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Fundamental Rules Of Indian Evidence Act

The Law of Evidence is an integral part of every branch of the judicial system, regardless of nation, implying that the position of evidence is a crucial statute in any country. The law of evidence is based on the administration of justice, which is a procedural law. However, in India, the enactment of the Indian Evidence Act has changed our judicial system, since there were previously no codified laws relating to evidence. The Indian Evidence Act has enriched our judicial system by providing rules and regulations for determining the evidence.

Meaning And Classification Of Evidence

The Law of Evidence is an integral part of every branch of the judicial system, regardless of nation, implying that the position of evidence is a crucial statute in any country. Despite the fact that the India Evidence Act is based on English law, it is not fully comprehensive, and it is also a ‘Lex Fori' law, which refers to the law of the land in which court proceedings are held. The word evidence comes from the Latin word Evident or Evidere, which means to show clearly, to discover, to ascertain, or to prove.

Some of the important terms that are needed to be understood are as follows:
  1. Oral Evidence:
    Personal recognition of facts by sentences, verbal expressions, visual representation, gestures or signals, or any other means that can be conveyed to the court is known as oral evidence.
  2. Documentary Evidence:
    any matter expressed or represented on any substance using letters, figures, or marks for the purpose of documentation. Electronic records such as floppy discs, CDs, and memory sticks are often classified as documents. Documentary evidence is a form of evidence that is brought before the court for inspection.
  3. Primary Evidence:
    The primary evidence is when the original document is produced before the Court for inspection.
  4. Secondary Evidence:
    Secondary proof is where the law allows the parties to provide copies of the original instead of original document.
  5. Direct Evidence:
    When the fact is directly Provided by witnesses, things or documents is called as direct evidence.
  6. Circumstantial Evidence:
    Means information related to surroundings or circumstances. It is an evidence of situations leading to the happening of the principal fact.
  7. Hearsay Evidence:
    Hearsay evidence is any knowledge obtained through the help of others rather than through one's own direct senses.

Definitions
  1. Fact:
    It means something that has happened in reality. Section 3 of Indian Evidence Act defines fact it means and includes: 1) Anything or state of things or relation of things, capable of being perceived by the senses; 2) Any mental condition of which any person is conscious.
  2. Fact in issue:
    Facts in issue are those facts which are in question or need to be proved for the purpose of determining some information and making inferences out of relevant information in the case in obtaining justice.
  3. Relevant:
    One fact is said to be relevant to another, when one is connected with the other in any of the ways mention in the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act relating to relevancy of facts.
  4. Proved:
    A fact is considered to be proved when, the court after considering all the evidence (after the trials and proceeding) either believes the happening of the case or makes a probable inference beyond reasonable doubt and believes the existence of the case in manner as it was explained.

Relevancy Of Facts
Relevant Proof is evidence that makes a fact more likely to be legitimate than it would be otherwise. Relevant evidence can be dismissed due to irrational partiality, perplexity, or inefficiency. Relevant proof is usually acceptable, whereas irrelevant proof is never.

Two main fundamental standards on relevance:
  1. Nothing is to be received which is logically not verified regarding the matters which are required to be proved.
  2. Unless and until the clear ground of law or policies excludes it, everything which is verified or probative should come in. Relevancy act as a link between a statement of proof and a statement that needs to be proved.
Where one fact is linked to another in any of the ways specified in the Indian Evidence Act's relevant fact provisions, it is said to refer to the other. The Indian Evidence Act does not define relevance or relevant fact in any way. It basically depicts the point at which one fact becomes relevant to another.

The Indian Evidence Act, Sections 5 to 55, describes a few ways in which one fact can be linked to another and therefore the concept of relevant fact can be disseminated. If two facts are related in any of the ways depicted in Sections 5 to 55, they are relevant to each other. In the event, if a fact isn't connected, then it's irrelevant.

The guarantee of the determination of a specific thing of evidence lays on whether verification of that evidence will sensible in general assistance resolve the essential issue at trial, the court said in Knapp v. state.

In Ram Bihari v State of Bihar, the supreme court observed that relevance and admissibility are synonyms to each other but their legal implications are different from each other, and the admissible facts may not be relevant.

Facts That Need Not To Be Proved

There are certain facts which are not be proved by any of the parties. It means the burden of proof of those facts doesn’t lie on any one. Sections 56 to 58 of the Indian Evidence Act include provisions relating to the non-obligatory admission of evidence by the parties to the suit before the Court to support the credibility of their claims.

