Question: What is ‘examination-in-chief’ under the Indian Evidence Act? Refer to relevant provisions in this regard. [BIHAR J. 2011, R.J.S. 1999, W.B.J.S. 1997] Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [What is examination-in-chief under the Indian Evidence Act? Refer to relevant provisions in this regard.] Answer Section 137 of the Indian Evidence Act provides… Read More »

Question: What is ‘examination-in-chief’ under the Indian Evidence Act? Refer to relevant provisions in this regard. [BIHAR J. 2011, R.J.S. 1999, W.B.J.S. 1997] Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [What is examination-in-chief under the Indian Evidence Act? Refer to relevant provisions in this regard.] Answer Section 137 of the Indian Evidence Act provides for the examination of witnesses. In regard to Examination-in-chief, it states the examination of a witness...

Question: What is ‘examination-in-chief’ under the Indian Evidence Act? Refer to relevant provisions in this regard. [BIHAR J. 2011, R.J.S. 1999, W.B.J.S. 1997]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [What is examination-in-chief under the Indian Evidence Act? Refer to relevant provisions in this regard.]

Answer

Section 137 of the Indian Evidence Act provides for the examination of witnesses. In regard to Examination-in-chief, it states the examination of a witness by the party who calls him shall be called his examination-in-chief. When a witness appears before the court, he is given an oath or affirmation; his name and address is taken down.

Then the party, who calls him, examines him to elicit the truth and to prove the facts which bear upon the issue in favour of that party. This is called ‘examination-in-chief’. It may be noted that the witness can give evidence of fact only and no evidence of the law.

This will ordinarily be in the form of a connected narrative, brought out by questions put to the witness by the party calling him. It must relate to relevant facts [section 138(2)]. No leading questions can be asked (section 142).

“Unless evidence of reputation is admissible, witnesses, must, in general merely speak to facts within their own knowledge, and they will not be permitted…to express their own belief or opinion…Though a witness, in general, must depose to such facts only as are within his own knowledge, the law does not require him to speak with such expression of certainty as to exclude all doubt.

For, whatever may be the nature of the subject, if the witness has any personal recollection of the fact under investigation, he may state what he remembers concerning it, and leave the jury to judge of the weight of his testimony. If the impression on his mind be so slight as to justify the belief that it may have been derived from others, or may be some unwarrantable deduction of his own dull understanding or lively imagination, it will be rejected.”

On some particular subjects, positive and direct testimony may often be unattainable, and, in such cases, a witness is allowed to testify to his belief or opinion, or even to draw inferences respecting the fact in question from other facts, provided these last facts be within his personal knowledge.

This mode of examination, however, chiefly prevails on questions of science or trade, where, from the difficulty, and occasional impossibility, of obtaining more direct and positive evidence, persons of skill, sometimes called experts, are allowed, not only to testify to facts but to give their opinions in evidence.

It is the duty of counsel to bring out clearly and in proper chronological order every relevant fact in support of his client’s case to which the witness can depose. This task is more difficult than may at first sight appear. The timid witness must be encouraged; the talkative witness repressed; the witness who is too strong a partisan must be kept in check.

And yet counsel must not suggest to the witness what he is to say. An honest witness, however, should be left to tell his tale in his own way with as little interruption from counsel as possible.

Once examination-in-chief is conducted, the statement becomes part of the record. It is evidence as per law and in the true sense, for at best, it may be rebuttable. Evidence being rebutted or controverted becomes a matter of consideration, relevance and belief, which is the stage of judgment by the court.

Yet it is evidence and it is material on the basis whereof the court can come to a prima facie opinion as to the complicity of some other person who may be connected with the offence. On the basis of examination-in-chief, the court or the magistrate can proceed against a person as long as the court is satisfied that the evidence appearing against such person is such that it prima facie necessitates bringing such person to face trial. In fact, an examination-in-chief untested by cross-examination, undoubtedly in itself, is evidence.

However, the statements made in examination-in-chief, lose much of their credibility and weight unless they are put into the crucible of cross-examination and emerge unscathed from the test.

In Gopal Saran v. Satyanarayana, AIR 1989 SC 1785, where the testimony of a witness who did not submit himself to cross-examination was held to be not reliable. Thus, no witness can be cross-examined unless he has been first examined-in-chief. Section 137 provides that cross-examination follows examination-in-chief but it cannot be so without examination-in-chief.


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 2021-10-30T07:46:50+05:30
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