, the medical officer prepares the (MLC) report as a
public Servant in discharge of his duties and the (MLC) report is a public
document, the Contents of which are admissible in evidence.
The document furnished to the Press Council of India by organizations in order
to substantiate their claims to be recognized by the Press Council, are public
documents and are open to inspection.
- Marriage register
Hindu Marriage Register has been held to be a public document. Its contents
therefore, provable by producing certified copies. Where the documentary
evidence based in the official registration of marriage was produced, it was
accepted as a proof of marriage for award of interim maintenance. The contrary
evidence produced by the husband in the shape of Ration Card and the Voters'
List did not show any date of marriage of the accused with any other person.
Seema vs. aswin Kumar
- Sale/Lease deed
A sale deed or a lease deed is once it is registered and entered in the Book-I
of the Registering Officer, the records maintained by such Registering Officer
become a public document.
Gopinath Educational and Welfare Society v Rejendra Singh Shekhawat
- Pahanies" and "faisal patties
K Pedda Jangaiah v Mandal Revenue Officer, Moinabad
Proof of contents of public documents:
- Income tax return
Anwar Ali v Tafozal Ahmed
- A plaint or a written statement filed in a case.
Gulab Chand v Sheo Karan Lal.
- Panchanama prepared by police officer.
Hardayal haram Singh case
- A document which purports to be a letter or report of an executive
Fazl Ahmad v Crown
- Certificate issued by the doctor regarding the date of death
State v Bhola Pal
Neither the post-mortem report nor any certificate issued by the doctor
regarding the date of death, is a public document and they must be proved by the
- Registered power of attorney.
- The report of an officer who effected delivery of possession in the Land
Contents of the public documents are verified in court of law. For that purpose
original copy of the public document need not be presented before the court,
instead the certified copy of the public document can be presented before the
So what are certified copies of public documents? How they can be obtained? Acc
to sec 76, certified copies are those copies of public documents that are
certified by public officer that are in his official custody. Every person has
the right to inspect those documents and on demand can obtain a copy by paying
prescribed fee. the certified copies should contain the writings at the foot of
the copy that it is a true copy of such document or part and should be dated and
subscribed by such officer with his name and his official title and shall be
Ratanlal & Dhirajlal: Law of Evidence (PB), 27th ed / the law of evidence
- 1995 Cr LJ 1742 (Del).
- AIR 2003 AP 251: 2003 (2) Andh LD 648.
- 2003 Cr LJ NOC 66 (Jhar).
- Cr LJ 3167 (AP).