Judicial Notice – Section 56 of Indian Evidence Act

65. This Court, in its various pronouncements, has taken support of Section 56 of the Evidence Act to do substantial justice in respective matters. Some of them are being reproduced hereinafter to get a better picture of how judicial notice is taken:

a) In the case of State of Kerala v. Unni (2007) 2 SCC 365, in paragraph 27 it has been held as follows:

27. Judicial notice can be taken of the fact that each village would not have a chemical laboratory where the process of analysis of ethyl alcohol can be carried out.” For example, if a sample is taken in a village, by the time sample is sent for and is analysed, the volume of ethyl alcohol may increase. Although we are informed that some chemical is mixed when a sample is taken, no material has been placed in that behalf. (Emphasis added)

b) In the case of Prabhakara v. Basavaraj K. (2022) 1 SCC 115, it was observed in paragraph no. 21 as follows:

“21. A relief can only be on the basis of the pleadings alone.
Evidence is also to be based on such pleadings. The only exception would be when the parties know each other’s case very well and such a pleading is implicit in an issue. Additionally, a Court can take judicial note of a fact when it is so apparent on the face of the record. (Emphasis added)

c) In the case of Ved Mitter Gill v. UT, Chandigarh (2015) 8 SCC 86, in paragraph 26, it was held as follows:

“26.………………………………………… The links of the escaped undertrial prisoners with the Babbar Khalsa International, a known and dreaded terrorist organisation was also clearly expressed in the impugned order, as one of the reasons, for it being impracticable, to hold an inquiry against the appellant/ petitioners.

It is a matter of common knowledge, and it would be proper to take judicial notice of the fact, that a large number of terrorists came to be acquitted during the period in question, on account of the fact that witnesses did not appear to depose against them on account of fear, or alternatively, the witnesses who appeared before the courts concerned for recording their deposition, turned hostile, for the same reason.” (Emphasis added)

d) In the case of Joseph M Puthussery vs T.S. Jhon and others (2011) 1 SCC 503, this Court was dealing with an appeal filed under Section 116 A of the Representation of People Act, 1951, against the order of a single bench of the High Court declaring the election of the appellant as Member of Kerala Legislative Assembly from No. 106, Kallooppara Constituency as void on the ground that he was guilty of the corrupt practice within the meaning of sub-Section 4 of Section 123 of the Act. While evaluating the findings recorded by the High Court, this Court considered the scope of Section 56 of the Evidence Act in paragraph 65 and observed as follows:


“65. The High Court has summarily described “Crime” Magazine to be a yellow journal. Whether “Crime” magazine is a yellow journal is a matter of opinion and not of fact. It is impossible to conclude that an opinion of this sort is a judicially noticeable fact for the purposes of Section 56 or Section 57 of the Evidence Act, 1872. There is nothing in the impugned judgment which indicates that any evidence was led, much less considered as to whether “Crime” magazine is a yellow journal and hence magazine could not have been relied upon by the appellant in forming a belief that the contents of the magazine were not untrue.”
(Emphasis added)

66. The law, in respect of taking judicial notice of any fact, may be summarised in the following manner:

(i). The doctrine of judicial notice, as provided under Section 56, is an exception to general rules of evidence applicable for proving any fact by adducing evidence in the Court of law.

(ii). According to Section 56 of the Evidence Act, judicial notice of any such fact can be taken by the Court, which is well-known to everyone, which is in the common
knowledge of everyone, which is authoritatively attested, which is so apparent on the face of the record, etc.

(iii). Except in the rarest of rare cases, judicial notice of any fact is generally not taken in criminal matters in the normal course of proceeding, and the case is decided on the basis of oral, material and documentary evidence adduced by the parties to find out the guilt or innocence.

Supreme Court
Harendra Rai V. State of Bihar, Criminal Appeal No.1726 of 2015