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Relevancy & Admissibility

Relevancy is the ultimate touchstone for determination of the admissibility of evidence. It is due to this fundamental rule of the Law of Evidence that the terms ‘relevancy’ and ‘admissibility’ are often used interchangeably. It must be noted that both the concepts are quite distinct from each other. For instance, a confession made by an accused to his wife may be relevant but is inadmissible since it falls within the purview of ‘Privileged Communications’ under the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. It may be stated that all that is admissible is relevant but all that is relevant may not be admissible. Let us further evaluate the difference between relevancy and admissibility.

A fact may either be logically relevant or legally relevant. Where a fact bears such casual relation to the other that it renders probable its existence or non- existence, it is said to be a logically relevant fact. The Evidence Act recognizes some of the kinds of causal relations. Thus, those kinds of causal relations which are recognized by law are known as legally relevant fact. Therefore, while all legally relevant facts are logically relevant, all logically relevant facts may not be legally relevant. For instance, an accused gives the following statement- “I have kept in the field the knife with which I killed A.” While the statement may be logically relevant to establish the guilt of the accused, its legal relevancy extends to only so far as it confirms the fact that the accused had kept the knife in the field. This is so because Section 27 of the Evidence Act clearly lays down that only that part of the information may be proved which clearly relates to the fact thereby discovered.

Admissibility refers to the question as to whether the court must consider a relevant fact in deciding upon the issue or not. A fact is admissible only if it does not infringe any of the rules of exclusivity provided by law. Thus, logically relevant facts are relevant but may not be admissible whereas legally relevant facts are relevant as well as admissible. Relevancy is a question pertaining to the tendering of evidence before a court of law and is for the lawyers to decide. On the other hand, admissibility is for the judge to decide since it pertains to the weight that must be attached to a piece of evidence tendered before the court vide “Dato’ Seri Anwar bin Ibrahim v. Public Prosecutor 1)”. In “Ram Bihari Yadav v State of Bihar2)”, the Supreme Court observed that, more than often, the expressions relevancy and admissibility are used as synonym but their legal implications are different because more often than not, facts which are relevant may not be admissible for example, the communication made by spouse during marriage, the communication between an advocate and his client, though relevant are not admissible. So also the facts which are admissible may not be relevant. For example, questions permitted to be cross- examined to test the veracity or to impeach credit of witness, though not relevant are admissible.

Difference between Admissibility & Relevancy

Admissibility Relevancy
Admissibility is not based on logic but strict rules of law. Relevancy is based on logic and probativity.
The rules of admissibility is described after section 56 of Indian Evidence Act,1872 The rules of relevancy is described from sections 5 to 55 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872
The rules of admissibility declare whether certain type of relevant evidence are admissible or are to be excluded. The rules of relevancy declare what is relevant.
Admissibility is the means and modes for admissibility of relevant evidence. The rules of relevancy indicate the facts permitted to be proved which then become admissible.
The facts which are admissible are necessarily relevant. The facts which are relevant are not necessarily admissible.

Evidence of only Facts in issue & Relevant Facts

Section 5 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 says that, “Evidence may be given of facts in issue and relevant. It runs as follows: Evidence may be given in any suit or proceeding of the existence or non-existence of every fact in issue and of such other facts as are hereinafter declared to be relevant, and of no others. Explanation: - This section shall not enable any person to give evidence of a fact which he is disentitled to prove by any provisions of the law for the time being in force relating to Civil Procedure Code.


  1. A is tried for the murder of B by beating him with a club with the intention of causing his death. At A’s trial the following the club;
    A’s beating B with the club;
    A’s causing B’s death by such beating;
    A’s intention to cause B’s death.
  2. A suitor does not bring with him, and have in readiness for production at the first hearing of the cause of the case, a bond on which he relies. This section does not enable him to produce the bond or prove its contents at a subsequent stage of the proceedings, otherwise than in accordance with the conditions prescribed by the Code of Civil Procedure.

Section 5 of the Evidence Act says that evidence may be given of existence or non-existence of every facts in issue and of such other facts as are hereinafter declared to be relevant and of no others. The words “and of no others” under Section 5 indicate clearly that to be admissible in evidence, a fact must be either in issue or must fall within the purview of Section 6 to 55 of the Evidence Act. Otherwise, the fact cannot be admitted in evidence.

About the Author

  • Adv. Abhishek Gupta (Natraj Legal Solutions)
  • Delhi High Court
  • Ph: 9999052336,8700521407
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2015 2 MLJ 293
AIR 1998 SC 1850

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