SC Clarifies the law on the admissibility of electronic evidence without a certificate under Section 65B of the Evidence Act, of 1872.
Section 65B, Evidence Act, 1872 –
Admissibility of Electronic Records. Section 65B(4) –
In any proceeding where it is desired to state evidence by this section, a certificate doing any of the following things, that is to say –
(a) Identifying the electronic record containing the statement and describing how it was produced.
Section 65B(4) –
(b) Giving such particulars of any device involved in the production of that electronic record as may be appropriate for showing that the electronic record was produced by a computer.
(c) Dealing with any of the matters to which the conditions mentioned in sub-section (2) relate, and purporting to be signed by a person occupying a responsible official position about the operation of the relevant device or the management of the relevant activities shall be evidence of any matter stated in the certificate.
Let’s understand the Electronic Record and the Electronic Certificate.
What is Electronic Record –
“ Electronic Record” means data, record or data generated, image or sound stored, received or sent in an electronic form or micro film or computer generated micro fiche.
What is Electronic Certificate –
An electronic certificate is a set of data enabling identification of the holder of the certificate, secure exchange of information with other persons and institutions, and electronic signing of data sent in such a way as to enable verification of its integrity and origin.
Case Law Analysis –
1. Anvar P.V. V. P.K. Basheer, ( 2014) 10 SCC 473.
2. Shifihi Mohommad V. State Of H.P. (2018) 2 SCC 801.
3. Srjun Panditrao Khotkar V. Kailash Kuchanro Gorantyal, 2020, Decided on 14.07.2020.
(1). Anvar P.V. V. P.K. Basheer, (2014) 10 SCC 473 – Held that the certificate required under Section 65B(4) is a condition precedent to the admissibility of evidence by way of an electronic record.
(2). Shafhi Mohammad V. State of H.P, (2018) 2 SCC 801 – The Decision bench had clarified that the requirement of a certificate under section 65B(4), being procedural, can be relaxed by the court wherever the interest of justice so justifies, and one circumstance in which the interest of justice so justifies would be where the electronic device is produced by a party who does not have such device, as a result of which such party would not be in a position to secure the requisite certificate.
Latest Judgment – Arjun Panditrao Khotkar Versus – The 3- judge bench in the present case, holding the shafhi Mohammad Judgment to be incorrect said, ” the major premise of Shafhi Mohammad that such certificate cannot be secured by persons who do not have an electronic device is wholly incorrect.