Evidence- backbone of legal system
What is proof in ordinary talk
When we differ on any matter and quarrel on any issue, we just say- "What is the proof' ?" Thus proof is nothing but a way to confirm a fact or a view point. It is aptly said that any wise person will not say anything that he can prove. What cannot be proved has hardly any value. Proof is significant in every field. The scientific experiments are carried out to prove theory. Mathematical formulae are not considered valid unless proved by a theorum. The Geometric theorums end with the words QED (Quad Erat Demonstradun) or that was to be proved
Significance of evidence in Law
Law is nothing but a very big list of offenses and punishment. All legal issues involvce some offence and punishment in the form of imprisonment, fine, deprivation of some faciity or imprisonment. However, offence needs to be proved beyond any shadow of doubt before punishment can be announced and executed. Law of evidence is the backbone of legal system.
What the evidence proves
The evidence may lead to any of the three situations. The offense may be proved, not provd or disproved. Proved means that the accused person is guilty beyond any shadow of doubt. Not proved- means that the accused person has not ben proved guilty but still his guilt is not beyond doubt. In such situation, the accused person is given benefit of doubt and not punished. Disproved- means that the accused person is not guilty beyond any doubt and hence he is honourably exonerated.
Onus of proof
The accused person has generally no liability to prove his innocense. It is the liability of the accuser or prosecutor to prove him guilty. The accused person has the right to cross examine the accuser and examine his evidence. There are some exceptions specifically provided where the accused person has to prove his innocence.
Indian Evidence Act 1872 and rules of evidence
Indian Evidence Act 1872 is the basis of law of evidence. According to the Act, evidence may be oral or documentary. When somebody gives his witness orally before court, this is called oral evidence. The witness should be one who has actually seen with his own eyes the act of offence. That is why the witnesses are called eye-witness. Secondary witness is of no significance. The evidence in form of documents, photographs, maps, recorded tapes, computer CD etc ar documentary evidence. The documentary evidence need to be signed or corroborated by the author/ of documentary evidence. For example, the writer of a document, photographer etc. has to verify the evidence. It may also be necessary to get witness of an expert viz. finger print expert, computer expert, chartered accountant for verification of documentary evidence. There is another kind of evidence called circumstantial evidence. Some times, there is no eye witness and no documentary evidence. The circumstances like sequence of events indicate the occurance of crime and probability of guilty person. When circumstnces give an indication beyond any doubt that the offence is committed and the accused person is definitely guilty, punishment may be given. For example, a woman is found murdered. The only person present in her room was her son. The son was badly in debt and he could get money from his mother being sole successor. There was nobody else nearby at the time of occurance. The circumstances prove his guilt.
Presumption is not proof
Assumptions and presumptions are generlly not admissible and these cannot take place of proof. However, there are exceptions. Various statutes provide for assumptions.
With increasing role of computers and internet, many crimes are being committed with help of internet Information Technology Act 2000 consolidates provisons for ciber crimes and investigation thereof. The ciber crime is developing as a new branch of law. It is expcted that this field will necessitate new look at law of evidence.
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