Legal Maxim

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Literal Meaning

The burden of proof is on the plaintiff.




As per this maxim, a plaintiff to a legal action must prove his or her case to win the lawsuit against the defendant. The plaintiff is obliged to submit to the court all the proofs and evidence he/she has got against the defendant to justify their claims. In other terms, the claimant bears the burden of proof, who has to prove the aspects of their claim.

A mere filing of a case is not enough to win a case, but also the person has to support their allegations with strong evidence to convince the court about the obligations of the defendant. In criminal proceedings, the burden of proof lies on the prosecutor. The scope and the subject-matter of ‘burden of proof’ could include the issues related to ‘evidence’ as well as ‘pleadings.’


A and B have been married for 5 years. However, B started harassing A for dowry and has kept on abusing and physically assaulting A for around 1 year. A had to undergo treatment for her physical and mental harassment. Later, A applied for divorce on the basis of cruelty. In this case, A has to prove that B has caused the injury of physical and mental assaults against her to prove her case before the court. Thus, the maxim Actori Incumbit Onus Probandi is applicable.

Case Laws

In Republic of Guinea Versus Democratic Republic of the Congo, International Court of Justice held that “The determination of the burden of proof is, in reality, dependent on the subject-matter and the nature of each dispute brought before the Court; it varies according to the type of facts which it is necessary to establish for the purposes of the decision of the case.”

In Sh. Kedar Nath Kohli vs Sh. Sardul Singh, the Delhi District Court while referring to the above maxim, held that “The rule of law is ‘actori incumbit onus probandi’ i.e. the burden of proof lies on the plaintiff or the prosecution. The plaintiff’s case has to stand on its own legs and the plaintiff cannot claim his claim to be established on account of the weakness of the defendant’s case.”

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