Hearsay evidence can be described as secondary evidence of an oral statement. The evidence that is presented before the Court can be categorized as original and unoriginal. Unoriginal evidence is also called hearsay, derivative or transmitted evidence. It is the one which a witness merely reports on the basis of not what he saw himself but what he learnt through the medium of a third person. Hearsay is a more accepted term for it. This type of evidence does not derive its value from the credit which is given to witness but it is dependent on the competence and the truth and authenticity of another individual.
When an individual who is acting as a witness but not a direct one, the evidence provided by him is called hearsay evidence which is not accepted. According to Section 60 of the Indian Evidence Act, hearsay evidence is prohibited from being offered in judicial proceedings. It is, however, subject to the exceptions provided in the act.
The rationale behind hearsay evidence being excluded from being admissible evidence is the fact that the witness does not state what has been personally observed or seen or heard by him but states what was told to him by someone else. Such a statement is capable of being interpreted in various ways. It is also subject to the witnesses’ inclinations. It can never be compared with original source evidence.
The truthfulness and accuracy of the statement of an individual whose words have been spoken by another individual are not capable of being cross examined. Since such a statement is not made on an oath, its truth cannot be tested. Since hearsay evidence is, for a lack of a better term, a repeated statement, it is heavily prone to distortion and exaggeration by the witness. There is a lack of responsibility attached to hearsay evidence and there is always an apprehension of fraud.
The biggest setback that hearsay evidence can cause in a trial is to unnecessarily prolong it. It leads to undue stress being thrust upon the affected party to explain it or to rebut the statements made by the witness. Since criminal trials already run so long, the consumption of even more time of the public along with the danger of completely losing sight of the main issue of the case in consideration and the multiplication of collateral issues while taking decisions are some of the things which are of such a somber nature that they cannot be overlooked or ignored by the legislature or the Court.
In R v. Blastland, (1985) 2 ALL ER 1095, the accused was charged with buggery and murder of a twelve year old boy. The defence of the accused was that he had engaged in an act of intercourse with the boy’s consent and then left him unharmed, to be murdered shortly afterwards by another individual named M whom he described and also that M had been in conversations with people about this with others. This evidence was rejected/excluded as hearsay.
In S.N Balakrishna v. Fernandez, AIR 1969 SC 1201, it was held that newspaper items are not evidence proving the contents that they contain, instead they are only hearsay evidence until they are proved by examining the reporter. If the other evidence is forcible, hearsay evidence might be taken into account.
In Pawan Kumar v. State of Haryana, AIR 2003 SC 2987 , both the accused individuals who were staying in a hotel, before checking out of it, asked the waiter serving in it early in the morning to take care of the uncle who was in the room. Claiming to return soon, the waiter found a dead person in the room. The hotel manager, as a witness relayed his statement on the basis of what he had heard from the waiter. It was considered as hearsay evidence.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
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