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Evidence - Definition

Evidence means and includes(Section 3 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872):

  1. all statements which the court permits or requires to be made before it by witness in relation to a matter of fact under inquiry such statements are called oral evidence.
  2. all documents produced for the inspection of the court

Evidence may be oral or documentary. Evidence is defined as any matter of fact the effect or tendency of which is to produce in the mind a persuasion of the existence (or otherwise) of some other matter or fact,.

The textual definition refers only to oral and documentary evidence and hence incomplete. The judge may rest his judgment on various other media of proof as well. Inspection report, facts which the court may take judicial notice etc. are not covered by the definition.

An affidavit is not 'evidence' under this section. Similarly confessions of Co-accused, Mahajar report, finding of the tracker dogs or tape recordings etc; are not evidence. These are to be proved and then the court may decide their admissibility and evidentiary value.

Three major principles of evidence are i) it must be confined to facts in issue and relevant facts ii) Hearsay evidence is not admissible iii) Best evidence must be produced before the court.


  • State of Maharashtra vs Praful B Desai (2003) 4 SSC 601: AIR 2003 SC 2053: Video conferencing can be evidence
  • Hata Singh vs State of M.P., AIR 1953 SC 458: If a statement is given by a person in the court, it is oral evidence. If the statement is documented and signed by the accused, it is documentary.
  • Syed Md. Hussain Aftiqar vs Mirza F Beg (1932) 8 Luck 135: Oral statements should be made available before the opposition for cross-examination failing which they will be mere statements.
  • Ronny vs State of Maharashtra (1998) 3 SCC 625: Evidence in one case cannot be used as an evidence in another case. However, the parties of the case may agree to do so.
  • Hurpurshad vs Sheo Dyal (1876) 3 IA 259: If a judge has knowledge of something, he cannot use it as an evidence unless he appears in the witness box in order to bring his knowledge on record
  • Pushpa Devi M Jatia vs M L Wadhawan: When the court accepts certain thing as evidence, it need not be concerned with the method by which the evidence in question was obtained.
  • Riddick vs Thames Board Mills Ltd: The parties are entitled to be protected against the use of materials disclosed on discovery for the purposes other than the litigation in which they are disclosed.

Evidence obtained during the course of other investigations

  • Ronny vs State of Maharashtra: The germane question was not in what connection or investigation the fact which constitutes good evidence came to light, but whether the evidence which is so collected is relevant and admissible for establishing the charge in the present case.
  • Sudha Devi vs M P Narayanan, AIR 1988 SC 1381: Statements given in an affidavit do not constitute evidence within the meaning of Section 3
  • Federal India Assurance Co Ltd vs Anandrao, AIR 1944 Nag. 436: If a court orders that a particular fact may be proved by submitting an affidavit, then it becomes an evidence.
  • Confession of a co-accused is not an evidence because it is not taken on oath and he is not cross-examined.
  • Kashmira Singh vs State of Madhya Pradesh 1952 SCR 526: Testimony of an approver is an evidence because it is taken on oath and he is cross-examined
  • Emperor vs Mohan Lal (1940) 43 Bom LR 163: Panchanama is not an evidence nor the persons who signed it. The witnesses have to appear and the punchnama can be used for refreshing the memory.
  • Tape recording of a conversation is an evidence.
  • Abdul Razak vs State (1969) 72 Bom. LR 646: Discovery of a fact with the help of a tracker dog is a scientific evidence.
  • While the tracker dog pointed to the husband of the deceased wife, then the evidence is relevant but not sufficient enough for conviction.


  • Mausam Singha Roy vs State of WB (2003) 12 SCC 377: Graver the offense, stricter should be the degree of proof.
  • Abdul Rashid Khan vs PAKA Shahil Hamid (2000) 10 SCC 636: An inability to prove a crime does not mean in all cases that it is false.
  • State of UP vs Devendra Singh, AIR 200 SC 3690: Evidence of a witness cannot be discarded because he did not react in an expected manner in a given particular situation
  • State (Delhi Administration) vs V C Shukla: A witness who could go to the extent of making intentionally false statements cannot be relied upon for the purpose of convicting the accused.
  • State of Assam vs Mahim Barkataki: AIR 1987 SC 98: The testimony of a police officer cannot be discredited only because he is a police officer.


  • Rizan vs State of Chhattisgarh, AIR 2003 SC 976: Relationship is not a factor in itself to affect the credibility of a witness
  • Shyam Sundar vs State of Chhattisgarh, AIR 2002 SC 3992: If the testimony of the witness should be subject to careful scrutiny if the witness happens to be a relative.
  • Ramishwar Manjhi vs State of Jharkhand AIR 2009 SC 1262: Eye witnesses who are relatives to the deceased are not to be disbelieved only because they happen to be relative.

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