Section 93 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872

Illustrations:

(a) A agrees, in writing, to sell a horse to  for “Rs. 1,000 or Rs. 1,500.” Evidence cannot be given to show which price was to be given.

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(b) A deed contains blanks. Evidence cannot be given of facts which would show how they were meant to be filled.

Comments:

Patent ambiguity means a defect which appears on the face of the document. In other words, the language of a deed or instrument is on its face ambiguous or defective as to convey no meaning. The document is apparently detective, when it is read by an ordinary prudent person, he can easily observe the ambiguity of the language of the document. Such ambiguity cannot be rectified by the court or by the parties who are too late to do it. “The court is to interpret documents, but it cannot supply the intention of the writer or import words into documents which are incapable of meaning for want of adequate expression.”

Principle:

This section deals with the first principle of patent ambiguity. It cannot be explained under section 93 by oral evidence, but a latent ambiguity can be under section 96 of the Act. According to the section an ambiguity is such that the document is on its face is unintelligible and such defect cannot be removed. Where the document is ambiguous the language used in the document can decide the question only and not by the parties by relying upon any extrinsic evidence. By application of the rules of interpretation no definite meaning can be found.

The reason is that when the parties did not care to remove the defect then it is too late to remove it. “Where a deed is ungrammatical and cannot be read literally to give any clear meaning, oral evidence cannot be given to supply the defect.” It would not be open to the parties or the court to attempt to remove the detect or vagueness or uncertainty by relying upon any extrinsic evidence. Two Illustrations, viz. (a) and (b) give a clear picture of patent ambiguity.

Inadmissibility of extrinsic evidence:

The general rule is that the extrinsic evidence is not admissible to explain patented ambiguities, but “Section 93 does not affect court’s power to fill in blanks or omissions by ordinary rules of construction.” If on a fair construction, the conditions mentioned in the document is held to be vague or uncertain, no evidence can be admitted to remove the said vagueness or ambiguity. In certain circumstances extrinsic evidence is also not admissible. Bank Promissory Note cannot be filled up by person to whom such note is delivered. Death of original executants of promissory note cannot affect statutory right to complete inchoate instruments.