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Indian Evidence Act 1872 Important Sections, Amendments

Indian Evidence Act 1872: The Indian Evidence Act 1872 defines and consolidates the law of evidence in the Indian law framework. The Act has been amended numerous times over the years. The article provides insights into the important provisions and amendments of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 along with landmark judgements.

Indian Evidence Act 1872 Overview

The Indian Evidence Act came into force on September 1, 1872. The act consists of 167 sections and 11 chapters. There have been multiple amendments to this Act, with the most recent one being introduced on October 31, 2019. Here is an overview of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872:

Particulars Details
Name of the Act The Indian Evidence Act, 1872
Enacted On 15 March 1872
Came into force on September 1, 1872
Preamble to the Act Present
Total Parts 3
Part 1 Relevancy of Facts
Part 2 On Proof
Part 3 Production and Effect of Evidence
Total Chapters 11
Total Schedules to the Act One (repealed)
Total Sections 167

What is Evidence?

The term ‘evidence’ refers to anything of value that can be shown to a court of law in order to establish the veracity of any claim or assertion of fact that is the subject of an investigation. Evidence comes from the Latin word ‘evidere’, which means to verify or demonstrate clearly as proof of anything. Proof, or the quality of providing evidence, is a term that may only be used in reference to the things themselves.

According to Sir Blackstone, “evidence” is anything that “illustrates, clarifies, learns the actuality of contemporary situations, or concentrates on one side of an issue.” Sir Taylor defines the Law of Evidence as the means through which the veracity of an argument is established or disproved by court investigators.

The word ‘evidence’ originally meant something that is simple, obvious, or well-known. It is used to characterise something that tends to produce proof or evidence. The evidential fact is one that tends to establish the principal fact, which is the one that needs to be proved. Therefore, everything that tries to confirm or refute the reality of a claimed fact is considered evidence. When a party asserts the existence of a fact, they must provide evidence for it, while the other party must show that the fact does not exist.

Definition of Evidence in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872

Section 3 of the Evidence Act of 1872 defines evidence as ‘all such statements which the court allows or requires to be put before it by the witnesses in connection with questions of fact under inquiry’. We call these pieces of paper “oral evidence.” All relevant documents allowed by the court to be examined, including any electronic records. We call these pieces of paper “documentary evidence.”

The Law of Evidence in India

The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 is a noteworthy legislative act. The definition of the law of evidence in Indian law is narrow and limited. The act states that ‘evidence’ only refers to the procedures by which the Court is provided with pertinent, relevant, and sufficient facts and is convinced of their veracity. Therefore, any confession or statement of any accused individual during a trial, in addition to the statements of witnesses and documents given for the examination of the court.

In order to establish and govern the appropriate protocol and process of judicial and quasi-judicial proceedings, the Law of Evidence is essential. As a result, the rules regarding the admissibility of evidence are very important. Section 3 provides a comprehensive definition of a court in the Indian Evidence Act 1872, including the delegation of power to judges, magistrates, and anyone else with an exception to arbitrariness who is legitimately entitled to accept the evidence.

Indian Evidence Act 1872

An essential piece of legislation in the Indian legal framework, the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, defines the admissibility of evidence in court and specifies the law of evidence for different circumstances. The acknowledged validity of evidence in Indian law was modified by this act. Prior to the Indian Evidence Act, a person’s social standing in Indian society determined whether or not their evidence was admissible. The law of evidence is governed by the adjective law and not by the substantive or procedural law, which defines the manner and process by which substantive laws are applied.

The opposing parties present evidence to refute one another’s claims, and this area is governed by the law of evidence in Indian litigation. It covers both criminal and civil law. Evidence law is a necessary precondition for any trial, whether civil or criminal. Rearranging and reconstructing the events that happened and are under dispute, scientifically is the purpose of evidence law. Providing justice truthfully and serving as a useful instrument in the process of gathering facts is the aim of evidence law. Two key principles in the evidence law that are the essence of the law of evidence are relevancy and admissibility. Relevance and admissibility, are often used terms in the legal profession and are used interchangeably. The Indian Evidence Act came into force on September 1, 1872. The act consists of 167 sections and 11 chapters. There have been multiple amendments to this Act, with the most recent one being introduced on October 31, 2019.

Scope of Indian Evidence Act 1872

The Indian Evidence Act of 1872 consolidates, defines, and amends the law of evidence in India. It extends to the whole of India. The Act applies to all judicial proceedings in or before any Court in India, including Courts-martial (except those convened under the Army Act, Naval Discipline Act or the Indian Navy Discipline Act, 1934, or the Air Force Act) but not to affidavits presented to any Court or officer or proceedings before an arbitrator.

