Pranav Verma, Anupama Sharma

Bharatiya Sakshya Bill: Implications of Proposed Changes to the Indian Evidence Act, 1872

In August 2023, the Union Government introduced the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill in the Lok Sabha. This Bill, meant to replace the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs. It is scheduled for discussion in the Parliament in the ongoing Winter Session that began on 4 December 2023.

The Bharatiya Sakshya Bill introduces some major changes to the Indian Evidence Act—for instance, streamlining the rules on electronic evidence, and expanding the scope of secondary evidence. It adds a new schedule to the legislation which prescribes a detailed disclosure format of the certificate earlier governed by a mere affidavit and self-declaration as to the genuineness of the contents of electronic records. The definition of secondary evidence has been expanded, and the Bill plugs a loophole of the Evidence Act by accounting for written admissions as secondary evidence.

However, the majority of changes merely amount to the re-numbering or re-structuring of existing provisions. These changes could have been achieved through an amendment of the existing law instead of a new legislation, especially since all the other major aspects of the Evidence Act, such as rules of relevancy, remain unchanged. Moreover, the Bill is replete with drafting errors and misplaced provisos, which can cause confusion on substantive law in some instances.

This table highlights each of these changes, along with a discussion of their possible implications.

About the Authors

Pranav Verma is an Assistant Professor of Law at the NLSIU.

Dr. Anupama Sharma is an Assistant Professor of Law at the NLSIU.