Comparison of the burden of proof in Civil and Criminal Cases

Both the cases follow the provision of the Indian evidence Act, 1872 for its burden of proof. So, there are very few differences between both types of cases.

Criminal case requires the higher standard for the burden of proof as we compare to that of the civil cases. For example, in the criminal cases it is stated that the accused is innocent until he is proved guilty, so the burden of proof is automatically on the prosecution. In Jarnail Singh v. State of Punjab(AIR 1996 SC 755) case also the court held the same thing that there should be burden of prosecution to prove the accused guilty. While this is not in regard with the civil cases as in these cases the plaintiff has the burden of proof at first but it gets transferred to defendant when there is written statement from the defendant.

Another difference is based upon the kinds of burden, as there are two kinds of burden. One is the beyond the reasonable doubt and another is preponderance of evidence. The preponderance of evidence means that the standard evidence is enough to prove the other party wrong, and causes lower standard of burden of proof. This is mostly in the civil cases. The beyond reasonable doubt should be proved beyond the evidence and there can be made presumption to prove such. This is kind of higher standard of burden of proof and thus this happens mostly in criminal cases. It is very easy in the criminal case to prove preponderance of evidence, so the beyond reasonable doubt burden becomes very important.

There are some exceptions to the burden of proof that are mostly applied to the criminal cases and rarely are applied to the civil cases. For example there is defamation done to a person and there is justification of right to it. So, it is obvious that it will be done in criminal case as it is not possible under civil law as the law of torts is not codified. These exceptions mostly shifts the burden of proof for the criminal cases but it is not with the regard of civil cases as it always remain with the defendant (in the rare cases it shifts).


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