The standard of proof, in essence, can be loosely defined as the quantum of evidence that must be presented before a Court before a fact can be said to exist or not exist. As the type of cases before a Court can be classified into criminal or civil, so can the standard of proof. There is a clear understanding that the Courts follow according to wich the standard of proof to be followed in a criminal case is that of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ whereas the standard of proof changes, even lowers to the ‘balance of probabilities’ in cases of civil proceedings. It is also widely understood that the standard is higher in criminal cases. This does not mean that the actual quantity of evidence adduced should be more but speaks more of the nature of evidence. Even though such a bifurcation exists, a problem might crop up in the form of criminal charges within a civil case. This is one of the most important questions that the researcher has tried to analyse in this paper. The researcher has analysed the meaning and scope of the two standards, the position in India and finally, the question of a third standard.
In common law, two separate standards of proof are recognized- proof beyond reasonable doubt and proof based on the balance of probabilities. The former is he standard adopted while dealing with criminal cases while the latter is the standard in use in case of civil suits. [ 1 ] Different standards of proof are constructed seemingly to, among other things, minimize the high social costs that may arise on account of errors. [ 2 ] In actuality, these two terms are rarely used, especially in jurisdictions where juries are involved, as the two terms seem to be rather esoteric in nature and not immediately comprehensible. [ 3 ]