Privileged communications exist because society values the privacy or purpose of certain relationships. The established privileged communications are those between wife and husband, clergy and communicant, psychotherapist and patient, physician and patient, and attorney and client.
These relationships are protected for various reasons. The wife-husband and clergy-communicant privileges protect the general sanctity of marriage and religion. The psychotherapist or physician and patient privilege promotes full disclosure in the interests of the patient's health. If patients were unable to keep secret communications with psychotherapists or physicians relating to treatment or diagnosis, they might give doctors incomplete information. If doctors received incomplete information, they might be unable to administer health care to the patient, which is the very purpose of the doctor-patient relationship.
The following communications fall in the category of privileged communication under the Indian Evidence Act and they cannot be ordinarily disclosed to the Court by the person to whom they are made:-
- All verbal & written communication made between husband and wife during the existence of their marriage, is strictly protected from disclosure. Neither spouse can be compelled or permitted in a Court of law to give evidence of what has been told to him / her by his / her spouse. For example if a husband comes and tells his wife that he has committed murder, then, even if the wife wants to disclose the said fact, her evidence cannot be accepted by Courts as her knowledge is based on 'privileged communication'. ( However this privilege can be waived by the party making such communication)
But if, say for example, murder has been committed by a woman's husband in her presence,
she is free to give her evidence that she saw her husband commit murder.
- No public officer can be compelled to disclose official communication made to him in official confidence, when he considers that public interest will suffer by such disclosure.
- No Police Officer can be compelled to say from where he got the information as to the commission of any offence.
- If a man, with the purpose of engaging an advocate to defend him in Court, goes and tells that advocate that he's committed a crime and he even narrates to him how he did it the lawyer is barred from disclosing what he told him. Meaning that the lawyer cannot go and tell the Court that actually his client has committed the crime since he himself confessed the same before him. This bar also extends to clerks and servants of the lawyer who ordinarily have the scope of hearing such communication e.g. typist, associates etc. Such a privelege can be waived if so chosen by the client
- A legal adviser is also prohibited from disclosing information given to him by his client.
Information Courtesy :-
Indian Evidence Act, 1872