- LawDocs Team
The legal landscape of India is set to witness a significant transformation with the introduction of the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023. As the 123rd bill of the year 2023, this legislative initiative holds the potential to reshape the way evidence is dealt with in both civil and criminal proceedings within the country. Drawing inspiration from the Indian Evidence Act, this comprehensive bill spans across multiple chapters, each intricately addressing the nuances of evidence admissibility, relevance, and procedures. The Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023 seeks to modernize and streamline the rules governing evidence, integrating traditional legal principles with contemporary technological advancements. In this exploration, we will delve into the key provisions of this bill, spanning from the relevancy of facts to the examination of witnesses, while also highlighting its provisions for presumption, burden of proof, and much more.
About the Bill
The Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023 in the form of Indian Evidence Act has been introduced as the bill number 123 off 2023 in the parliament of India.
Chapter II: RELEVANCY OF FACTS
The chapter II of the bill talks about the Relevancy of facts, and elaborates about the closely connected facts wherein the relevancy of facts forming part of transaction and other facts has been mentioned. It also lays down the procedure for admission by the parties and their agents in the civil and criminal matters before the court of competent jurisdiction. It further enumerates about the statements by persons who cannot be called as witnesses for example cases in which statement of facts in issue or relevant facts by person who is dead or cannot be found is relevant.
It also mentions the provisions about the statements made under special circumstances wherein it elaborates with regard to the entries in books of accounts when relevant, relevance of statements in maps, charts and plans and certain other documents such as letters electronic record conversation document and so on. It is further mentioned in the chapter II as to when the judgements of the courts are going to be relevant with perspective of trial, jurisdiction, judgements, decrees and with regard to other matters such as fraud, collusion, incompetency of court etc. The Bhartiya Sakshya Bill, 2023 lays down the provisions with regard to the opinions of third persons when relevant, for example, opinion of experts and other opinions like custom, right, relationship etc.
Chapter III: FACTS WHICH NEED NOT BE PROVED
The chapter III talks about the facts which need not be proved before the courts of law, that is, fact judicially noticeable need not be proved facts of which court shall take judicial notice, and, facts admitted need not be proved.
Chapter IV: ORAL EVIDENCE
The Bharatiya Sakshya Bill in chapter number IV also mentions the relevance and importance of oral evidences where in the section 54 talks about the proof of facts by oral evidence and section 55 talks about the oral evidence to be direct. The chapter V focuses towards the documentary evidence and list down various provisions in this regard.
Chapter V: DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE
The chapter V further lays down what is going to be considered as a piece of documentary evidence. It states the definition and further states which type of evidence shall be considered as primary evidence or secondary evidence. It also mentions about the proof of documents by primary evidence. As the act focuses on technology, it mentions the admissibility of electronic records, special provisions as to evidence relating to electronic record, admissibility of electronic or digital record. It further lists down the provisions for proof as to electronic signature, digital signature etc.
The act differentiates about the public and private documents and clarifies about the certified copies of public documents, proof of documents by production of certified copies and proof of other official documents.
The act further lays down some of the presumptions as to the documents with regard to their genuineness, record of evidence, gadgets, electronic and digital signature record, collection of laws and report of decisions, power of attorney, electronic agreements electronic records and electronic signatures, electronic signature certificates etc. It further lays down the presumptions as to books, maps and charts, electronic messages, the electronic records which are 5 year old and some other provisions with regard to the documents.
Chapter VI: EXCLUSION OF ORAL EVIDENCE BY DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE
The Bhartiya Sakshya Bill, 2023 in its chapter number VI talks about the exclusion of oral evidence by documentary evidence. It is going on with the same precedent and tradition where in the documentary proof are considered as more affirmed piece of evidence then the oral evidences. It lays down the provisions for exclusion of evidence relating to oral agreements, ambiguous document, application of document to existing facts and a few more provisions.
Chapter VII: BURDEN OF PROOF
The chapter number VII of the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023 list down the provisions with regard to burden of proof, its definition and explains as to upon whom and under what circumstances the burden of proof shall lie. It also lays down some of the presumptions with regard to burden of proof. It’s specifically focuses on the crimes against women with regard to birth during marriage which shall be considered as conclusive proof of legitimacy, presumptions as to abetment of suicide by a married woman, presumption as to dowry death, and presumption as to absence of consent in certain prosecution of rape.
Chapter VIII: ESTOPPEL
The chapter VIII talks about the estoppel and estoppel of tenants and licensee and estoppel of acceptor of bill of exchange, Bailee or licensee.
Chapter IX: WITNESSES
The Chapter IX is related to the witnesses and provides for as to who may testify. It also explains with regard to the witness unable to communicate verbally, competency of husband and wife as witness in cases, and a few more provisions with regard to the official communications, information as to Commission of offences, professional communications etc.
Chapter X: EXAMINATION OF WITNESSES
The chapter X of the Bhartiya Sakshya Bill, 2023 provides for the examination of witnesses and enumerates the provisions with regard to production or examination of witnesses, order of examinations, leading questions, lawful questions in cross examination, procedure of court in case of question being asked without reasonable grounds, indecent and scandalous questions etc. If the emphasis is to be supplied to this chapter, then it certainly results into the fact that the examination of witnesses is going to be more formal and proper wherein equations creating uncomfortable situation and circumstances maybe stopped by the courts.
Chapter XI: IMPROPER ADMISSION AND REJECTION OF EVIDENCE
The Chapter XI of the Bhartiya Sakshya Bill, 2023 talks about the improper admission and rejection of evidence wherein it lays down the provisions with regard to the trial for improper admission or rejection of evidence and further talks about the repeal and savings in section 170.
In the ever-evolving landscape of legal proceedings, the Bhartiya Sakshya Bill, 2023 emerges as a testament to India’s commitment to upholding justice and equity. By meticulously addressing the multifaceted realm of evidence, this bill charts a course towards more structured, inclusive, and technologically aligned legal proceedings. The chapters within the bill provide a comprehensive framework, ranging from the determination of relevancy to the admissibility of electronic records. Notably, the bill doesn’t merely aim to facilitate the admittance of evidence but also takes into account the procedural intricacies surrounding the examination of witnesses and the exclusion of oral evidence in favor of documentary proof. As the bill navigates through areas like estoppel, burden of proof, and improper admission of evidence, it underscores its commitment to ensuring fair trials, protecting rights, and minimizing ambiguities within the legal process. With its potential to refine the evidentiary landscape, the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023 holds the promise of rendering the legal system more efficient, transparent, and equitable for all those who seek justice in the Indian courts.
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