Burden of Proof in Criminal And Quasi-Judicial Proceedings

Burden of Proof in Criminal And Quasi-Judicial Proceedings makes an important concept while dealing with offences under Customs Act. Factually, the burden of proving a fact rests on the party who substantially asserts the affirmative of the issue and not upon who denies it as every man is presumed to be innocent.

The prosecution has to stand on its own legs and cannot take undue advantage of the defense put forth  by the accused even if the same was found false or improbable. No onus is cast on the accused to prove his innocence. Weakness of the defense can only act as an aid to the prosecution. The infirmity or lacuna in the prosecution case should not be cured with the false defense.

The principle of this doctrine is that a party who wishes the court to believe the existence and require to  obtain a favourable judgement, must prove the fact beyond reasonable doubt. More serious crime, more stricter proof is required.

It also shifts, as once the evidence have been tendered and Court is satisfied regarding the guilt of the accused, the onus lies on the accused to deny to escape from punishments. In case of rebuttable presumption onus of proof is dynamic.

There is also a golden rule of this doctrine that who wish to have some exemption, must prove the same. On this theory, act of child under seven years of age is no offence under Section 82 of IPC. But here onus lies on  his parents to prove that the child is below seven years of age.

Likewise, in customs cases ,an exemption notification has to be strictly construed and no extended meaning can be given to exempted item to enlarge the scope of exemption notification. The onus is on assessee to prove his eligibility for exemption. This view was held in Grasim Industries Ltd v State of Madhya Pradesh 1990 AIR SCW 4189= AIR 2000 SC66=1999(8) SCC 547. The conditions for taking benefit have to be strictly interpreted. When the wording of the notification are clear, then the plain language of the notification must be given effect. It is as settled law that to avail benefit of notification, the party must strictly comply with conditions of notifications.

In Departmental Proceedings, onus is on the Department to prove the malafides or negligence.

However, in criminal cases onus will only be discharged by proving beyond reasonable doubt whereas in civil cases preponderance of probability will suffice the requirement keeping in view principal of natural justice.

In view of the above, it can be understand that heavy burden lies on the shoulder who make allegations unless and until it falls under express provisions of Section 123 of Customs Act, wherein accused is burdened to prove the negative of the issue

The burden of proof can be studied in detail under Ss 101-111 of Evidence Act.


Negligence And Fraud Under Customs Law

Attempt And Preparation in Exports under Customs Act

Adjudication of offences Under Customs Act,1962

Binding Effect of Circulars/Instructions on Revenue Authorities

How Abetment Under Customs Act, 1962 Works


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