It is the era of e-banking, cryptocurrency, e-courts and e-commerce. Over the past years, technology has integrated into every action and transaction. Tremendous development in e-governance in the public and private sector and an increase in cybercrime activities have turned evidence into a prime component of communication and documentation. In the field of evidence, electronic or e-evidence is on the horizon, with every piece of information created, shared and saved electronically.
Electronic evidence, also known as digital or e-evidence includes all the website data, social media communications, e-mails, SMS, audio and video files, the document generated electronically and every other information created, transferred or stored in electronic form. Digital evidence is being used increasingly in civil as well as criminal litigation, even though its admissibility has been a subject of controversy and debate in the past.
Electronic records are and have been admitted in court but, previously, the courts relied on conventional rules of evidence and grappled with reliability and authenticity of digital records. The Indian Judiciary has started to accept e-evidence in the form of call records, mobile data, CCTV footage, etc. With the backing of the law, the Indian courts that were previously reluctant over the authenticity of e-data have started to accept it as a primary source of evidence in cases brought before them.
In the past, High Courts across the country have expressed varying views on the admissibility of e-evidence, until recently, when the courts have started to admit different forms of e-evidence in various cases. With law enforcement authorities facing immense difficulty in curbing and dealing with cybercrimes, the courts have taken up to using e-evidence and cyber forensics in deciding matters.
The first step in clarifying the position of Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act, 1938 was taken by the Supreme Court in case of P.V Anvar v. P.K Basheer and Ors. in which the court held that Section 65B is mandatory and all courts are required to follow the procedure laid down under the provision.
The use of video conferencing in courts for recording statements is a paramount step by the court in cementing the admissibility of digital evidence. Evidence through video conferencing satisfies the provision of evidence being recorded in the presence of the accused, thus eliminating any objection or rejection.
With growing demand from the legal industry and Indian courts adopting methods like video conferencing to record witnesses and CCTV camera in courtrooms, a complete transformation of Indian Judiciary is not far behind. The courts are becoming a significant factor in reforming society into one that matches the pace of global development.
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