Section 65B of Indian Evidence Act 1872

Introduction

In the era of technology and gadgets, recording of information has become a trend which has led to the furnishing of various kinds of electronic evidence before the court, Enhancement of the technology has so far been helpful in the process of collection of evidence. With all of this it becomes critical for the courts to know that evidence produced before them is genuine and not corrupt. To make this happen smoothly, Section 65A and Section 65B were inserted in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 through the Indian Evidence (Amendment) Act, 2000.

Section 65B and its sub-sections

There are two ways in which an electronic evidence is submitted in a court of law, one is by attaching material source with it and two is by attaching an electronic certificate under section 65B (4) of the Indian evidence act 1872.

Section 65B comprises five subsections which are further divided into clauses

Subsection (1) read with section 2 of the Information Technology Act 2000 defines the computer output and it can be presumably understood that any electronic device such as a computer, mobile, Audio or video recorder, which has the capacity to store, process and send information is considered an electronic device.

Subsection 2 states the conditions which are referred to in the sub-section (1) in respect of a computer output. 

Clause (a) states that a computer or device from which the information has been obtained shall be in use for storing and processing information regarding any activities which are regularly carried over. 

Clause (b) continues that the information presented in the court should be inserted and produced out of the device regularly.

Clause (c) mentions that the device should be in a good working condition and working properly and if there is any problem with the device then the time period of that problem of the device should not affect the information which is submitted as evidence in the court. 

Clause (d) sums it up by mentioning that information which is obtained or duplicated be done in the routine work of the electronic device.

Subsection 3 Starts from where sub-sections (2) finishes, as all these subsections are closely connected to each other where subsection (3) talks about the device from which the information has been recorded. 

Clause (a) states that information can be stored by one or more computers or electronic devices. 

Clause (b) says information presented in the court can be by multiple computers which are in use in the ordinary course of daily routine. 

Clause (c) and (d) states that information can be stored and maintained by several computers or electronic devices, combinations of several computers or electronic devices which are used in routine work.

Subsection 4 talks about the electronic certificate which is attached with the electronic evidence submitted in the court is the most important and executable subsection of section 65B as it states that a certificate has to be submitted every time an electronic evidence is presented in the court which is further described in its clauses.

Clause (a) identifies the electronic record and describes the manner in which it has to be produced for eg Mobile, CCTV camera, Desktop, Laptop etc. or device containing the information and also describes the manner in which it will be produced in the court.

Clause (b) mentions that there is a set format of the electronic certificate in which all the information about the device is entered for eg Name of the device, Medium of recording the information and more. It also mentions particulars of the device and the purpose of recording the information from the device.

Clause (c) states that all the conditions of subsection (2) shall be fulfilled and electronic certificate should be duly signed by the officer of the concerned department from where the information has been taken who has an official position in the department. The officer will duly sign and authorise the certificate as an authorized signatory and after all these formalities the electronic record is admissible in the court.

Subsection 5 sums up the conditions clears the purpose of the section 65B.

Clause (a) states a condition that any information supplied in a computer or a device should be in an appropriate form whether that information is recorded manually or it is recorded automatically without human intervention and then only it will be admissible in the court.

Clause (b) explains that any device which is used for a particular activity in its routine work and if that activity someday is not done and still that device was working then that device would be considered to be used for the activity for which it is used in its daily routine work.

Clause (c) says that computer output which is also called an electronic record will be admissible in the court whether it is recorded directly with human activity or automatically by an appropriate equipment. 

Landmark Judgments on section 65B of the Evidence Act

  1. Anvar P.V. v P.K. Basheer (2014) 10 SCC 473

In this case, It was held that the electronic certificate required under section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act 1872 is a mandate for admissibility of electronic evidence.

  1. Shafi Mohammad v State of Himachal Pradesh (2018) 2 SCC 801

In this case, It was said that the requirement of a certificate under section 65B (4) is procedural and can be relaxed by the court in the interest of justice.

  1. Arjun Panditrao Khotkar v Kailash Kishanrao Gorantyal (2020)

In this Case, A Bench of the Supreme Court overruled the previous ruling of 2018 named Shafi Mohammad v State of Himachal Pradesh and said that an application can always be made to judge for production of an electronic certificate.

Conclusion

Hence we come to a conclusion that to present electronic evidence in the court, the procedure given in section 65B needs to be followed. An electronic certificate described in section 65B subsection (4) needs to be given by the owner of the device or person operating the device in regular routine work.

Reference

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