In an important ruling, the Delhi High Court clarified that a party can file a certificate under Section 65-B of the Evidence Act even subsequent to the filing of the electronic record in the court provided such a party makes out of a case for reception thereof by the Court.
Section 65-B of Evidence Act states that any documentary evidence by way of an electronic record under can be proved only in accordance with the procedure prescribed thereof.
The Court said that the language in Section 65-B did not postulate or propound a ratio that the computer output when reproduced as a paper print out or on optical or magnetic media must be simultaneously certified by an authorised person under Section 65-B(4). “All that is necessary is that the person giving the certificate under Section 65-B(4) should be in a position to certify and state that the electronic record meets the stipulations and conditions mentioned in Section 65-B(2), identify the electronic record, describe the manner in which computer output was produced and also give particulars of the device involved in production of the electronic record for the purpose of showing that the electronic record was prepared by the computer”, the Court said.
The Court, however, cautioned that “Such certificate/affidavit/s under Section 65-B of the Evidence Act, though can be filed subsequently also, as any other document may be, but only if the party wanting to file the same makes out a case for reception thereof, as for late filing of documents beyond the prescribed time.”
“If the party so producing the said certificate/affidavit is unable to satisfy the Court as to the reasons for which the certificate/affidavit was not filed at the appropriate time, may run the risk of the certificate/affidavit being not permitted to be filed and resultantly the electronic record, even if filed at the appropriate time, remaining to be proved, to be read in evidence. Not only so, even if the delayed filing of the said certificate/affidavit is permitted by the Court, the party producing the same may run the risk of being not able to prove the said electronic record. It cannot be forgotten that the person in a position to identify the electronic record and to give particulars of the device involved in the production of the electronic record and as to other matters prescribed in Section 65-B(2) and in Order XI Rule 6(3) of CPC may not be subsequently available or with frequent changes in technology the device involved in the production of electronic record may not be identifiable and the certificate/affidavit may not withstand the cross-examination by the opposing counsel on the said facts, leading to the electronic record being not read in evidence and the plea taken on the basis thereof remaining to be proved”, the Court opined.