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What are the provisions in Indian Evidence Act to educe electronic evidence in court?

Provisions in the Indian Evidence Act for Eliciting Electronic Evidence in Court:

The Indian Evidence Act, 1872, while originally framed for physical evidence, adapted to the digital age through Section 65B, “Admissibility of electronic records.” Here’s a detailed breakdown of the key provisions for presenting electronic evidence in court:

1. Admissibility Criteria:

Before introducing electronic evidence, ensure it meets the criteria outlined in Section 65B(2):

  • Certificate: A certificate issued by a person authorized in the prescribed manner must accompany the record. This verifies its authenticity and compliance with prescribed conditions.
  • Computer Output Requirement: Information must be stored, recorded, or copied as “computer output” (e.g., screenshots, PDFs, printed emails).
  • Integrity & Reliability: Evidence must be demonstrably integrally produced (unaltered) and systematically maintained (following proper record-keeping practices).
  • Intention of Producing Records: Data should have been created or kept in the ordinary course of business or activity with the intention of preserving such records, excluding personal notes or drafts.

2. Presenting the Evidence:

  • Authentication: Clearly demonstrate the source and authenticity of the evidence. Explain how it was accessed, copied, and preserved from tampering. Witness testimony from IT personnel involved can strengthen this process.
  • Maintain Chain of Custody: Document every step of the evidence journey, from collection to presentation. Who accessed it, when, and with what tools? Maintaining a detailed log minimizes concerns about manipulation or fabrication.
  • Expert Assistance: Consider seeking help from forensic computer analysts in complex cases. They can analyze metadata, timestamps, and file history to provide expert opinions on the evidence’s integrity and origin.

3. Additional Provisions:

  • Relevance: Like any evidence, electronic data must be relevant to the case at hand. Ensure it directly or indirectly connects to the disputed facts.
  • Best Practices: Employing industry-standard tools and procedures for data retrieval, analysis, and preservation strengthens the evidence’s credibility. Consulting an IT professional familiar with court requirements can be invaluable.
  • Legal Advice: Navigating the intricacies of electronic evidence is crucial. Consulting with a legal expert specializing in cyber law is strongly recommended to ensure proper presentation and adherence to legal procedures.

Key Points:

  • Section 65B is a self-contained code for the admissibility of electronic evidence. Other evidentiary principles may not apply unless the electronic record is presented as primary evidence under Section 62.
  • The onus of proving the authenticity and admissibility of electronic evidence lies with the party presenting it.
  • The court has discretion to admit electronic evidence even if it doesn’t strictly comply with Section 65B, considering the nature of the evidence and the circumstances of the case.

Remember: This information is for general awareness and shouldn’t be considered a substitute for professional legal advice. Always consult with qualified legal counsel for specific guidance in your case.

By understanding these provisions and best practices, you can effectively present electronic evidence in court and contribute to a just legal process.

Adcocate J.S. Rohilla (Civil & Criminal Lawyer in Indore)

Contact: 88271 22304

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