“Acta Exteriora” means the outward acts or what we do, “indicant” means indicate, and “Interiora Secreta” means the inward secret. It simply means that external acts indicate the secret within the intent. This maxim denotes that people behave according to their intentions and what follows via the actions is a natural consequence. For example – when someone intends to hurt anyone, he will be acting upon that intention by means of shouting at that person or slapping or punching. Thus, certainly, the act indicates the dormant thoughts we are having.
It is well settled that a defendant is judged for his previous intentions by his consecutive acts. One such landmark case is Sahara v. SEBI [(2013) 1 SCC 1] where Sahara issued fifty or more shares to the public without intending to be listed in the stock exchange. Later Sahara argued that no company is under the compulsion to get enlisted on the stock exchange under S.73 of the Companies Act, 2013.
However, the SC rejected the contention and held that the duty of listing, passes from the act of issuing securities to the public as such an offer was made to more than 50 persons. Any offering of securities to fifty or more people is a public offering under Sec.67(3) of the said Act, and every listed company is bound to follow the mandatory provision of law S.73 (1) of the Act. The Court was well viewed to apply the maxim Acta exteriora indicant interiora secreta and stated that Sahara very well knew of the provision as well as their subsequent actions and their conduct unquestionably discloses so.
This maxim deals with intent which is crucial in criminal law as well as civil law.