Question: In what manner credit of a witness can be impeached? Refer to the Section of the Indian Evidence Act in support of your answer. [U.P.C.J. 2012, Bihar J. 1984, U.P.H.J.S. 2009] Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [In what manner credit of a witness can be impeached? Refer to the Section of… Read More »

Question: In what manner credit of a witness can be impeached? Refer to the Section of the Indian Evidence Act in support of your answer. [U.P.C.J. 2012, Bihar J. 1984, U.P.H.J.S. 2009] Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [In what manner credit of a witness can be impeached? Refer to the Section of the Indian Evidence Act in support of your answer.] Answer Section 155 prescribes a manner of impeaching the credit of a witness. Sections 138, 140, 145 and 154 provide...

Question: In what manner credit of a witness can be impeached? Refer to the Section of the Indian Evidence Act in support of your answer. [U.P.C.J. 2012, Bihar J. 1984, U.P.H.J.S. 2009]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [In what manner credit of a witness can be impeached? Refer to the Section of the Indian Evidence Act in support of your answer.]

Answer

Section 155 prescribes a manner of impeaching the credit of a witness. 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 lays down four different ways in which the credit of a witness may be impeached in four different clauses appended to the section:

Clause 1: Independent evidence may be given that a witness examined by the opponent bears such a general reputation for untruthfulness that he is unworthy of credit. The witness must be able to state what is generally said of the person by those among whom he lives.

Clause 2: Independent evidence may be given to prove that the witness has been bribed or has accepted the offer of a bribe. But it should be remembered that where the witness in question has been merely offered a bribe, no inference of any sort as to the testimony of the witness can be drawn. But the demand for bribes by the witness should be proved as clarified in Bhogi Lal v. The Royal Insurance, 26 ALJ 377.

Clause 3: Under clause (3) the credit of a witness may be impeached by proof of his former statement with any part of his statement before the court. Illustrations (a) and (b) are examples of impeachment under this clause.

  1. 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, he said that he had not delivered the goods to B. The evidence is admissible.
  2. A is indicated 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.

Where it is intended to throw discredit upon the evidence of any witness nothing is more common in practice than to prove that the witness has previously made a statement inconsistent with the evidence at the trial. When this is satisfactorily proved, the court cannot but regard the evidence of such witness with suspicion.

In the case of Kehar Singh v. State (Delhi, Administration), [AIR 1988 SC 188] it has been held that the statement made by a witness before the Commission constituted under the Commission Enquiries Act cannot be used (i) to subject the witness to any civil or criminal proceedings; (ii) nor it can be used against him in any civil or criminal proceedings, the exception being that he can be prosecuted for giving false evidence. The statement to contradict him or impeach his credit is not permissible.

In Majid v. State of Haryana, [AIR 2002 SC 382] it was held by Supreme Court that, the method recognized by law under Section 155 (3) that the credit of witness can be impeached by proof of former statement inconsistent with any part of his evidence which is liable to be contradicted if the former statement was in writing or was reduced in writing.

Section 145 requires that the attention of the witness must be called to those parts of it that are used for the purpose of contradicting him.

Under Section 145 a witness can be cross-examined and confronted only with that previous statement which was made in writing or was reduced to writing. That section is not applicable to oral previous statements. Clause (3) of the section is so worded that statements, verbal or written, may be used to impeach the credit under it but where the previous statement is in writing the provisions of Section 145 should be followed.

Clause 4: In trials for rape or attempt to commit that crime the evidence that she is a reputed prostitute can be given for it goes long way in raising an inference that she yielded willingly.

So, to summarize, as laid down by Sec. 155, the credit of a witness may be impeached jy the adverse party, or by the party who calls him (with the court’s consent) in the following ways:

  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 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.
  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’.

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 2021-11-11T15:26:11+05:30
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