CEAC has been issuing Section 65B certificates signed by Naavi as the observer since the first such certificate was issued in 2004 in the Suhas Katti case.
So far, the Certificates are issued at the request of some body and given to the person who requests for the certificate. If the certificate is to be produced in a Court, the person who obtains it submits it as a document supporting his evidence under his affidavit.
In such cases, it is not necessary for the CEAC representative to be present in the Court to submit the report to the Court directly. In some cases however, the defence has convinced the Courts to summon my presence to either confirm that I have signed the report and to conduct a cross examination.
In such cross examination, as a Section 65B certifier, the objective can only be to question the integrity of the person providing the report as somebody who is hands in glove with one of the litigants and submitting a false evidence. Obviously, given the credentials of Naavi, this challenge to the credibility is only a formality and has not succeeded and will not succeed even in future.
At the same time, as a Section 65B certificate issuer, I can only state that I followed a certain procedure and made some observations and the results of the observations are in the report. Except for confirming my signature and re-iterating what is already written down in the report, it is not possible for me to add any value to the evidence beyond what is already been present.
It is only when I am invited by the Court as an “Expert Witness” , there is a possibility of my adding value to the evidence in a Court. However, in all instances where the Section 65B certificate is presented by me, it is not possible for the Court to invite me as an Expert.
Despite this, either because the counsels of either side insist on my presence or the limitations of a Section 65B certifier as a witness not being recognized by the Court, I am often asked to be present in Court proceedings as a witness .
This adds to the cost of the person who has taken the certificate since he has to bear the cost of my presence. At the same time, I have to spend my valuable time to attend such proceedings.
In view of the above, I am trying to restrict the issue of Section 65B certificates where the matter is being heard by Courts outside Bangalore.
Going forward, CEAC therefore would like to adopt the following process:
- Where required, CEAC will provide the service to convert the electronic evidence into a Certified Computer Output as per Section 65B of Indian Evidence Act.
- The Certificate in a digitally signed form would be hosted on the CEAC dropbox created for the litigant and access would be provided to the person who requests the Certificate.
- The person who has requested the certificate would be given access to view and download the document from the archive.
In this case, the submission to the Court would be a section 65B certificate from the party who is authorized to view the Certificate and the signature of Naavi of CEAC would be like a contemporaneous certificate for change of status of the electronic document from its state in which Naavi observed it to the storage in the archive.
A template in which the second Section 65B certificate needs to be submitted to the Court would be made available to the person who gets the certificate.
This system would retain the credibility of the certificate as certified from a trusted third party and simplify its submission to the Court by the litigant.
This would be used in all forthcoming certifications. Further clarifications as required would be provided. This would be updated in the CEAC book in the next edition.