Primary Evidence vs Secondary Evidence: Difference and Comparison

Evidence refers to proof/evidence of data or actual statistics that displays the validity or authenticity of a notion or proposition. Anything legally presented in court that establishes the truth of the matter.

Primary evidence is the primary source of finding proof or evidence, while secondary evidence is duplicated or copied. These sources are of Secondary type.

The submission of primary evidence is the rule, and the submission of secondary evidence is an exception to the rule.

Key Takeaways

  1. Primary evidence refers to original documents or firsthand accounts of an event, while secondary evidence consists of interpretations, analyses, or summaries of primary evidence.
  2. Primary evidence provides direct evidence of facts or events, whereas secondary evidence offers indirect proof through analysis or synthesis of primary sources.
  3. The credibility and reliability of primary evidence can be higher than secondary evidence, but primary sources may require more expertise and time to interpret and analyze.
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Primary Evidence vs Secondary Evidence

Primary evidence refers to original sources of information that provide firsthand accounts or direct evidence of an event or phenomenon. Secondary evidence refers to sources of information that rely on primary evidence and may be admissible if it is necessary to prove a fact that cannot be proven through primary evidence.

Primary evidence refers to documents in a genuine or standardized form that are presented to the court to verify their validity and submitted for inspection.

It relies on the concept of best evidence. Documents must be presented to the court in original. Otherwise, the document is unreliable. It is considered the most authoritative copy, with no alterations, additions or omissions.

Secondary evidence is inherently less important. These are presented when primary evidence is not available or cannot be presented in court under certain circumstances. This means that secondary evidence is evidence presented in lieu of primary evidence as provided for in Section 65 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPrimary EvidenceSecondary Evidence
SignificancePrimary evidence is the first valid copy of a document submitted to the court for examination.Secondary evidence is a less important copy of a document made in the absence of primary evidence.
Defined inSection 62 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872             Section 63 Indian Evidence Act, 1872
Source of natureThis is the main documentary evidence.This is an alternative source of evidence.
General rulePrimary Evidence is best evidence. The principle is to show primary evidence.It is evidence of a secondary nature and is admissible under Section 65 in exceptional circumstances. Providing Secondary Evidence Is an Exception to the General Rule
Value of evidencePrimary Evidence/proof has the highest value.The value of secondary evidence is not as high as the value of primary evidence.

What is Primary Evidence?

The primary evidence is the document itself submitted for inspection by the court.

According to Section 62, primary evidence is the highest class of evidence. Such evidence is the original to be submitted to the court for examination. It is allowed without notice. Such evidence should be presented to the court before secondary evidence.

Primary evidence is more commonly known as the best evidence. It is the easiest to confirm the existence of an object because it is authentic. This is in contrast to secondary evidence, which is a duplicate or substitute for the original. If a party has access to primary evidence, that person must present it as evidence.

These primary sources/evidence give us unique insights into the past. We can better understand how events affected people’s emotions and how people were feeling about them at the time.

What is Secondary Evidence?

As stated in Section 63, secondary evidence is considered a substandard type of evidence. It suggests that primary evidence should be provided to fill gaps even after secondary evidence has been produced. Such evidence may be submitted in the absence of primary evidence. In any event, if secondary evidence is accepted without objection within a reasonable time, no party reserves the right to claim that facts were established with the aid of secondary evidence rather than primary evidence.

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Secondary evidence is evidence that has been reproduced from the original document or that has replaced the original item. For example, copies of documents and photographs are considered secondary evidence. Another example is exact replicas of engine parts that were included in automobiles. If the engine parts are not the same engine parts that were inside the vehicle involved in the incident, this is secondary evidence.

Main Differences Between Primary Evidence and Secondary Evidence

Key pints of Primary Evidence

1. 62 Define primary evidence.

2. The primary evidence is the document itself presented for examination by the court.

3. Primary evidence is admissible in court.

4. The opponent has no such right at the time the primary evidence is presented.

5. Primary evidence is the best evidence.

Key points of Secondary Evidence

1. 63 Define secondary evidence or certification.

2. Secondary Evidence:

(a) Certified copy.

(b) A copy made exactly from the original by mechanical means.

(c) Copies made from or compared to the original.

(d) Document Counterpart.

(e) Oral presentation of the contents of a document given by a person.

3. Under the provisions of sections 63 and 65, If someone doesn’t have primary evidence, only at that point is secondary evidence allowed or justifiable.

4. Upon presentation of secondary evidence, the opposing party has the right to object.

5. Secondary evidence is inferior and less important than primary evidence.

References
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1744165X12000273
  2. https://www.bmj.com/content/325/7372/1082.1.short

Last Updated : 27 July, 2023

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