The Law of Evidence is a very significant element of both the system specifically civil and criminal. The passage of this act is regarded as the path-breaking judicial measure implementation in India that has altered the entire Indian justice system. Since the passage of this act, the entire justice system is changed because there was no codified law or existing rules and regulations for taking evidence before that. It is based on the English law of Evidence. This is not necessarily exhaustive. Some of the reasons that it is not exhaustive in nature were when the Indian Evidence Act came into being in 2010, when all electronic documents were amended.
The Law is based largely on the firm’s work of Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, who may be considered the founding father of this extensive piece of legislation. It is Procedural as well as Substantive Law. This article explores the major topics of the Evidence Law which covers the applicability, meaning, object, division (consists of major sections) and the classic classification of the Act, 1872.
The Indian Evidence Act, recognized as Act No. 1 of 1872, named the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, contained three parts, eleven chapters and 167 sections. The Act came into force from 1st September 1872. This Act includes all the definition, methods associated to evidence and how this Act is consolidating.
It is applicable to all over India. This Act does not extend to army law, naval law, disciplinary act and other affidavits that are submitted to officers or tribunals. This act applies only to proceeding before the court.
The word “Evidence” is derived from a Latin word ‘evidera’ which means to discover clearly, to ascertain or to prove. “Evidence signifies that which demonstrates, makes clear or ascertains the truth of the facts or points in issue either in one side or the other”.1
“Evidence defined as any matter of fact which has the effect, tendency or design of producing in the mind an affirmative or disaffirmation persuasion of the existence of some other factual matter.”2
“It also means words that have been spoken and events that witnesses say in a trial. In other times, it means the facts that have been shown to exist by such terms or stuff and considered to be brilliant work of inference as to other facts that have not been so confirmed. Again, it is often used as a context to say that a certain fact is important to the matter under investigation.”3
Section 3 of the Act also defines, Evidence means and includes-
- The representations that the Court permits or needs witnesses to make before it in relation to factual matters under examination are referred to as oral testimony.
- All papers, including electronic records created for Court inspector, are referred to as documentary evidence.4
It is objected to be too narrow definition of evidence as it does not includes Material things other than documents like weapons, articles of stolen property and also statements made out of Court or before Court by the parties, and further does not includes thing like struggle in the case of murder, inspection, identification proceedings.
The counter to this objection can be given that Section 3 is an interpretation clause which only explains the evidence as considered with the definition of “proved” in the Act.
OBJECT OF THE ACT,1872
“The object of the Law of Evidence is to restrict the investigations made by the Court within the limits of general convenience. If such restrictions are not put, no suit can be even if its trial takes place for a long time. The Law of Evidence is for a judicial behavior like the reasoning for logic without it, there will be much delay in trial and the harm to the general public and the litigants will have to face the obstructions and bear more costs.”5
DIVISION OF THE LAW OF EVIDENCE
The Act has been divided into three parts which consists of eleven chapters and 167 sections–
Part-I of the Act consists of two chapters i.e. Preliminary and Relevancy of the Facts, are as follows:
- CHAPTER I (PRELIMINARY)
It is an introductory part of the Act and the corresponding Sections are from 1 to 4.
It contains the definitions of the terms used in the Act.
- CHAPTER II( RELEVANCY OF THE FACTS)
It is the most important section of this Act, which covers the Relevancy of the Facts and the corresponding Sections are from 5 to 55. This part talks about what facts may be proved before the Court and lays down that in any suit or proceeding evidence may be given of the presence or absence of every fact in issue and of such added facts as are affirmed to be appropriate.
This part is all about Proof of relevant facts. Basically deals with how a relevant fact is to be proved. It is consists of four chapters:
This chapter deals with the Facts which need not to be proved. It contains Sections from 56 to 58. There are some facts which the Court shall presume unless the contrary is proved.
This chapter deals with Oral Evidence, given in Sections 59 to 60. If evidence is to be given of any fact that evidence must be either oral or Documentary and the Oral must be direct.
This chapter deals with the Documentary Evidence from Sections 61 to 90. The contents of a document may be proved either by primary and secondary evidence. Primary Evidence is evidence that has been reproduced from an original document or substituted for an original item i.e. a photocopy of a document or photograph.
This chapter deals with the circumstances when the documentary Evidence given more importance over Oral Evidence from sections 91 to 100.
It consists of five chapters:
This chapter talks about provisions related to Burden of Proof, which lays down on which person Burden of Proof lies. The corresponding Sections are from sections 101 to 114A. The Burden of Proof lies on such a person who wants judgment from the Court related to his legal rights, which is affected by the existence or non-existence of any facts or other legal facts.
Sections 115 to 117 deals with the question of Estoppel, another rule of leading evidence. ‘Estoppel is a rule by which a party to litigation is stopped from asserting or denying of fact.’
This chapter discuss about the witnesses. It talks about the competent person for witnesses like whether a minor, lunatic person or any person who are unable to understand the question would be treated as a witness or not. The corresponding Sections are from 118 to 134.
This chapter deals with the Examination of Witnesses. It talks about in which order, examination of witnesses should be held. The resultant sections are from 135 to 166.
It talks about the Improper Admission and Rejection of Evidence. It contains only one section under this Act i.e., Section 167 makes provision for no new trial in the cases where evidence has been illegally admitted or disallowed.
Whatever has been discussed here aforesaid mentioned contents as far, on that basis the Evidence Act, 1872 is classified into two categories:
Taking Evidence by Court:
Firstly, Court takes the evidence which lies down on the basis of:
- Fact in Issue
- Relevant Facts
The Court agreed to the evidence by two ways:
Now the question arises that how the Court would evaluate the evidence, so Court adopts two concepts:
Either the Court considered it as proved, disproved or not proved.
Presumptions ( that fact is proved)
By this method Court presumes that the fact is proved i.e. the Court may presume, shall presume or conclusive prove.
As far as all the legal terms used in this article is concerned, is given in the interpretation clause of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
The Law of Evidence Act, 1872 is a remarkable piece of legislation. It is very significant for the judicial system, as it eases the judge while dealing with the cases which highly demanded or totally based on the evidence. Evidence can be identified as the evidence put before a Court to assist a judge in making a decision in the matter. The decision of a judge is limited to the facts before them, therefore it is necessary for a party to have as much relevant evidence as possible in support of their case. As the provisions contained in the Act is very effective but few need to be amended as per the future circumstances.
- According to Blackstone.
- According to Bentham ‘Judicial Evidence’ p. 17.
- According to Stephen, Introduction to the Law of Evidence.
- The Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
- The Law of Evidence, Batuk Lal, central Law Agency, 2018, edition 22nd, pg. No. 4.
- Batuk Lal: “The law of Evidence”, (22nd edition, 2018), Central Law Agency.
- Avtar Singh: “Principles of Law of Evidence”, (23th edition, 2018), Central Law Publications, Allahabad.
This blog is written by Akriti Sharma, Banasthali University
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