Government documents under public domain

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As per Section 3 of Evidence act “document” suggests any aspect transmitted or carried upon any material by methods for checks, figures, or letters or by more than one of said methods advanced to be put to use, or which may be put to use, to record that issue. a guide, an arrangement, an impression, photos, lithographs, words printed, and writings on a metal plate or any hard substance are reports. 

As per section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872; Documentary evidence is that evidence is produced in written form in court.

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What Are Public Documents?


In the Indian Evidence Act, 1872; Section 74 says that the following documents are recognized as public documents; if documents forming the acts or records of the acts of sovereign authority, of government institutions and tribunals, of government officers, legislative, judiciary, and executive of any part of India or of the commonwealth, or of a foreign country and the public record being in any condition of Private document

Documents establishing the record of acts or acts are information taken by police officers under section 161 of Cr. P.C, Records that are looked after by the revenue officers relating to revenue of land, survey and resolutions of land issues, etc are public documents In the case of K. Pedda Jangaiah v. Mandal Revenue officer, Moinabad the High Court of Andhra Pradesh mentioned that ‘Pahanies’ and ‘Faisal patties’ are public documents and In the case, S L Sharma vs Delhi Development Authority court mentioned that records related to the regional development authorities are public documents.

As per the Official Gazette, certain schemes were published such as schemes published under the Water Supply Act. The scheme so published related to deal the set up of overhead pipelines, connectivity to different locations and thereafter it comes under the public document.

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Nature Of Public Documents

  • Generally, Public Documents are prepared by a government officer in the discharge of his/her government duties.
  • All the Public Documents are made available for inspection to the people in government offices during the time of appointment and later payment of prescribed fees.
  • Government documents are always proved as Subordinate Evidence.
  • The specific copy which is certified as a public document is to be taken in judicial proceedings.
  • Most of the time the court is bound to believe the genuinity of a public document from the properly certified secondary copy.
  • Certified copies of public documents may be provided to a person in need of them.

Recent Cases Related to Public Documents

  • In the Royal Sundaram Alliance V. D Gunasekaran case court noted that the specific verified copies of the civil court orders and FIR orders are public documents. In the same case it was stated any case filed under Section 120B of IPC, 1860 against any person is held to be a public document and is admissible as evidence without any proof.
  • In the case of Smt. Seema v. Ashwani Kumar Supreme Court held that the Register of Hindu marriage is said to be a Public Document.
  • Delhi high court in the case of Dalip Kumar Alias Pinki vs State mentioned that the medical professional prepared the MLC report as a government official in release of his duties and therefore, the MLC report is a public document and the contents of that are considered as evidence.
  • In the case of Shri Keshava Gupta vs Coal India Limited records of nationalized banks maintained have been said to be Public Documents taken as by the court.

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Public Documents Examples

Let's look at some examples of public documents.

  • Electoral Record of all the districts in the state
  • All Census Reports made by India
  • Reports related to the town planning by the department of state development
  • All the Village documents of the villages
  • Public records keep the original private documents and not the copy 
  • National bank records
  • Registrations of Birth and Death
  • Any charge sheet 
  • Magistrate recorded confessions under section 164 of Cr.P.C.
  • Sanction to prosecute
  • Any notice under section 106 of Cr. P.C 
  • Record of Information under section 145 of Cr.P.C.

How To Get Certified Copy From Court or From Government Officials?

Indian Evidence Act 1872 Section 76 deals with the procedure of receiving certified copies of public documents from the government officer. It noticed that if a public document is open to examination, it’s copy might be given to any person who is needing it. A copy of the public document is issued on price of legal fees and a certificate shall be attached thereof, containing the following details:

  • It should be an original copy.
  • The date of the issue must be on the copy.
  • The name of the government official and the title of the government official.
  • The office seal must be there .
  • Complete specifications should be dated .
  • When the above information is mentioned in the copy, then only it is said as a Certified Copy.

Types Of Public Documents

Indian Evidence Act, 1872; section 78 gives us 6 types of Public Documents:

  • Union Acts, gazettes, orders, or notifications are verified by the concerned department heads.
  • Legislature proceedings like Journals of those institutions in copies or printed by the government 
  • executives act or order proceedings of the other national legislatures.
  • proceedings of municipal bodies and publications of such institutions verified by their legal keeper.
  • Public documents of some other class in another country may be announced by the real or verified copy issued by a complete lawful attendant of the document with a verified certification seal of a public notary, or counsel of India or diplomatic agent.
  • Evidence of the Documents by the production of verified copies


Section 77 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 deals that “such verified copies might be produced in evidence of the contents of the public documents or parts of the public documents of which they claim to be copied.”

In normal words, it says that, when the contents of the public documents are to be certified in the court of law, the real copy of the public document doesn’t need to be kept before the court, other than that verified copy of the public document taken from the government officer in line with section 76 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 may be kept in front of the court which would be agreed by the court.


1. What are public documents in India?
2. Are government records public domain?