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Differences Between Primary Evidence And Secondary Evidence

Primary Evidence:

According to Section 62 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, primary evidence refers to the original document itself. In more straightforward terms, primary evidence is the primary source of evidence that directly establishes a fact. For instance, if a contract is under dispute in a court of law, the primary evidence would be the physical written contract.

Primary evidence carries the utmost weight in legal proceedings as it is the most trustworthy and genuine form of evidence. Any other forms of evidence, such as copies or oral statements, are considered secondary and are admissible only when primary evidence cannot be obtained.

Examples of Primary Evidence are original birth certificate issued by a government authority, signed and notarized original contract between two parties, original title deed for a property issued by the land registry, original handwritten letter from a deceased individual and original medical test results from a laboratory.

Secondary Evidence:

Secondary Evidence, under the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, is considered to be any document that is not an original but merely a duplicate or reproduction of it. This may consist of photocopies, duplicates, or even verbal descriptions of the original document's contents. In essence, Secondary Evidence is utilized in situations where the original document is not accessible or cannot be presented in court. Nonetheless, in order to be considered valid, specific requirements must be fulfilled, such as demonstrating the absence or inaccessibility of the original document and verifying the dependability of the secondary evidence submitted.

Examples of Secondary Evidence are Photocopy of a birth certificate, certified copy of a contract obtained from a lawyer, copy of a title deed obtained from a land registry office, transcript of a letter made from a photocopy and witness testimony about the contents of a lost document.

Difference between Primary Evidence and Secondary Evidence:

The differences between Primary Evidence and Secondary Evidence are given below:

  • Primary Evidence is the primary or original source of information, while Secondary Evidence is derived from Primary sources.
  • Primary Evidence is inherently admissible in court without additional requirements, while Secondary Evidence may only be admissible if Primary Evidence is not accessible or under specific circumstances outlined in legal statutes.
  • In legal proceedings, Primary Evidence is typically the expected form of evidence, while Secondary Evidence is used as a last resort when Primary Evidence is not available.
  • Primary Evidence refers to the original document or firsthand information that is directly associated with an event or situation. It is akin to witnessing an event with one's own eyes or having the physical document or object in one's possession. Secondary Evidence, on the other hand, is evidence or information that comes from a source other than the original. It is comparable to hearing about an event from someone else or viewing a copy of a document instead of the original.
  • The collection of primary evidence usually occurs during or immediately after an event, ensuring its immediacy and accuracy. Secondary evidence, on the other hand, may be gathered at a later time, potentially resulting in inconsistencies or loss of details.
  • Primary evidence is typically considered more credible as it originates directly from the source, while the authentication of secondary evidence may be more complicated due to its indirect nature.
  • In legal proceedings, primary evidence is often relied upon to establish facts or events, while secondary evidence may be used to support or corroborate primary evidence.
  • Primary evidence is typically admissible in court without prior notice, whereas secondary evidence may require notification to the opposing party or adherence to specific procedural rules.
  • In terms of evidentiary weight, primary evidence holds more weight in court due to its directness and reliability, while the weight of secondary evidence may be questioned and can vary based on its relevance and authenticity.
  • Primary evidence is considered more valuable than secondary evidence, as it is considered to be more trustworthy and accurate.
  • Primary Evidence is admissible in court on its own merit, while Secondary Evidence is only admissible in the absence of Primary Evidence.
  • Primary Evidence is the original and direct account, whereas Secondary Evidence is derived from Primary sources.
  • The general principle is that Primary Evidence should be provided, with Secondary Evidence being an exception to this rule.
  • Primary Evidence is typically collected by individuals or entities directly involved in an incident, while Secondary Evidence is often obtained by third parties.
  • Primary Evidence is usually gathered contemporaneously with an event or shortly thereafter, while Secondary Evidence may be acquired much later.
  • Primary Evidence is generally considered more reliable due to its direct and firsthand nature, while Secondary Evidence may be less reliable as it relies on interpretation or replication of Primary sources. Additionally, the trail of custody for Primary Evidence is typically more traceable than that of Secondary Evidence.
  • Determining the authenticity of primary evidence typically presents minimal difficulties, whereas verifying the credibility of secondary evidence can prove more complex.
  • Primary evidence typically comprises of authentic records, first-hand accounts, or tangible items closely linked to the occurrence, whereas secondary evidence encompasses duplicates, abstracts, or analyses of primary evidence.

Written By: Md.Imran Wahab, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9836576565

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