E-Mail as Evidence in India

With advancement in technology and digitalization of every aspect of our life the world has become a smaller place. Transactions and dealings between two entities have become paperless and digitized, the consequence of such developments is faced by law makers. Legal recognition of such electronic material and evidence has become a necessity, and because of which the question about their use and validity is raised again and again in both civil and criminal cases. Thus, viewing this India enacted the Information Technology Act, which gave legal recognition to electronic documents as well as digital signatures. Similarly, IPC and Indian Evidence Act has also been amended to recognize electronic documents and digital signatures.

E-MAIL as Amissible Evidence:

The enactment of Information Technology Act, 2000 has resulted in amendments in Evidence Act to recognize, validate, and add electronic documents in the definition of evidence given under Section 3(a). the admissibility of the electronic documents and records is also now specified under Section 17 of the Evidence Act. Section 65B gives the validity and proof in backing the authenticity of the electronic records. Section 45 of the Act depends on evidence given by experts with respect to authenticity of electronic records.

Therefore, E-mail being a type of electronic document is admissible in court but provided the above sections provide the authenticity of that document. Section 65B is the most important section for admissibility of E-mail in court and to prove the authenticity of E-mail in court beyond any doubt. Court in many cases have rejected E-mails as a valid evidence because a certificate in accordance with Section 65B was not provided.

In the case Anvar P.V. vs. P.K. Basheer gave a landmark judgement in which it held that the person needs to mention in the certificate that the electronic record is true or authentic to the best of his knowledge and belief and that same certificate should be attached to every electronic record which he/she intent to present in front of the court. The court said that all the protections are taken to see the authentication of the document or record and to see the source and validness of the electronic record. These two factors are the main trademarks that are looked to see the confirmation of the records. As electronic documents are more prone to be tampered with or modified with, it should be taken into consideration only after careful examination of the electronic records.

Section 65B of the act consists of four sub-sections and expands the definition of computer output by implying it as the original device or the device from which the result was acquired. The section specifies that the onus to prove the authenticity of the document lies on the person who want to produce it as evidence in court. Section 65B basically provides with the provisions regarding the admissibility of electronic documents and provides rules as to prove the authenticity of computer in question and the information in it. In the case Kundan Singh v. the State defined and explained Section 65B in detail and specified that when the computer output is proved satisfactory of the provisions of section 65B, then and only then it is treated as evidence in court and only then the electronic evidence is admissible in court.

Procedure for Proving Authenticity of E-mail:

  • The person creating the E-mail must show who or what began the exchange of E-mail and whether the substance or evidence is finished and free from any mistake. The advocate also needs to show that the printed copy of the E-mail is taken from that one PC only and it incorporates all the data held as electronic record.
  • The person should have all the passwords that would prove the ownership and possession of the record and distinguish the record that are particular to a client.
  • Help from an IT expert is likely to be taken to check the authenticity of the electronic record.
  • With the availability of IP addresses of both sender and the receiver the realness of the E-mail can be demonstrated.
  • Other things like call logs, date/time, material of the message and E-mail is valuable. Such things can be verified with the records kept by the administrative supplier.

Aishwarya Says:

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