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The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 was enacted on March 15, 1872 and came into force on September 1, 1872 for the purpose of consolidating, describing and modifying the law of evidence. The Act relates to all the judicial proceedings, Courts martial except Court martial under the Army Act, Naval Discipline Act and Air Force Act. The law of evidence is fundamentally a procedural law but in certain parts it acts as substantive law as well.

According to the Act, evidence may be provided in any suit or procedures of the existence or absence of all the fact in issue and other facts that are proclaimed to be important. The Act contains provision for the significance of facts appeared to be part of the same transaction or operation irrespective of the time and place where such transaction happened. The Act regards the intention or preparation for a relevant fact or fact in issue as fact that is relevant to take as evidence. The facts that is essential to elucidate or establish a fact in issue or relevant fact or that ascertain the identity of any article or person whose identity is important, or determine the time or place where the fact in issue happened, or that shows connection between the parties by whom such transaction occurred, are considered essential under the Act.

The proof of common intention or conspiracy among persons is also deemed relevant fact against the entire person who participates in the conspiracy. The Act further provides provision where the facts that are considered irrelevant become relevant under certain circumstances. The relevant facts also depend on the custom or right, presence of the state of mind, or of body or the feeling of the body, and whether the act was deliberate or accidental.

The Act defines ‘admission’ as a declaration, whether spoken or documentary and that propose any implication relating to any fact in issue or relevant fact and that are made by any persons and under certain situations as provided under the Act. The declarations made by persons authorized by law are considered as admissions and the declarations made by the parties who are suing or sued as an agent, are not deemed to be admissions unless the party making such declaration attains the legal character. The admissions are significant and may be established against the person making admission but subject to certain exceptions as specified under the Act. Additionally, the confession made by inducement, intimidation or assurance are immaterial in criminal proceedings under certain circumstances. The confession made to the police officers and during the custody shall not be established in opposition to a person who is alleged to have committed an offence. The admissions are not considered as definite proof but act as estoppels in certain circumstances.

The declarations made by persons just before his death relating to the reason of his death, it is deemed as dying declaration which is relevant fact under the Act. The declarations made by a person during judicial proceedings or an authorized person are considered as relevant fact to prove the truth of facts. The entries in books of accounts, entries made in public documents, statements made in maps, graphs etc, writings in law books etc are considered as relevant facts under certain situations.

The Act provides that judicially noticeable facts and admitted facts are not to be established and it also provides the facts for which the Court is entrusted to get judicial notice. The documents produced before the Court as evidence shall be primary or secondary evidence. The Act provides a list of private and public documents that are considered as evidence under the Act. The burden of proof to prove the facts vests on the person who wishes any Court to deliver any verdict as to a legal right or responsibility. The Court shall presume certain facts on matters relating to abetment of suicide by married woman, dowry death etc. The Act also provides provision for the Doctrine of Estoppel. It further explains chief examination, cross examination and re-examination and the order in which the examination is to be conducted.

The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 was amended by enacting The Indian Evidence (Amendment) Act, 2003. Recently, the 1872 Act was again amended by formulating The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 which inserted provisions of taking evidence in the case of rape. The Evidence Act was amended according to the latest technological advancements introduced for proving certain relevant facts. The Act was modified as per the Information Technology Act, 2000 dealing with admissibility of electronic records as evidence.

 Download PDF: The Indian Evidence Act, 1872