The 21st century saw an industrial revolution that enthralled not only India but the entire world. The utilization of computers is not limited to established organizations or institutions but available to everyone at the swipe of a finger. Information Technology has simplified every human action. During this age of the cyber world, because the application of computers became more popular, there was expansion within the growth of technology. The development in the IT sector has produced the cyber-space where the internet provides equal opportunities to each person to access any information, data storage, analysis, etc. with the utilization of technology.
This increasing reliance on electronic means of communications, e-commerce, and storage of data in digital form has most certainly caused a requirement to rework the law concerning information technology and rules of admissibility of electronic evidence both in civil and criminal matters in India. The proliferation of computers and therefore the influence of information technology on society as a whole, including the power to store and amass information in digital form have all necessitated amendments in Indian law to add the provisions on the appreciation of digital evidence. The Information Technology Act, 2000, and its amendment are supported by the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on Electronic Commerce. The Information Technology (IT) Act 2000 was amended to give recognition to the digital evidence in the Indian laws. An amendment to the Indian Evidence Act 1872, the Indian penal code 1860, and therefore the Banker’s Book Evidence Act 1891 provides the legislative framework for transactions in the electronic world.
Indian courts have also developed the case law regarding reliance on electronic evidence, with the introduction of new changes in the Indian Law. Judges have also shown perceptivity towards the ‘electronic’ evidence, which incorporates insight regarding the admissibility of such evidence, and therefore the interpretation of the law in reference to the way during which electronic evidence is often brought and filed before the court. Prior to accepting digital evidence, it is vital that the determination of its relevance, veracity, and authenticity be ascertained by the court and to determine if the very fact is hearsay or a replica is preferred to the original.
Meaning of Electronic Evidence
Digital proof is “information of important worth that’s kept or transmitted within the binary form”. Evidence is not solely restricted thereto found on computers however might also extend to embody proof on digital devices like telecommunication or electronic multimedia system devices. The e-EVIDENCE may be found in e-mails, digital images, ATM dealing logs, data processing, documents, instant message histories, files saved from accounting programs, spreadsheets, net browser histories databases, Contents of memory device, pc backups, pc printouts, global Positioning System tracks, Logs from a hotel’s electronic door locks, Digital video or audio files.
Electronic Evidence and The Indian Evidence Act 1872
Section 65A and 65B are added by the Information Technology Act, 2000. Section 65A lays down the contents of electronic records could also be proved with the provisions laid within Section 65B. Section 65B (Admissibility of electronic records) states that any information that is in electronic records which are printed on a paper, stored, recorded or copied in optical or magnetic media produced by a computer shall be also deemed to be a document if the conditions mentioned during this section are satisfied in reference to the data and computer in question and shall be admissible in any proceedings, with none further proof or production of the original.
The conditions of Section 65B are-
- Information was produced during the regular course of activities by the person having lawful control over the computer’s use.
- The information has been regularly fed into the pc within the ordinary course of said activities.
- Throughout the material a part of said period, the pc was operating properly, or the improper operation as not like to affect the electronic record or the accuracy of its contents.
- Information contained within the electronic records comes from such information fed into the pc within the ordinary course of activities.
The primary purpose is to consecrate proof by secondary evidence. This facility of proof by secondary evidence would be applicable to any computer output, such output being deemed as a document. A computer output may be a deemed document for the aim of proof.
Where the knowledge was processed or fed into the pc on interlinked computers or one computer after the opposite in succession all the computers so used shall be treated together as a single computer.
Section 65B also lays down that for the aim of evidence, a certificate identifying the electronic records containing the statement and describing the way during which it had been produced by a computer and satisfying the conditions mentioned above and signed by an officer responsible of the operation or management of the related activities shall be the evidence of any matter stated within the certificate it shall be sufficient for the interest be stated to the simplest of the knowledge and belief of the person stating.
Any information to be taken to be supplied to a computer, if it’s wiped out any appropriate form whether directly with or without human intervention by means of any appropriate equipment, or any information is supplied by any official within the course of his activities with a view of storing or processing it although the pc is being operated outside those activities.
Effects of Considering Electronic Evidence as Primary and Direct Evidence
Obscuring the difference between Primary and Secondary Evidence
By accounting all types of computer evidence into the fold of primary evidence, the statute has effectually blurred the difference between primary and secondary kinds of evidence.
