Mohinder Singh v. Baljit Singh & Ors

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Mohinder Singh v. Baljit Singh & Ors
(2014) 4 ICC 145
In the High Court of Punjab & Haryana
CR 1350/2012 (O&M)
Before Justice (Dr) Bharat Bhushan Parsoon
Decided on August 04, 2014

Relevancy of the case: Admissibility of digital evidence

Statutes & Provisions Involved

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000
  • The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (Section 3A, 17, 22, 23, 65A, 65B)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • In an ongoing adjudication before the Rent Controller, the respondent moved an application for taking specimen samples of the petitioner’s voice so that his voice could be compared with the recording stored in the CD, through the voice recording done in the phone’s memory card. It is alleged that the petitioner has conceded for the continuance of tenancy of the respondent on the enhancement of rent. After hearing the parties, the said Rent Controller allowed the application.
  • During the pendency of this matter before the Rent Controller, the respondent had moved an application seeking directions to the petitioner to admit conversation between them (which was allegedly recorded by the respondent) over a telephonic call as well as during various meetings so that the matter is amicably resolved. Along with this application, the respondent also presented the said CD.
  • The Rent Controller dismissed this application along with the CD. The revision petition was filed in this court, which was subsequently dismissed. While dismissing the review petition, this court made certain observations that were supposed to be followed.

 Prominent Arguments by the Advocates

  • The petitioner’s (landlord’s) counsel has argued that once CD is already on record allegedly containing the specified conversation, comparison with voice samples is not permissible. Also, the Rent Controller had to give a finding of the relevance of contents of CD and was to proceed only thereafter with regard to the comparison of voices of the persons, record of conversation of whom; the CD was allegedly having. The Rent Controller has exceeded its jurisdiction and he has failed to appreciate that this is a delaying tactic by the respondent (tenant) who already has the possession of the rented premises. The petitioner has asserted that the respondent has failed to follow the observations made by this court in the review petition.
  • The respondent’s counsel has contended that since the Rent Controlled has permitted bringing of the CD on record through the impugned order, establishing the veracity of conversation of landlord and tenant digitally stored in the CD through comparison of voice samples with the voice of conservationists in the CD was necessary. The respondent has argued that all the observations made by the honourable court have been followed in letter and spirit.

Opinion of the Bench

  • Section 17 of the Evidence Act has been changed to include a statement in oral, documentary, and electronic form, which suggests an inference to any fact at issue or of relevance. Also, Section 22(a) has been inserted for the relevancy of the oral evidence regarding the contents of electronic records. However, it is also important to note that oral admissions of electronic records would not be relevant unless the genuineness of the electronic records produced in proved.
  • As the presumption of truth does not attach to statements caged in a CD, the admissibility of this digital evidence will have to be seen in terms of Sections 65A & 65B.

Final Decision

  • Neither the tenant on his part has followed the course suggested by this court, or the Rent Controller has done his part for appreciating electronic evidence as per the established procedure. Hence, the impugned order is premature and it is set aside. The petition is allowed.
  • As the petition is pending before the Rent Controller since 2007, the Rent Controller is finally directed to adjudicate this petition within three months from the date of receipt of a certified copy of this order.

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