Order of examinations Under The Indian Evidence Act, 1872

Under Section 138 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872, Witnesses shall be first examined-in-chief, then (if the adverse party so desires) cross-examined, then (if the party calling him so desires) re-examined. The examination and cross-examination must relate to relevant facts, but the cross-examination need not be confined to the facts to which the witness testified on his examination-in-chief.

The direction of re-examination.—The re-examination shall be directed to the explanation of matters referred to in cross-examination; and, if new matter is, by permission of the Court, introduced in re-examination, the adverse party may further cross-examine upon that matter.

Under sections 137 and 138, the examination of the witness takes place in three stages, namely, Examination-in-chief, Cross-examination, and Re-examination. If the opposite party so desires he may take the advantage of re-examination. After taking the oath the witness has to give answers to the questions asked by the party who has called him before the court. The testimony of the witness is recorded in question-answer form. In this process, all material facts within the knowledge of the witness are recorded to prove his case. This is called examination-in-chief. In conducting examination-in-chief like of a witness especially in serious cases, the public prosecutor should take abundant precaution in examining a witness, all necessary questions for proving the prosecution case should be put to the witness. In examination-in-chief, the testimony is strictly confined to the facts relevant to the issues only, and not to the law. No leading question is permitted to be asked unless the court allows it.

After the examination-in-chief, the opposite party shall be called to examine the witness. This is known as cross-examination. Where in cross-examination of a witness, nothing appears suspicious, the evidence of the witness has to be believed. It is the right of the opposite party to cross-examine the witness to expose all relevant facts which are either left or not disclosed in the examination-in-chief. It is “one of the most useful and efficacious means of discovering the truth.” The right of cross-examination can be exercised by the co-respondents when their interest is in direct conflict with each other.

The object of cross-examination:

(a) Tending to test his means of knowledge;

(b) Tending to expose the errors, omissions, contradictions, and improbabilities in his testimony; or

(c) Tending to impeach his credit.”

Therefore, the basic objective of the cross-examination is to ascertain the truth from the testimony given by the witness. It was held that when it is intended to suggest that the witness is not speaking the truth on a particular point, it is necessary to direct his attention to it by questions in cross-examination. In one case the appellant sued two police officers for damages of malicious prosecution. In cross-examination, the appellant put questions in that regard to one of them who denied the allegation that he demanded a bribe. He did not put suggestions to the other police officer. It was held that the appellant had not properly substantiated his allegations.

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