Law of Evidence in India | An Introduction
In order to trace the history of the Law of Evidence in India, we have to see three different periods: Ancient Hindu Period, Ancient Muslim Period, and British Period.
Ancient Hindu Period
It was that period when Hindu Raj was there, and the source of information relating to the Law of Evidence was derived from DHARMA SHASTRAS. At that time when the Ancient Hindu Period was there, kings were the judges of the court, and the court were situated in the royal palaces in the capital city. King was the judgment maker with the advice of their adviser and the king’s judgment was the final judgment. The court in Ancient India was not bounded by any technical proceeding for doing justice to the aggrieved person. The basic consideration was upholding Dharma. Three type of Evidence recognized that time are-
- LEKHYA- Documentary Evidence
- SAKSHI- Witness
- BUKHTHI- Possession.
Ancient Muslim Period
In this regard, the law of evidence was discussed in the book MUSLIM JURISPRUDENCE written by SIR ABDUL RAHIM. During this period the Muslim king and emperor established the judicial dispute resolution system according to Islamic law which was purely based upon the Holy Quran. Generally, qazi’s were preferred to decide the dispute. Two type of Evidence recognized that time are-
The Evidence Act was originally passed by the British Parliament in 1872. It contains a set of rules and regulation which governs the admissibility of any evidence in the courts of law. The concept of Admissibility of any evidence in courts of law was totally changed in British India after the introduction of Evidence Act. Before the introduction of this Act, the rules of Evidence were basically based on traditional legal systems of different social groups and communities of British India and were different for every person who was of different caste and religion. The Evidence Act of 1872 is mainly based upon the work by Sir James Fitzjames Stephen. He is also known as the founding father of this Act.
Introduction to Indian Evidence Act 1872
In India, the Law of Evidence is a very important part of both the system that is civil and criminal. The enactment of this act is known as the path-breaking judicial measure introduced in India which changed the entire system of Indian Judiciary. The whole judicial system gets changed after the enactment of this act because before there was no codified rule or set up rules and regulation for taking evidence. This act is based on the English law of Evidence. It is not exhaustive in nature. One of the examples that it is not exhaustive in nature was in 2010, when Information Technology Act came into existence Indian Evidence Act gets amended with all the electronic records.
The word Evidence is derived from the Latin word EVIDEARI which means to show clearly or to prove. The Indian Evidence Act is LEX FORI Law which means the law of the place where the proceeding is being taken.
The Indian Evidence Act is the act number 1 of 1872. The whole act comprises of total 167 section and 11 Chapters. The Evidence act came into force from 01st September 1872. All the definitions, methods related to evidence and how the Law of evidence in consolidated is included in this Act. It is applicable to all over India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. This act is not applicable to army law, naval law, disciplinary act, and all the affidavits which are presented in front of officers or the courts. This act is applicable to only the court proceedings.
Law of evidence is Procedural Law but it also has some part of Substantial Law. For Example Doctrine of Estoppel.
The Act has been divided into 3 parts
PART 1- Relevancy of Facts
- CHAPTER 1- PRELIMINARY (SECTION 1-4). This chapter gives provision regarding application and applicability.
- CHAPTER 2- OF THE RELEVANCY OF FACTS (SECTION 5-55). This chapter gives provision regarding that in which all situation evidence shall be taken.
PART 2- On Proof
- CHAPTER 3- FACTS WHICH NEED NOT BE PROVED (SECTION 56-58). This chapter gives provision regarding those facts which need not be proved in front of the court. Any fact which court already knows or there is no requirement to acknowledge court about these facts.
- CHAPTER 4- OF ORAL EVIDENCE (SECTION 59-60).
- CHAPTER 5- OF DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE (SECTION 61-90).
- CHAPTER 6- OF THE EXCLUSION OF ORAL BY DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE (SECTION 91-100). Where oral or documentary evidence can be excluded.
PART 3- Production and effect of evidence
- CHAPTER 7- OF THE BURDEN OF PROOF (SECTION 101-114).
- CHAPTER 8- ESTOPPEL (SECTION 115-117).
- CHAPTER 9- OF WITNESSES (SECTION 118-134).
- CHAPTER 10- OF THE EXAMINATION OF WITNESS (SECTION 135-166).
- CHAPTER 11- OF THE IMPROPER ADMISSION AND REJECTION OF EVIDENCE (SECTION 167).
- SCC Online
- Law Of Evidence By Avatar Singh