Administrative Law: Why Disclosure of Evidence is Important in Courts?

Disclosure of evidence is a fundamental principle of natural justice. As per this principle, it is the right of the affected parties to obtain access to the evidence, information or documents retained by public authorities, so that they can give an explanation or rebut the crime evidence as to influence the outcome and verdict of the case in their favour.

This right is an essential part of the right to defend oneself. However, there is a limit to the disclosure; the information and evidences, the disclosure of which may be against public interests, shall not be disclosed. Only those relevant parts of documents or evidences shall be disclosed to parties which shall not cause any harm to public interests.

Administrative Law: Disclosure of Evidences: A Case Study

The right to have access to evidence is critical to the defendant's right to a fair trial. Disclosure of evidences is essential so that the defendant can prepare a defence to fight for himself. In the landmark case of Suresh Koshy George v. University of Kerala, Citation A.I.R. (1969) S.C. 191, the complainant was charged for the use of unfair means in University Examination and an enquiry was conducted by the Enquiry Committee appointed by the Vice Chancellor. The petitioner was barred from giving examination for a fixed period of time. The complainant challenged the decision of the Enquiry Committee citing the reason that he was not shown the enquiry report. The Supreme Court ruled that a copy of enquiry report was not asked by the petitioner. Hence failure to provide a copy of report was not equivalent to violation of principle of natural justice. 

Final Legal Take Away Tip: It is incorrect on the part of the prosecution to refuse to give access to the evidence to the opposite party, which would weaken their case. Such an act would lead to miscarriage of justice.
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