Section 61 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 deals with proof of contents of documents. It provides that the contents of documents may be proved either by primary evidence or secondary evidence. Secondary evidence also known as "inferior of substituted evidence".  Section 63 of Indian Evidence Act defines Secondary Evidence.

Secondary Evidence  

 According to Section 63 of Indian Evidence Act, Secondary evidence means and includes :

          1. Certified copies given under the provisions hereinafter contained;

          2. Copies made from the original by mechanical processes which in themselves insure the accuracy of the copy and copies compared with such copies;

          3. Copies made from or compared with the original;

          4. Counterparts of documents as against the parties who did not execute them;

          5. Oral accounts of the contents of a document given by some person who has himself seen it.


       (a) A photograph of an original is secondary evidence of its contents, though the two have not been compared, if it is proved that the thing photographed was the original.

      (b) A copy compared with a copy of a letter made by copying machine is secondary evidence of the contents of the letter, if it is shown that the copy made by the copying machine was made from the original.

      (c) A copy transcribed from a copy, but afterwards compared with the original, is secondary evidence, but the copy not so compared is not secondary evidence of the original, although the copy from which it was transcribed was compared with the original.

     (d) Neither an oral account of a copy compared with the original, nor an oral account of a photo graph or machine copy of the original, is secondary evidence of the original.

     According to Section 65.of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 Secondary evidence may be given of the existence, condition or contents of a document in the following cases:

a) When the original is shown or appears to be in the possession or power of the person against whom the document is sought to be proved, or of any person out of reach of, or not subject to, the process of the Court, or of any person legally bound to produce it, and when, after the notice mentioned in Section 66, such person does not produce it;

b) When the existence, condition or contents of the original have been proved to be admitted in writing by the person against whom it is proved or by his representative in interest;

c) When the original has been destroyed or lost, or when the party offering evidence of its contents cannot, for any other reason not arising from his own default or neglect, produce it in reasonable time;

d) When the original is of such a nature as not to be easily movable;

e) When the original is a public document within the meaning of Section 74;

f) When the original is a document of which a certified copy is permitted by Evidence Act, or by any other law in force in India to be given in evidence;

g) When the originals consist of numerous accounts or other documents which cannot conveniently be examined in Court, and the fact to be proved is the general result of the whole collections. In cases (a), (c) and (d), any secondary evidence of the contents of the documents is admissible. In case (b), the written admission is admissible. In case (e) or (f), a certified copy of the document, but no other kind of secondary evidence, is admissible. In case (g), evidence may be given as to the general result of the documents by any person who has examined them, and who is skilled in the examination of such documents.

See also 

1) Meaning Definition and Example of Plea of Alibi

2) Circumstantial Evidence

3) Judges or Magistrates as Witness

4) Various Presumptions as to Documents Under the Indian Evidence Act 1872

5) Difference between Primary Evidence and Secondary Evidence

6) Meaning and Kinds of Documentary Evidence


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