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Certificate under Section 65B(4) of Evidence Act is a condition precedent to the admissibility of electronic evidence: Supreme Court

The issue now appears to be settled, with the Bench headed by Justice Nariman ruling in its July 14 judgment that the law laid down in Anvar PV does not need to be revisited.

Debayan Roy

The Supreme Court has held that the certificate required under Section 65B(4) of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 is a condition precedent to the admissibility of evidence by way of electronic record (Arjun Panditrao Khotkar v. Kailash Kushanrao Gorantyal & Ors.)

A three-judge Bench of Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, Ravindra Bhat and V Ramasubramanian also held that if a certificate which is a pre-requisite for admissibility of evidence under Section 65B cannot be obtained as the person or authority concerned "refuses" to share it, then summons could be sent by the court to such person or authority to produce it.

Section 65B of the Evidence Act deals with admissibility of electronic records. Sub-section (4) states:

(4) In any proceedings where it is desired to give a statement in evidence by virtue of this section, a certificate doing any of the following things, that is to say,

(a) identifying the electronic record containing the statement and describing the manner in which it was produced;

(b) giving such particulars of any device involved in the production of that electronic record as may be appropriate for the purpose of showing that the electronic record was produced by a computer;

(c) dealing with any of the matters to which the conditions mentioned in sub-section (2) relate, and purporting to be signed by a person occupying a responsible official position in relation to the operation of the relevant device or the management of the relevant activities (whichever is appropriate) shall be evidence of any matter stated in the certificate; and for the purposes of this sub-section it shall be sufficient for a matter to be stated to the best of the knowledge and belief of the person stating it.

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