This article is written by Sparsh Mali, a fourth-year law student at the School of Law, UPES, Dehradun. The article defines and explains about different terminologies used under Law of Evidence.
The Law of Evidence is a significant part of any branch of the judicial system irrespective of any nation, which means the role of evidence is very important statute in every country. But talking specifically about India the enactment of Indian Evidence Act has changed our judicial system completely as there were no codified laws relating to evidence which enriched our judicial system by providing rules and regulations for ascertaining the shreds of evidence. Although the India Evidence Act is based on English law still it is not fully comprehensive and also it is a ‘Lex Fori’ law which means law of the land where court proceedings are taken. The term ‘evidence’ is derived from Latin word i.e., ‘Evident’ or ‘Evidere’ which means ‘to show clearly, or to discover, or to ascertain or to prove.’
The Evidence act came into force from 1st September 1872 applies to all over India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The limitation of this act does not end here, as it is not applicable to army & naval law, disciplinary acts and all the affidavits. It is well known that the Law of evidence is Procedural Law and it only applies to court proceedings but it also has a feature in its some part which makes it as Substantial Law like Doctrine of Estoppel.
The primary objective of any Judicial System irrespective of any state is to administer justice and protect the rights of the citizens. For administering justice, every judicial system has to consider the facts of the cases and has to extract the correct facts for complete justice; and there the importance of procedural law comes into existence which laws different rules in checking the value of the facts produced by the law offender and by the victim.
The complete ‘corpus juris’ i.e, a body of laws, is divided into two categories:
- Substantive laws- Which mean a set of rules and regulations that govern the society.
- Adjective laws- These are the set of rules and regulations which deals with the law governing procedural aspects such as evidencing, pleading etc.
But the law of evidence neither comes under substantive law nor under procedural law, rather it is a subject matter of ‘adjective law’, which defines the pleading, evidencing and procedure with respect to substantive laws. The general meaning of ‘Evidence’ is ‘a body of facts and information indicating or adjudicating the values of any facts or evidence’.
Evidence is classified into different categories such as:
Oral Evidence- Section 60 deals with the oral evidence, where oral evidence is those evidence which the witness has either personally seen or heard any such facts or information which has the capability of proving or establishing the facts in issues. The only condition with these types of evidence is that they must be direct or positive for establishing the fact in issues.
- Documentary Evidence- Section 3 talks about the documentary evidence, where those facts or information in the form of the document can be witnessed directly by the court of law for establishing the facts in issues.
- Primary Evidence- Section 62 deals with primary evidence, these are those facts or information which by any means has a great capability of proving or disproving any fact in issues then such information is considered as primary evidence like a paper document of any vehicle is primary evidence to prove the ownership of the vehicles.
- Secondary Evidence- Section 63 deals with secondary evidence, these are those evidence which is given in the absence of primary evidence like when there is no primary evidence than secondary evidence can be used to prove a fact in issue.
Eg. If the original paper document is lost then its photocopies can be used as secondary evidence to prove the ownership.
- Real Evidence- Real evidence means material evidence where the court can inspect the evidence directly and requires no further knowledge.
- Direct Evidence- It is one of the most powerful types of evidence as the court need not make any inference because these evidence shows the direct impact and has great value to establish or prove any fact in issues.
- Indirect/ Circumstantial Evidence- When there is no sufficient direct evidence to prove any fact in issue then the court can make an assumption on the availability of existing evidence and construct a link between the existing evidence and the inference. And if the constructive link is completely beyond any reasonable doubt then the court can establish any fact.
- Hearsay Evidence- Hearsay evidence is very weak evidence or no evidence as to the witness, himself is not the actual witness of the fact in issues because whatever he is reporting is not what he saw or heard rather the reporting facts are the facts which are narrated by another person. Hence the court believes that the narrated facts by the third person have not much credibility in establishing any facts.
- Judicial Evidence- Statements of witnesses, documentary evidence, facts established during the examination of a witness in the court, self-incrimination is some kind of evidence which the court receives itself and such evidence are known as judicial evidence.
- Non- Judicial Evidences- Confession made by the witness or accused or victim outside the court are considered as non- judicial evidence.
