Adverse presumption is drawn against the party that fails to produce the best evidence

Calcutta High Court: An appeal was decided by a Division Bench comprising of Dipankar Datta and Debi Prosad Dey, JJ., wherein the order passed by the Director of School Education dismissing the representation of the appellant for appointment on the post of assistant teacher in primary school, was quashed.
The appellant was an aspirant for appointment on the above said post. His representation for the same was rejected on the ground that he was ineligible as he had attained admission in the training institute on the basis of a forged Final School Examination mark-sheet. The petitioner challenged the said order of the Director of School Examination in various proceedings which finally came up before the High Court.
The High Court perused the record and found that the ‘fake mark-sheet’ of the appellant and his application form as alleged by the respondents was nowhere produced in the records even after calling for the same. It was held that whether or not the appellant had stolen a march while gaining admission in the training course by producing a fake mark-sheet could have been cleared only if the application form submitted by him together with copy of the mark-sheet annexed to it was produced. Respondents conceded that despite vigorous search in the institute, such application could not be traced out. There was no direct evidence of the appellant having relied on the said fake mark-sheet. The Court categorically observed that the best piece of evidence was available with the institute. Failing to trace out the best piece of evidence tantamount to withholding the same and an adverse presumption could legitimately be drawn that had the same been produced, it would have operated to the detriment of the institute. On consideration of all the above factors, the Court was inclined to the view that there was no material before the Director to arrive at a finding that the appellant had secured admission in the institute taking the aid of a fake mark-sheet.
Accordingly, the appeal was allowed and the above mentioned order of the director was set aside. The respondents were directed to take immediate steps to appoint the appellant on an appropriate vacancy if he was otherwise eligible for the same. [Angshuman Mandal v. State of West Bengal, 2018 SCC OnLine Cal 171, order dated 12-02-2018]

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