Question: How can the credit to a witness be impeached? Give illustrations. [U.P.C.J. 2012, U.P.H.J.S. 2009, BIHAR J. 1997, U.P.A.P.O. 1996, M.P.H.J.S. 2012] Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [How can the credit to a witness be impeached? Give illustrations.] Answer Section 155 of the Indian Evidence Act lays down the provision for… Read More »

Question: How can the credit to a witness be impeached? Give illustrations. [U.P.C.J. 2012, U.P.H.J.S. 2009, BIHAR J. 1997, U.P.A.P.O. 1996, M.P.H.J.S. 2012] Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [How can the credit to a witness be impeached? Give illustrations.] Answer Section 155 of the Indian Evidence Act lays down the provision for Impeaching Credit of Witness. Impeaching the credit of a witness means exposing his real character to the court so that the court may...

Question: How can the credit to a witness be impeached? Give illustrations. [U.P.C.J. 2012, U.P.H.J.S. 2009, BIHAR J. 1997, U.P.A.P.O. 1996, M.P.H.J.S. 2012]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [How can the credit to a witness be impeached? Give illustrations.]

Answer

Section 155 of the Indian Evidence Act lays down the provision for Impeaching Credit of Witness.

Impeaching the credit of a witness means exposing his real character to the court so that the court may not trust him. Sections 138, 140, 145 and 154 provide for impeaching the credit of a witness by cross-examination; Section 146 permits questions injuring the character of a witness to be put to him in cross-examination.

Section 155 lays down a different method of discrediting a witness by allowing independent evidence to be led.

This section enables the parties to give independent testimony as to the character of a witness in order to indicate that he is unworthy of belief by the court. Its provisions apply to both criminal and civil cases.

The section indicates four ways in which the credit of a witness may be impeached;

(a) by the adverse party or

(b) with the consent of the court by the party who calls him.

1. Unworthy of credit: ‘By producing witnesses who testify from their personal knowledge of the witness that he is unworthy of credit.’

2. Corrupt inducement: ‘By showing that the witness has either taken a bribe or has accepted the offer of a bribe or some other corrupt inducement for giving his evidence’ (a mere offer of a bribe to him will not impeach his credit). Such a “pocket witness” is not an independent witness but is one who has been hired.

3. Former inconsistent statements: ‘By showing previous statements of the witness which contradict his present statements’. This is commonly used to impeach the credit of a witness.

Illustrations (a) and (b) are relevant to this point.

A sues B for the price of goods sold and delivered to B. C says that A delivered the goods to B. Evidence is offered to show that, on a previous occasion and said that he had not delivered the goods to B. The evidence is admissible [Illustration (a)].

A is indicted for the murder of B. C says that B, when dying, declared that A had given B the wound of which he died. Evidence is offered to show that, on a previous occasion, C said that the wound was not given by A or in his presence. The evidence is admissible [Illustration (b)].

The previous contradictory statements of a witness can be used to discredit only his testimony and not that of other witnesses. Further, Section 155 is controlled by Section 145 (the attention of the witness must be drawn to his former statements before he is contradicted). A ‘tape-recorder statement’ is admissible under Section 155 (3).

A reading of Section 155 would indicate that all inconsistent former statements are not sufficient to impeach the credit of the witness. A former statement though seemingly inconsistent with the evidence need not necessarily be sufficient to amount to contradiction.

Only such of the inconsistent statement which is liable to be “contradicted” would affect the credit of the witness. Section 145 of the Act also enables the cross-examiner to use any former statement of the witness, but it cautions that if it is intended to “contradict” the witness the cross-examiner is enjoined to comply with the formality prescribed therein [Rammi v. State of MP. (1999) 8 SCC 649].

4. Immoral character: ‘When a man is being prosecuted for rape or an attempt to ravish, it may be shown that prosecutrix (i.e. the complainant) is generally a woman of immoral character’.[This clause(4) got omitted by the Indian Evidence (Amendment) Act, 2002 Act No. 4 of 2003]

Explanation to Section 155: In examination-in-chief, a witness cannot be asked the reasons for his belief that another witness is unworthy of credit. Such questions can only be asked in cross-examination. Whatever reasons he may give shall not be contradicted, but if the answer is false, he may be prosecuted for giving false evidence.

The above sub-clause (i) has this explanation, which is a re-echo of section 153. Witnesses deposing to character can be asked in cross-examination to give reasons for their opinion. They are not liable to be contradicted for those reasons; but, if they are false, they can be charged with giving false evidence.

The first three grounds are general. They indicate that the credit of a witness may be impeached, first of all, by the best of evidence, that is, his own former statements to the contrary; secondly, he can be shown to be unworthy of credit by the oral testimony of other persons; and, lastly, his credit can be completely overthrown by proving that he had accepted (a) a bribe, or (b) an offer of a bribe, or (c) any other corrupt inducement.

The fourth ground is a special one. If the woman complaining of rape or attempt to ravish is proved to be a woman generally of immoral character, her story in the complaint will necessitate strong proof.


Important Mains Questions Series for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

  1. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-I
  2. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-II
  3. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-III
  4. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-IV
  5. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-V
  6. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VI
  7. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VII
  8. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VIII
  9. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-IX
  10. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-X
Updated On 2022-06-09T06:30:15+05:30
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