- Prima Facie Evidence- The concept of ‘on the face of it’ with respect to evidence is a principle when the court presumes any facts and considered them proved until they are disproved, then such evidence is known as prima facie evidence.
The Need for Evidence Law
Evidence is the only possible way by which the court can make inferences to render a decision. The definition of evidence explains that evidence is the proof of any fact in issues so without evidence there will be no possibilities to prove any fact in issues or even to establish any facts in the cases. It is very obvious that it is not much difficult task to obtain trust through violating the basic structure of law but in the course of protecting those rights Evidence, Law comes into the picture. Evidence Law tells the basic principles and rules regarding collection. So the process of evidencing any facts or proof should be governed by a well-established law in order to achieve speedy and fair justice.
The law of evidence is not just a fundamental principle governing the process of proof rather it also has a multidimensional purpose of governing the rules relating to the process of proof in court proceedings. While it’s moral dimension is a special asset in criminal trials as it endeavours in protecting the innocent and highlighting the guilty person to administer complete and fair justice. On the other hand, the evidence rules also have the capability to hide and prevent the truth to be disclosed in the public domain to protect the mass public interest.
Basic Legal Terms
- Facts in issues- Section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act defines facts and fact in issue in such a way that facts mean the ‘happening or existence of anything’ these are particularly knowledge or any information related to anything. Whereas, facts in issue are those facts which are in question or those facts which need to be proved for the purpose of ascertaining some information and making inferences out of relevant information in the case in obtaining justice.
A is the owner of a shop- it is a fact.
A is accused of robbery- now whether A committed robbery or not is a fact in issue.
- Relevant Fact- The actual meaning of relevant is ‘connected’, so those facts which give any inferences or support or influence to any other facts then these facts are known as relevant facts.
A is accused of Murder of B in Agra (Fact)
A was in Canada for his business meetings at the time of the murder (Relevant fact)
- Proved- A fact is considered to be proved when, the court after considering all the evidence after the trials and proceeding either believes the happening of the case in such a manner as it is expressed or if the court makes a probable inference beyond reasonable doubt and believes that the existence of the case in such manner as it was explained.
- Disproved- A fact is considered to be disproved when the court after considering all the evidence after the trials and proceeding either believes that it does not exists as explained or if the court makes a probable inference beyond reasonable doubt and does not believes the existence of case in such a manner as it was explained.
- Not proved- A fact is called not proved when the facts are in a circumstantial condition that they are neither proved nor they are disproved.
- Presumption- Presumption generally means a process of ascertaining few facts on the basis of possibility or it is the consequence of some acts in general which strengthen the possibility and when such possibility has great substantiate value then generally facts can be ascertained. A presumption in law means inferences which are concluded by the court with respect to the existence of certain facts. The inferences can either be affirmative or negative drawn from circumstance by using a process of best probable reasoning of such circumstances. The basic rule of presumption is when one fact of the case or circumstances are considered as primary facts and if they are proving the other facts related to it, then the facts can be presumed as if they are proved until disproved. Section 114 of Indian Evidence Act specifically deals with the concept that ‘the court may presume the existence of any fact which it thinks likely to have happened, regard being had to the common course of (a) natural events, (b) human conduct, and (c) public and private business, in their relation to the facts of the particular case’.
- May presume- It is a condition when the court enjoys its discretion power to presume any/ certain/ few facts and recognize it either proved or may ask for corroborative evidence to confirm or reconfirm the presumption set by the court in its discretion. Section 4 of the Indian Evidence Act provides that a fact or a group of facts may be regarded as proved, until and unless they are disapproved. The concept is defined under Section 4 of this Act that ‘May Presume’ deals with rebuttable presumption and is not a branch of jurisprudence.
- Shall presume- It denotes a strong assertion or intention to determine any fact. Section 4 of Indian evidence Act explains the principle of ‘Shall Presume’ that the court does not have any discretionary power in the course of presumption of ‘Shall Presume’, rather the court has presumed facts or groups of facts and regard them as if they are proved until they are disproved by the other party. Section 4 of the Indian Evidence Act explains that the concept of ‘Shall Presume’ may also be called ‘Presumption of Law’ or ‘Artificial Presumption’ or ‘Obligatory Presumption’ or ‘Rebuttable Presumption of Law’ and tells that it is a branch of jurisprudence.
