The Indian Evidence Act of 1872: Key Provisions, Amendments, and Landmark Judgements

The Indian Evidence Act of 1872 defines and consolidates the law of evidence in the framework of Indian law. On September 1, 1872, the Indian Evidence Act was enacted. It contains 167 sections and consists of 11 chapters. It has undergone several modifications including one which happened recently on October 31, 2019. It comprises eleven chapters and 167 sections.


The Indian Evidence Act of 1872 plays a central role in the Indian legal system by setting out the rules for admitting evidence in court and expounding the principles which govern it in different situations. This statute substantially changed the prevailing stipulations regarding the validity of evidence in Indian jurisprudence. Before it was passed, one’s social status determined if his evidence could be taken. While substantive or procedural law governs how laws are applied and followed, evidence law is under the purview of adjective law.


In legal processes taking place in India, the showing of evidence by two sides against one another is regulated by the law on all proof in all cases touching criminal or noncriminal matters. It acts as the base for any trial, making it possible to arrange and scrutinize controversial acts. All in all, the principal focus of evidence law is on how to centrally collect and appraise true data so that the course of justice can be smooth.


Two primary principles are basic in the law of evidence; such principles include relevance and admissibility. It was put into operation on September 1st, 1872 consisting of 167 sections divided into 11 chapters. While various changes have been incorporated, the last update out of them all happened back on 31st October 2019 Indian Evidence Act is used interchangeably with the phrases Indian Evidence Law.


What is evidence?

The term “evidence” refers to anything that has worth and can be produced before the court as proof of the truthfulness of any statement or piece of information under investigation. The origin of word evidence is from the Latin “evidere”, meaning to show or make plain (proof) about anything. Proof, showing concrete evidence or these same things are only examples that can apply to the very objects themselves.

Sir Blackstone says that evidence explained by contemporary events or focuses on an aspect of them is said to illustrate and clarify or establish fact. According to Sir Taylor, the law of evidence may be defined as the means through which the truth or falsehood of propositions is established or refuted by judicial inquiry.

Evidence was originally the term for something straightforward, obvious, or widely accepted but now it means something that tends to prove or establish. If an evidentiary fact supports the main fact that needs proof, therefore, anything that sets out to affirm or dispute the truth of an alleged fact is evidence. Someone who makes a claim must show proof that it exists, according to the law, a burden is also placed on anyone who claims otherwise.


Features of the Indian Evidence Act

  • The Indian Evidence Act comprehensively applies to all the proceedings of a court in India and it also applies to cases which are subjected to court-martial proceedings. However, it does not apply to the affidavits placed in front of officers or judges or the arbitration proceedings.
  • In India, The Act transforms with the changes in criminal law as they happen.
  • It accommodates advancements including the admissibility of electronic evidence.
  • Firsthand evidence is valued above hearsay by prioritizing direct testimonies because it shows first-hand proof for the given thing.
  • The law works with other rules that are as important as the Criminal Procedure Code, Indian Penal Code, and the like.
  • It acknowledges and deals with civil and criminal legal procedure distinctions.
  • Judicial officers are empowered to presume certain conditions, and they must accept these in specific cases, but they shall retain discretion in evaluating evidence.


Key Sections:-

Section Description
3 Interpretation Clause
4 May Presume
5 Evidence of facts in issue and relevant facts
6 Relevancy of facts forming part of the same transaction
7 Facts which are occasion, cause or effect of facts in issue
8 Motive, preparation and previous or subsequent conduct
9 Facts necessary to explain or introduce relevant facts
10 Statements or acts of conspirators in reference to common design
11 When Facts not otherwise relevant become relevant
14 Facts showing existence of state of mind or body
15 Facts bearing on whether an act was accidental or intentional
17 Admission defined
21 Proof of admission against persons making them
22A Oral admissions as to contents of electronic records
24 Irrelevant confession by inducement, threat or promise in criminal proceedings
25 Confession to police officer not to be proved
26 Confession by accused while in custody of police not to be proved
27 Information received from accused and how much may be proved
28 Confession made after removal of impression caused by inducement, threat or promise, relevant
31 Admissions not conclusive proof but may estop
32 Statement of relevant fact by deceased person or person unable to be found, etc.
40-44 Judgments of Courts of Justice, When Relevant
45 Opinions of experts
47 Opinions as to handwriting when relevant
51 Grounds of opinion when relevant
52-55 Character When Relevant
56-58 Facts Which Need Not be Proved
59 Proof of facts by oral evidence
60 Oral evidence must be direct
62 Primary evidence
63 Secondary Evidence
65 Cases in which secondary evidence relating to documents may be given
65B Admissibility of electronic records
74 Public documents
75 Private documents
90 Presumption as to documents thirty years old
91 Evidence of terms of contracts, grants, etc.
110 Burden of proof as to ownership
111 Proof of good faith in transactions of active confidence
111A Presumption as to certain offences
112 Birth during marriage, conclusive proof of legitimacy
113 Proof of cession of territory
113A Presumption as to abetment of suicide by a married woman
113B Presumption as to dowry death
114 Court may presume existence of certain facts
114A Presumption as to absence of consent in certain rape cases
115-117 Estoppel
118 Who may testify?
119 Witness unable to communicate verbally
122 Communications during marriage
123 Evidence as to affairs of State
124 Official communications
132 Witness not excused from answering
133 Accomplice
134 Number of witnesses
137 Examination-in-chief
141 Leading questions
142 When leading questions must not be asked
143 When leading questions must be asked
145 Cross-examination as to previous statements
151 Indecent and scandalous questions
157 Former statements of witness to corroborate later testimony
159 Refreshing memory
167 No new trial for improper admission or rejection of evidence




