Certificate under Section 65-B(4) is a condition precedent to the admissibility of evidence by way of electronic record:SC

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Arjun Panditrao Khotkar v. Kailash Kushanrao Gorantyal

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 20825-20826 OF 2017 


Bench: R.F. Nariman, S. Ravindra Bhat, V. Ramasubramanian JJ.


This three judge bench of the Supreme Court was referred to resolve the conflicting standings in the case of Shafhi Mohammad vs. State of Himachal Pradesh (2018) 2 SCC 801, and Anvar P.V. vs. P.K. Basheer (2014) 10 SCC 473, with respect to the interpretation of Section 65-B(4) of Indian Evidence Act, 1872. In the Shafi Mohammad case, it was held that the requirement of a certificate under Section 65-B(4), being procedural, can be relaxed by the court wherever the interest of justice so justifies. However, in the Arnav P.V. case, the court held that for admissibility of electronic evidence, the procedure mentioned in 65-B(4) is mandatory. The court was tasked to resolve this ambiguity.

Question of Law:

Whether the requirement of certificate under Section 65-B(4), Indian Evidence Act, 1872, mandatory for production of electronic evidence?




It was contended on behalf of the appellant that electronic evidences like CDs cannot be admitted as a piece of evidence without furnishing the certificate u/s 65B (4) of Evidence Act. Further, the petitioner contended that the theory of “substantial compliance” with the requirement of Section 65-B (4) of Evidence Act through the oral evidence of the witness, as held by the Hon’ble High Court, is in contravention to the decision of the Apex Court in the case of Anvar P.V. v. P.K. Basheer & Ors. 




The respondents contended that in cases of difficulty or impossibility in the production of a certificate u/s 65-B(4) of Evidence Act, the same shall not result in the denial of crucial evidence. Further, it was contended by the respondents that Shafhi Mohammad is a good law and that Anvar P.V. is applicable only in a case where the party can procure the certificate.




An intervenor in the appeal contended that Section 65-B of Evidence Act does not stipulate the stage at which the certificate u/s 65-B(4) of Evidence Act must be produced, therefore, the same may be produced at any stage of the proceedings. The intervenor further sought for a clarification on the decision of the Apex Court in the case of Anvar P.V. to the effect that the procedures stipulated u/s 65A and 65B alone shall have to be followed for the admissibility of electronic evidence.  



The apex court after analyzing the arguments and both the cases in detail held that the certificate required under Section 65-B(4) is a condition precedent to the admissibility of evidence by way of electronic record. The court upheld the verdict pronounced in the Arnav P.V. case and clarified that the required certificate under Section 65-B(4) is unnecessary if the original document itself is produced. The court with reference to the verdict of Shafi Mohammad case observed that an application can always be made to a judge for production of such a certificate from the requisite person under Section 65B(4) in case such person refuses to give it. The Court noted that Section 65B does not speak of the stage at which such certificate must be furnished to the Courtand said that in cases where such certificate could be procured by the person seeking to rely upon an electronic record, such certificate must accompany the electronic record when the same is produced in evidence

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