Witnesses – Indian Evidence Law

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Ramchandra Rambux v. Champabai

The Court is not confined only to the way in which the witnesses have deposed or to the demeanour of witnesses, but it is open to it to look into the surrounding circumstances as well as the probabilities, so that it may be able to form a correct idea of the trustworthiness of the witnesses. This issue cannot be determined by considering the evidence adduced in the Court separately from the surrounding circumstances which have also been brought out in the evidence, or which appear from the nature and contents of the document itself.

Rameshwar v. State of Rajasthan

Appellant Rameshwar was charged with committing rape with Mst. Purni. Asssitant Session Judge convicted the Rameshwar and sentenced him rigorous imprisonment. Appeal made to Session Judge the evidence was sufficient for moral conviction but fell short of legal proof because, in the court’s opinion, the law requires corroboration of the story of the prosecution in such cases as a matter of precaution and the corroborative evidence, is so far as it sought to connect the appellant with the crime, was legally insufficient though morally enough. The judge acquitted the accused giving him benefit of doubt. The High Court the learned judge certified that she did not understand the sanctity of an oath and accordingly did not administer one to her but he did not certify that the child understood the duty of speaking the truth. Oath act does not deal with competency.

As a matter of prudence a conviction should not be ordinarily be based on the uncorroborated evidence of a child witness. The Court should look at the demeanor, unlikelihood of tutoring and so forth, may render corroboration unnecessary but that is a question of fact in every case. No thumb rule applies in cases of these sorts. The Supreme Court concluded that by considering the conduct of the girl and her mother form start to finish, no corroboration beyond the statement of the child to her mother was necessary. High Court was right in holding that was enough to make it safe to act on her testimony. Direct the appellant to surrender to his bail.

Laxmipat Choraria v. State of Maharashtra

Under s. 132 a witness shall not be excused from answering any question as to any matter relevant to the matter in issue in any criminal proceeding (among others) upon the ground that the answer to such question will incriminate or may tend directly or indirectly to expose him to a penalty or forfeiture of any kind. The safeguard to this compulsion is that no such answer, which the witness is compelled to give, exposes him to any arrest or prosecution or can it be proved against him in any criminal proceeding except a prosecution for giving false evidence by such answer.

R. D. Nayak v. State of Gujarat

The evidence of a child witness is not required to be rejected per se; but the Court as a rule of prudence considers such evidence with close scrutiny and only on being convinced about the quality thereof and reliability can record conviction, based thereon. It is also an accepted norm that, if after careful scrutiny of their evidence the Court comes to the conclusion that there is an impress of truth in it, there is no obstacle in the way of accepting the evidence of a child witness.

Varkey Joseph v. State of Kerala

Leading question to be one which indicates to the witnesses the real or supposed fact which the prosecutor (plaintiff) expects and desires to have confirmed by the answer. The Court shall permit leading questions as to matters which are introductory or undisputed, or which have, in its opinion, been already sufficiently proved.

Pannayar v. State of Tamil Nadu

Suspicion is not the substitute for proof. There is a long distance between ‘may be true‘ and ‘must be true’ and the prosecution has to travel all the way to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt.

B. B. Hirjibhai v. State of Gujarat

Discrepancies which do not go to the root of the matter and shake the basic version of the witnesses therefore cannot be annexed with undue importance. On principle, the evidence of a victim of sexual assault stands on par with evidence of an injured witness. Just as a witness who has sustained an injury (which is not shown or believed to be self-inflicted) is the best witness in the sense that he is least likely to exculpate the real offender, the evidence of a victim of a sex-offence is entitled to great weight, absence of corroboration notwithstanding.

J. K. Govani v. State of Maharashtra

Any Court may, at any stage of any inquiry, trial or other proceeding under this Code, summon any person as a witness, or examine any person in attendance, though not summoned as a witnesses, or recall and reexamine any person already examined; and the Court shall summon and examine or recall and re-examine any such person if his evidence appears to it essential to the just decision of the case (S.540, CrPC). The section is in two parts. The first part gives a discretionary power but the latter part is mandatory. The use of the word ‘many’ in the first part and of the word ‘shall’ the second firmly established this difference.

Under the first part, which is permissive, the court may act in any of three ways:

Summon any person as a witness,  Examine any person present in court although not summoned, and Recall or re-examine a witness already examined. The second part is obligatory and compels the Court to act in these three ways or any one of them if the just decision of the case demands where the court exercises the power under the second part, the inquiry cannot be whether the accused has brought anything suddenly or unexpectedly but whether court is right in thinking that the new evidence is needed by it for a just decision of the case. If the court has acted without the requirements of just decision, the action is open to criticism but if the court’s action is supportable as being in aid of a just decision the action cannot be regarded as exceeding the justification.

Ram Chander v. State of Haryana

The adversary system of trial being what it is, there is an unfortunate tendency for a judge presiding over a trial to assume the role of a referee or an umpire and to allow the trial to develop into a contest between the prosecution and the defence with the inevitable distortions flowing from combative and competitive element entering the trial procedure. The Court must actively participate in the trial to elicit the truth and to protect the weak and the innocent.

Raghunandan v. State of U.P.

In a criminal case, the fate of the proceeding cannot always be left entirely in the hands of the parties. The Court has also a duty to see that essential questions are not, so far as reasonably possible, left unanswered. The first proviso to Section 165 of the Indian Evidence Act, enacting that, despite the powers of the Court to put any question to a witness, the judgment must be based upon facts declared by the Act to be relevant, only serves to emphasize the width of the power of the Court to question a witness. The second proviso is this section preserves the privileges of witnesses to refuse to answer certain questions and prohibits only questions which would be considered improper under Section 148 and 149 of the Evidence Act.

You can find notes on other topics on Evidence here.  You can grab notes for other law subjects from here.

 

 


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