The passing of The Indian Evidence Act in 1872 was a ground breaking step. It was to change the entire working of courts as far as admissibility of evidence was concerned in our Indian courts.
Prior to the introduction of this act,
the rules of admissibility of evidence in our Indian courts were based on traditional systems. Different caste, community, social group had their own way of providing/submitting evidence in the court. The submission of evidence was hugely based on faith of a person, his social position and status in society, his community etc.
In short there was no uniform method.
The first part of Indian Evidence Act deals with RELEVANCY OF FACTS.
Relevancy means “the quality or state of being closely connected or appropriate” ; “appropriate to the current time, period, or circumstances”
Chapter I and Chapter II fall under Part 1.
Section 1 to Section 55 fall under Part 1.
Chapter I (1-4) is the preliminary chapter which has basic definitions and is the introduction part of this act.
The whole base of Indian Evidence Act is pillared on four questions-
1. WHAT IS EVIDENCE GIVEN FOR?
Answer is- Evidence is given for Facts (Facts in Issue and Relevant Facts)
(Note that evidence is not given for Law.)
2. HOW ARE THE EVIDENCE FOR FACTS GIVEN?
Answer is- Evidence for facts are given orally called Oral Evidence or by proper documents called Documentary Evidence.
1. Short title, extent and commencement.
This Act may be called the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
It applies to all judicial proceedings in or before any court. It also applies to courts martial (other than Courts-martial convened under The Army Act, The Naval Discipline Act, The Indian Navy (Discipline) Act,1934 and The Air Force Act.)
This act DOES NOT apply to affidavits presented to any Court or Officer, nor to proceedings before an arbitrator.
5. Evidence may be given of facts in issue and relevant facts.
Evidence may be given in any suit or proceeding of the existence or non-existence of every fact in issue and of such other facts which are declared to be relevant, and of no others.
Note- This section shall not enable any person to give evidence of a fact which he is disentitled to prove by any provision of the law for the time being in force relating to Civil Procedure.
(a) A is tried for the murder of B by beating him with a club with the intention of causing his death.
17. Admission defined.
An admission is a statement, oral or documentary which suggests any inference as to any fact in issue or relevant fact, and which is made by any of the persons and under the circumstances hereinafter mentioned.
Admissibility is substantive evidence of the fact-
Admissibility is substantive evidence of the fact admitted while a previous statement used to contradict a witness does not become substantive evidence and merely serves the purpose of throwing doubt on the veracity of the witness.
32. Case in which statement of relevant fact by person who is dead or cannot be found, etc is relevant.
Statements, written or verbal, of relevant facts made by a person who is dead, or who cannot be found, or who has become incapable of giving evidence, or whose attendance cannot be procured without an amount of delay or expense which, under the circumstances of the case, appears to the Court unreasonable, are themselves relevant facts in the following cases-
(1) When it relates to cause of death – When the statement…
34. Entries in books of account including those maintained in an electronic form, when relevant.
Entries in books of accounts including those maintained in an electronic form, regularly kept in the course of business, are relevant whenever they refer to a matter into which the Court has to inquire, but such statements shall not alone be sufficient evidence to charge any person with liability.
A sues B for Rs. 1,000, and shows entries in his account-books showing B to be indebted to him to this amount. The entries are relevant, but are not sufficient, without other evidence, to prove the debt.
39. What evidence to be given when statement forms part of a conversation, document, electronic record, book or series of letters or papers.
When any statement of which evidence is given forms part of a longer statement, or of a conversation or part of an isolated document, or is contained in a document which forms part of a book, or is contained in part of electronic record or of a connected series of letters or papers, evidence shall be given of so much and no more of the statement, conversation, document, electronic record, book or series of letters or papers as the Court considers necessary in that particular case to the full understanding of the nature and effect of the statement, and of the circumstances under which it was made.
40. Previous judgments relevant to bar a second suit or trail.
The existence of any judgment, order or decree which by law prevents any court from taking cognizance of a suit or holding a trial, is a relevant fact when the question is, whether such Court ought to take cognizance of such suit or to hold such trail.
41. Relevancy of certain judgments in probate etc jurisdiction.
A final judgment, order or decree of a Competent Court, in exercise of probate, matrimonial, admiralty or insolvency jurisdiction, which confers upon or to take away from any person any legal character, or which declares any person to be
45. Opinions of experts.
When the Court has to form an opinion upon a point of foreign law, or of science, or art, or as to identity of hand writing or finger-impressions, the opinions upon that point of persons specially skilled in such foreign law, science or art, or in questions as to identity of handwriting or finger impressions, are relevant facts.
Such person called experts.
(a) The question is, whether the death of A was caused by poison.
The opinions of experts as to the symptoms produced by the poison by which A is supposed to have died, are relevant.
52. In civil cases character to prove conduct imputed, irrelevant.
In civil cases, the fact that the character of any person concerned is such as to render probable or improbably any conduct imputed to him, is irrelevant except in so far as such character appears from facts otherwise relevant.
53. In criminal cases, previous good character relevant.
In criminal proceedings the fact that the person accused is of good character, is relevant.
