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  • In Ravinder Singh @ Kaku vs State of Punjab the Hon’ble Apex Court has held that the certificate under section 65B(4) of the Evidence Act is mandatory for the production of electronic evidence, and oral evidence in place of such certificate cannot suffice. 
  • In the instant case, the trial Court convicted three accused in a kidnapping and murder case and were sentenced to death. The present appellant had filed an appeal before the HC against the judgement of the trial Court, wherein two of the accused were acquitted and the appellant was sentenced to imprisonment for a period of 20 years. Aggrieved, the present appeal was filed before the Apex Court.
  • At the outset, the Court observed after referring to a plethora of decisions including Bhagat RAm vs State of Punjab AIR 1954 SC that where a case depends upon the conclusion drawn from the circumstances, the cumulative effect of the circumstances must be such as to negative the innocence of the accused and bring the offence home beyond any reasonable doubt. This was not found to be true in the present case, due to the discrepancies in the testimonies given by the various witnesses. 
  • Another substantive question of law which arose from the instant case was whether the call records produced by the prosecution would be admissible under section 65A and 65B of the Evidence Act, given that the requirement of certification of electronic evidence was not complied with as contemplated under the Act. 
  • To answer this question, the Court referred to the decision of the Apex Court in Arjun Panditrao Khotkar vs Kailash Kushanrao Gorantyal (2020) SCC wherein it was observed that the certificate required under section 65B(4) of the Evidence Act was a mandatory condition precedent to the admissibility of the electronic record. Oral evidence in the place of such certificate cannot possibly suffice as the section is mandatory in nature. 
  • It was also mentioned in the aforementioned case that section 65B(4) of the Act clearly states that secondary evidence is admissible only if led in the manner stated and not otherwise, and to hold otherwise would render section 65B otiose.
  • Thus, the appeal was allowed and the conviction of the appellant/accused was set aside. 
     
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