What Is Considered Real Evidence In India?


Meaning of evidence- “Evidence” is a word derived from the Latin word “evidera”, which means to discover or to prove or to ascertain.[1]

Section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act defines “evidence” as follow:

“Evidence means and includes-

  • All the statements which the court permits or requires to be made before it by witnesses in relation to the matter of facts under enquiry; such statements are called oral evidence.
  • All documents including electronic records produced for the inspection of the court, such documents are called documentary evidence” [2]


A case for the decision before the court has disputed facts. The plaintiff (in civil case) or the prosecutor/ complainant (in criminal case) alleges the existence of some facts. Therefore these facts alleged by them in a particular case before the court may be either proved or disproved. In civil cases, the right of the plaintiff or the liability of the defendant is decided by the court and in criminal cases, the guilt or innocence of the accused is pronounced after considering some facts. These facts are called evidence. The law of evidence restricts the parties to only those facts which can be brought before the court in support of the disputed facts.

The law of evidence lays down the following rules:-

  1. What facts may be used in the evidence for deciding the disputed facts?
  2. How disputed facts are to be proved?
  3. What weight to be attached to the facts adduced as evidence.

Thus, it puts restrictions on the parties to present the facts, and they are also guiding factors for the courts in taking evidence.


The object of the law of evidence is to restrict the investigations made by the court within the limits of general convenience. If such restrictions are not there, no suit can be decided even if the trial takes place for a long time. The essence of the law of evidence is for judicial behaviour like it tells the reasoning for logic. With it, there will be much delay in trial and harm to the general public & litigants have to bear more cost.


The term “evidence” in the act denotes only the mechanisms through which relevant facts are presented before the court. The mechanisms adopted are “witnesses and documents”. Under this definition, the evidence is divided into two clauses (1) Oral & (2) documentary.

Oral evidence: a statement made by a witness before the court in relation to the matter before the court for inquiry. Thus, it the evidence which is given before the court.

Documentary evidence: when the document produced in the matter to support the case of the party producing it, the document, therefore, becomes documentary evidence in the case.


Evidence may be classified under the following heads:

  1. Direct and circumstantial evidence
  2. Prosecution and defence evidence
  3. Original and un-original evidence
  4. Substantive and non- substantive evidence
  5. Positive and negative evidence
  6. Real and personal evidence

1. Direct and circumstantial evidence:

Direct or positive evidence is the evidence which tells about the real point of the controversy of the matter in issue. In other words, we can say that direct evidence is evidence that establishes facts.

Circumstantial evidence is always directly related to facts in issue and is primary in nature. Circumstantial evidence is also known as indirect evidence they are ones which tries to prove the facts by giving additional related facts.

2. Prosecution and defence evidence:

Prosecution evidence is that which is the witness of the prosecution story. He supports the prosecution case by his testimony.

As a prosecution witness, the defence witness supports the defence’s part to shake the reliability of the prosecution story.

3. Original and un-original evidence:

Original evidence is evidence the production of the thing is proved in its original form. Whereas un-original or second-hand evidence is that which derives its force from others.

4. Substantive and non-substantive evidence:

Substantive evidence is that evidence which supports or proves the facts in the issue of a case. Non- substantive evidence is that which either corroborate the substantive evidence to increase its creditability or contradict it to discredit it.

5. Positive and negative evidence:

Positive evidence tends to prove the existence of the facts whereas by a negative evidence non- existence of a fact is proved. But it should be borne in mind that negative evidence is ordinarily no good evidence[3]

6. Real and personal evidence:

Real evidence is that which is addressed to the sense of the tribunal, as where the object is presented for the inspection of the court. These are evidence that is real or material evidence through which an inference can be made by the court. Real evidence is brought to the knowledge of the court by an inspection of the physical object rather than by extracting information by a witness or a document.

These are the evidence that the court can examine itself and can make an inference from it. Many times real evidence are also known as physical evidence.


i. Material objects:

Material objects which the court can inspect and can rely on the authenticity of that particular material object. An example of a material object in a civil case can be a registered sale deed. In criminal cases it can be a murder weapon, hence it is real evidence. Therefore the real evidence when submitted in court, the court can examine or can inspect them. Sometimes it is very difficult to submit the real evidence in court as many times it can be destroyed or lost.

ii. Photographs:

Photographs are another example of real evidence, for example in murder case photographs of the deceased and accused can be brought as evidence. The authenticity of photographs must be proven before submitting it as evidence.

iii. Video recordings:

Video recordings or CCTV recordings can be real evidence. The prosecution has to prove that the video recording is real and authentic. The court may also ask the prosecution to tell how and why recording was made. Now there is always a scope that defence will object the recordings and it is at the discretion of the court to allow or disallow it.

iv. Forensic evidence:

Forensic evidence is the real evidence or says material evidence which is analyzed by the forensic experts. Forensic evidence is important in a case and they were collected by the expert team to ensure they are not contaminated while collecting. Forensic evidence can include many things such as DNA reports, fingerprints, medical evidence, brain finger mapping, foot pints, finger impressions, narco evidence, etc.


Through the classification, we have understood the difference between various types of evidence. Real evidence plays an important role in a case whether civil or criminal. Real evidence is also known as physical evidence as it can be examined or inspected by the court. Real evidence can be of many types as discussed above. To make real evidence admissible the plaintiff or prosecution must confirm the authenticity and reliability of it and its source. Real evidence will not be considered admissible if the court found it to be unauthentic. Real evidence is the evidence that directly relates to facts in an issue or relevant facts. Real evidence is the most fundamental & crucial element, in any case, the court can inspect it and also make an inference from it.

[1] Batuk Lal, The law of Evidence, 22nd edition, 2018

[2] The Indian Evidence Act, 1872, Section 3, Interpretation clause, Evidence.

[3] Rahim khan v. Khurshed, AIR 1957 SC 290, para 40.

This Article is Authored by MANMEET SINGH, 3rd Year, BBA LL.B Student at Delhi Metropolitan Education, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University.

Also Read – Under What Circumstances Secondary Evidence Is Admissible?

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