Meaning, history, and object of the law of evidence: This issue was not systematically or extensively addressed in India before the Indian proof act was passed. English rules of proof were applied in the presidential city of Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras.
However, there were no set rules for proof outside of those presidential towns. The Mofussil Courts have applied vague, indefinite, and occasionally also customary law rules in some parts of the country. There are, however, no particular or fixed rules. This significant legislative branch has not been administered satisfactorily.
History of the Law of Evidence
It applied to all the courts in British India, when an act was taken on this subject in 1835. It was the first step. Then another Act on this subject was passed in 1855 and while there were no comprehensive rules in it, there were some important and valuable provisions.
Especially in legal circles, it became evident that the state of this branch of law was flowing and urgently needed reforms. It also provides the state of the law, stating that, as it existed at that time, the entire Indian law of proof could be divided into three parts: one by express acts, the other by judgment, and the third (and largest) portion that was unresolved and cannot be classified under any other two parts.
Consequently, A decision was taken to adopt some formal law in this field. The need to establish the English law, which was widespread on the basis of the experience and learning of the English judged, with changes as would be necessary for the specific conditions in that country, appeared to be a need for the day. A draft resolution on the subject was therefore prepared by the local authorities in 1869 and distributed to them. However, after its first reading in the parliamentary assembly, this bill was not seen in the light of day. The local authorities at the time held the unanimous opinion that this bill was inappropriate for the country’s needs.
Then a new bill was presented, finally passed by the Indian Evidence Act of 1872. This act is based mainly upon the English law of proof and the many rules and principles found in the law of the jungle of England, though in a very narrow compass, have been classified and amended. This law branch is undoubtedly very broad in scope, and the difficulty of compressing this wide field into just one hundred and sixty-seven sections can be appreciated. The Act has been in force for over 100 and 25 years and there has been valuable legal precedent in this area.
The definition of “evidence” is “to clearly show, prove or ascertain,”
This is derived from the Latin term “evident”
The Evidence Law is based on two Axioms
No facts other than those relating to the subjects in dispute should be referred to by the court in all civilized countries in the world. In other words, evidence should only be admitted on facts with a rational evidence value.
Evidence with a rational evidence value is permissible unless some rule of paramount importance excludes a confession made to his advocate by a client,
It can, however, be noted that even today, torture is still a terrible practice, and cases are not rare, where third-grade methods are used for collecting evidence even if they are in different parts of the world until these rational rules have developed. Trials were based on all possible irrational methods in various parts of the world, e.g. trials by or dealing with (hot iron and boiling water methods).
Object behind the Law of Evidence
Rules of evidence are designed to assist the courts in the establishment of the truth, to prevent long-term investigations, and to prevent confusion in the mind of judges resulting in the excess admittance of evidence. One must realize that if all circumstances that could tend to shed light on the matter in question are allowed to happen, proceedings will be long-lasting and intolerable.
Therefore, the main purpose of the law of proof is to limit the investigation by courts to the limits prescribed by public convenience. The fact that every circumstance, on either side, has a remote and conjectural proof power, the precise quantity of which could only be ascertained through a lengthy study and a determination of collateral issues, would now nullify this objective entirely. Therefore evidence is to be rejected which tends to distract the courts’ attention and waste their time.
The following analysis of the act will reveal three main principles
that underpin the law of evidence:
- Evidence must be relevant to the issues at hand.
- Hearsay evidence is not admissible.
- In every case, the best evidence must be presented.
Evidence is governed by Lex Fori
It should be noted that evidence is governed by lex fori, i.e., the forum law or the court of law where the case is brought before the Court. Where a witness has competence, whether certain matters need to be proven in writing, and whether there is evidence proof or not, the law of the country where the problem arises, which is where the remedy is sought and where the tribunal sits to implement it, shall determine whether or not it is competent. [Bain v.s w.& f. rail co.(1850 3 H.L.C.I.)].
As a result, if it is desired to prove a foreign document in an English court, even if the document can be proved in its country of origin by producing a copy, it cannot be done in the English court unless the circumstances are such that the copy is admissible under English law.[ brown vs. Thomton , (56 AD & EI 185)].
Whether Indian evidence act is exhaustive or not?
The Indian Evidence Act is not exhaustive, in the sense that it does not claim to contain all of the rules of evidence. The courts can look to relevant English common law for interpretation of the act’s sections. The court, however, may not apply any principle of English law relating to evidence that is inconsistent with the provisions of the act.
If the evidence rules in civil and criminal cases are the same?
The act governs all judicial proceedings, whether civil or criminal. In general, whether the proceedings are civil or criminal, the rules of evidence are the same. Certain provisions of the act, however, (for example, the doctrine of estoppel) apply only in civil proceedings. Similarly, some provisions of the act (for example, those relating to confession) would apply only in criminal proceedings.