In Atluri Brahmanandan v. Anne Sai Bapuji, the Supreme Court took judicial notice as widely recognised custom among the Kamma community of Andhra Pradesh, and held that a boy more than 15 years of age can also be adopted legally.

In Ujagar Singh v. Mst. Jeo, the court held that it has not a uniformly recognised custom to exclude sisters during inheritance of non-ancestral property by collaterals. Thus, the court did not take judicial notice of the said custom and stayed with the general rule that sisters should also be included during the inheritance of property by collaterals.

Alibi

The word Alibi comes from a Latin word that means elsewhere. The concept of facts not otherwise relevant become relevant is explained in Section 11 of the Indian Evidence Act, and make the provision as defending ground for accused. This section's basic meaning is that if an incident occurs and the accused is prosecuted, he can protect himself by claiming that he was not present at the time of the incident.

The most important aspect of Section 11 of the Evidence Act is that this rule is only accepted during the admission of evidence, and no other statute contains such a provision. The burden of proof is on the person who is taking advantage of the plea of alibi, so it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt at the very first stage of the trial. The Essentials of Plea of Alibi include:
  1. There must be an offence that is punishable by the law.
  2. The person taking Section 11 as a defence should be accused of that offence as punishable by the law.
  3. The defence must be satisfactory and beyond a reasonable doubt.
  4. Proof must be presented in support of the defence.

In Sahabuddin & Ors. v. the State of Assam, the Court not considering the plea of alibi Court supported the case from the prosecution side as the accused didn’t provided sufficient supportive evidence for establishing the defence.

Admissibility

Admissibility refers to all related evidence that are admissible in court. The judge has the final say on whether or not proof is admissible in a court, according to Section 136 of the Evidence Act. The justice might ask the social gathering proposing to give the proof how the alleged truth, at whatever point illustrated, would be huge; and the judge will surrender the proof if he believes that the truth, at whatever point illustrated, would be relevant, and not something different.

In Ram Bihari Yadav v. State of Bihar, the court observed that More often the expressions ‘relevancy and admissibility’ are used as synonyms but their legal implications are different from each other, that is; facts which are relevant are not admissible and vice versa.

Best Evidence Rule

Although it is not specifically stated anywhere, the best evidence rule has been regarded as a basic principle on which the law of evidence is based in India. It is the basis of sections 91 and 92 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872. The best evidence rule is used to determine the authenticity of documents presented in court. The Best Evidence Rule states that if primary evidence exists, secondary evidence isn't applicable.

One of the most important aspects of the law of evidence is that the best proof or evidence should always be provided. When proof is presented in the form of a document, the record is the strongest evidence of the truth. Oral evidence is less valuable than documentary evidence because it needs corroboration in order to be accepted. Hence, Documentary Evidence is more reliable than oral evidence.

In the case of Punjab National Bank Ltd. v. Mathra Das, it was said that the date of a document is not a term of the contract and therefore oral evidence for proving that the document was drafted at a particular date or for proving that the document was not written at a particular date of a contract could be given and it would be admissible.

In the case of Meer Mohammed Kajen Jowhurry v. Khetoo Debee, the court said that the rule with regard to writings is that the oral proof cannot be substituted for written evidence of any contract which the parties have to put into writing. The reason being that writing is considered by parties as appropriate evidence of their agreement.

Presumption

Presumption is a method of determining a few facts on the basis of probability, or it is the result of certain actions in general that reinforce the possibility, and when that possibility has a high substantiate value, facts may be ascertained. In law, a presumption refers to the conclusions reached by the court about the existence of certain facts.

The inferences that are naturally and logically drawn from observations and situations in the course of basic human behaviour are known as presumptions of facts. For example, a man with blood-stained clothing and a knife in his hands is presumed to have stabbed someone.Or, if A is found in possession of B’s credit card, A has committed theft. Such presumptions are rebuttable from further evidence.

In State of M.P. v. Sk. Lallu, a newly wedded wife was facing severe beating regularly by her in-laws from the first day of her marriage, and at last, she dies of burn injuries. The Court executed presumption as under Section 113A and held that such presumption could be invoked to punish the accused.

Admissions

The definition of admission is found in Section 17 of the Proof Act, which states: An admission is a statement, oral or documentary or contained in electronic form, 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.

The Indian Evidence Act, 1872, deals with admission in Chapter 2 Sections 17 to 23. Admissions should be simple, factual, and precise, and they should be expressed in the language used by the person admitting. Inferences based on the words of the person admitting are not acceptable. There are two kinds of admission they are: - Judicial and Extra- judicial admissions. Judicial admissions are formal whereas Extra- judicial admissions are informal. Judicial admissions are made during case proceedings but the Extra - Judicial proceedings don't appear on the case records.

