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Evidence — Meaning

June 18, 2021

By Y.Srinivasa Rao, Research Scholar., Principal Senior Civil Judge. Tirupati


Evidence means and includes — (1) all statements which the Court permits or requires to be made before it by witnesses, in relation to matters of fact under inquiry; such statements are called oral evidence; (2) all documents[including electronic records] produced for the inspection of the Court; such documents are called documentary evidence, Section 3, Evidence Act, 1872.

Evidence does not mean oral evidence only, Ganges Waterproof Works (P) Ltd. v. Union of India(1999) 4 SCC 33. Proof, either written or unwritten, of allegations in issue between parties. The leading rules of evidence are the following: —

(1) The sole object and end of evidence is to ascertain the truth of the several disputed facts or points in issue; and no evidence ought to be admitted which is not relevant to the issues. As to when evidence of collateral facts is admissible, see Hales v. Kerr, (1908) 2 KB 601; Butterley Co. v. New Hucknall Colliery Co., (1909) 1 Ch 37.

(2) The point in issue is to be proved by the party who asserts the affirmative; according to the maxim affirmanti non neganti incumbit probatio.

 (3) It will be sufficient to prove the substance of the issue.

(4) The best evidence must be given of which the nature of the thing is capable.

(5) Hearsay evidence of a fact is not admissible, with some exceptions.

(6) No person is bound to criminate himself.
Evidence can be both oral and documentary and electronic records can be produced as evidence. This means that evidence, even in criminal matters, can also be by way of electronic records. This would include video-conferencing, State of Maharashtra v. Praful B. Desai(2003) 4 SCC 601

 Evidence means and includes all statements which the court permits or requires to be made, when the law says that a particular kind of evidence would be conclusive as to the existence of a particular fact it implies that the fact can be proved either by that evidence or by some other evidence which the court permits or requires to be advanced, Somawanti v. State of Punjab, AIR 1963 SC 151: (1963) 2 SCR 774: (1963) 33 Comp Cas 745. 

 “Evidence” for the purposes of exercising power under S. 319 during course of trial. Statement recorded in examination-in-chief is evidence and material on basis of which court can form prima facie opinion about complicity of some other person and necessity of bringing him to face trial in exercise of power. Evidence being rebutted or controverted becomes a matter of consideration, relevance and belief, which is the stage of judgment by the court, Hardeep Singh v. State of Punjab(2014) 3 SCC 92.

Document:- Document includes summons, notice, requisition order, declaration, form and register, whether issued, sent or kept in pursuance of this Act or under any other law for the time being in force or otherwise, maintained on paper or in electronic form, [Section 2(36), Companies Act, 2013.

Documents include any matter written, expressed or described upon any substance by means of letters, figures or marks or by more than one of those means which is intended to be used or which may be used, for the purpose of recording that matter, [Section 3(18), General Clauses Act, 1897 (India)]. 

Document denotes any matter expressed or described upon any substance by means of letters, figures or marks or by more than one of those means, intended to be used or which may be used, as evidence of that matter, [Section 29, Penal Code, 1860 . A record consisting of information inscribed on a tangible medium such as paper rather than computer-based information, [Schedule 5, Information Technology (Certifying Authorities) Rules, 2000.

Normal discrepancies and material discrepancies :— Normal discrepancies in evidence are those which are due to normal errors of observation, normal errors of memory due to lapse of time, due to mental disposition such as shock and horror at the time of occurrence and those are always there however honest and truthful a witness may be. Material discrepancies are those which are not normal and not expected of a normal person. The courts have to label the category to which a discrepancy may be categorised. While normal discrepancies do not corrode the credibility of a party’s case, material discrepancies do so. (Para 10), Syed Ibrahim v. State of A.P.(2006) 10 SCC 601: (2007) 1 SCC (Cri) 34: AIR 2006 SC 2908: 2006 Cri LJ 4087.

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