It is good to note that the government has made a move to amend the ‘Evidence Act, 1872’ for overcoming the challenges to introduce digital evidence in the justice system. The move has also been made to cancel some controversial provisions, including the provision that allows questioning the character of rape victims in court.
Rights activists, experts and lawyers said that the law dates back to the colonial period. Digital records can be applied as evidence in any case. Some special laws and tribunals, including Cyber Crime Tribunal, Speedy Trial Tribunal Act, the ICT Act and the Digital Security Act, directly instructed for the use of video footage, but not in the general law. For this reason, video footage and several other kinds of digital records can’t be used in various cases.
We have to ensure proper implementation
of the reformed Evidence Act
No direct evidence is available in many incidents that include crimes like killing which might have occurred in a remote area. CCTV camera footage and videos captured on mobile phone sets can play an important role as evidence in such cases.
Since the use of electronic devices as evidence is not mentioned in the five documents under the Section, people seeking justice are being deprived of justice during the trial.
Furthermore, the long-awaited reform or update of Evidence Act should also create a specific duty on judges to confirm complainants of sexual offences are not subject to questions about their character and for specific disciplinary action. That can be explained as suspension and fines which will be taken against the defence lawyers who intentionally use character evidence in order to humiliate the complainant.
We have to ensure proper implementation of the reformed Evidence Act and also establish a complainant-friendly environment in every channel of the justice system.