Relevancy of character in Civil and Criminal Cases - Section 52, 53, 54 and 55 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872

The circumstances may make persons with good character as accused because sometimes they do not have any option left out or they may become victim of temporary mental imbalance. In such cases, it is important to consider the character of the accused to understand the real intention in the criminal act. As per The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 Good character of a person is relevant, but bad character is not relevant except in reply. If evidence has been given that the accused has a bad character, in that case it becomes relevant. But in civil cases, character to prove conduct imputed is irrelevant.


Extracts of the sections in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 are:

In civil cases character to prove conduct imputed irrelevant - Section 52 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872
In civil cases, the fact that the character of any person concerned is such as to render probable or improbably any conduct imputed to him is irrelevant except in so far as such character appears from facts otherwise relevant.

In criminal cases, previous good character relevant - Section 53 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1972
In criminal proceedings the fact that the person accused is of good character, is relevant.

Previous bad character not relevant except in reply - Section 54 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872
In criminal proceedings the fact that the accused person had a bad character is irrelevant, unless evidence has been given that he has a character in which case it becomes relevant.

Character as affecting damages - Section 55 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872
In civil cases, the fact that the character of any person is such as to affect the amount of damages which he ought to receive is relevant.

Explanation - In Section 52, 53, 54 and 55, the word "character" includes both reputation and disposition; but except as provided in Section 54, evidence may be given only a general reputation and general disposition and not of particular acts by which reputation or disposition was shown.

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