Important amendments to the Indian Evidence Act

  • Indian Evidence (Amendment) Act, 2000: Defined computer, and electronic records and admitted them as evidence in court.
  • Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008: The examiner of electronic evidence’s viewpoint according to certain conditions, was considered when Section 45A was included.
  • Expert Evidence (Section 45): The court has addressed expert evidence in their specialization areas as it is admissible.
  • Admissibility of Secondary Evidence: The rules were edited and the definition was broadened.
  • 2013 Amendments (Indian Evidence Act): After receiving suggestions from the JS Verma Committee, section 53A was therefore amended to limit the use of victims’ past relationships, among others, in the determination of consent. Also, section 146 has been modified to prevent any queries that may tend to show otherwise regarding the character or any sexual experiences before becoming a survivor of rape. There has been a new provision where rape attracts a minimum sentence of seven years.
  • Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2018: A new Section 53A was included to indicate the instances when a person’s reputation or past sexual encounters are not connected with the case. This replaced Sections 376AB, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA and 376DB.
  • Section 146 (2013 Amendment): It addresses the issues one should ask during cross-examination.


The Indian Evidence Act of 1872: Judgements 

  • Arjun Pandit Rao vs Kailash Kishan Rao: To enable electronic evidence admission in court, a certificate under section 65B is required, thus making the use of oral evidence impossible for this purpose.
  • U.P. State vs Deoman Upadhyaya: Presumption of innocence is a critical principle in criminal law. This means that everyone is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. The responsibility of proving that someone is guilty is levied on the prosecution so that they can produce evidence that makes it difficult for the accused’s innocence to be doubted.
  • M. Nanavati vs the State of Maharashtra: The validity of circumstantial evidence in proving guilt was set, affirming it once no other possible explanation could be reached beside the circumstances.
  • Aparna Bhat and Ors. Vs State of M.P.: The Supreme Court stressed that it is improper for judges to interrogate women simply on account of their sexual pasts.
  • Adambhai Sulemanbhai Ajmeri vs Gujarat State: It was considered that the confession made by the apprehended offender cannot serve as the sole evidence to prosecute him.



FAQs on the Indian Evidence Act of 1872

1. What is the Indian Evidence Act of 1872?

The Indian Evidence Act of 1872 is a comprehensive law that sets the rules for admitting evidence in Indian courts. It defines and consolidates the law of evidence in India, ensuring the proper administration of justice.

2. When was the Indian Evidence Act enacted and implemented?

The Indian Evidence Act was enacted on September 1, 1872, and came into force on January 1, 1872, except in Jammu and Kashmir, where it was implemented after the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019.

3. How many sections and chapters does the Indian Evidence Act contain?

The Indian Evidence Act comprises 167 sections divided into 11 chapters.

4. What are the primary principles of the Indian Evidence Act?

The two primary principles of the Indian Evidence Act are relevance and admissibility. These principles ensure that only relevant and admissible evidence is considered in legal proceedings.

5. What types of evidence are considered under the Indian Evidence Act?

The Indian Evidence Act considers various types of evidence, including oral evidence, documentary evidence, and electronic records.

6. How has the Indian Evidence Act evolved over time?

The Indian Evidence Act has undergone several amendments to accommodate changes in technology and society, including the admissibility of electronic records and updates to address issues related to sexual harassment and rape cases.

7. What is the significance of Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act?

Section 65B deals with the admissibility of electronic records. It requires a certificate for electronic evidence to be admissible in court, ensuring the authenticity and integrity of the evidence.

8. What are some key amendments to the Indian Evidence Act?

Significant amendments include the Indian Evidence (Amendment) Act, 2000, which defined electronic records, and the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2018, which introduced new sections addressing sexual offences and the admissibility of past sexual conduct in rape cases.

9. Can circumstantial evidence be used to prove guilt under the Indian Evidence Act?

Yes, circumstantial evidence can be used to prove guilt if it convincingly points to the accused’s involvement, leaving no reasonable doubt about their innocence.

10. How does the Indian Evidence Act protect the rights of individuals during legal proceedings?

The Indian Evidence Act ensures that evidence is collected and presented fairly, protecting individuals’ rights by requiring that only relevant and admissible evidence be considered and by setting guidelines for the treatment of witnesses and the examination of evidence.

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