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Witness examination and Cross Examination in Indian Evidence Act

The witness examination and Cross Examination are of great help in the Court of Law. Through these examinations many facts and circumstances of an already committed act can be easily stated.

Witness is an important constituent of the administration of Justice. By giving evidence linking to the charge of the offence the witness performs a sacred duty of assisting the court to discover the truth.

The importance of the witness gets highlighted from the fact that the person acting as a witness has to take an oath in the name of God, that he/she will only speak the truth. The witness has no risk in the decision of the criminal court as he is neither the accused nor the victim. The importance of Witness cannot be denied as he helps in performing a special Public Duty. The assistance in the natural Course of Justice of Court holds a great value and importance. Thus, the importance of witnesses cannot be denied in the Court of Law.

Cross- examination is an important aspect in finding the accused and true facts related to the case. It provides a platform for Counsel not only to attempt to neutralise harmful evidence, but also to elicit harmful evidence. Thus, cross-examination becomes one of the most important aspect of trial.

The Indian Evidence Act prescribes the method of collecting evidences and how to proceed in a trial. Witness Testimonies hold primary importance in the trial.

Section 135-165 of the Evidence Act,1872 deals with examination and Cross examination of witnesses.

The Section 138 of the Indian Evidence Act,1872 describes the order of examinations. According to this Section, Witnesses shall be examined-in- chief, then (if the adverse party so desires) cross-examined, then (if the party calling him so desires) re-examined. The examination and cross-examination must relate to relevant facts, but the cross-examination need not be confined to the facts to which the witness testified on his examination-in-chief.

Direction of re-examination—The re-examination shall be directed to the explanation of matters referred to in cross-examination; and, if new matter is, by permission of the Court, introduced in re-examination, the adverse party may further cross-examine upon that matter.

The Section 141 of Indian Evidence Act,1872 describes about the leading questions which must not be asked from the witnesses during examination, cross-examination or re-examination. The idea behind this prohibition is simply not to pressurise the witness and force him to form a special opinion.

The Section 142, however says that leading questions can be asked in an examination-in-chief or in a re-examination, if the court permits. The section 143 states that leading questions can be asked even in cross-examination. These questions can primarily be asked if the other party does not object to these questions. Even at being objected, it is always at the discretion of the Court to admit it or not.

The Section 144 states that any witness may be asked questions regarding contents of a document or Contract that is not present in the document. If witness gives evidence regarding such document than it must be produced before the court. The opposite party can object to such evidence until it has been produced in the Court.

Section 91 denies admissibility of the oral documents if documents for the same are present.

Cross – Examination

The each and every statement given by a witness must be kept in writing. The witness on a later stage of cross-examination may produce contradictory statements. The section 145 of the act states that such contradictions can be made in relevant questions without showing the writings to the witness before it is proved. Once the statements have been proved to be true, there is no use of contradiction by the witness then.

The statement of the witness will be taken as an evidence but it has to be proved as a truth. The section 146 states that during Cross-examination, he can be asked certain questions which prove his accuracy or truthfulness, understand more about the witness and his position in life and to take his credit by question the character.

The Section 132 says that the witness will not be excused from answering any questions on the grounds that may criminalise the witness or lead to forfeiture or penalty.

The section 148 provides that the witness is not obliged to answer questions which injures his character or doubts his credibility. The section 149 further says that without stating any reasonable ground, no further questions can be asked. Further, section 150 mentions that if any barrister, pleader, vakil or attorney asks such questions, without any reasonable grounds, then the Court must report the matter to the High Court or other authority to which such advocate is the subject in the exercise of his profession.

The Court has been conferred with the power under Section 151 to forbid such questions that are indecent or scandalous. The Section 152 further states that the Court might forbid a question if it thinks that it is needlessly offensive in form.

The witness turning hostile is a very common phenomenon. The section 155 provides three ways through which credit can be impeached by the opposite party or the party that calls him. These ways are By calling such a person who can from their personal experience and knowledge testify against the witness and establish that the witness in question is unworthy of credit, By furnishing proof that the witness has taken a bribe, or has accepted to take a bribe, or any other incentive to turn hostile, By showing inconsistency in his former statements and contradicting him to the extent permitted by Section 153 as held in Zahira Habibullah Sheikh v. Sate of Gujarat.
In certain situations, lawyers have to corroborate evidences to prove a fact. The Section 156 allows parties with the permission of the Court to ask such questions with the intention of the dots and finding a relevant fact.

The connecting testimony of witness is very important and Law allows him to keep track through documents or written notes. The Section 159,160 and 161 are concerned with this.

The Section 162 says that a witness when summoned to produce a document must produce it, if he has it in his possession. In case the documents need to be translated, it can be done so by a translator who must keep the contents confidential. If the translator leaks the content of the said document, he shall be charged under section 166, IPC for disobeying the law.
to be produced, and it has been produced and inspected by the party that asked for it, he must give it as evidence if the party producing thinks fit. The Section 164 talks about the consequences when a party upon receiving the notice, does not produce a document.

The power of the judges is also important in assessing the evidence. The section 165 of the Evidence Act talks about the power of the Judge in relation to evidences. In order to assess the case in the direction of Justice, the Judge can ask any Question in relation to it.

The evidence collection is the Critical and most important factor in assessing the trial of the Case. The Indian Evidence Act,1872 prescribes the method for examination and cross-examination of the witness.


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