A presumption means a rule of law by which the court and Judges shall draw a particular inference from particular facts or from particular evidence unless and until the truth of that inference is disproved. Thus, a person who has not been heard of for seven years is presumed to be dead, although in a number of actual cases he has been found alive. Similarly, an accused person is presumed to be innocent as long as he is not conclusively proved to have committed the offence, although the accused being a very influential person may have suppressed all evidence and none would dare come forward to speak against him.
Kinds of Presumption
Presumptions are of two kinds; presumptions of law and presumption of fact. Presumption of law can be further sub-divided into two parts; conclusive and rebuttable presumptions
a. Legal Presumptions
A legal presumption or presumption juris is, strictly speaking, a rule of evidence by which the law directs a certain inference to be drawn from a certain set of circumstances. If the circumstances are proved the inference must follow “though in fact such inference presumed fact may really be sufficiently proved or not and even if the inference can be proved to be wrong.
One fact is recognized by law as sufficient proof of another fact, whether it is in truth sufficient for the purpose or not. A notification in the official gazette is presumed by law to have been signed. In fact, the person concerned may have signed or may not have signed. However, the fact of notification is considered by law to be sufficient proof of the fact of the signature.
b. Conclusive presumption
Conclusive presumptions are those where the inference drawn cannot be proved to be false.
(i) The accused is a child below 7. It will be conclusively presumed under the Pakistan Penal Code that he had not the mental capacity to commit the crime with which he is charged. The court will not allow evidence to be led on the point that in fact he had such capacity.
(ii) The worlds of a deed of contract are clear and the parties admit execution, the court will presume that the parties intended to convey by the term the sense that is conveyed by their ordinary meaning and they will not be allowed to show that in fact something else was meant.
c. Rebuttable Presumptions
Rebuttable presumptions are inference, drawn from facts where the inference is not sufficiently proved. These presumptions can be shown to be false by leading contrary evidence.
(i) The accused is presumed to be innocent but he may be shown to be guilty by producing sufficient evidence.
(ii) A child within the continuance of a valid marriage or within 280 days of its dissolution is presumed to be legitimate, but the presumption may be rebutted by showing that his parents could not have had access to each other at any time that he could be conceived.
(iii) A person not heard of for seven years by those who would naturally have heard of him is presumed to be dead. But the presumption may be negated by contrary evidence.