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Can Voice Recording be Used as Evidence in Courts in India?

Can Voice Recording

The use of voice recordings as evidence in Indian courts raises significant questions regarding their admissibility and reliability. In this blog post, we will explore the legal framework surrounding voice recordings as evidence in India, including relevant laws, rules, and regulations. We will delve into the requirements for admissibility, and the challenges faced, and notable case laws that have shaped the interpretation of voice recordings as evidence in Indian courts.

What is an Electronic Record?

  • An electric record is considered as data that is generated or recorded or a sound that is stored in an electronic device, or any film generated by a computer that is received or sent to the other device in electronic format. After proving the genuineness, electric records get their relevance in the courts. If any Recording gets recorded in an electronic device that states of fact or an issue, then it gets considered in the Courts after proving the genuineness.
  • Furthermore, as per the Indian Evidence Act, if a crime is recorded through electronic media, then it will be considered a source of fact.
  • Whenever any statement is taken, it takes a part of electronic records also. Sometimes longest statements get recorded in electronic records. Even the courts also consider the nature and effects of the statement on the basis of its genuineness and requirement. Furthermore, the circumstances under which the electronic record be improved as evidence in Courts are also get considered.

Admissibility of Voice Recordings:

  1. Relevance: Relevance is a crucial factor in determining the admissibility of voice recordings. The content of the Recording must directly relate to the facts in question and contribute to a just decision. Voice recordings can provide valuable evidence if they have probative value in establishing the truth.
  2. Authenticity: Authenticity is a key consideration for the admissibility of voice recordings. The party seeking to rely on the Recording has the burden of proving its authenticity. The court needs assurance that the Recording has not been tampered with, altered, or manipulated. Establishing authenticity can involve providing evidence regarding the source of the Recording and ensuring its integrity.
  3. Compliance with Procedural Requirements: To ensure the integrity of electronic evidence, including voice recordings, Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act imposes certain procedural requirements. It stipulates that voice recordings should be accompanied by a certificate signed by a person in charge of the relevant device. The certificate must confirm the accuracy of the contents of the Recording and fulfil the technical requirements outlined in the section.

Legal Framework in India:

  • The Indian Evidence Act of 18721 forms the basis for the admissibility of evidence in Indian courts. While voice recordings are not explicitly mentioned, they fall under the category of oral evidence. Section 3 of the Act defines evidence as statements that the court permits or requires to be made before it. Section 59 further establishes that all facts, except admissions, must be proved by oral or documentary evidence.
  • In Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act, all the laws regarding electronic records and the admissibility of electronic records are laid down. Electronic records are shown as evidence in Courts in accordance with the provisions and rules given in section 65B can be considered easy. Hence, if someone wants to get a justified answer to the question that the voice recording can be used as evidence in Courts in India, then it is important for him or her to get detailed knowledge of section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act.
  • Any information that is stored in an electronic record by using magnetic or optical media with the help of a computer can be considered as justified if it satisfies all the conditions mentioned in the section.
  • In case all the conditions given in the section get justified, then the recordings become admissible to be processed as evidence in courts.
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Conditions to be specified

  • The time when the information is stored on the computer, it is important that the computer must be in use regularly to store or process information. Furthermore, the person showing the evidence as electronic media must have lawful control over the device.
  • During the stated period, electronic records or information from which it is included is routinely fed to computers in the normal course of the above activities.
  • It is also important to justify whether while recording the evidence, the computer was working properly or not. If the working of the computer was not proper, then the chances of disgracing the evidence in Courts may occur.
  • The information contained in the electronic record is retrieved or received from such information feed created in the computer in the normal course of the above activities.
  • The electric record is generated and kept according to the law and produced according to the proper custody, then the chances of accepting it become high. But at that time also, it is important to ensure that all the laws regarding electronic records must be kept in mind properly.
  • In case any of the preceding given ones in an electronic record are not checked or insured, then the Courts will discard it. In the case of electronic records, security status comes on priority. It must be proved that the electronic record has not been altered or modified. For example: in cases of bank fraud, digital track records such as time and date.

What if there is an Electronic Voice record?