Features of the Indian Evidence Act 1872

  • In India, the Evidence Act is applicable to all court proceedings including the court-martials. Affidavits filed before an officer or court and proceedings before arbitrators are excluded.
  • The Indian Evidence Act and the evolution of criminal law correlate to each other.
  • The Indian Evidence Act keeps up with the latest technical developments. The applicability of electronic evidence is also examined.
  • The Indian Evidence Act recognises the relative importance of first-hand witness testimony over hearsay. The act signifies direct and real evidence.
  • The Act is not conclusive with regard to evidence in courts. Other laws like the Criminal Procedure Code, Indian Penal Code, Code of Civil Procedure, Indian Stamp Act, etc. also supplement relevant provisions.
  • The Indian Evidence Act recognises and makes provisions for the distinctions between civil and criminal law.
  • The Act also states situations where a fact is proved, disproved, or not proved based on the evidence available.
  • In criminal proceedings, the burden of proof primarily rests with the prosecution accusing the opposing party, whereas in civil matters, the burden of proof is with the plaintiff seeking a remedy. The Evidence Act of 1872 lays situations where the burden of proof is shifted.
  • According to the 1872 Act, suspects’ confessions made outside of court are not considered credible evidence against the accused.
  • The Act uses the phrase “the court may presume” to validate conditions, giving the judicial officer the discretion to accept or reject particular evidence. However, phrases such as “shall presume” mandate acceptance of certain evidence.

Important Provisions under the Indian Evidence Act, 1872

The Relevancy of Facts part contains 51 sections starting from Section 5 to Section 55. Section 6 discusses the relevance of facts that are part of the same transaction. Facts that constitute the occasion, cause, or effect of the facts in issue are discussed under Section 7. Section 11 mentions Facts not otherwise relevant and Facts that amount to admission under Sections 17 to 23 and 31.

Facts are statements, under certain circumstances Section 34 to 38. Judgments of Courts are from Sections 40 to 44. It is based on the Latin maxim, Nemo Debet Bis Vexari Pro Una Et Eadem Causa i.e. States that no one can be punished twice for the same offence and Interest Republicae Sit Finis Litium that it is in the best interests of the state to put an end to litigation. It is based on public policy and ensures that lawsuits do not go on for too long.

Section 45 to 51 establishes the relevance of third-party opinions, which is usually referred to in day-to-day activity as an expert’s opinion. Sections 62 to 66 deal with primary and secondary evidence and specify that primary evidence of documents must be provided before mentioning the cases in which secondary evidence may be given.

Sections 101 to 114A address the issue of the burden of proof. They state that in certain cases, the burden of establishing a fact falls on a certain person. Section 114 provides that the Court may presume the existence of certain facts that should occur in the normal course of natural phenomena, human action, and public and private business without requiring proof. In, Tukaram vs. Maharashtra, 1979, Section 114-A of the Indian Evidence Act was introduced after this verdict.

Sections 115 to 117 deal with the issue of estoppel, another rule of leading evidence. These provisions prohibit a person from giving false evidence by preventing them from making contradicting statements in a Court of Law.

The competency of those who can testify as witnesses is covered under Sections 118, 119, 120 and 133. A witness may be competent but not compellable, which means that the Court cannot compel him to testify. A court cannot compel foreign ambassadors and sovereigns to appear before it to testify. The examination, cross-examination, and re-examination-in-chief of witnesses are covered in Sections 135 to 139. Section 167 states that there will be no new trial for the improper admission or rejection of evidence.

Important Amendments to the Indian Evidence Act 1872

  • Admissibility of electronic evidence was added by the Indian Evidence (Amendment) Act, 2000 wherein the act recognized electronic records as evidence and introduced new provisions to govern the admissibility and proof of electronic records in court. It also added a new definition of ‘electronic record’ and ‘computer’ to the Act.
  • Admissibility of the opinion of the examiner of electronic evidence added by the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 introduced Section 45A, which provides for the admissibility of the opinion of the examiner of electronic evidence if certain conditions are met.
  • Expert evidence under Section 45 was added which provides for the admissibility of expert evidence in court on any matter within their expertise.
  • Admissibility of secondary evidence rules were changed and newly introduced and the definition of secondary evidence was expanded.
  • The JS Verma Committee recommended that judging a woman based on her past relationship with the accused should be considered inapt in deciding whether she consented or not which led to the 2013 amendment to the Indian Evidence Act. The 2013 Criminal (Amendment) Act amended Section 53A of the Indian Evidence Act restricts courts from considering evidence based on the victim’s character. Section 146 was amended to ensure that no questions will be asked of rape survivors about their character or sexual experience to prove their consent. The 2013 amendment also introduced a minimum sentence of 7 years imprisonment in cases of rape.
  • The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2018 added Section 53A to deal with the evidence of character or previous sexual experience not relevant in certain cases substituted with Sections 376AB, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA, and 376DB.
  • The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2018 added Section 146 which deals with questions lawful in cross-examination.

