Is Screenshot Admissible as Evidence Under Indian Evidence Act ?5 min read
Published on: 11 October 2022 at 10:50 IST
There are two categories of law— substantive and procedural— different codes, acts, and statutes are created and divided based on these categories, but the law of evidence does not fall under any category because it deals with both rights and procedures. The term “law” is used in a variety of ways.
In its most basic sense, it can refer to any rule or regulation that certain human actions are required to follow. The Law of Evidence is a collection of regulations and principles that govern the admission, relevance, weight, and sufficiency of evidence in court proceedings. It is a common method for establishing or refuting any claim or claimant.
In the context of procedure, “evidence” refers to the legal standards that specify which evidence should be accepted, which should be rejected, and how much weight should be given to admissible evidence. Evidence is what we use to support or refute any claim in a case or to change people’s opinions about it.
Beliefs are formed when people give something in front of their minds some thought. The information provided, in whatever form it takes and through whatever material organ it emerges, is therefore considered evidence and will be utilised in court. Evidence is anything that has been shown to the court during the hearing that is relevant to the case, and decisions are made based on that evidence.
SECTION 3 OF INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT, 1872 
Evidence means and includes: (a) All statements which the court permits or requires to be made before it by witnesses, in relation to matters of facts under inquiry; such statements are called oral evidence; (b) All documents produced for the inspection of the court – such documents are called ‘documents evidence’.
According to the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, there are three types of evidence: (a) oral, personal, or primary; (b) documentary, or secondary; and (c) material, or actual. According to Chapter 5 of the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, documentary evidence has a significant role in a trial because it serves as the main piece of evidence. The Sections 62 and 63 of Indian Evidence Act deal with whether primary or secondary evidence is admissible during court proceedings.
In the twenty-first century, everyone has access to computers, therefore their use is no longer restricted to businesses or other institutional settings. Although there was a technological revolution in our country, technology has simplified every human action. The use of technology increased along with the development of the IT sector, and today it is present virtually everywhere. As a result of this growing use of technology, changes to Indian law were required.
The development and preservation of information in electronic form as a result of technological advancement and its application across multiple dimensions has required a significant revision to the law governing electronic evidence. The Information Technology Act of 2000 was passed by the Parliament to help close the growing legal and technological divide (IT Act).
The IT Act, among other things, specified terms like “data,” “electronic record,” “computer,” “computer output,” etc. Along with introducing new ideas, the aforementioned act also amended the Evidence Act of 1872 by adding unique guidelines for introducing electronic evidence in court.
AMENDMENTS MADE FOLLOWING CHANGES TO THE INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT-
- Oral evidence cannot be used to prove the contents of papers (including electronic data) under Section 59 of Indian Evidence Act. By adding Section 22A of Indian Evidence Act, it was made clear that oral evidence on the contents of electronic records is only relevant where the authenticity of the record is in doubt.
- The Evidence Act was amended to include Section 45A of Indian Evidence Act, which states that the Examiner of Electronic Evidence’s opinion will be taken into consideration when the Court must make a decision about any issue involving material in electronic form. Section 9A of the Information Technology Act  specifies who may serve as the Electronic Evidence Examiner for purposes of this Section.
The Section 65B of Indian Evidence Act specifies a particular process for presenting electronic records as evidence in a court of law. Technical and non-technical requirements, as well as the procedure for introducing electronic evidence, are covered by Section 65B of Indian Evidence Act.
Amar Singh v. Union of India
The Supreme Court remarked that “the widespread notion in the Country is clearly depicted where all the parties, including the state and the telephone company, disputed the authenticity of the printed transcripts of the CDRs, as well as the authorization itself.”
In examining the admissibility of electronic records in light of the decision rendered in the case of Navjot Sandhu, the Court made the following observations:
N.C.T of Delhi vs. Navjot Singh Sandhu
It appears that when addressing the admission of electronic records in that case, the court neglected to consider Sections 59 and 65A. Secondary evidence in the form of an electronic record is entirely governed by Sections 65A and 65B; Sections 63 and 65 do not apply in this situation.
To that extent, the legal position set forth by this court in the Navjot Sandhu case on the admissibility of secondary evidence relative to electronic records is incorrect. It needs to be overruled, so we do that.
The Apex Court relied on the maxim generalia specialibus nonderogant i.e., special law will always prevail over the general law. In the light of this maxim court attempted to provide certainty to the current statutes on the admissibility of electronic evidence through Anvar’s case, which have had little to no assurance for more than ten years.
When it comes time to appear in court for a case, we provide the judge with material known as evidence, and the judge will make the decision. If we do not have an attorney, we must properly acquire the pertinent material that will be used as evidence in court. The information we present influences how the judges arrive at their choices. The information cannot be rumour or conjecture. The court may use text messages, screenshots, or audio messages as proof or evidence.
Because screenshots are a component of electronic evidence, they can be used in court as evidence in accordance with the Evidence Act. By submitting the screenshot as proof, the phone’s information and the time it was taken were also provided to the court.
- Indian Evidence Act,1872; Section 3 ↑
- Indian Evidence Act, 1972; Section 62 ↑
- Indian Evidence Act, Section 63 ↑
- Shreya Singhal ‘Overview of Different Kinds of Evidence’ ↑
- Indian Evidence Act,1872; Section 59 ↑
- Indian Evidence Act, Section 22A ↑
- Indian Evidence Act, Section 45 ↑
- Information Technology Act, 2000; Section 69A ↑
- Amar Singh v. Union of India (2011) 7 SCC 69 ↑
- NCT of Delhi v/s Navjot Sandhy @ Afsan Guru (2005) 11 SCC 600 ↑