The world is rapidly evolving, and the technological revolution has laid the groundwork for all facets of society. Email is used by a wide variety of enterprises, from multinational corporations to small businesses, to hold important meetings and business transactions. The acceptability of e-evidence in court has become a pertinent problem in the current Indian situation, with the state’s ever-expanding web-based business exercises and e-administration activities. The Information Technology Act of 2000 marked the beginning of India’s computerised infrastructure.
The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 was amended by the Information Technology Act, which incorporated Sections 65A and 65B. This article discusses the admissibility of electronic evidence. Before moving on to electronic evidence, it is critical to understand the importance of evidences in Indian judiciary system. Currently, numerous e-evidences are regularly presented before Indian courts, ranging from storage devices such as DVD or Hard Disk to portable SMS or even mail or site information.
As a result, with the widespread use of electronics to encourage business transactions, it is critical to understand the enforceability of such transactions in Indian courts of law, particularly the admissibility of electronic records as evidence to establish the legality of such transaction.
Meaning of Evidence
Evidence is a form of confirmation/proof used to instil confidence in a case. In Section 3 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the legal definition of the word “evidence” is established.
Section 3 provides the definition of evidence and incorporates the following:
- Oral evidence applies to any explanations that the Court allows or requires witnesses to make in front of it on matters of truth upon request;
- Documentary evidence applies to all documents, including electronic records, submitted to the Court for review.
In addition, Evidence can be differentiated into two parts.
- Oral, or Documentary
- Primary, or Secondary
Secondary proof includes certified copies, copies created using the original copies, copies made from or compared to the originals, counterparts of documents as against parties that did not execute them, and oral reports of the content of a document given to the Court.
Meaning of Electronic Evidence
The form of evidence we’re dealing with has been referred to as ‘electronic evidence,’ ‘digital evidence,’ or ‘computer evidence,’ among other words. The term “digital” is frequently used in computing and electronics, especially when physical-world data is transformed to binary numeric form, as in digital audio and digital photography.
‘Information of probative value stored or transmitted in binary form; and ‘Information stored or transmitted in binary form that can be relied on in court’ are two meanings of digital evidence. The term “digital” is too broad and the term “binary” is too narrow because it only represents one type of data. Data that is manipulated, processed, or communicated by any man-made device, machine, or computer system, or transmitted through a communication system, and that has the ability to make any party’s factual account more or less probable then it would be without the evidence.
Whether Electronic evidence is primary or secondary?
Any data that is stored or transmitted digitally is called electronic or digital evidence. The evidentiary value of electronic documents is generally assessed under sections 65A and 65B of the Evidence Act. According to the sections of Evidence Act, if the four requirements are satisfied, any information found in an electronic record that is printed on paper, stored, registered, or copied digitally, and produced by a computer is considered a document and admissible in court without further proof.
WhatsApp Chats as evidence
Our daily lives have become dependent on technology. In human history, we’ve seen how web-based technologies have been used to carry out crimes and other wrongdoings. Let’s discuss about whether WhatsApp messages are acceptable in a courtroom, assuming WhatsApp has become a verb. As a means of communication, WhatsApp is becoming increasingly popular among company employees. WhatsApp is thought to be the most equal informing forum for users who want to work closely with partners and consumers. The Court has begun accepting texts and pictures sent on these sites as evidence in criminal and civil cases as the usage of online media outlets such as WhatsApp has expanded.
When using WhatsApp content as proof in court, there are a few simple rules to follow. In Indian courts, WhatsApp chats are regarded as an electronic record and are admissible as a traditional text. There are certain criteria that must be fulfilled in order for WhatsApp messages to be admissible as evidence:
- The recipient should have received the messages, i.e. in the context of WhatsApp, double ticks.
- The telephone should be in regular use. It ought not to be damaged.
- The sender should have the intention to send those messages.
Electronic evidence was submitted to the Court in the case of Girwar Singh v. CBI, and a committee was created to verify the authenticity of the electronic evidence. The committee later learned that the proof was not the original or a replica of the original. As a result, the Delhi High Court ruled that the electronic proof was inadmissible in that case.
It should be noted that secondary evidence refers to the presentation of evidence that has been copied from an original document. Section 63 of the Indian Evidence Act of 1872 specifies the conditions in which evidence is considered secondary. Section 62, on the other hand, identifies Primary Evidence as a document submitted to the Court for review in its original form.
The importance of Blue tick on WhatsApp in a legitimate suit
The Bombay High Court, in the case of, SBI Cards and Installment Administrations Pvt. Ltd. v. Rohit Jadhav, the court has observed that the defaulter had obtained and opened the notification through WhatsApp, according to the court. The Bombay High Court held at the time that if a blue tick appears after sending a message via WhatsApp, the informing application is viewed as factual proof that the Respondent received the note, which is viewed as valid evidence.
Most business meetings are held online, and the contents of those meetings are exchanged among representatives through texting platforms such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and others. India’s legal structure is also developing, one step at a time, into a technologically advanced system. The Court of Law recognises internet informing applications as credible evidence.
The final stage defines the electronic record/evidence by sending the original electronic media to the court as Primary Evidence or a copy as an optional proof under section 65A or 65B of the Evidence Act. Thus, whether a CD, DVD, Memory Card, or other device contains secondary evidence, it must be accompanied by a certificate provided under Section 65B obtained at the time the document was taken; otherwise, secondary evidence relating to an electronic record is prohibited.
There are various issues which are emerging relating to the authorship of the certificate. As a result, WhatsApp chats can never be accepted as primary evidence in court, but rather as secondary evidence. Although the legislation on electronic evidence is still in its early stages, we expect to see substantial progress on this subject in the near future, thanks to the Information Technology Act of 2000.