- Conclusive Presumptions/ Proofs- It can be considered as one of the strongest presumptions a court may assume but at the same time the presumptions are not completely based on logic rather court believes that such presumptions are for the welfare or upbringing of the society. With regards to Conclusive proofs, the law has absolute power and shall not allow any proofs contrary to the presumption which means if the facts presumed under conclusive proofs cannot be challenged even if the presumption is challenged on the basis of probative evidence. This is the strongest kind of all the existing presumptions whereas Section 41, 112 and 113 of the Evidence Act and S. 82 of the Indian Penal Code are one of the most important provisions related to the irrebuttable form of presumptions or Conclusive Presumption.
The general definition of Conclusive Proof is a condition when one fact is established, then the other facts or conditions become conclusive proof of another as declared by this Act. The Court in its consideration shall regard all other facts to be proved, only if one fact of the case is proven without any reasonable doubt. And if the other facts are proved on the basis of proving of one fact that the court shall not allow any evidence contrary to other facts which are presumed as conclusive proofs
Illustration- A and B married on June 1 and the husband left home to his work for 6 months later he discovered that her wife is pregnant he divorced the wife and challenges that he is not liable for paying damages either to his wife or to his illegitimate son. And also explains that he never consumed his marriage as just after one day of marriage he left his home for his work. But in this case, the court will conclusively presumed that the son born out of his wife is legitimate because he was with his wife for at least 1 day and shall not allow any proof contrary to the conclusive proof even if he provides probative evidence.
Relevancy of Facts
- Doctrine of Res- gestae: The doctrine of Res gestae is expressed under section 6 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 in the following words- “Facts which though not in issue are so connected with the facts in issue so as to form a part of the same transaction, are relevant, whether they occurred at the same time and place or at different times and places”
Res gestae was originally used by the Romans which means to ‘acts done or actus’. The most important principle of this doctrine is that all the facts must be described in the same transaction. Whereas transaction means a group of facts which are so connected to each other that they can be considered as a single fact. In Layman’s language, a transaction may be considered as a series of certain acts and when all the actions are carried in the same situations at the same point of time then such situation or condition be called as the act of the same transaction. Circumstantial or indirect facts are also considered under the doctrine of res gestae as they are also forming a part of the same transaction.
Essentials of Doctrine of Res Gestae-
- The statement made should not be an opinion and must be a statement.
- The statements should be made by the participants of the transaction.
- The statements should have enough information to explain or brief about the incident.
- The statements made by the person or act of the person should be spontaneous and simultaneous to the main transaction.
If a person is dying of poison and before dying, he tells the name of the accused.
If a person is about to die as the accused is in front of him holding a gun and he asks for help.
If an injured person is crying for help.
In, Ratten V. Queen the victim (wife) called the police for help as her husband was holding the gun and was about to kill her but before the operator could get connected to the call and report the statements of the victim, the call disconnected. Later the police found her dead body in her house from where she called the police for help. Later the police found that the time of the call and time of death was almost the same so the call by the victim comes under the principle of res gestae. Hence the court found the husband guilty of murder and quashed his reasoning that he shot accidentally without any intention.
In, Sukhar V. State of UP  the victim tried to alarm that the accused will shoot him in a few minutes. On hearing the alarm the witness almost reached the place of incident. However, the victim survived and the accused was charged under section 307 of IPC (Punishment for Attempt to Murder). Despite the circumstances, in this case, being hearsay evidence, but still, the court recognised the act in the same part of the transaction and explained it to be a case of section 6 of the Indian Evidence Act. Therefore the statements of the witnesses were admissible as it formed a part of the same transaction.
In Uttam Singh vs. State of Madhya Pradeshthe child and the victim were sleeping together at the time of the incident and he suddenly awakened due to the voice of axe and screamed for help by taking the name of the accused. Just after the call for help his mother, sister and other witness come there. The court found this evidence to be admissible as the act of the child and the accused was of the same part of the single transaction.
