Case Comment on Shafhi Mohammad Vs. The State of Himachal Pradesh
[ SLP(Crl.) No. 2302 of 2017]
Volume III, Issue II, 2020
“To espouse an alliance between law and science is to advocate solution of a fundamental dilemma: Science cannot resolve the legal conflicts it engenders, and law cannot understand scientifically its own method.” – Thomas Crowen
Today, virtually every crime has an electronic component in terms of computers and electronic technology being used to facilitate the crime. Computers used in crimes may contain a host of evidence related to the crime, whether it is a conventional crime or a terrorist act. In light of this, judicial officers should not become complacent with individuals or their environment simply because the crime may involve a computer. Judiciary should provide assurance to litigants, empowerment to law enforcement agencies and deterrence to criminals. The law should be stringent as its enforcement. The influence of electronic media has been spread over all branches of society including law and the judiciary. Maintaining the integrity of electronic evidence throughout the process of investigation and trial presents different problems (from the handling of traditional physical or documentary evidence), that are not posed by their physical counterparts. Electronic data is easy to create, copy, alter, destroy, and transfer from one medium to another. In short, by their very nature, electronic records can be easily manipulated. Consequently, their accuracy and reliability are frequently suspected. This creates a conflict between the relevancy and admissibility of electronic evidence, an issue that has been acknowledged by jurisdictions across the world.”
This article seeks to gauge the development in the attitude of the court to modernize Indian evidentiary practices and help our courts deal with the advances in technology by analysing and critiquing the landmark apex court judgement of Shafhi Mohammad v. The State of Himachal Pradesh, decided by a division bench comprising of Hon’ble Justice U.U Lalit and Hon’ble Justice A.K. Goel by stating the facts as it is in the first segment, followed by the relevant laws and rules used by the court to conclude the judgement in the succeeding segment and finally stating the judgement and author’s critical analysis along with the conclusion in the final segment.
Keywords: Admissibility, Computer, Electronic evidence, Technology.