53A. Evidence of character or previous sexual experience not relevant in certain cases.
56. Fact Judicially noticeable need not be proved.
No fact of which the Court will take judicial notice need be proved.
Judicial Notice of fact that many blind persons have acquired great academic distinctions can be taken by court.
Related Case- Jai Shankar Prasad v. State of Bihar, 1993
57. Facts of which Court must take judicial notice.
The Court shall take judicial notice of the following facts-
1- All laws in force in the territory of India.
59. Proof of facts by oral evidence.
All facts, except the contents of documents or electronic records may be proved by oral evidence.
60. Oral evidence must be direct.
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 who says he saw it;
If it refers to a fact which could be heard, it must be the evidence of a witness who says he heard it;
61. Proof of contents of documents.
The contents of documents may be proved either by primary or by secondary evidence.
(a) A man may lie but a document will never lie.
Related Case- Afzauddin Ansari v. State of West Bengal, 1997
(b) Admission of a document amounts to admission of its contents and not its truth.
Related Case- Life Insurance Corporation of India v. Narmada Agarwalla, 1993
67. Proof of signature and handwriting of person alleged to have signed or written document produced.
If a document is alleged to be signed or to have been written wholly or in part by any person, the signature or the handwriting of so much of the document as is alleged to be in that person’s handwriting must be proved to be in his handwriting.
*Admissibility- Non-examination of executants of receipt admissibility of receipts not proper.
Related Case- Ramkrishna Dode v. Anand, 1999
67A. Proof as to electronic signature.
79. Presumption as to genuineness of certified copies.
The Court shall presume to be genuine every document purporting to be a certificate, certified copy, or other document, which is by law declared to be admissible as evidence of any particular fact, and which purports to be duly certified by any officer of the Central Government or of a State Government, or by any officer in the State of Jammu and Kashmir who is duly authorised there to by the Central Government:
Provided that such document is substantially in the form and purports to be executed in the manner directed by law in that behalf.
The Court shall also presume that any officer
91. Evidence of terms of contracts, grant and other dispositions of property reduced to form of documents.
When the terms of a contract, or of a grant, or of any other disposition of property have been reduced to the form of a document, and in all cases in which any matter is required by law to be reduced to the form of a document, no evidence shall be given in proof of the terms of such contract, grant or other disposition of property, or of such matter, except the document itself, or secondary evidence of its contents in cases in which secondary evidence is admissible under the provisions herein before contained.
101. Burden of Proof.
Whoever desires any Court to give judgment as to any legal right or liability dependent on the existence to facts which he asserts, must prove that those facts exist.
When a person is bound to prove the existence of any fact, it is said that the burden of proof lies on that person.
(a) A desires a Court to give judgment that B shall be punished for a crime which A says B has committed. A must prove that B has committed the crime.
When one person has by his declaration, act or omission, intentionally caused or permitted another person to believe a thing to be true and to act upon such belief, neither he nor his representative shall be allowed, in any suit or proceeding between himself and such person or his representative, to deny the truth of that thing.
A intentionally and falsely leads B to believe that certain land belongs to A, and thereby induces B to buy and pay for it.
118. Who may testify?
All persons shall be competent to testify unless the Court considers that they are prevented from understanding the question put to them, or from giving rational answer to those questions, by tender years, extreme old age, disease, whether of body and mind, or any other cause of the same kind.
A lunatic is not incompetent to testify, unless he is prevented by his lunacy from understanding the questions put to him and giving rational answers to them.
135. Order of production and examination of witness.
The order in which witness are produced and examined shall be regulated by the law and practice for the time being relating to civil and criminal procedure respectively, and in the absence of any such law, by the discretion of the Court.
136. Judge to decide as to admissibility of evidence.
When either party proposes to give evidence of any fact, the Judge may ask the party proposing to give the evidence in what manner the alleged fact, if proved, would be relevant; and the Judge shall admit the evidence if he thinks that the fact, if proved, would be relevant, and not otherwise.
147. When witness to be compelled to answer.
If any such question relates to a matter relevant to the suit or proceeding the provisions of Section 132 shall apply thereto.
148. Court to decide when question shall be asked and when witness compelled to answer.
If any such question relates to matter not relevant to the suit or proceeding, except in so far it affects the credit of the witness by injuring his character, the Court shall decide whether or not the witness shall be compelled to answer it and may, if it thinks fit, warn the witness that he is not obliged to answer it. In exercising its discretion the Court shall have regard to the following considerations-
(1) Such questions are proper if they are
157. Former statements of witness may be proved to corroborate later testimony as to same fact.
In order to corroborate the testimony of a witness, any former statement made by such witness relating to the same fact, at or about the time when the fact took place, or before any authority legally competent to investigate the fact, may be proved.
158. What matters may be proved in connection with proved statement relevant under Section 32 or 33.
167. No new trail for improper admission or rejection of evidence.
The improper admission or rejection of evidence shall not be ground of itself for a new trail or reversal of any decision in any case, if it shall appear to the Court before which such objection is raised that, independently of the evidence objected to and admitted, there was sufficient evidence to justify the decision, or that, if the rejected evidence had been received, it ought not to have varied the decision.