Law of Evidence is the most important branch of adjective law. The Law of Evidence helps the Judges to separate wheat from chaff amongst the mass of facts that are brought before him, besides upon their just and Material bearing, learns to draw correct inferences from circumstances to weigh the value of direct testimony

Fundamental Rules/ Principles of Evidence: 

             One of the great object of Evidence Act is to prevent uncertainty in the admissibility of the evidence and to introduce more correct and uniform rule of practice. The main principles which underline the law of evidence are as follows:

 1) Evidence should be confined to matter / fact in issue:
        According to this rule evidence can be given only on those facts, which might be asserted by one party and denied by the other party. Section 5 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 provides that evidence may be given in any suit or proceeding of the existence or non existence of every fact in issue and of such other facts as are hereinafter declared to be relevant and no others.

         For instance - 'A' claims repayment of a debt on the basis of promissory note executed by ‘B’. 'B' Denise it. 'A' has a letter in which 'B' admitted that he had written/ executed a promissory note. It is not sufficient / relevant because in fact in issue is whether 'B' had executed a promissory note (but not the letter). Similarly, if X claims to be qualified, he has to show the testimonials relating to his qualifications. For example degree certificates and not the document pertaining to his properties.

2) Hearsay Evidence must not be admitted:

      Hearsay evidence signifies the evidence heard and said.  It is also known as second hand unoriginal evidence, a witness is merely reporting not what he himself saw or heard but what he has learnt in respect of the fact through the medium of the third person. It is a statement made by a witness of what has been said and declared out of Court by a person and not before the Court. Evidence given by a witness may be oral or documentary. According to the Section 60 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 oral evidence to be admissible, it must be direct. In other words, hearsay evidence is no evidence.

3) Best Evidence must be given in all the cases: 

       It is well established that the best means of evidence must be given in all cases. This rule is based on the principle that if anybody wants to know about a fact, the best proof is what he perceives through his own senses. This principle is used in connection with documentary evidence to prefer primary evidence to secondary evidence and in connection with oral evidence to exclude hearsay evidence.

            The main object of the evidence Act is to prevent laxity in the admissibility of evidence, and to introduce a more correct and uniform rule of practice that was previously vague.
In other words, its main object is to help the Courts to ascertain the truth, and to avoid confusion.  The rules relating to law of evidence in the administration of justice of great importance. No substantive law can be enforced without the help of rules of the law of evidence.

Meaning and Definition:


       Meaning the expression 'Evidence' is derived from the Latin word 'Evidentia'. Evidentia means 'being clear' or 'plain' or 'apparent clear'.

       The Latin term 'evidens evidare' means to "show clearly”. According to Phispon, evidence means, the testimony, whether oral, documentary, or a real, which may be legally received. In order to prove or disprove some fact in dispute.


     According to Taylor, "evidence is adduced to prove or disprove any fact the truth of which is submitted to judicial investigation."

Advanced Learner Dictionary:

 "Evidence means anything that gives reason for believing something that makes clear or prove something.”

The Definition of Evidence given under Section.3 of Indian Evidence Act: 
“Evidence”. “Evidence” means and includes—

(1) All statements which the Court permits or requires to be made before it by witnesses, in relation to matters of fact under inquiry,
Such statements are called oral evidence;

(2) All documents including electronic records (w.e.f. 17/10/2000) produced for the inspection of the Court, such documents are called documentary evidence.

        The word evidence as defined in Section 3 of the Evidence Act signifies only the instruments by means of which relevant facts are brought before the court. The instruments adopted for this purpose is witnesses and documents.

Kinds of Evidence:

There are following kinds of evidence:

Direct Evidences - 

            It is the testimony of a witness to the existence or non-existence of the fact or fact-in-issue. It is evidence of fact actually perceived by a witness with one of his own senses.

Personal evidence:

            Personal Evidence is an oral testimony of the witnesses, which is afforded by human agent by way of disclosure or by voluntarily signs.

Original Evidence:

             Original evidence is that which a witness reports himself to have seen or heard through the medium of his own senses for example - A says that he saw B murdered C with sword.

Hearsay Evidence

             It is also known as second hand or unoriginal evidence, a witness is merely reporting not what he himself saw or heard but what he has learnt in respect of the fact through the medium of the third person. It is a statement made by a witness of what he has been said and declared out of court by a person and not before the Court.

Primary Evidence:

               Primary evidence means the document itself produced for the inspection the Court. (Section 62)

Secondary evidence:

               Secondary evidence means inferior or substitutionary evidence which itself indicates the existence of more original sources of information (Section 63) [See also... When Secondary Evidence is Admissible..]

Oral Evidence:

               All statements which the Court permits or requires to be made before it by the witnesses, in relation to matter of fact and inquiry; such statements are called oral evidence.

Documentary Evidence: 

               All documents including electronic records, produced for the inspection of the Court, such documents are called documentary evidence.

Judicial Evidence:

               It is evidence received by Courts of Justice in proof or disproof of facts, the existence of which comes in question before them. Judicial evidence is a species of the genus evidence and is for the most part nothing more than natural evidence, modified by rules of positive law

Non-Judicial Evidence:

               Evidence given in the proceeding before the Magistrate or Officer not in a judicial capacity but in an administrator one, is non-judicial evidence,  for example evidence in proceedings under Section 164 of Cr. P. C. for example recording of confession and Statements.

Indirect or Circumstantial Evidence:

  In Cases, Where direct evidence is not available, then circumstantial evidence can be resorted to.
           Circumstantial Evidence is that which tends to establish the fact-in-issue by proving another fact which does not itself conclusively established that fact, affords and interference as to its existence.
Real Evidence:  Real material Evidence is the evidence of fact brought to the knowledge of the court by inspection of physical object and not by information derived from witness or documents for example - stolen property, weapons, etc.

             The idea of circumstantial evidence is dealt with in the Act elaborately. Circumstantial evidence means the evidence of circumstances and is sometimes referred to as presumptive evidence.

Suppose, A is charged with the murder of B. At the trial a witness C. on behalf of prosecution, gives evidence that he saw a stab B or, C may make the statement that he saw A running away from the place where B's corpse was found, with a blood-stained knife in his hand. In the first case the evidence given by C is usually referred to as direct evidence, and in the second, as circumstantial evidence.  Because, in the first case, C makes a statement about the very question which the Court has to decide, namely, whether A stabbed B ; and the second case, C makes a statement about the circumstance, a relevant fact, which, if believed, may convince the court of the guilt of A , therefore, we might say that we when Evidence is given of the very fact in issue, that is , of the matter in controversy, it is called direct evidence, and when evidence is given of circumstances, or relevant facts,  from which an inference may be drawn about the fact in issue, then it is called circumstantial evidence.

Relevant Cases :

1) A.C. Lagu vs. State of Bombay, AIR 1960 SC 500 ; 1960 SCJ 779

                        In this case the accused was  a family doctor.  He was tried for the murder of his patient, a rich women and sentenced to death on the basis of circumstantial evidence.    

2) Kalua Vs. State Of U.P. AIR 1958 SC 180

         In this case Kalua was charged with the murder of the deceased by shooting him a pistol. The Circumstantial evidence proved were :

A) Few days before the killing of the deceased the accused had held out a threat against him .
B) A cartridge was found near the cot of the deceased. 
C) A pistol was recovered from his house .
D) Fire-Arm Expert gave his opinion that cartridge found near the cot of the dead body was fired from pistol produced by accused.

       It was held that there could be no room for thinking in the circumstances established in this case, that anyone else than the accused might have shot the deceased. He was convicted.



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