While the difference remains expected to use with reference to other kinds of documents, an exception has been created about computers. This, however, is crucial, due to the complex nature of computer evidence in terms of not being easily producible in tangible form. Thus, while it’s going to bring an honest argument to mention that if the word document is that the original then a print out of a similar should be treated as secondary evidence, it should be considered that producing a word document in court without the help of print outs or CDs isn’t just difficult, but quite impossible.
Making Criminal Prosecution Easier
In light of the recent spate of terrorism within the world, involving terrorists using highly sophisticated technology to hold out attacks, it’s of great help to the prosecution to be ready to produce electronic evidence as direct and primary evidence in court, as they prove the guilt of the accused far better than having to appear for traditional kinds of evidence to substitute the electronic records, which cannot even exist.
Risk of Manipulation
While giving permission to all types of computer output to be admissible as primary evidence, the statute has overlooked the danger of misplacing. Tampering with electronic evidence is not very hard and the criminals will find it easy to alter records that are to be submitted in court. However, technology itself has solutions for such problems. Computer forensics has developed enough to seek out ways of cross-checking whether an electronic record has been tampered with, when, and in what manner.
Opening Potential Floodgates
Computers are the foremost widely used gadget today. Loads of other gadgets involve computer chips in their functioning. Thus, the scope of Section 65A and 65B is very vital. if we talk in the words of the law, any device involving a computer chip should be adducible in court as evidence. For example, the Supreme Court has declared test results of Narco analysis to be inadmissible evidence since they violate Article 20(3) of the Constitution.
Electronic Evidence and The Indian Supreme Court
- In Som Prakash vs. State of Delhi,
The Supreme Court has observed that “in this technological age nothing older will be conceived of than denying discoveries and zip cruder can slow down forensic efficiency than promise by traditional oral evidence only thereby discouraging the use of scientific aids to prove guilt.” Statutory changes are needed to develop more fully a drag solving approach to criminal trials and to manage heavy workload on the investigators and judges.
- In SIL Import, USA v vs. Exim Aides Exporters, Bangalore, 
The Supreme Court held that “Technological advancement like Internet, e-mail, etc. were in a quick progress even before the Amendment Bill was discussed by Parliament. So, when Parliament contemplated notice in writing to tend, we cannot overlook the very fact that Parliament was conscious of modern devices and equipment already in trend.
- In State vs. Mohd. Afzal and Ors,
The court held that Computer generated electronic records is evidence, admissible at an attempt if proved within the manner specified by Section 65B of the Evidence Act.
- State (NCT of Delhi) v. Navjot Sandhu
This case handled the proof and admissibility of mobile call records. While considering the appeal against the accused for attacking Parliament, a submission was made on behalf of the accused that no reliance can be placed on the mobile call records, because the prosecution had not produce the relevant certificate under Section 65-B(4) of the Evidence Act.
The Supreme Court concluded that a cross-examination of the competent witness accustomed to the functioning of the pc during the relevant time and therefore the manner during which the printouts of the decision records were taken was sufficient to prove the call records.
It has thus been seen that with the increasing impact of technology in daily life, the production of electronic evidence has become a necessity in most cases to determine the guilt of the blamed person or the liability of the defendant. The shift within the judicial mindset has occurred mostly within the past twenty years and most legal systems across the globe have amended their laws to accommodate such change.
In India, all electronic records are now considered as documents, thus making them primary evidence. At an equivalent time, a blanket rule against hearsay has been created in respect of computer output. These 2 changes within the stance of the law have created standard shifts within the admissibility and relevancy of electronic evidence, albeit certain precautions still being necessary. However, technology has itself provided answers to problems raised by it, and computer forensics make sure that manipulations in electronic evidence show up clearly within the record. Individuals now only got to make sure that electronic evidence being admitted has relevance to the very fact in issue and is in accordance with the Constitution and other laws of the land.
Q.1. What is an Electronic Evidence?
Q.2. Is Electronic Evidence Admissible in Courts?
Q.3. What Are the Conditions of Section 65B?
Q.4. What Are Primary Evidences?
Q.5. Which Case in Electronic Evidence Is Associated with Parliament Attack Of 2001?
Som Prakash vs. State of Delhi AIR 1974 SC 989, 1974 Cri. LJ 784, MANU/ SC/0213/1974.
 SIL Import, USA v vs. Exim Aides Exporters, Bangalore MANU/ SC/0312/1999, (1999) 4 SCC 567.
 State vs. Mohd. Afzal And Ors (2003) DLT 385, 2003(71) DRJ 17.
 AIR 2005 SC 3820