- Motive Preparation and Conduct
Section 8 of the Indian Evidence Act talks about the importance and of motive, preparation, conduct(previous & subsequent) in various cases. And it is a well-known fact that Motive & Preparation are among the first act before any conduct. Therefore Section 8 explains the importance of motive, preparation and conduct where there are no direct evidence and the facts are proven on the basis of circumstantial.
Motive- The general meaning of ‘Motive’ a purpose, or objective to obtain something. The Supreme Court of India defined motive is something which induces or activates a person to make an intention and knowledge, with respect to awareness of consequences of the act.
The relevance of Motive under the Act: As in the above discussion we have already seen that Motive is the main inducing force which induces a person to do some act. It is expressed that if the offence has been commenced voluntarily then could be no possibility of the absence of motive. Although it is very difficult to obtain the evidence of motive still evidence of motive becomes very important in the case of circumstantial evidence. The Supreme Court in the reference of motive said that ‘if the witnesses of any case are trustworthy and have enough credibility then the motive of any act done by the offender has no such importance’.
Although motive and intention are the same there is a thin line of difference between them that intention is the pre-calculation or knowledge of ascertained consequences in the mind of the offender. In some cases, it is observed that sometimes motive behind the execution of a crime may be good but the intention is always bad or guilt-oriented.
In, Kundula Bala Vs State of A.P: The son-in-law before his marriage demanded a piece of land from the deceased. But after the marriage, the deceased refused to transfer the ownership of the property and expressed that he would give this property to his daughter. Such inferences of the father in law induced the accused in committing a crime and after some time the crime commenced. The court observed that there is a strong motive with the accused of committing the crime as the father in law refused to transfer the property in the accused name.
In, Gurmej Singh Vs State of Punjab: The deceased has won the election against the accused. It is also seen that they don’t have good relations between and they have always had a quarrel with each other. The reason behind frequent quarrels was that the accused diverted dirty water stream towards the house of the deceased. The court observed that there were pending litigation between them and dirty water stream induced the frustration between them. After the death of the deceased, the Court concluded that dispute related to the passage of dirty water could be the motive of the murder.
In, Rajendra Kumar Vs State of Punjab: The Court held that the accused can only be convicted if the prosecution completely proves the motive and provide the supporting evidence to establish the commission of the offence by the accused.
The Supreme Court of India interpreted ‘preparation’ as a word which denotes the action or preparation of any act and also those components which are prepared. Preparation includes arranging the essentials objects for the commission of a crime/offence.
Evidence tending to show that the accused had prepared for the crime is always admissible. Preparation does not express the whole scenario of the case rather preparation is only subjected to the arrangements made in respect of committing any act. Further, there is no mandate that preparation is always carried out but it is more or less likely to be carried out. It is very difficult to prove preparation as there is no mandate that preparation is always carried out for the purpose of committing any crime. It is mostly observed that the Court draw inference with certain facts in establishing or ascertaining the preparation of crime committed.
In, Mohan Lal Vs Emperor: The accused was charged for cheating as he was importing goods in Karachi port from Okha port without paying the proper custom duty as he made some arrangements with the customs department. The prosecution showed enough evidence to prove the preparation by the accused in avoiding the import duties. The Court held that the act by the accused was completely wrongful and are prohibited by the law hence the accused is liable for preparation.
In, Appu Vs State: The four accused arranged a meeting to make essentials arrangements for commencing crime. Certain facts related to the objective of the scheduled meeting were admitted which showed preparation on their part. The preparation was administered clearly that it is an intention to commit burglary and the accused were waiting for the right time to get the best opportunity to execute their preparation.
Conduct- Section 8 of The Indian Evidence Act also defines ‘conduct’, conduct here means an external behaviour of a person. To check if the conduct of a person is relevant to the incident then the court must establish a link between the conduct of a person who committed the crime and the conduct of incident. The most important role of this part is that the relevant conduct must bring the court to a conclusion of the dispute. If the Court came to a conclusion then the conduct was previous or subsequent, it shall be checked properly by the Court. It is very clear that conduct is one of the very important evidence explained under Section 8 and such importance is only considered when this conduct is in direct form, otherwise, if the conduct is recognised indirectly then it will lose its importance.