In the case of G. Rangaiah v. Govindappa, the court said that admission should be of a precise fact and it should be specific and there should not be multiple inferences available for an admission.

In Ajodhya Prasad Bhargava v. Bhawani Shankar Bhargawa, the court observed that Admission is the voluntary acknowledgement of a party or any person identified with them to that of the existence of certain facts, and such type of evidence are binding in nature.

Burden Of Proof

The Indian evidence act, 1872, deals with the concept of burden of proof in part III, chapter VII, sections 101 to 114 A. The phrase burden of proof has two meanings:
first, burden of establishing the case, and second, burden of presenting evidence. Section 101 of the Law of Evidence defines the principle of burden of proof and states that if an individual is required to prove the existence of a fact, the burden of providing evidennce lies upon him. Burden of proof is based on the principle of onus probandi (burden of proof) and factum probans (proving a fact).

Although the burden of proof remains constant, the burden of proof shifts from one party to the other. The facts that are not self- evident in nature, are requires to be proved. In the case of Jarnail Sen v. State of Punjab, it was held that if the prosecution fails to provide satisfactory evidence, they can’t depend on the evidence given by the accused person in supoort of their defence.

Doctrine Of Res Gestae

'Res Gestae' is a Latin word that roughly means to 'things done.' The principle of res gestae arose from the belief that such acts or statements, which would otherwise be irrelevant and inadmissible, could be admitted as evidence because of the situation in which they were committed or uttered. The doctrine of res gestae is often used to admit a possibly inadmissible piece of evidence to provide the context of a event. one of the most critical criteria for the doctrine's applicability is that the act or statement in question must not occur in complete factual isolation. Even if they are hearsay, statements that form part of res gestae are often admitted as evidence.

The principle of Res Jestae is also regarded as a exception to the general rule of evidence. Res Gestae is regarded as an exception to the hearsay clause. The reasoning behind this is that human nature is such that words spoken and acts taken are often intertwined, making it impossible to interpret an event in isolation, which may lead to a miscarriage of justice. As a result, such statements were declared to be part of the res gestae and an exception to the hearsay rule.

In Ratten v. Queen, the wife called police for help as her husband was holding the gun against her and was about to kill her but the call got disconnected before the operator could be connected and report the victim’s statement. Later the police found her dead body from the house where she had called for help. the police also found that the time of the call and time of death was almost the same so the call by the victim falls under the principle of res gestae. Hence the court found the husband guilty of murder and quashed his reasoning that he had shotted accidentally without any intention.

In Uttam Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh, At the time of the attack, the boy and the victim were sleeping together when he was suddenly awake by the sound of an axe and screamed for help, stating the name of the accused. His mother, sister, and other witnesses arrived shortly after the call for help. The court ruled that this evidence was admissible because the child's act and the accused's act were both part of a single transaction.

Confession

Parts 24 to 30 of the Indian Evidence Act deal with confession. Confession in the criminal justice system means admitting a guilt or crime. This is acknowledgement of one's own guilt. Confessions are accepted as evidence on the same basis as admissions, namely that an individual would not make an untrue statement that is against his own interests. A confession (even an admission) is admissible only against the person who makes it.

Except for the police, anyone can record the confession statement. When a confession is made in front of a Magistrate, it is referred to as a formal statement of confession and have a good evidentiary value. The explanation for this is that under Section 164 of CrPC, the Magistrate must record the confession statement with extreme care and caution. The evidentiary value of confession depends upon its veracity.

The Supreme Court noted two things in Palvinder Kaur v State of Punjab:
To begin, the concept of confession is that the accused must either admit guilt or later admit all things or any of the facts that constitute the crime. A mixed statement that includes certain confessional statements, on the other hand, would also result in an acquittal since it is not a confession. As a result, a statement containing self-exculpatory information that, if true, would contradict the matter or offence, is not a confession.

The Supreme Court opined its arguments in Nishi Kant Jha v State of Bihar on the basis of English authorities that it is up to the court's discretion and that there is nothing wrong with relying on specific part of the confession while denying others.

Dying Declaration

The Indian Evidence Act, 1872, deals with the dying declaration in section 32(1). The Indian Evidence Act of 1872 contains no definition for dying declaration. The term Dying Declaration means any statement in written or verbal of made by a person, who is dead or the statement of a person who had died explaining the circumstances of his death. The concept of dying declaration has been evolved from a legal maxim, ‘nemo mariturus presumuntur mentri’, which means a man will not meet his maker with a lie in his mouth. Although it may sound impractical but our law has adopted this concept and functions it accordingly.

