The article 'Types of Evidence and their Characteristics' covers all the important aspects related to various types of evidence presented before the courts to prove a fact.

The article 'Types of Evidence and Their Characteristics' by Dikshita More covers all the important aspects related to various types of evidence presented before the courts to prove a fact. It also includes a few case laws to help readers become acquainted with this concept.Introduction Every claim or demand made in court must be backed up by some sort of evidence or it will be viewed as unfounded, making evidence an essential component of every case in a legal setting. The Latin...

The article 'Types of Evidence and Their Characteristics' by Dikshita More covers all the important aspects related to various types of evidence presented before the courts to prove a fact. It also includes a few case laws to help readers become acquainted with this concept.


Every claim or demand made in court must be backed up by some sort of evidence or it will be viewed as unfounded, making evidence an essential component of every case in a legal setting. The Latin phrase "Evidens Evidere" which means "plain, apparent, or notorious", is the source of the English term "evidence".

Law of Evidence governs the field of evidence and there are different types of evidence that are often submitted in court. Evidence, in a legal context, refers to the information, facts, or materials that are presented in a court of law to prove or disprove a fact, issue, or point of contention in a case.

Concept of Law of Evidence

When one examines the word "evidence," it merely refers to the condition of being evident. However, this definition refers to objects that aim to prove or offer proof of something.

• British Law

According to English law, "evidence" can also refer to the statements made and objects displayed by court witnesses. It can also refer to the facts that are ultimately picked as the conclusion above other facts that were not sufficient to support it since they were demonstrated to exist by those words or objects. Additionally, it is possible to infer evidence to support claims that a certain fact is pertinent to the topic at hand.

• Indian Law

Evidence, however, has a more defined meaning in Indian law and is exclusively employed in the first sense. According to the Law of Evidence, it is, therefore, possible to conclude that the term "evidence" exclusively refers to those tools used to present the Court with pertinent facts and to convince the Court of their relevance. As a result, the Court may examine items other than witness statements and documentation, such as any confession or statement made by an accused individual during a trial.

The definition of evidence provided by Indian law excludes material objects other than documents, such as weapons, tools, stolen property, etc., from its definition. It should also be noted that statements made by parties when examined other than as witnesses, the behaviour of the witnesses, the results of the local investigation or inspection, and important objects other than documents will not be considered evidence.

However, the Court has a right to take these facts into account. When determining whether a fact is evident in the case, it is important to examine the definitions of "evidence" and "proved" together and therefore, combine their results.

Types of Evidence

Oral Evidence

Oral Evidence refers to evidence that consists mostly of spoken words. Without any supporting documentation, anything can still be proven, as long as it is credible. Due to the fact that the person stating the facts is not the real witness to the facts at issue, indirect or hearsay evidence is typically not accepted in a court of law. There are several circumstances in which hearsay evidence is permitted in a court of law. The Indian Evidence Act specifies the extraordinary uses of hearsay evidence in Sections 32 and 33.

Characteristics of Oral Evidence

Every piece of evidence is significant in court proceedings, but oral testimony has become increasingly common. Earlier, it was not seen to be as exact and direct as documentary evidence, but its demand and significance have continued to expand quickly. Oral testimony is equally significant since it motivates people and draws out what they have observed or want to say about the case. Comparatively speaking, oral testimony is simpler to cite. In one of the cases, the Bombay High Court stressed the significance of the fact that if oral testimony is established beyond a reasonable doubt, it may also be sufficient to uphold a conviction.

Documentary Evidence

Documentary evidence is any evidence that refers to a problem that is stated or described on a piece of writing, a graph, a mark, or in more than one form that can be used to record the problem. Secondary Documentary Evidence is evidence involving copies of documents that can be presented in court under specific conditions or as mentioned in respective sections of the Indian Evidence Act. Primary documentary evidence involves the evidence that shows the original records as mentioned in Section 62 of the Indian Evidence Act.

Characteristics of Documentary Evidence:

  • The authenticity of documentary evidence is examined through witness testimony, expert analysis etc. and if found genuine it becomes acceptable in the court of law.
  • Documentary Evidence directly relates to the case at hand.
  • Original Document is preferred over copies.
  • Public Records, meaning documents generated by government agencies are preferred as authentic evidence.

