General Introduction to Indian Evidence Act

The Indian Evidence Act of 1872 is considered one of the most fundamental laws for Judicial officers to adjudicate a case. Therefore, it is a must to understand the basics of such an important law.

This brief law note deals with the fundamental key points of the Indian Evidence Act that a law student or advocate must keep in mind.

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Must See: An Overview of Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023

Meaning and Purpose of Evidence

In simple terms, evidence refers to the proof or something that furnishes proof.

The purpose of the Evidence Act is to make the probability of the existence or non-existence of any fact so high that everyone can believe its existence or non-existence.

Features of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872

Besides being lex fori (Law of the forum), the Evidence Act has the following other features:

Adjective law: The Indian Evidence Act is considered the adjective law, which means it is the combination of both substantive and procedural law. Note that for competitive exams, it is considered a procedural law.

Drafted: The Indian Evidence Act was drafted by Sir James Fitzjames Stephen.

Preamble: The preamble to the Indian Evidence Act explains the law of evidence as to consolidate, define and amend.

Principles: The Evidence Act works on three essential principles, those are:

  1. Evidence must be confined to the matter in issue, i.e., Facts in issue.
  2. Hearsay evidence must not be admitted.
  3. Best evidence must be given in all cases.

Applicability and Non-Applicability of the Indian Evidence Act

The application of the Indian Evidence Act is dealt with under section 1 of the Act.

According to section 1 of IEA, the Act extends to the whole of India. From 31st October 2019, it extended to the State of Jammu & Kashmir as well, by the Jammu & Kashmir Recognition Act, 2019.

It applies to all judicial proceedings in all the courts, including court-martials.

Judicial proceedings refer to the proceedings where the evidence is legally taken on oath.

However, it does not apply to the court-martials convened under the following:

  1. Contempt proceedings, poceedings under the Income Tax Act, proceedings under the Industrial Act, preparing of inquest report in case of unnatural death in prison.
  2. The Army Act
  3. The Naval Discipline Act
  4. The Indian Navy (Discipline) Act, 1934
  5. The Air Force Act
  6. Affidavits presented to any court or officer (Based on personal knowledge)
  7. Proceedings before an Arbitrator (Based on the principle of natural justice)

Structure of the Act

The structure of the Indian Evidence Act is as follows:

  • It came into force on 1 September 1872.
  • Its citation is Act No. 1 of 1872.
  • Extension: To the whole of India.
  • Total parts: 3
  • Total number of chapters: 11
  • Total sections: 167

It’s Parts include:

  • Part I: Sections 1 to 55
  • Part II: Sections 56 to 100
  • Part III: Sections 101 to 167

Repealed

On 25th December 2023, the Indian President gave her approval to repeal the Indian Evidence Act of 1872 with the new Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023.

Ankita Soni
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