Question: When are questions tending to corroborate evidence of relevant fact admissible? When can former statements of a witness be proved to corroborate later testimony as to the same fact? What matters may be proved in connection with proved statement relevant under Section 32 or 33? Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [When… Read More »

Question: When are questions tending to corroborate evidence of relevant fact admissible? When can former statements of a witness be proved to corroborate later testimony as to the same fact? What matters may be proved in connection with proved statement relevant under Section 32 or 33? Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [When are questions tending to corroborate evidence of relevant fact admissible?] Answer The Legislature has indicated how and when a witness may...

Question: When are questions tending to corroborate evidence of relevant fact admissible? When can former statements of a witness be proved to corroborate later testimony as to the same fact? What matters may be proved in connection with proved statement relevant under Section 32 or 33?

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [When are questions tending to corroborate evidence of relevant fact admissible?]

Answer

The Legislature has indicated how and when a witness may be contradicted under sections 145, 153 and 158. And under what circumstances a witness may be corroborated is dealt with under sections 156, 157, and 158.

First of all, he may be asked questions tending to corroborate evidence of a relevant fact (section 156); secondly, former statements made by him may be proved to corroborate later testimony to the same fact (section 157); thirdly, when any statement relevant under section 32 or section 33 is proved, all matters may be proved either to contradict or corroborate it (section 158). Let’s see each of the provisions:

Section 156 of the Evidence Act lays down provisions regarding Questions tending to corroborate evidence of relevant fact admissible. It states:

“When a witness whom it is intended to corroborate gives evidence of any relevant fact, he may be questioned as to any other circumstances which he observed at or near to the time or place at which such relevant fact occurred if the Court is of opinion that such circumstances if proved, would corroborate the testimony of the witness as to the relevant fact which he testifies.”

Illustration: A, an accomplice, gives an account of a robbery in which he took part. He describes various incidents unconnected with the robbery which occurred on his way to and from the place where it was committed. Independent evidence of these facts may be given in order to corroborate his evidence as to the robbery itself.

In the case of MG Thatte v. State of Maharashtra, 1993 Cr LJ 2878 (Bom), the court held that it is well-settled law that even where the evidence of the complainant is quite credible, no conviction can be based on such evidence unless it is corroborated by independent material.

Section 156 permits the court to allow a witness, who has testified to a relevant fact, to corroborate his testimony by deposing to any circumstances which he observed at or near the time or place at which such relevant fact occurred. The frame of the section indicates what questions are to be asked in examination-in-chief. In most cases, it paves the way for cross-examination, which, if successful, brings out contradiction; but which, if unsuccessful, must inevitably result in corroboration. Like contradiction, corroboration is meant to test the truthfulness of a witness

Section 157.—Former statements of witness may be proved to corroborate later testimony as to the same fact.—In order to corroborate the testimony of a witness, any former statement made by such witness relating to the same fact, at or about the time when the fact took place, or before any authority legally competent to investigate the fact, may be proved.

This section allows a witness to be corroborated by proof that he said the same thing on the previous occasion, the only condition being that his previous statement shall have been made either about the time of the occurrence or before a competent authority.

The force of any corroboration by means of previous consistent statement evidently depends upon the truth of the proposition that he who is consistent deserves to be believed.

Some of the former statements allowed under this section are: A statement irrelevant under Section 32 because the maker of the statement ultimately survived can be used to corroborate the testimony of that person in the court; The complainant’s conduct of narrating the incident of extortion to her colleagues after it was over, when it was corroborated by three witnesses was held to be relevant under Section 157.

In Bhogilal Chunilal v. State AIR 1959 SC 356 case, B, the accused, was the cashier of a company. He was suspected to have embezzled the company’s fund. Before filing FIR, B was taken to S, a solicitor of the company. A certain conversation took place between B and S in that interview.

S prepared notes of attendance of the conversation soon after the interview. At the trial, S gave evidence as to what happened at the interview with B. These notes were tendered by the prosecution to corroborate the testimony of S when he deposed to what had taken place between him and the accused. These notes were held to be admissible under Sec. 157.

In Sashijena v. Khandal Swain AIR 2004 SC 1492, it was held that the former statement of a witness can be used to corroborate only his own evidence at the trial and not that of any other witnesses.

Statements at or about the time of occurrence

Section 157 provides an exception to the general rule of excluding hearsay evidence. However, the statement must be made as early as can reasonably be expected in the circumstances of the case and before there was an opportunity for tutoring or concoction. A statement made by a girl about her abduction 10 days after the incident, held, to be inadmissible under Sec. 157.

In Rameshwar v. State of Rajasthan (1952) SCR 377, the Supreme Court allowed the statement to the court of a young girl, a victim of rape to be corroborated with the girl’s own statement to her mother four hours after the incident to the effect that she had been raped by the accused.

In the case of Vijender v. State of Delhi (1997) 6 SCC 171 the statement of the father of a kidnapped child to the effect that a person standing at the site of the crime gave him the identity by name of the kidnappers and the motor vehicle number in which they whisked away from the child, but the father was not able to recall the number of the vehicle his testimony was held to be hearsay but usable for supporting the testimony of the witness of fact.

It may be noted that if the statement is made to an investigating authority, it would be usable even if it was made after a gap of time viz. a few days. Statements before an investigating officer are not evidence (e.g. FIR) but can be used for corroboration or contradiction. The First Information Report (FIR) can be used to corroborate the testimony of the maker of it or to contradict him under Sec. 145. The previous statements of an accomplice who becomes an approver witness have been regarded as insufficient corroboration. However, the previous statements of an accomplice witness may be proved as corroborative evidence, if the court so desires.

Section 158.—What matters may be proved in connection with proved statement relevant under Section 32 or 33.—Whenever any statement, relevant under Section 32 or 33 is proved all matters may be proved, either in order to contradict or to corroborate it or in order to impeach or confirm the credibility of the person by whom it was made, which might have been proved if that person has been called as a witness and had denied upon cross-examination the truth of the matter suggested.

The statements admissible under Section 32 or 33 are exceptional cases and the evidence is only admitted from the impossibility, improbability or great inconvenience of producing the authors of the statements. It is just, therefore, that all the same safeguards for veracity should be provided as if the authors of the statements are themselves before the Court and subjected to oath and cross-examination.

So with regard to the impeachment of witnesses, the general rule applies where the witness whose testimony is attacked is deceased or absent. This section places a person whose statement has been used as evidence under Section 32 in the same category as a witness actually produced in court for the purpose of contradicting his statement by a previous statement made by him as was clarified in Hari Ram v. Emperor, AIR 1926 Lah. 122.

In State of Tamil Nadu v. Suresh and others, [AIR 1998 SC 1044] statement was made by witnesses before his mother-in-law about his version of the occurrence. The witness was not proved to be tutored during interrogation. This statement can be treated as corroborating evidence.


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 2021-11-12T11:05:54+05:30
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