Section 32(2) of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 – Statements made in ordinary course of business:
When the statement is made by such a person (i.e. a person who is dead or cannot be found, etc.) in the ordinary course of business, and in particular when it consists of any—
(a) An entry or memorandum made by him in books kept in—
(i) The ordinary course of business, or (ii) the discharge of professional duty; or
(b) An acknowledgment (written or signed by him) of the receipt of money, goods, securities or properties of any kind, or
(c) Documents used in commerce, written or signed by him, or
(d) The date of a letter or other document usually dated, written or signed by him,—
(i) The question is as to the date of A’s birth.
An entry in the diary of a deceased surgeon, regularly kept in course of business, stating that, on a given day, he attended A’s mother and delivered her of a son, is a relevant fact.
(ii) The question is, whether A was in Calcutta on a given day.
A statement in the diary of a deceased solicitor regularly kept in the course of business, that on a given day, the solicitor attended A at a place mentioned, in Calcutta, for the purpose of conferring with him upon specified business, is a relevant fact.
(iii) The question is, whether a ship sailed from Bombay harbour on a given day.
A letter written by the deceased member of a merchant’s firm, by which she was chartered, to their correspondents in London, to whom the cargo was consigned, stating that the ship sailed on a given day from Bombay harbour, is a relevant fact.
(iv) The question is, whether A, a person who cannot be found, wrote a letter on a certain day.
The fact that the letter written by him is dated on that day, is relevant.
(v) The question is, what was the price of grain on a certain day in a particular market.
A statement of the price, made by a deceased Banya, in the ordinary course of his business, is a relevant fact.
(vi) The question is, what was the cause of the wreck of a ship.
A protest made by the captain, whose attendance cannot be procured, is a relevant fact.
The section speaks of “such person”, i.e., a person referred to earlier, namely, a person who is dead, or cannot be found, or had become incapable of giving evidence, or who cannot be produced without unreasonable delay or expense.
Under English law, before a statement or entry as is referred to in this section is admitted, four conditions have to be satisfied, namely—
(i) The declaration or entries must have been in the discharge of a duty to a third person.
(ii) The declaration must have been made contemporaneously with the occurrence of facts recorded, that is, the entries should have been made at the time when the facts occurred.
(iii) The entries or declarations must have been made by one who had personal knowledge of the facts.
(iv) The entries are evidence of the facts which it was the duty of the deceased to record, and they are not evidence of other connected matters which they may contain in addition to those facts.
It will be seen that these restrictions are not embodied by the Indian Evidence Act. Linder the Act, it is enough that such statements or entries relate to a relevant fact.