In Indian evidence law, the evidence is defined under section 3 in the interpretation clause as “evidence includes oral evidence and documentary evidence which is permitted by the court to produce before it”.
Evidence of various kinds produced before the court to prove or to disprove the fact in issue or issue of fact in dispute to fix the rights and liability in any proceeding or suits.
Some of the kinds of evidence are as follow:
- Circumstantial evidence
- Best evidence
- Corroborative evidence
- Direct evidence
- Primary and secondary evidence
- Oral and documentary evidence
Hearsay evidence is the exception to the general rule that evidence by strangers is not admissible in the court.
Stephen says, “The word hearsay is used in various senses. Sometimes, it means whatever a person is heard to say; sometimes it means whatever a person declares on the information given by someone else; sometimes it is treated as nearly synonymous with irrelevant”.
It is a statement made in the court by some person other than the actual speaker to prove the truth of the matter asserted.
Reasons due to which hearsay evidence is not admissible as evidence:
- The actual speaker cannot be cross-examined.
- The veracity and accuracy of the out of court maker of the statement made to the witness , cannot be tested by cross examination
- It is not given on oath.
- The court is not able to see the demeanour of the witness
- The witness doesn’t feel responsible while making the hearsay evidence.
- Truth got diluted.
- Ample scope of escaping by saying that “somebody told me that ….’’.
But hearsay evidence is still admissible when an exception applies. Some of the exceptions are discussed below:
- Hearsay evidence is admissible under sec 6: Res Gestae as its exception when it is describing an event or condition was made during the event or immediately after the event.
- When a statement made by the declarant in excitement or shock.
- A statement showing existing mental, physical, emotional condition.
- Under sec 32(1) hearsay evidence of dying declaration is admissible.
- Statements given by the parties in another proceeding.
- The opinion of an author when relevant.
- A statement made to a medical practitioner providing treatment.
- Documents which provide records such as family records, government records, etc.
PARKE B said: the rule as to the production of the best evidence is not at all infringed. That rule is founded on the supposition that a party going to offer worse evidence than the nature of the case admits. But what is said by a party to the suit is not open to that objection”.
This rule of hearsay evidence is lacking, because this is not open to the cross-examination.