When the knowledge of a fact is not perceived by a witness directly through his own senses but it is based on the report by other person it will be a Hearsay Evidence.

According to Taylor,

‘All the evidence which does not derive its value solely from the credit given to the witness himself, but which rests also in part on the veracity and competence of some other person.'

The word “hearsay” means whatever a person is heard to say (rumour or gossip) or whatever a person declares on information given by someone else, or it may be synonymous with irrelevant. A statement, oral or written by a person not called as a witness (or statement made out of court) comes under the general rule of hearsay. A statement contained or recorded in any book, document or record which is not admissible.  The hearsay witness may not be able to say correctly and completely the truth of his statement.

Rule of Best Evidence:  

It is a cardinal rule in the law of evidence that the best available evidence should be brought before the court. The provision of Section 60, 64 and 91 are based on this rule. Section 60 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 is directed against avoiding or excluding hearsay evidence because under Section 60 states that “Oral evidence must be direct”- Oral evidence must, in all cases whatever, be direct; that is to say— If it refers to a fact which could be seen, it must be the evidence of a witness who says he saw it; If it refers to a fact which could be heard, it must be the evidence of a witness who says he heard it; If it refers to a fact which could be perceived by any other sense or in any other manner, it must be the evidence of a witness who says he perceived it by that sense or in that manner; If it refers to an opinion or to the grounds on which that opinion is held, it must be the evidence of the person who holds that opinion on those grounds:

 

-Provided that the opinion of experts expressed in any treatise commonly offered for sale, and the grounds on which such opinions are held, may be proved by the production of such treatise if the author is dead or cannot be found or has become incapable of giving evidence or cannot be called as a witness without an amount of delay or expense which the Court regards as unreasonable.

 

-Provided also that, if oral evidence refers to the existence or condition of any material thing other than a document, the Court may, if it thinks fit, require the production of such material thing for its inspection.

 

Admissibility of Hearsay Evidence:

The rule against the admission of hearsay evidence is fundamental. It is not the best evidence. It is not delivered on oath and cross examination is not done of hearsay evidence.

The principle of law of evidence is that Hearsay Evidence must not be admitted.  Hearsay Evidence is derivative or second hand or unoriginal evidence. It is the evidence of facts, which the witnesses has not perceived through his own bodily senses, but got through other medium. 

Exception of Hearsay Evidence:

The court have modified the rigid rule as to Hearsay Evidence by following exceptions-

~Res Gestae (Sec 6 of Indian Evidence Act 1872)-   The statement of a person may be proved through another person who appears as a witness if the statement is a part of the transaction issue.

 

~Admission and Confession- An admission of liability or confession of guilt which takes place outside the court is proved through the testimony of the witnesses to whom the admission or confession was made. such witness is not a witness of fact as he has not seen or observed the main occurance through nay of his sense but had only heard about it from the mouth of the party who admitted his liability or confessed to the guilt.

 

~Statement relevant under Section 32- Statements by a person who cannot be called as a witness is Dying Declaration under Section 32(1). Statements, which are mostly the statements of the deceased persons who are not available as witnesses. The evidence of such statement is therefore, the evidence of hearsay and it specially declared to be relevant.

 

~Entries in book of accounts kept in the course of business (Section 34) and entries in public registers (Section 35)- Section 34 states Entries in books of account including those maintained in an electronic form] when relevant.—[Entries in books of accounts including those maintained in an electronic form], regularly kept in the course of business, are relevant whenever they refer to a matter into which the Court has to inquire, but such statements shall not alone be sufficient evidence to charge any person with liability.

Section 35 states Relevancy of entry in public[record or an electronic record] made in performance of duty.—An entry in any public or other official book, register or [record or an electronic record], stating a fact in issue or relevant fact, and made by a public servant in the discharge of his official duty, or by any other person in performance of a duty specially enjoined by the law of the country in which such book, register, or [record or an electronic record] is kept, is itself a relevant fact.

 

~Opinions of experts (Section 45 – Section 51) - When the Court has to form an opinion upon a point of foreign law or of science or art, or as to identity of handwriting [or finger impressions], the opinions upon that point of persons specially skilled in such foreign law, science or art,  [or in questions as to identity of handwriting] [or finger impressions] are relevant facts. Such persons are called experts. It is provided that the opinion of experts expressed in any treaties commonly offered for sale and the ground on which such opinion are held may be proved by the production of such treaties if the author is dead or cannot be found or become incapable of giving evidence or cannot be called as witness then expert opinion can be cited in his absence only.

 

~Statements of experts in treaties (Section 60 Proviso 1)- The opinions of experts expressed in any treatise commonly offered for sale, and the grounds on which such opinions are held, may be proved by the production of such treatises if the author is dead or cannot be found, or has become incapable of giving evidence, or cannot be called as a witness without an amount of delay or expense which the Court regards as unreasonable.

 

~Evidence which refers to existence or condition of any material thing (Section 60 Proviso 2)- If oral evidence refers to the existence or condition of any material thing other than a document, the Court may, if it thinks fit, require the production of such material thing for its inspection.

Hearsay Evidence to Corroborate Substantive Evidence:

Mukhtiar Singh v. State of Punjab AIR 2009 SC which was a murder case, the witness stated that he saw the accused persons running towards the village carrying weapon. He chased two of them to a certain distance but he did not see the occurrence of attack as it happened when he chased two accused persons but when he came immediately thereafter he learnt from eye witnesses that the accused persons attacked the deceased and he informed the police, his evidence although hearsay was admissible for corrobating substantive evidence of eye witnesses as evidence of such nature could be used to corrobative substance evidence (Pawan Kumar v. State of Haryana 2003).