According to recent statistics, now, courts are allowing video recordings to be proven as evidence. The accent for showing voice record as evidence in Courts is based on the situation that the conversation is recorded on a phone eraser in the form of a call record for any appropriate sound recording application.

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There are some conditions that must be fulfilled while sowing the voice recordings as evidence in Courts in India:

  • It is important to duly recognize the voice of the speaker by the maker.
  • The authentication of the voice must not be questioned in any situation.
  • In case the voice authentication is questioned, then it must be proved to be genuine
  • No tempering or rising must be done with the conversation. The whole conversation must be presented as evidence in court.
  • Statements given in the electronic record must be relevant.
  • Recordings must be kept in official custody.
  • Voice recorded in the media must be clear without any disturbance

Challenges and Limitations

a)    Unauthorized Recordings:

Indian law prohibits the interception or Recording of private conversations without the consent of the parties involved. Unauthorized recordings are generally considered inadmissible as evidence. However, exceptions exist, such as recordings made in the public interest or to prevent a crime.

b)    Hearsay Rule:

The general principle of the hearsay rule renders out-of-court statements inadmissible as evidence. However, certain exceptions exist, such as recorded statements falling under recognized exceptions to the hearsay rule, such as admissions by a party to the litigation.

c)     Authentication and Tampering:

Establishing the authenticity and integrity of voice recordings can be challenging. The party seeking to introduce the Recording must provide evidence to establish its authenticity and show that it has not been tampered with or manipulated. Defence counsel may raise arguments regarding the potential tampering or manipulation of the Recording to challenge its admissibility.

Case Laws

a)    State (NCT of Delhi) v. Navjot Sandhu (2005):

In this landmark case, the Supreme Court held that voice recordings can be admitted as evidence if they fulfill the conditions of relevancy, authenticity, and compliance with procedural requirements. The court emphasized the importance of ensuring the admissibility of voice recordings based on these factors.

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b)    Zee Telefilms Ltd. & Another v. State of Andhra Pradesh (2007):

In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that voice recordings can be admissible even without a certificate under the Indian Telegraph Act. The court emphasized the significance of relevance, authenticity, and legality in obtaining the Recording for its admissibility.

Conclusion

Voice recordings can be used as evidence in Indian courts if they fulfill the requirements of relevancy, authenticity, and compliance with procedural requirements. The Indian Evidence Act provides the legal framework for the admissibility of voice recordings. The courts have recognized their importance in several landmark judgments, emphasizing the significance of relevance, authenticity, and compliance with legal procedures. While challenges exist, Indian courts are adapting to incorporate electronic evidence, including voice recordings, in their proceedings to ensure a fair and just adjudication process.

FAQs

Can voice recordings be used as standalone evidence to prove a case in Indian courts?

Voice recordings alone may not suffice as standalone evidence to prove a case in Indian courts. Additional supporting evidence is often required to strengthen the overall argument.

What are the procedural requirements for admissibility of voice recordings in Indian courts?

To be admissible, voice recordings in Indian courts must comply with the procedural requirements outlined in Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act. This includes obtaining a certificate from the person in charge of the relevant device, confirming the accuracy and compliance with technical standards.

Are voice recordings obtained without the consent of all parties admissible in Indian courts?

In general, voice recordings obtained without the consent of all parties involved are considered unauthorized and may not be admissible as evidence in Indian courts. Exceptions can exist in cases where the Recording is made in the public interest or to prevent a crime.

What limitations exist for the admissibility of voice recordings in Indian courts?

The admissibility of voice recordings in Indian courts is subject to limitations. The recordings must be relevant, authentic, and meet the procedural requirements. Defence counsel may challenge their authenticity and integrity, and the court will evaluate their admissibility based on these factors.

Can voice recordings serve as evidence in both civil and criminal cases in Indian courts?

Yes, voice recordings can be used as evidence in both civil and criminal cases in Indian courts, provided they meet the necessary requirements of relevance, authenticity, and compliance with procedural rules.

References

  1. https://lddashboard.legislative.gov.in/actsofparliamentfromtheyear/indian-evidence-act-1872

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