List of amendments to the Indian Evidence Act 1872

The Act has been amended numerous times over the years. The table below enlists amendments:

No. List of amendments to the Indian Evidence Act 1872
1. The Indian Evidence (Amendment) Act, 1872
2. The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 Amendment Act, 1887
3. The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 Amendment Act, 1891
4. The General Clauses Act, 1897
5. The Indian Evidence Act, 1899
6. The Repealing and Amending Act, 1914
7. The Repealing and Amending Act, 1919
8. The Indian Evidence (Amendment) Act, 1926
9. The Repealing and Amending Act, 1927
10. The Repealing Act, 1927
11. The Amending Act, 1934
12. The Government of India (Adaptation of Indian Laws) Order, 1937
13. The Repealing Act, 1938
14. The Indian Independence (Adaptation of Central Acts and Ordinances) Order, 1948
15. The Repealing and Amending Act, 1949
16. The Adaptation of Laws Order, 1950
17. The Part B States (Laws) Act, 1951
18. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1983
19. The Terrorist Affected Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1984
20. The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1986
21. The Information Technology Act, (21 of 2000)
22. The Indian Evidence (Amendment) Act (4 of 2003)
23. The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2005
24. The Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 (10 of 2009)
25. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act (13 of 2013)
26. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018
27. The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019

Indian Evidence Act, 1872: Judgements

  • Aparna Bhat and Ors. v. State of Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court asked courts not to question a woman’s testament on the grounds of her being sexually active.
  • State Bank of India v. Om Narain Agarwal, the Court highlighted the main feature of the rule of evidence is to limit the scope of the dispute before the Court to those facts that have logical evidentiary value in determining a fact and to prevent giving judgments based on illogical conclusions or prejudices, as well as to aid in the administration of justice.
  • Suresh Budharmal Kalani Alias Papppu Kalani v. State of Karnatakathe Supreme Court has ruled that a confession made by an accused is inadmissible as evidence and that a presumption can only be established from the facts, not from other presumptions, through a process of probable and logical reasoning.
  • Adambhai Sulemanbhai Ajmeri v. State of Gujarat, the Supreme Court ruled that when the prosecution relies on a subsequent statement recorded after the accused was detained, such material cannot be considered sufficient material on record even for arresting a person.
  • State of Maharashtra v. Praful Desai, the Supreme Court clarified the rules of admissibility of electronic evidence under the Indian Evidence Act. The court held that electronic evidence, including emails and computer printouts, is admissible in court if it is accompanied by a certificate from a competent person.
  • R v. Abdul Rahim, was one of the earliest cases where the Indian courts recognized the concept of ‘similar facts’ evidence. The court held that evidence of similar facts could be admissible if it showed a pattern of conduct or a common plan.
  • M. Nanavati v. State of Maharashtra, a landmark judgment on the admissibility of circumstantial evidence in Indian courts. The court held that circumstantial evidence could be used to establish guilt if the circumstances pointed to no other conclusion.
  • State of U.P. v. Deoman Upadhyaya, the court interpreted the presumption of innocence. The court held that the presumption of innocence is a fundamental principle of criminal law and that the prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Arjun Pandit Rao vs. Kailash Kishanrao, the court held that furnishing of a certificate under section 65B was made mandatory for admissibility of electronic evidence in the court through this case and oral evidence was held not admissible.

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When did the Indian Evidence Act come into force?

The Indian Evidence Act came into force on September 1, 1872.

What are the latest amendments to Indian Evidence Act?

The latest amendment to the Indian Evidence Act were The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018.

What is the Indian evidence 1872?

The Indian Evidence Act 1872 is a prominent legislation that establishes rules and guidelines for the admissibility and evaluation of evidence in the Indian legal framework.

Who is the father of Evidence Act 1872?

The father of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 is Sir James Fitzjames Stephen who played a key role in drafting and enacting the Indian Evidence Act.

What is the purpose of the Indian Evidence Act?

The purpose of the Indian Evidence Act is to define the permissibility of evidence in Indian courts, including defining evidence, provisions regarding the relevancy of evidence, and provisions regarding the examination of evidence.

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