Legacy and Comparative Analysis of the Best Evidence Principle

Christy Nameirakpam
Symbiosis Law School, Pune, India

Volume III, Issue IV, 2020

The journey of evidence in India through the ancient, medieval and modern period in history can be traced in different manifestations. In the ancient era, the Dharmashastras paved the way for three types of evidence namely-lekhya or documentary evidence, ,sakshi or witness and bukhthi or possession. The Mohammedan law recognises itself with documentary and oral evidence, where the latter is again divided into direct and hearsay evidence. In British India, the presidency towns were in a much better condition than the mofussil towns with regards to the definite rules of evidence. After around eleven unsuccessful enactments made during 1835-1853, a commission chaired by Sir Henry Mayne in 1868 submitted a draft which also turned out to be futile. Finally the task of codification of the rules was handed over to Sir James Fitzjames Stephen whose draft cleared the test of enactment and came into force on 1st September 1872. Section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 states that evidence means and includes all oral evidence and documentary evidence to be produced before the Court for inspection, which will help decide the fate of a case as the meaning of evidence may vary owing to facts, circumstances and kind of case. Gradually the classification of evidence has grown considerably and so has the dynamics of best evidence rule. There are no watertight compartments for the types of evidence and with the development of a digital world the ambit of best evidence rule is walking between broader horizons and blurred lines.

Keywords- oral, documentary, hearsay, direct, in-writing, principle.