Direct Evidence

The most crucial piece of evidence needed to decide the question at hand is direct evidence, which is generally accepted. A fact is directly proven to be true or to be false by direct evidence. In the event of direct evidence, a specific fact is accepted without the need for any justification. The testimony of the witness in a court of law is the direct evidence, which is sufficient to prove the matter as opposed to the testimony to a fact alleging guilt, thus one need not even draw attention to the illustration presented.

Additionally, there are situations when the rule of best evidence is crucial in supporting direct evidence in a court of law. A legal principle known as the rule of the best evidence only considers the primary evidence. It specifies that only the original copies of any evidence, including documents and recordings, shall be allowed into the courtroom unless there is a valid reason not to.

Indirect Evidence

The term "indirect evidence" refers to evidence that establishes the veracity of the asserted facts by presenting additional indirect facts and then demonstrating their applicability to the claim. By making a number of connections between the relevant facts and a variety of other facts, a conclusion can be made from such data. These auxiliary facts had to be connected to the relevant facts through a cause-and-effect relationship.

Characteristics of Indirect Evidence

In contrast to hearsay evidence, which is evidence that is based on what another person has told the witness they have seen or heard, direct evidence is evidence that is provided by a fact that the witness perceives with his or her own senses or by a belief the witness holds. This distinction is made in Section 60 of the Indian Evidence Act, where the words "direct" and "hearsay" evidence are used in opposition to one another.

In contrast to circumstantial evidence, which does not directly address the issue at hand but only establishes the point through inference or reasoning, direct evidence speaks directly to the issue at hand and, if believed, will establish the fact in question without the need for any assistance from any reasoning, such as the testimony of an eyewitness to a murder.

Case Laws

[1] Hanumant v. State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1952 SC 343

In this case, the appellant Nargundkar and R. S. Patel were found guilty, the former was an excise commissioner and the latter was a chemical engineer. Both of them were found guilty of crimes of criminal conspiracy, aiding and abetting, and forgery. Since they were not supported by any direct proof, circumstantial evidence was utilised.

It was noted that there is always a chance that suspicion could supplant legal proof when dealing with circumstantial evidence. Evidence that is circumstantial in nature should be fully established in these situations and should be compatible with the idea that the accused is guilty. As a result, the appellants were exonerated by the Supreme Court of India since the evidence presented was insufficient to establish the accused's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

[2] Sivrajbhan v. Harchandgir, AIR 1954 SC 564

In this instance, it was stated that all agreements that prove or refute any fact or thing whose veracity is put out for judicial investigation are not considered evidence under law. To put it another way, a statement does not constitute evidence when the parties concerned do not have the chance to cross-examine it to determine its veracity. As a result, electronic evidence is a respectable type of proof.

[3] Balram Prasad Agrawal v. State of Bihar & Others, (1997) 9 SCC 338

In this case, the respondent-accused was alleged to have either killed or forced a young married woman named Kiran Devi, who was the daughter of the appellant-complainant, to commit suicide by jumping into the well. Although it was claimed that the information they learned from their neighbours was entirely hearsay, the respondents were found guilty based solely on hearsay evidence. When evaluating the witnesses or the person in whose presence these comments were made, it is important to take into account both the fact that the statement was made and its truth.


Evidence is essentially anything that is used to support or clarify the veracity of a submission, and all types of evidence are thought to be crucial in determining how a case will turn out. Evidence is important in every case, whether it is civil or criminal, because, without it, it is impossible to prove the facts. The various forms of evidence are remarkable for their relevance and requirements for admissibility, as well. Simply put, it would be impossible to predict the outcome of a case without any relevant evidence.


[1] Law of Evidence: An Overview of Different Kinds of Evidence, Available Here

[2] Types of Evidences, Available Here

[3] 10 Characteristics of Documentary Research, its Types, Sources and Examples, Available Here

[4] The Distinction Between Direct and Circumstantial Evidence, Available Here

Important Links

Dikshita More

Dikshita More

Vivekanand College of Law, Chembur

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