Indian Evidence Act – Sections, Amendments | Indian Evidence Act 1872 Notes

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Indian Evidence Act 1872 defines and consolidates the law of evidence in Indian courts. The Imperial Legislative Council passed this Act in 1872 during the British Raj in India. At the time of the Goa sessions courts judgment in the Tarun Tejpal case, the court made certain observations that had a huge impact on Indian Evidence Act.

The Act has been amended numerous times over the years. During the Tarun Tejpal case, the Act came under scrutiny for typecasting rape survivors. Learn more about the Indian Evidence Act, its history, classification, and the amendments made to it.

What is the Indian Evidence Act?

Indian Evidence Act 1872 is an important act in the Indian Constitution that defines the law of evidence and states its admissibility in court. This act updated the accepted validity of evidence in Indian law. Before the Indian Evidence Act, the admissibility of evidence differed from person to person based on their social position in Indian society.

The Indian Evidence Act came into force on 01 September 1872, and consisted of 11 chapters and 167 sections. This Act has been amended various times, the latest amendment being introduced on 31 October 2019. Find an overview of the Act here.

Particulars Indian Evidence Act
Enacted On 15 March 1872
Enacted By Governor-General in Council
Commenced 1 September 1872

Indian Evidence Act 1872 – Important Sections

Here is a list of some important sections of the Indian Evidence Act:

  • Section 3 – According to this section of the Evidence Act, the Court can decide the authenticity of a fact after carefully considering the matters before it.
  • Section 65 of the Indian Evidence Act – This section mentions cases in which secondary material relating to documents may be given as evidence.
  • Section 110 – This section talks about the burden of proof of ownership.
  • Section 65b of the Indian Evidence Act – This section deals with the admissibility of electronic records.

Indian Evidence Act 1872 Notes

Indian Evidence Act 1872 was scrutinized post the judgment delivered by the sessions court of Goa. In the hearing for the Tarun Tejpal case, the court recalled the sexual history of the rape survivor in horrifying detail. During the judgment, the court refused to accept the victim as a witness. It was claimed that the rape survivor did not conform to the court’s ideas of a survivor’s behaviour.

Since the Indian Evidence Act defines the permissibility of evidence, certain sections of this act were questioned after the Goa Sessions Court judgment. Questioning the character of rape survivors violates the guarantee of equality before the law as per Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. Therefore, the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act 1872 were questioned.

Section 155 (4) of the Indian Evidence Act

  • According to Section 155 (4) of the Evidence Act, the sexual history of a rape survivor was considered acceptable. The accused could state that the survivor was of a lowly character and that she consented to the sexual act.
  • In 2003, in the Law Commission of India’s 172nd report, it was recommended that this particular section be removed from the Indian Evidence Act.

Indian Evidence Act – Amendments

Several sections of the Indian Evidence Act have been amended over the years. One of the significant amendments was the 2013 Act, which amended Section 146. After this amendment to the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, a rape survivor cannot be asked questions about her character or prior sexual experience to prove consent. Here are more details about the 2013 Criminal (Amendment) Act:

  • Section 53A of the Indian Evidence Act restricts courts from considering on evidence based on the victim’s character. Their prior sexual experience with any person is also not a fairground to question their consent in sexual assault cases.
  • Section 146 was amended through the 2013 amendment to ensure that no questions will be asked of rape survivors about their character or sexual experience to prove their consent.
  • The 2013 amendment to the Indian Evidence Act also introduced a minimum sentence of 7 years imprisonment in cases of rape.

List of Amendments to Indian Evidence Act, 1872

Here, we have listed some latest amendments to the Indian Evidence Act 1872:

  • The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1983.
  • The Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1986.
  • The Information Technology Act, 2000.
  • The Indian Evidence (Amendment) Act, 2002.
  • The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.
  • The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018.

Cases that led to Amendments to the Indian Evidence Act

  • Aparna Bhat and Ors. Vs State of Madhya Pradesh case – During this case, the Supreme Court warned against typecasting rape survivors. The SC asked courts not to question a woman’s testament on the grounds of her being sexually active.
  • Tukaram vs. Maharashtra, 1979 – Section 114-A of the Indian Evidence Act was introduced after this verdict. The Supreme Court released two policemen accused of raping a 14-year-old Adivasi girl at a police station.
  • In 2013, the JS Verma Committee recommended that judging a woman based on her past relationship with the accused should be considered inapt in deciding whether she consented or not. This led to another amendment to the Indian Evidence Act.
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