In, Bhamara Vs State of M.P: a person X was farming on his land, on seeing another person standing near to his place he called the person for some conversation. After a few moments, the conversation turned into arguments and ended up into a fight. On seeing such activity other people came to the place of incident to stop the fight but subsequently, the offender tried escaping. But the offender was caught by some other person. The Court found that the conduct of escaping of the offender was relevant subsequent conduct.
In, Nagesha V. State of Bihar , it was held by the Court if the first information is given by the accused himself, the fact of his giving information is admissible against him as evidence of his conduct.
Conspiracy- Conspiracy means few people come together to do an act with common intention. So in the same context, a criminal conspiracy is the act of at least two or more persons to do an act which is not authorised by the law i.e., an illegal act, or to do a legal act by illegal means. Criminal Conspiracy is a kind of partnership in crime, and every member of such partnership must join the partnership by mutual agreement for executing a common plan.
There are two relevant provisions which deal with the criminal conspiracy i.e., Section 120(A) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 10 of the Indian Evidence Act talks about the things said or done by a conspirator.
Essentials of Criminal Conspiracy u/s 10 of the Indian Evidence Laws:
- There should be reasonable grounds to establish a conspiracy.
- There should be at least two or more persons to form a conspiracy.
- There should be a common intention of all the conspirators.
- Acts or Statement of the conspirators.
- The acts or statements of the conspirators must be in reference to common intention.
In, State of Tamil Nadu v. Nalini, the court held that once any of the participants of conspiracy execute the conspiracy then his statements made by him cannot be used against other conspirators according to Section 10 of the Indian Evidence Act.
In Subramaniam Swamy v. A Raja, the court in its judgments showed that anything which is doubtful cannot be considered as legal proof and such proofs are insufficient to prove any criminal conspiracy.
Alibi- The word ‘Alibi’ is derived from the Latin word, which means ‘elsewhere’. Section 11 of the Indian Evidence Acts explains the concept of ‘Facts not otherwise relevant become relevant’ and makes the provision as a defending ground for the accused. The simplest meaning of this section is a condition when the incident took place and the accused is charged for the incident then he may make defend him on explaining that at the time of the incident he was not present at the location. Although previously it was not relevant for the court to know that where he was as the investigation showed that he committed the crime but his explanation that he was not at the place of incident make the irrelevant facts a relevant fact. The important part of Section 11 of the Evidence Act is that this rule is only accepted in the course of admission of the evidence and no other statute provides such rule.
The plea of alibi has to be taken on the very first stage of the trial and must be proved without any reasonable doubt as the burden of proof is on the person who is taking advantage of Section 10 i.e., Plea of Alibi.
Essentials of Plea of Alibi:
- There must be an offence punishable by the law.
- The person taking the defence of Section 10 should be accused of that particular offence punishable by the law.
- The defence must be satisfactory and beyond any reasonable doubt.
- The defence must be backed by evidence.
In, Lakhan Singh @ Pappu vs The State of NCT of Delhi A plea of alibi cannot be compared with a plea of self-defence although both the plea is to be taken on the very first instance of the court proceedings.
In, Sahabuddin & Anr vs the State of Assam Once the court is in doubt with respect to plea of alibi and the accused does not give any substantive explanation to support his statement under Section 313 CrPC, then the Court is authorised to conclude a negative or not a positive inference against the accused.
In, Jitender Kumar v State of Haryana the Court not believing the plea of alibi as the accused did not provide the sufficient supportive evidence for establishing the defence. And the Court supported the case from the prosecution side.
Confession- Section 23 of the Indian Evidence Act defines the word “confession” is an admission of crime by a criminal or suggesting the inferences that he committed a wrongful act, confession can be made at any time during the trial.
In, Palvinder Kaur v State of Punjab the Supreme Court observed two aspects which are: Firstly, the definition of confession is that the accused must either admit the guilt or admit subsequently all or few facts which constitute the offence. On the other side, a mixed statement which also contains some confessional statement will still lead to an acquittal, is no confession. Thus, a statement that contains self-exculpatory matter which if true would negate the matter or offence, cannot amount to a confession.
