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Oral Evidence, under the Indian Evidence Act

In a court of law, the individual upon whom the onus of proof lies, has to produce the evidence in order to support their case as well as back their arguments. This will then enable the charges on the defendants to be proved.[1]

The meaning of the expression, as mentioned in the act, means, and also includes’ All the statements, which the courts permit, or required to make before the witnesses, with relation to the matter at hand, such statements can hence be called as Oral Evidences’[2]

There can be many varied forms in which the evidence can be produced in the court of law. In the Indian Evidence Act of 1827, the concept of oral evidence has been consolidated in the chapter IV, under the §59 and §60.

§59 of the Indian Evidence Act:

§ 59 of the Indian Evidence Act, states, that all the facts except for the electronic records[3], can be proved by Oral Evidence. This section hence lays down that all the facts that can be proven by the oral evidence, except any kinds of content enclosed in a document. Hence, this is the evidence that is given orally in the court of law.

Evidentiary value of any kind of oral testimony, is a lesser satisfactory medium of proof, than the documented proof. But again, justice in order for justice to be administered, any of the methods cannot be sidelined.

The Oral Evidence also, should be approached with extreme caution. The courts, hence are supposed to separate the grain from the chaff, implying that there needs to be a proper segregation of the truth from the false, and that there needs to be a proper picking out of the facts that are relevant to what is not relevant.

The main points that define the credibility of the witnesses are:

1. Whether the witness had the means, for gaining correct information;

2. What are their interests in telling the truth;

3. Whether they agree, in their testimony[4]

Also, speaking in terms of electronic records, they were inadmissible in the courts. After the amendment in the section 2(t) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 electronic records are now admissible in the court of law, since the section regarding document was amended.[5]

§60: Oral Evidence must be direct

The section, very clearly lays down the fact that the oral evidence, has to be direct in nature. The main features that are seen in this section are:

1. Facts which can be seen, and must be the evidence of a witness who says he or she has seen it,

2. Also the facts that can be head, and the evidence has to be heard by the witness.

3. Also refers that the facts should be perceived by any other sense, or in any manner, and the evidence should have heard or perceived by the witness;

4. Opinion also, should be on the grounds that an opinion can be held, and the opinion is held must be the evidence of the witness[6]

For instance, in the landmark case of R v Gibson[7], the courts dismissed the evidence of the plaintiff stating that the evidence is mere hearsay.[8] In this case, the accused person was hence prosecuted, for hurting the plaintiff by throwing a stone. As soon as the stone was thrown, a woman screams and directs the attention of the plaintiff to the house, stating that the man who threw the stone ran to the house. Hence, such an evidence was not counted in the court of law, since the plaintiff did not see the stone being thrown through his own eyes.

Therefore, it can be concluded that, hearsay evidence is the statement which is the evidence of the witness, but is not based on his personal knowledge but on what he has procured from others sources.

Concept of hearsay, is based on the principle, that hearsay hence is no evidence. It comes under the ambit of indirect evidence.

Differences between Direct Evidence and Hearsay Evidence:

ü Direct evidence, is the evidence procured by the witness through their own perception. The hearsay evidence, on the other hand has been derived by other persons.

ü The Direct Evidence is the evidence whose facts are to be proved. Hearsay evidence on the other hand, is the evidence which are admitted under exceptional circumstances.

ü The liability here, is on the person who is giving the evidence. In case of hearsay evidence, the person does take full responsibility.

ü The person giving evidence directly, is available for cross examination. The otherwise, is not possible.

ü The source in case of a witness giving direct evidence is known. In case of a person with hearsay evidence, the source is unknown.

Therefore, the concept of oral evidence under the Indian Evidence Act, is evolving, and the provisions have been comprehensively explained in the article.

[1] Diva Raj, Exclusion of Oral Evidence by documentary evidence, ipleaders, 18th May, 2019, (

[2] Section3 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1827. See also, Ajodhya Prasad Bhargava v. Bhawani Shanker Bhargava AIR 1957 AII 1

[3] This was, however, amended in the judgement given in 2018.

[4] Narendra Patel, Chapter 1- Oral Evidence, Academia, Oral & Documentary Evidence,

[5] JT 2018 (2) SC 349 Shafhi Mohummad v. State of Himachal Pradesh

[6] Section 60 of the Indian Evidence Act

[7] (2008) 1 SCR 397 R v.Gibson

[8] AIR 1916 PC 250 Atkia Begum v. Mohammad

Author Details: Manasi Singh (Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad)

The views of the author are personal only. (if any)

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