01 July 2020

In matrimonial dispute, secret recording is admissible in evidence if found to be relevant

Electronic Evidence obtained illegally - Petition for divorce u/s. 13(1)(ia) of The Hindu Marriage Act - CCTV footage recorded without knowledge of wife - In recording wife was found to be talking on phone with her lady friend in a manner derogatory and defamatory to the husband - Husband produced CD of this recording as the evidence in divorce proceeding - Wife in her written statements opposed that CD to be tampered with and inadmissible as it is procured in breach of her right of privacy - After this objection husband made an application to family court to get the genuineness of CD examined from Forensic Lab - Family allowed that application and the same challenged by wife before High Court

Can CCTV audio-video secretly recorded by a spouse be permitted to be used against other spouse in a matrimonial dispute?

Held: In matrimonial dispute, secret recording is admissible in evidence if found to be relevant to the facts-in-issue; and the other party can initiate legal action action the party for adopting illegal means; but such action would not render the illegally obtained evidence inadmissible if it is otherwise relevant for the  purpose of deciding the matrimonial dispute between the parties.

   The sequitur to the aforesaid constitutional and legal landscape is that :
(a) The settled rule, purely from the standpoint of the law of evidence, is that evidence is admissible so long as it is relevant, regardless of how it is collected. Digressing from this settled position would have wide ramifications and consequences; and would be a serious hindrance to judicial proceedings across the board, in several foreseeable and unforeseeable ways. On the other hand, the possible misuse of this rule of evidence, particularly in the context of the right to privacy, can be addressed by prudent exercise of judicial discretion by a court not at the time of receiving evidence but at the time of using evidence at the stage of adjudication ;

Deposition of witness and certificate u/s.65B is sufficient to prove electronic evidence

How to prove photos and screenshot sent by one person to another? (Mode of proof)

Can snapshot of chat from a mobile handset be read in evidence without producing that mobile handset?

Matrimonial dispute - divorce sought by husband - Ground of adultery - Husband received photos, telephonic conversation and snapshot of chat between wife and her lover - Electronic evidence - Mode of proof - compliance to be made 

Held: Witness produced certificate u/s.65B and deposed that he had taken the print outs from the mobile phone, deserves to be read in evidence.

   Learned counsel for the wife contended that the photographs placed on the file as Annexures A-1 to A-8, do not stand duly proved on the record as required under Section 65-B of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (for short 'the Act of 1872') and in support of this contention, he relied upon Anvar P.V. vs. P.K. Basheer and others, 2015(1) SCC (Civil) 27, wherein the Hon'ble Apex Court observed that "in case of CD, VCD, chip, etc., the same would be accompanied by the certificate in terms of Section 65B obtained at the time of taking the document, without which, the secondary evidence pertaining to that electronic record, was inadmissible."[Para No.9]

Deposition of witness and certificate u-s.65B is sufficient to prove electronic evidence

   However, we do not find this contention to be tenable because PW-4 Sunil Kumar, the photographer, tendered the original certificate under Section 65B of the Act of 1872 on the record as Ex.PW-4/A and he also specifically deposed that he had taken the print out of the photographs, i.e. Annexures A-1 to A-8, from the internal memory of the mobile phone brought to his shop by the husband. Moreover, in a subsequent verdict, as rendered by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case titled as State by Karnataka Lokayukta Police Station, Bengaluru vs M. R Hiremath, 2019 (3) SCC (Cri) 109, it has been held while referring to the above- discussed observations, as made in Anvar P.V.'s case (supra), that :-
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