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Report No. 60

3.37. Admissibility of tape-recordings.-

As regards tape-recording,1 we may note that they have now been in commercial use for many years, and they have been held by the Supreme Court to be admissible in evidence2 in several cases. The question whether they are "documents" was not at issue in those cases.3

In Australia, the problem was exhaustively argued in R. v. Travers,4 and the New South Court5 of Criminal Appeal there held that a record of a conversation (or of any other event) was just as admissible as an acoustic reproduction, and that the rules which related to the supplementing of the senses by the use of scientific instruments should be applied to recordings of the type in question. From this decision, the High Court refused special leave to appeal .6

1. Para. 3.33, supra.

2. (a) Pratap Singh v. State of Punjab, (1964) 2 SCR 733: AIR 1964 SC 72 (86), para. 15.

(b) R.M. Malkani v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1973 SC 157 (reviews cases).

3.(a) Yusuffalli v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1968 SC 147 (V. 55): (1967) 3 SCR 720.

(b) Manindra Nath v. Biswanath, 67 Cal WN 191.

(c) Rup Chand v. Mahabir Prasad, AIR 1956 Punj 173.

4. R. v. Travers, 1958 SR NSW 85.

5. See-(a) 31 Aust LJ 895; (b) 37 Aust LJ 145.

6. See (1957) 98 CLR 674.

3.38. In England, section 6(1), Evidence Act, 1938 provides that "document" includes books, maps, plans, drawings and photographs. Although the definition is plainly not exhaustive, a view has been expressed that it is doubtful whether a tape-recording, or a computer printout, would be held to be a document within the Act. The Criminal Evidence Act, 1965, under which "document" includes "any device by means of which information is recorded or stored", is more up to date. In India, in the Press Emergency Powers Act,1 it is expressly stated that "document" includes also any painting, drawing or photograph or other visible representation.

1. Section 2(6), Press Emergency Powers Act, 1931 (repealed).

3.39. Finally, it may also be useful to add an Explanation that the means employed for forming the letters etc. should be immaterial.

General Clauses Act, 1897 Back

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