Can Tape recorded conversation be used as evidence in courts in India?
The article discuss the contentious issue of whether a voice recording can be used as source of evidence or not. Many a time people are being threatened of criminal prosecution when someone has their voice recorded in their phone so discuss this matter is of immense importance. Also, the court on day-to-day basis faces case in front of them which raise the issue whether voice recording is admissible as evidence or not.
IS VOICE RECORDING PERMISSABLE IN COURTS?
Oral statements as part of electronic record can only be used as evidence after its genuineness can proved in court.
The foremost and most important thing to be proved for a voice recording to be admissible as a proof is its genuineness.
In order to prove genuineness following factors play a vital role:
How is the evidence kept or stored?
Whether the evidence has any relevance with facts of the case or not?
What is the time period since which the record was kept in such electronic form and any other factor related to the genuineness of the voice recording?
WHAT EXACTLY IS AN ELECTRONIC RECORD?
As per the rules of the IT Act data, record, or data generated, image or sound stored, received, or sent in an electronic form or micro film or computer-generated micro fiche is referred to as an electronic record.
As per this provision of IT act voice recording comes under the umbrella of electronic record. So, the first step of proving that voice recording is an electronic record is completed. Now the next step is to prove its genuineness.
Moreover, as per the Indian evidence act crime recorded through electronic media can be used as a source of proof.
However, whether an electronic record can be used as a evidence or not will be subject to court and it can deny or approve permissibility of evidence as the court considers necessary.
LAW REGARDING ELECTRONIC RECORDS
Law regarding electronic records are clearly mentioned in Section 65B of Indian Evidence Act.
Section 65B of Indian evidence act states that “Any information which is collected and stored via means of electronic record can be used as source of proof in court if following conditions are satisfied:
The source of the information was created by the computer during the period in which the computer was used regularly to store or process information for the purposes of any activities carried out on a regular basis by the person with lawful control over the use of the computer during that period.
During the said period, information of the type contained in the electronic record or from which the information contained in the electronic record is derived was on regular basis fed into the computer in the ordinary course of the said activities.
The computer was operating properly throughout the material part of the said period, or if not, the period in which it was not operating properly or was out of operation during that part of the period was not such as to affect the electronic record or the validity of its contents.
The information contained in the electronic record reproduces or is derived from information fed into the computer during the normal course of the aforementioned activities.
ADMISSIBILITY OF RECORDED EVIDENCE: JUDICIAL DECISION
Tape recorded can be used as evidence if following conditions are satisfied:
the conversation is pertinent to the issues at hand.
There should be identification of voice.
In order to prove that the tape-recorded conversation is authentic it should be proved that there is no part of the recording that is removed or erased.
In the case of Ram Singh & Ors vs Col. Ram Singh following conditions are laid down for voice recording to be used as evidence:
The voice of the speaker in the recording must be recognised by the people who were recording it, or the voice of the speaker in the recording whose admissibility is in question must be recognised by anyone involved in the case.
The recording in question must be authentic, which must be proven by the person presenting the evidence using adequate means.
The entire conversation will have to be presented in court. Even a microsecond of tampering or erasing is not permitted. The court considers the entire conversation as a whole and makes its decision solely on that basis.
The statements must be relevant and consistent with the facts of the case.
The voice recording device must be sealed and kept in safe custody.
The voice should be clear and free of background noise.
So, on a concluding note voice recording can be used as evidence provided its Genuity be established.