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Res Gestae: Evidentiary Value

The term 'Res Gestae' is a Latin phrase that translates to 'things done.' Essentially, it encompasses any actions, words, or events that are closely tied to a specific situation. For example, if someone makes a statement immediately following an accident, that statement could be considered part of the 'Res Gestae' of the accident. In legal contexts, 'Res Gestae' evidence consists of statements or actions that occurred in close proximity to an event and can aid in understanding the true nature of what took place. It is similar to examining all the events that transpired together in order to gain a more accurate understanding of the situation.

In the context of criminal offences, 'Res Gestae' refers to the complete series of criminal transactions, from beginning to end. The facts and declarations must be connected and referred to by a legal term such as crime, contract, etc.

In a legal setting, 'Res Gestae' encompasses statements or actions that occurred around the time of an event. These are deemed significant because they offer further insight into the actual happenings. It is like trying to understand a story and having someone share additional details immediately after it unfolds. These details can be considered 'Res Gestae' as they are recent and directly related to the narrative.

Therefore, 'Res Gestae' plays a crucial role in helping us grasp events by taking into account all the occurrences surrounding them. It is similar to assembling all the pieces to form a complete image. By considering all the events that are closely tied to a situation, we can gain a more accurate understanding of what truly took place.

Evidentiary Value:

The term 'Res Gestae' has a broad application, extending beyond ancient Rome to various legal frameworks, including the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. In the context of the Indian legal system, 'Res Gestae' pertains to declarations made by an individual that are intricately linked to a specific incident, thus forming an integral part of the event. These statements are admissible as evidence in court under Section 6 of the Indian Evidence Act. To fully understand this concept, it is necessary to examine its implementation in the Indian legal context, with relevant illustrations.

According to Section 6 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 facts that are connected to the disputed fact can be presented as evidence in court. This rule serves to promote a thorough comprehension of the situation in question, thus facilitating a fair and just verdict. The testimonies of individuals involved in the event hold weight as they are given spontaneously and cannot be tampered with or falsified.

A prime example demonstrating the utilization of 'Res Gestae' in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 pertains to a scenario of physical assault in a public location. Imagine a bystander who, upon witnessing the altercation, exclaims, 'He struck him with a brick!' This spontaneous and immediate statement by the bystander falls under the category of 'Res Gestae' evidence. It is deemed to be an integral part of the incident and is admissible in court to offer context and support to the prosecution's argument.

Additionally, the term 'Res Gestae' encompasses not just verbal declarations but also the behaviours or activities that are a fundamental component of the event being examined. For example, in a legal matter concerning the exchange of goods, the actions undertaken by the individuals involved, such as examining the products or exchanging payment, serve as evidence of 'Res Gestae.' These actions are intertwined with the transaction and provide significant understanding into the intentions of the parties and the essence of the contract.

An essential element of the Indian Evidence Act's 'Res Gestae' pertains to its relevance in cases involving sexual offenses. In such instances, declarations made by the victim or witnesses immediately following the commission of the offence hold significant weight as 'Res Gestae' evidence. This type of evidence is considered highly persuasive and is accepted in court to support the victim's testimony, particularly in cases of sexual assault where the victim's immediate outcry or distress to friends, family, or authorities is deemed highly probative.

In addition, 'Res Gestae' evidence serves a critical role in bolstering the prosecution's case and dispelling any doubts regarding the truthfulness of the disputed facts. By admitting statements or actions closely linked to the incident in question, courts are better equipped to establish the truth and ensure just outcomes.

Ultimately, the inclusion of the principle of 'Res Gestae' in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 expands the range of acceptable evidence in legal proceedings. This provision permits the introduction of statements and actions that are directly related to the disputed facts, thus enabling a thorough comprehension of the events in question. By presenting relevant illustrations and instances, the importance of 'Res Gestae' in facilitating the fair dispensation of justice in the Indian judicial system is clearly apparent.

Essential Elements of Res Gestae:

The fundamental principles and applications of 'Res Gestae' centre around comprehending its key tenets in various settings, particularly those of law and historical documentation.
These are the essential elements of Res Gestae:
  1. Spontaneity: The statements or actions that qualify as Res Gestae must be spontaneous and made in close proximity to the event in question. This ensures that they are more likely to be accurate and untainted by manipulation or deliberate fabrication.
  2. Relevance: The statements or actions must be closely related to the event under consideration. They should provide pertinent information or context that aids in comprehensively understanding the event.
  3. Admissibility: Res Gestae evidence must meet the criteria for admissibility in legal proceedings. This involves assessing factors such as reliability, credibility, and probative value.
  4. Corroboration: Res Gestae evidence often serves to corroborate other evidence presented in a case. By providing additional support or context, it strengthens the overall case presented by the parties involved.
  5. Temporal Connection: There must be a temporal connection between the statements or actions and the event they relate to. The closer in time they occur to the event, the more likely they are to be considered part of the Res Gestae.
  6. Contextual Understanding: Res Gestae requires a contextual understanding of the circumstances surrounding the event. This includes considering the environment, the individuals involved, and any relevant factors that may influence the significance of the statements or actions.
A comprehensive understanding of these essentials is critical for effectively applying the concept of Res Gestae, whether in legal proceedings, historical analysis, or other contexts where the documentation of events and actions is crucial.


Here are some straightforward illustrations of Res Gestae:

  1. Car Accident: Immediately after witnessing a car accident, a bystander exclaims, "He ran the red light and crashed into the other car!" This impromptu statement contains significant details about the incident and is deemed Res Gestae.
  2. Shoplifting Incident: A store owner observes someone placing items into their bag and leaving without paying. The store owner shouts, "Stop that thief!" This spontaneous outcry is part of the Res Gestae of the shoplifting incident.
  3. Assault in a Park: Following a physical altercation in a park, a witness tells arriving police officers, "I saw him punch the other guy first!" The witness's immediate statement helps establish the sequence of events and is considered Res Gestae.
  4. Robbery: During a robbery, the victim manages to yell, "He took my wallet and ran down the alley!" The victim's spontaneous outcry provides crucial information about the crime and qualifies as Res Gestae.
  5. House Fire: Upon seeing smoke billowing from a neighbour's house, a passerby calls emergency services and says, "There's a fire at 123 Main Street!" This prompt report of the incident is part of the Res Gestae of the house fire.
In all of these instances, the statements or actions occur spontaneously and in close temporal proximity to the event, providing valuable information that aids in understanding what occurred. They are considered Res Gestae because they are closely linked to the events themselves and are often relied upon as evidence in legal proceedings or investigations.

Court Judgments:
  • The case of Queen Empress v. Abdullah involved a person who was observed running in the street while injured and shouting the name of his attacker, as well as describing the circumstances surrounding the infliction of his injuries. The court deemed both the statements and actions of the injured person to be relevant to the case.
  • In Sawaldas v. State of Bihar, the victim's husband, father, and mother were responsible for her murder. When she was forcibly pushed into a room, she immediately called for help. The couple's children, who were playing outside on the veranda, also heard their mother's cries and stated that she was being killed. This exclamation from the children was considered valid res gestae and admissible in court.
  • In the case of R v. Bedingfield, the accused was in the process of cutting a woman's throat in an upstairs room of a building. As the victim emerged from the room, she exclaimed, 'Oh aunt, see what Bedingfield has done to me!' The court ruled that her words were not admissible as they did not directly mention the accused's actions. However, if she had cried out, 'Oh aunt, see Bedingfield is cutting my throat,' it would have been considered a valid res gestae and admissible in court.
Written By: Md.Imran Wahab, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9836576565

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