In, Nishi Kant Jha v State of Bihar the Supreme Court opined and substantiated its arguments on the support of English authorities that it the discretion of the court and there is nothing wrong with relying on some specific part of the confession and rejecting the other part.
Magistrate duty of recording the confession- A Judicial Confession is made to the Magistrate during the judicial proceeding or at the time of court trial. Judicial Confessions are very relevant and are considered as one the most important type of confession as they are directly recorded by the court. Section 164 of CrPC empowers a magistrate to record a confession in his presence and such confession will hold enough evidentiary value that the confessor can be held guilty. Rajasthan High Court has also held that the confession of an accused must be free, voluntary and genuine that nothing is left with the prosecution to prove any fact then only the person can be convicted on the basis of confession.
The word “Dying Declaration” means any statement is written or verbal of relevant facts made by a person, who is dead or it is the statement of a person who had died explaining the circumstances of his death.
The concept of dying declaration was evolved from a legal maxim, ‘nemo mariturus presumuntur mentri’ i.e. a man will not meet his maker with a lie in his mouth. Although it may sound impractical but our law has adopted this concept and functions accordingly. Section 32(1) specifically deals with the concept of dying declaration in respect of a cause of death and it is assumed that such statements are relevant even whether the person who made them was not at the time when they were made.
In Uka Ram v. State of Rajasthan, the Apex Court defined dying declaration in a way that, “when a statement is made by a person in the threat of his death or as to any circumstances which cause threat or results into his death, and when the cause of his death comes in question the statements made by him are admissible as evidence, such statement in law are compendiously called dying declaration.”
The Supreme Court in deciding P.V. Radhakrishna v. State of Karnataka, Appeal held that ‘the principle on which a dying declaration is admitted in evidence is indicated in the Latin maxim, ‘nemo morturus procsumitur mentri’, which means that a man will not meet his maker with a lie in his mouth. Information lodged by a person who died subsequently relating to the cause of his death is admissible in evidence under this clause.
In K.R. Reddy v. Public Prosecutor the evidentiary value of dying declaration was observed as:
“The dying declaration is admissible under Section 32 & because the statement not made on oath so that its truth could be tested by cross-examination, the court has to observe the closest inspection of the statement before acting upon it. And it is also assumed that the words of a dying man are of very serious nature because a person on the verge of death is not likely to tell lies or to connect a case to a malice prosecution of an innocent person. Once the court is satisfied that the dying declaration is true & voluntary and are not influenced, then the statements can be sufficient to prove the conviction even without further corroboration.”
The evidentiary value of FIR in the circumstances of dying declaration comes from the concept that- A dying declaration can also be recorded by public servants, or by a doctor as well, where the victim is hospitalized and is badly burnt or injured and wants to make a statement, the doctor can also record the same and make a note of that statement. Although, it is advisable that the dying declaration should be made to the magistrate itself or in the presence of magistrate but if there is a condition where no such possibility is seen then the dying declaration can also be recorded by the police officers, although the court discourages such declaration to the police officer but if the condition and circumstances are of such a nature that no other possibilities are seen, then the dying declarations written by the police officers are also considered by the courts.
In, Kapoor Singh V. Emperor  the court observed that the FIR lodged by the deceased person can be admissible as a piece of evidence in the court if the FIR is relating and explaining the circumstances of his death. Also in the case of Sukhar V. State of UP , it was observed that if the dying declaration in the FIR is not sufficient to ascertain the facts and reasons for the cause of his death, even though the FIR has enough information related to the accused and details of the incident. Then the information cannot be considered as dying declaration.
In the case of Maniram V. State of Madhya Pradesh, the dying declaration was recorded by the doctor but the doctor did not attest the consciousness report of the deceased and also there was no thumb signature on the dying declaration, in that case, the FIR has lost its credibility and it was difficult to rely on the dying declaration.
