Indian evidence act contains a set of rules and allied issues governing admissibly of any evidence in the Indian courts of law originally passed by the British parliament. The Indian evidence act contains eleven chapters and 167 sections and came to force 1st September 1872, during the time in which India was a part of British Empire. It was framed by sir James Fitz James Stephen .Now in this 21st century law of evidence had become one of the most important laws administered by the Indian civil and criminal courts. It is playing an imperative role to determine the question of relevance or irrelevance of evidence that explicitly supports judgments.
The word, evidence is derived from the Latin word evidence or evidere, which means “ to show clearly; to make clear to the sight; to discover clearly; to make plainly certain; to ascertain; to prove”.
The main principle which underlie the law of evidence are-
(1) Evidence must be confined to the matter in issue;
(2) Hearsay evidence must not be admitted; and
(3) Best evidence must be given in all cases.
The evidence was classified into different types in the Indian evidence act……
(a) Best and oral evidence,
(b) Circumstantial evidence,
(c ) Direct evidence,
(d) Hearsay evidence,
(e) Corroborative evidence,
(f) Documentary evidence,
(g) Primary and secondary evidence,
(h) Real evidence
Oral evidence perceived something by that sense by which it is capable of perception, should make the statement about it and no one else. It is explained under section 60 of the Indian evidence act. Oral evidence must, in all cases, whatever, be direct; that is to say; If it refers to a fact which could be seen, it must be the evidence of a witness who says he heard it; If it refers to a fact which could be heard, it must be the evidence of a witness who says he heard it; If it refers to a fact which could be perceived by any other sense or in any other manner, it must be the evidence of a witness who says he perceived it by that sense or in that manner;
If it refers to an opinion or to the grounds in which that opinion is held, it must be the evidence of the person who holds that opinion on those grounds - Provided that the opinion of experts expressed in any treatise commonly offered for sale, and the grounds on which such opinions are held, may be proved by the production of such treatise if the author is dead or cannot be found or has become incapable of giving evidence or cannot be called as a witness without an amount of delay or expense which the Court regards as unreasonable.
It is also explained under section 60 of the Indian evidence act
“Provided also that, If oral evidence refers to the existence or condition of any material things other than a document, the court may, if it thinks fit, require the production of such material thing for its inspection.” For e.g. weapons, scar of wounds or other injury like loss of leg or hand.”
Circumstantial evidence means the evidence of circumstances and is sometimes referred to presumptive evidence:
A is charged with the murder of B. At the trial a witness C , on behalf of the prosecution, gives evidence that he saw A running away from the murder place, with blood stained knife in his hand, evidence given by C will be called circumstantial evidence.
The reasons why hearsay evidence is not received as relevant evidence are: (a) the person giving such evidence does not feel any responsibility. If he is concerned he has line of escape by saying” I do not know, but so and so told me.” (b) Truth is diluted and diminished with each repetition: and , (c ) if permitted, gives ample scope for playing fraud by saying,” someone told me that..” It would be attaching importance to a false rumor flying from one foul lip to another.
Sec 156 and 157 says: When a witness whom it is intended to corroborate gives evidence of any relevant fact, he may be questioned as to any other circumstances which he observed at or place at which such relevant fact occurred, if the court is of opinion that such circumstances, if proved, would corroborate the testimony of the witness as to the relevant fact which he testifies. A sees B hit by a car and run over. The car does not stop but A notes the number He lodges a complaint to police. Police arrests driver and put him for trial rash and negligent driving A is the principle witness, when he gives oral evidence but at the end, the complaint given by him to the police, shown to him regarding accident and if he says yes, it is marked as exhibit, it is corroborative evidence.
Documentary evidence is defined in the Act as: All documents produced for the inspection of the court. The purpose of producing document, is to rely upon the truth of the statement contained therein. This involves, When the document produced in the court, the examination of three questions: (i) is the document genuine, (ii) what are its contents, and (iii) are the statement in the document true?
Documents are divided into two categories, public and private.
Sec 74- The following document are public documents..
(1) Document forming the acts or records of the acts-
- Of the sovereign authority
- Of official bodies and tribunal, and
- Of public officers, legislative, judicial and executive, of any part of India or of the commonwealth, or of a foreign country;
(2) Public record kept in any State of private document.
The kind of documents that are mentioned in sec 74(2) are documents made between private parties, but a record of them is kept in the registration office under the registration act, for example wills and sale deeds.
Sec. 75 says –” all other documents are private.”
Sec 76. Certified copies of Public Documents - Every public officer having the custody of a public document, which any person has a right to inspect, shall give that person on demand a copy of it on payment of the legal fees there for together with a certificate written at the foot of such copy that it is a true copy of such document or part thereof, as the case may be, and such certificate shall be dated and subscribed by such officers with his name and his official title, and shall be sealed whenever such officer is authorized by law to make use of a seal, and such copies so certified shall be called certified copies.
Explanation - Any officer who, by the ordinary course of official duty, is authorized to deliver such copies, shall be deemed to have the custody of such documents or parts of the public documents of which they purport to be copies.
Primary and secondary Evidence:
There is an original document; a photograph is taken and a manuscript is made from the photograph, and compare either with the original or photograph. The original is primary evidence. The photograph and copy is secondary evidence coming under Sec 63(2). That requires that the first copy should have been made by a mechanical process ensuring the accuracy of the copy.
Section 65 specifies in what cases secondary evidence will be received. Example- when a original is shown or appear to be in possession or power- of the person against whom the document is sought to be proved, or of any person out of reach of, or not subject to, the process of the court, or of any person legally bound to produce it, and when, after the notice mentioned in sec 66, such person does not produce it. When the original document is lost or destroyed then secondary evidence of the contents of the document is admissible.
Admissibility of electronic records:
(sec 65 A and B) Any information contained in an electronic record which is printed on a paper, stored, recorded or copied in optical or magnetic media produced by a computer (computer output) shall be deemed to be also a document. Provided the computer output was produced by the computer during the period over which the computer was used regular or process information.
Direct evidence is referred to sometimes as original. A is charged with the murder of B by stabbing him. C,D.E,F,G and H are witnesses. At the trial a witness C says he saw A stab B. D says he heard B cry out that A was stabbing him. E says that A saw running with blood stained knife. F says he saw A washing blood stained clothes. G, who is doctor says that the knife found in A’s possession might be caused the wound. H says he heard from C’s evidence is direct evidence
Coming to conclusion the Indian evidence act This Act is not applicable for domestic tribunals (such as Industrial Tribunal, Administrative Tribunal etc.) and non-judicial proceedings (such as Departmental inquiries, affidavits presented to a Court etc., proceedings under defense discipline acts)tribunals do not follow law of law of evidence because they believe in natural justice.
Indian Evidence Act applies to both Civil and Criminal proceedings. However, some sections are applicable only to Civil, some only to Criminal and some to both. The Act has put more burden of proof on the prosecution to provide the guilt of the accused. The degree of proof required is stricter in criminal proceeding than in a civil proceeding. In a criminal proceeding, the accused must be proved beyond all reasonable doubts.
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