In Uka Ram v. State of Rajasthan, the court defined dying declaration as when a statement is made by a person in the threat of his death or as to any circumstances which cause threat or results into his death, and when the cause of his death comes in question the statements made by him are admissible as evidence, such statement in law are compendiously called dying declaration.

Expert’s Opinion

The provisions of Sections 45 to 51 of the Indian Evidence Act deal with the admissibility of opinions of third persons, also known as expert's opinion. The exception of expert opinion is built on the principle that the court will not be able to resolve all of the issues in cases that are legally complex and professionally sophisticated, since these cases require the presence of experts with specialized knowledge and skills in those fields.

An expert opinion will undoubtedly aid the administration of justice, particularly in cases of murder, suicide, rape, maternity, paternity, and virginity disputes, forged documents, and other crucial medical issues. Where there is a disagreement between the opinions of two experts, a third opinion would be referred. Experts’ opinion is an corroborative evidence and not a substantive evidence.

In Arshad v. State of A.P., the court observed that expert evidence is merely an opinion and not substantive or probative evidence; according to the procedural rule, the expert's opinion is not protected because it lacks independent value, so it must be corroborated with circumstantial evidence.

Witness

The ‘witnesses,' according to Bentham, are the eyes and ears of law. However, a witness is a person who willingly provides evidence to explain or assist the court in determining the rights and liability of the parties in a case. Under the law of evidence every person is a competent witness unless he is disqualified by the judge on certain grounds. A Judge may disqualify a person as a witness on the ground of his extreme old age or decease to the mind or body etc. A child, lunatic, blind persons, deaf and dumb person are also considered as competent witnesses.

Doctrine Of Estoppel

The evidence act,1872 deals with estoppel in section 115 to 117. The doctrine of estoppel prevents an individual from giving false evidence by preventing them from making contradictory statements in the court of law. The objective of this doctrine is to prevent one person from committing fraud against another. This doctrine holds a person responsible for any false statements he makes, whether by his words or his actions.

In Sarat Chunder Dey v. Gopal Chunder Laha, the court said that estoppel is based on the principle that it would be unfair and inequitable that if one person by a representation made and or a conduct amounting to a representation not withdraw his statement to the injury of the other, person who acted on it.

Conclusion
Evidence is an important means to prove the existence or non-existence of any disputed fact in the court of law. Evidence is nothing but a process which deals with the right as well as procedures. To meet this process the Indian Evidence Act provides a number of provisions with regard to relevancy, admissibility, examination and proof of facts. confessions, dying declarations, expert’s opinion, relevancy of character, burden of proof in criminal cases, various stages of examination of witnesses, are all the basic and most important aspects of evidence law.

References:
  1. Knapp v. state [1907] 522 US 1069
  2. Ram Bihari v State of Bihar 1998 4 SCC 517
  3. Atluri Brahmanandan v. Anne Sai Bapuji (2010) 14 SCC 466
  4. Ujagar Singh v. Mst. Jeo AIR 1953 Punj 177
  5. Sahabuddin & Ors. v. the State of Assam (2012) 13 SCC 213.
  6. Ram Bihari Yadav v. State of Bihar [1998] 4 SCC 517
  7. Punjab National Bank Ltd. v. Mathra Das AIR [1960] P H 590
  8. Meer Mohammed Kajen Jowhurry v. Khetoo Debee 10 WR 150
  9. State of M.P. v. Sk. Lallu [1990] Cri. L.J. 129
  10. G. Rangaiah v. Govindappa AIR 2008 Kant 151
  11. Ajodhya Prasad Bhargava v. Bhawani Shankar Bhargawa AIR 1957 All 1
  12. Jarnail Sen v. State of Punjab [1986] AIR 1626
  13. Ratten v. Queen [1971] 3 All ER 801
  14. Uttam Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh [1987] JLJ 279
  15. Palvinder Kaur v State of Punjab AIR [1952] SC 354
  16. Nishi Kant Jha v State of Bihar 1959 SCR 1033
  17. Uka Ram v. State of Rajasthan AIR 2001 SC 1814
  18. Arshad v. State of A.P [1996] CrLJ 2893
  19. Sarat Chunder Dey v. Gopal Chunder Laha (1892) 19 IA 203
  20. Law Of Evidence – Notes, Case Laws and Study Material’ < https://www.legalbites.in/library-law-of-evidence/ > accessed on 20th may,2021
  21. Law Of Evidence < http://egyankosh.ac.in/bitstream/123456789/38774/1/Unit-8.pdf > accessed on 20th May, 2021.

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