Section 45 to 51 of the Indian Evidence Act deals with the provision of admissibility of opinions of third persons, which is also known as ‘expert’s opinion’. Although it is a general rule that evidence can only be obtained on the basis of facts which are within the knowledge of a witness. The exception of ‘expert opinion’ is based on the principle that sometimes the court can’t conclude all the matters of the cases which are technically complicated and professionally sophisticated, as these cases are required to deal by such experts who have special knowledge and skills on those matters. The Section 45 of the Indian Evidence Act defines the meaning of ‘expert’ as a person who has special knowledge or skills or has a great experience either in foreign law or in science or in art or in handwriting or in finger impression; and such knowledge is gathered by him in the course of practising in the specific field or through observation or through proper studies in the specific field.
When can an expert opinion be called?
The expert opinion can be called when there is:
- a) A dispute which can’t be resolved without expert opinion; and
- b) Such a situation that the witness expressing the opinion is a subject matter related to expert.
In, Arshad v. State of A.P.  and S. Gopal Reddy v. State of A.P, in both the cases the court observed that expert evidence are just a mere opinion and not the substantive or a probative evidence; according to the procedural rule the opinion or the inference of the expert is not safe as they don’t have any independent value so they must be corroborated with the circumstantial evidence.
In, Piara Singh v. the State of Punjab the Court state that whenever there is a contradiction between the opinion of two experts, then the court must refer only those opinions which are supported by the direct evidence of the fact of the cases.
Bentham, explains the ‘witnesses’ as the eyes and ears of justice. But the general definition of ‘witness’ is- A witness is a person who voluntarily provides evidence to clarify or to help the court in determining the rights and liabilities of the parties in the case. Witnesses can either be the person related or experts with valuable input for the case. Pieces of Evidence are placed in the court on the basis of witness and even the genesis can be proved of the documents can be proved in the court. Therefore, the law has to be very precise with regards witness and has to check the credibility of the witness, there are some certain issues to the court before the admission of the witness’s statements such as- How many witnesses are needed to prove a fact? Who is competing to be a witness of the issues? How to check the witness credibility?
Section 118 of the Indian Evidence Act lays down certain rules that ‘who may testify’ the rule expresses the provisions that all personnel shall be competent to testify by the court unless the witnesses are protected by some other provision that they cannot understand the question presented before them to testify any facts and such exceptions can be related to extreme old age, chronic disease, being legally unsound etc.
Prima facie, Section 118 of the same Act expresses that other than all person who are incompetent to testify any facts in issues are the competent witnesses. The basic structure to test the competency of a witness is to check whether a witness can understand the questions and can answer reasonably or not.
In Rameshwar vs. State of Rajasthan, the Court held that a witness administering an oath only shows the credibility of the witness and not the competency.
Section 135 specifically talks about the order of production and examination of witnesses. It lays down certain rules which specify that the witness can be produced in a particular order only, and shall be examined according to the rules. It also gives discretionary powers to the Court that when there is an absence of law then the order of witness and examination of witnesses will be carried out in the prescribed manner as the Court dictates.
Section 136 empowers a discretionary power to the Court that it is up to the Court who accept the evidence or not.
Three basic stages can be laid down in the examination of witnesses:
Examination In Chief: When the advocate itself introduces his witness and examines them, no matter whether they are the plaintiff or the defendant, then such examination is known as ‘Chief Examination’. It is always preferable that the questions should be properly ordered to maintain the structure of the information. It is advised that only relevant questions should be asked and no leading questions should be asked.
Cross Examination: The other name of cross-examination is ‘examination exadverso’. Such examinations are utilised to testify or impeach the credibility of a witness produced by the other party.
In, Ganesh Jadhav v State of Assam If the defence fails to challenge and impugned the relevant facts stated by the prosecution in the course of examination the witness in chief, then the Court can believe that facts produced by the prosecution are true facts.
Re-Examination: Re-examination is the process of second and subsequent examination by the suffering party. When the council thinks that there is a need of examining his witness again because new facts are availed by the defence party in the course of cross-examination then he may with the permission of the court re-examine his own witness to testify the new facts. Though re-examination is not a matter of right still the Court does not disturb the court proceedings as re-examination may explain the new facts in the case and to administer the justice these facts are necessary.
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