Shri. Akhilesh Kumar Sah, Advocate, has explained the law on whether compact disc, tape recorded conversation is a “document” and admissible as an evidence in the light of the verdict of the Super Court in Shamsher Singh Verma vs. State of Haryana and other important judgements
Recently, on the facts & circumstances of the appeal, Hon’ble Supreme Court has decided that compact disc, tape recorded conversation is a document and admissible as an evidence. This appeal has been decided by Hon’ble Supreme Court relating to Shamsher Singh Verma vs. State of Haryana [Criminal Appeal No. 1525 Of 2015 (Arising Out Of S.L.P. (Crl.) No. 9151 Of 2015)].
Facts & decision in brief (relating to issue) of Shamsher Singh case(supra):
The above appeal was directed against order dated 25.8.2015, passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh, whereby said Court has affirmed the order dated 21.2.2015, passed by the Special Judge, Kaithal, in Sessions Case No. 33 of 2014, and rejected the application of the accused for getting exhibited the compact disc, filed in defence and to get the same proved from Forensic Science Laboratory.
The Supreme Court observed that the object of Section 294 CrPC is to accelerate pace of trial by avoiding the time being wasted by the parties in recording the unnecessary evidence. Where genuineness of any document is admitted, or its formal proof is dispensed with, the same may be read in evidence.
In R.M. Malkani vs. State of Maharashtra (1973) 1 SCC 471 : 1973 (2) SCR 417, Supreme Court has observed that tape recorded conversation is admissible provided first the conversation is relevant to the matters in issue; secondly, there is identification of the voice; and, thirdly, the accuracy of the tape recorded conversation is proved by eliminating the possibility of erasing the tape record.
In Ziyauddin Barhanuddin Bukhari vs. Brijmohan Ramdass Mehra and others (1976) 2 SCC 17 : 1975 (Supp) SCR 281, it was held by Supreme Court that tape-records of speeches were “documents”, as defined by Section 3 of the Evidence Act 1872, which stood on no different footing than photographs, and that they were admissible in evidence on satisfying the specified conditions.
The learned judges of the Supreme Court held that in view of the definition of ‘document’ in Evidence Act, and the law laid down by Supreme Court, as above, that the compact disc is also a document. It is not necessary for the court to obtain admission or denial on a document under sub-section (1) to Section 294 CrPC personally from the accused or complainant or the witness.
The endorsement of admission or denial made by the counsel for defence, on the document filed by the prosecution or on the application/report with which same is filed, is sufficient compliance of Section 294 CrPC. Similarly on a document filed by the defence, endorsement of admission or denial by the public prosecutor is sufficient and defence will have to prove the document if not admitted by the prosecution. In case it is admitted, it need not be formally proved, and can be read in evidence. In a complaint case such an endorsement can be made by the counsel for the complainant in respect of document filed by the defence.
The Hon’ble judges of the Supreme Court further held that we are not inclined to go into the truthfulness of the conversation sought to be proved by the defence but, in the facts and circumstances of the case, we are of the view that the courts below have erred in law in not allowing the application of the defence to get played the compact disc relating to conversation between father of the victim and son and wife of the appellant regarding alleged property dispute. In our opinion, the courts below have erred in law in rejecting the application to play the compact disc in question to enable the public prosecutor to admit or deny, and to get it sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory, by the defence.
The judgment of the Apex Court in Shamsher Singh case(supra) shall help a lot in arriving at the decision, on the facts & circumstances of a particular case.