Legal Maxim

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Literal Meaning

Burden of proof




Onus Probandi is a general rule that a party who alleges the affirmative of any proposition shall prove it. The onus probandi lies upon the party who seeks to support his case by a particular fact of which he is supposed to be cognizant. However, when law presumes the affirmative, onus probandi lies on the party who denies the fact, to prove the negative.

In any court trial, there is an implied accepted conclusion before any evidence is presented. In criminal trials, where the prosecution is required to prove that the defendant is guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. In civil cases, plaintiff is required to establish a preponderance of the evidence, which simply means he/she establishes a better case than the defendant.

Case Laws

In Smt. Bimla Devi @ Bimal Devi vs Uma Devi, the Patna High Court held that Onus probandi and animo attestandi are two basic features for deciding the issue of valid testamentation of the Will. Onus probandi lies in every case upon the propounder the Will and animo attestandi is the principle that implies animus to attest. The attesting witness must subscribe with the intent that the subscription of the signature made stands by way of a complete attestation of the Will.

In Narayan Govind Gavate Etc vs the State of Maharashtra it was held that “The effect of evidence has to be distinguished from the duty or the burden of showing to the Court what conclusions it should reach. This duty is called the “onus probandi”, which is placed upon one of the parties, in accordance with appropriate provisions of law applicable to various situations, but the effect of the evidence led is a matter of inference or the conclusion to be arrived at by the Court.”

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