The Indian Evidence Act, 1872
The Indian Evidence Act was passed by the Imperial Legislative Council in India during the year 1872. The Act came into existence during the British Raj. The Act contains a set of rules and allied issues governing the admissibility of evidence in the Indian courts of law.
The Indian Evidence Act is mainly based on the firm work by Sir James Fitzjames Stephen. He is also termed as the founding father of this comprehensive piece of legislation.
The Indian Evidence Act is identified as Act no.1 of 1872. It has eleven chapters and 167 sections. Over a period of more than 125 years since its enactment, the Indian Evidence Act has basically managed to retain its original form; except certain time to time amendments.
Importance of the Act
The enactment and adoption of the Indian Evidence Act changed the entire system of concepts pertaining to the admissibility of evidence in the Indian courts of law. It can be termed as one of the path-breaking judicial measure introduced in India because until then, Indians were not following any precise laws relating to the punishments. The rules of evidence were based on the traditional legal systems which differed according to the social groups and communities of India. At that time different people followed different rules depending on their caste, community, faith and social position etc. The Indian Evidence Act proved to be the pioneer that introduced a standard set of laws applicable to all Indians.
When India obtained independence from British Raj on 15 August 1947, The Indian Evidence Act continued to be in force throughout the Republic of India and Pakistan, except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. After the partition, the Act continued to be in force in India but it was repealed in Pakistan in 1984 under the Qanun-e-Shahadat Act 1984. Indian Evidence Act applies to all judicial proceedings in the court, including the court-martial. However, it does not apply to affidavits and arbitration.
The Act is divided into three parts and consists of 11 chapters in total.
Part 1 deals with the relevancy of the facts. There are two chapters under this part:
Ø Chapter 1 introduces to the Indian Evidence Act
Ø Chapter 2 specifically deals with the relevancy of all the facts.
Part 2 consists of chapters from 3 to chapter 6.
Ø Chapter 3 deals with facts that need not be proved
Ø Chapter 4 deals with oral evidence
Ø Chapter 5 deals with documentary evidence
Ø Chapter 6 deals with circumstances when documentary evidence has been given preference over the oral evidence.
Part 3, consists of chapter 7 to chapter 11
Ø Chapter 7 caters to the burden of proof
Ø Chapter 8 caters to estoppels
Ø Chapter 9 caters to witnesses
Ø Chapter 10 caters to the examination of witnesses
Ø Chapter 11 caters with improper admission and rejection of evidence.
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