Trust and evidence

Meena Gautam

Meena Gautam

Trust in Conventional Archives we all know but digital Archiving has really changed the concept of modern archiving and has challenged the very basic principles of Archives Administration that we study and teach. The biggest challenge of a digital document is its acceptability as a legal document by the court of Law and the user as source of information for historical research. In India a digital document has gained lot of ground as evidence, provided it fulfils all parameters as defined by law.  

Indian IT ACT of 2000 under Section 2 (t) defines, ‘electronic records means data, record or data generated, image or sound stored, received or sent in an electronic form or micro film or computer generated micro fiche.’ Even Indian Evidence Act of 1872 has amended Section 3 (b) of the Evidence Act vide section 92 of the IT Act, 2000 states; ‘all documents including electronic records produced for the inspection of the Court.’ As per amended section 65A & 65B of the Evidence Act, electronic evidence is now another kind of documentary evidence, which is, if duly established in the manner as prescribed in the section 65B, could be considered as evidence by the court. This has been used in enumerable cases by the courts in India, but with certification and authentication. 

Trust is essential in the Digital data, who created with a specific purpose in fulfilling some obligations and is preserved appropriately by the creating Agency or the authorized legal body to be accepted as a legal document by user or by the court of Law. 

Digital data has its own challenges for long term archiving, so that it doesn’t lose integrity of information, become obsolescence, and readability of digital archives, which is very crucial. Even digital data is more susceptible to tampering and alterations. This requires regular updating of technical support for securing and preserving the digital information.  

Yes storing information in digital form is very economical, requires less storage space then the paper archives, easy to retrieve, accessible online to multiple people on different locations at a time and thereby saves one’s efforts and time from visiting archives personally. 

Preventing loss of data is easier with digital archives since they can be backed up. Loss of archives is a risk for both traditional (paper, etc.) and digital. With digital, creating backups which can also be stored in different locations, more cost-effective than creating paper copies.  

The electronic media is gaining more ground these days via news and live telecasting of interviews, webinars etc. Even recording of evidence through video conferencing has become an accepted norm and admitted as legal evidence by the Indian Courts. Due to Corona pandemic, all government offices are virtually using the electronic media in disposal of their assignments and academicians conducting webinar, thereby generating lot of digital data through these interactive sessions and promoting Digital Archiving, and empowering Knowledge Societies.