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Certified copy of RTI can be admitted as Secondary evidence ?


SB : Hon’ble Shri Justice Sujoy Paul

Writ Petition No. 7860/2014

Narayan Singh
Kallaram @ Kalluram Kushwaha and others

Shri Manish Sharma, Advocate for the petitioner.
Shri J.P.Shrivastava, Advocate for the respondent No.1.

(19/03/2015) The singular question involved in this petition is whether the certified copy of documents obtained under Right to Information Act, 2005 (for brevity, the ‘Act of 2005’) can be admitted as secondary evidence ?

2. The defendant No.1 preferred an application under Section 65 of the Evidence Act before the court below. It is contended in the said application that the petitioner/defendant No.1 has obtained certified copies of map of the house and building construction permission from the Nagar Nigam. These documents are obtained under the Act of 2005 and, therefore, the same be accepted as secondary evidence.

3. The court below by order dated 4.12.2014 allowed the said application preferred under Section 65 of the Evidence Act (Annexure P/4) dated 22.9.2014. Criticizing this order, Shri Manish Sharma, learned counsel for the petitioner, submits that the documents obtained under the Act of 2005 do not fall within the ambit of Sections 63 and 65 of the Evidence Act. Hence, the same cannot be treated as secondary evidence. In addition, he submits that copies obtained under the Act of 2005 were not compared with the original documents and, therefore, it does not fulfill the requirement of Section 63 of the Evidence Act. Lastly, it is contended that the copies obtained under the Act of 2005 are, at best, “attested” or “true” copies and cannot be treated as certified copies.

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4. Shri J.P.Shrivastava, learned counsel for the respondent No.1 supported the order and relied on certain provisions of the Act of 2005.

5. No other point is pressed by learned counsel for the parties.

6. I have heard learned counsel for the parties and perused the record.

7. I deem it proper to reproduce the relevant provisions of Evidence Act and the Act of 2005 before dealing with rival contentions of the parties.

Section 65 (f) of Evidence Act reads as under:- “65 (f). when the original is a document of which a certified copy is permitted by this Act, or by any other law in force in India to be given in evidence;

In case (e) or (f), a certified copy of the document, but no other kind of secondary evidence, is admissible.”

“Right to Information” is defined in Section 2 (j() of the Act of 2005. Relevant portion reads as under:-

“(j) “right to information” means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes the right to- –

(i) xx xx xx

(ii) taking notes, extracts, or certified copies of documents or records.

6. Clause (f) of Section 65 of Evidence Act makes it crystal clear that a certified copy permitted under the Evidence Act or by any other law in force can be treated as secondary evidence. Right to Information Act, in my view, falls within the ambit of “by any other law in force in India”. The definition of “right to information” makes it clear that certified copies of documents are given to the citizens under their right to obtain information. In my view, the court below has rightly opined that the documents can be admitted as secondary evidence. I do not see any merit in the contention that the documents obtained under the Act of 2005 are either true copies or attested copies. The definition aforesaid shows that the same are certified copies. Even otherwise, it is interesting to note that in Black Dictionary, the meaning of “certified copy” is as under:-

“Certified copy” – a copy of a document or record, signed or certified as a true copy by the officer to whose custody original is entrusted.”

Since the documents are covered under section 65 of the Evidence Act, there was no need to compare the same with the originals.

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7. As analyzed above, I find no legal error in the order of the court below, which warrants interference under Article 227 of the Constitution. The court below has taken a plausible view, which is in accordance with law. Petition is meritless and is hereby dismissed. No cost.

(Sujoy Paul) Judge

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