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CROSS EXAMINATION AND ITS EFFECT IN APPRECIATION OF EVIDENCE

Sat Paul vs Delhi Administration AIR 1976 SC 294 “It is important to note that the English statute differs materially from the law contained in the Indian Evidence Act in regard to cross-examination and contradiction of his own witness by a party. Under the English Law, a party is not permitted to impeach the credit of his own witness by general evidence of his bad character, shady antecedents or previous conviction. In India, this can be done with the consent of the court under Section 155. ………. the grant of such leave has been left completely to the discretion of the Court, the exercise of which is not fettered by or dependent upon the "hostility" or "adverseness" of the witness. In this respect, the Indian Evidence Act is in advance of the English law………………….. From the above conspectus, it emerges clear that even in a criminal prosecution when a witness is cross-examined and contradicted with the leave of the court, by the party calling him, his evidence cannot, as a matter of law, be treated as Washed off the record altogether. It is for the Judge of fact to consider in each case whether as a result of such cross-examination and contradiction, the witness stands thoroughly discredited or can still be believed in regard to a part of his testimony. If the Judge finds that in the process, the credit of the witness has not been completely shaken, he may, after reading and considering the evidence of the witness, as a whole, with due caution and care, accept, in the light of the other evidence on the record, that part of his testimony which he finds to be creditworthy and act upon it. If in a given case, the whole of the testimony of the witness is impugned, and in the process, the witness stands squarely and totally discredited, the Judge should, as matter of prudence, discard his evidence in toto.”


Ennen Castings Pvt. Ltd. (In Liquidation) vs M.M. Sundaresh And Ors. AIR 2003 Kant 293, JUSTICE N KUMAR Considering the question whether a co-respondent can cross-examine the other respondent, who has given evidence against him observed that:- “The essence of cross-examination is that it is the interrogation by the advocate of one party of a witness called by his adversary with the object either to obtain from such witness admissions favourable to his cause or to discredit him. Cross-examination is the most effective of all means for extracting truth and exposing falsehood. The object is to impeach the accuracy, credibility and general value of the evidence given in chief to sift the facts already stated by the witness to detect and expose discrepancies or to elicit suppressed facts which will support the case of the cross-examination party. The exercise of his right is justly regarded as one of the most efficacious tests, which the law has devised for the discovery of truth. It is beyond any doubt the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth. The right of cross-examination belongs to an adverse party and parties who do not hold that position should not be allowed to take part in the cross-examination.”……….. As a general rule, evidence is not legally admissible against a party, who at the time it was given had no opportunity to cross-examine the witness or of rebutting their testimony by other evidence. When two or more persons are tried on the same indictment and are separately defended any witness called by one of them may be cross-examined on behalf of the others, if he gives any testimony to incriminate them. A defendant may cross-examine his co-defendant who gives evidence or any of his co-defendant's witnesses, if his co-defendant's interest is hostile to his own…………………..Though there is no specific provision in the Indian Evidence Act providing for such an opportunity for a defendant-respondent to cross-examine a co-defendant/co-respondent, however, having regard to the object and scope of cross examination, it is settled law that when allegations are made against the party to the proceedings, before that evidence could be acted upon, that party should have an ample opportunity to cross-examine the person who had given the evidence against him. It is only after such an opportunity is given, and the witness is cross examined that evidence becomes admissible……………. Therefore, it is very clear from the aforesaid passages that it is the settled law that no evidence should be received against one who had no opportunity of testing it by cross-examination ; as it would be unjust and unsafe not to allow a co-accused or co-defendant to cross-examine a witness called by one whose case was adverse to him, or who has given evidence against. If there is no conflict of interest, such an opportunity need not be given. Therefore, the condition precedent for giving an opportunity to a defendant-respondent to cross-examine a co-respondent or a defendant is either from the pleadings of the parties or in the evidence, there should exist conflict of the interest between them. Once it is demonstrated that their interest is not common and there is a conflict of interest and evidence has been adduced, affecting the interest of the co-defendant/co-respondents, then before the court could act on that evidence, the person against whom the evidence is given should have an opportunity to cross-examine the said witness, so that ultimately truth emerges on the basis of which the court can act.


Madarbi, W/O Mahaboob Sab vs Mulla Sab Mardan Sab ILR 1996 KAR 1674, Referring a case of PANCHAPPA v. STATE OF KARNATAKA, I.L.R 1989 Karnataka 974 wherein it has been held that any minor discrepancy in the order which does not affect the merits and does not result in miscarriage of justice is to be overlooked. Right to cross-examine the witness is a fundamental right of a party against whom the witness has deposed. If a party is not given an opportunity to cross-examine the witness, then it cannot be said to be a minor discrepancy which does not go to the root of the matter. In such a context, the Court cannot brush it aside as a minor contradiction or minor discrepancy and confirm the order of the Tribunal based on such evidence.

MARY M.D'SOUZA v. MUNICIPAL COMMISSIONER, MANGALORE CITY MUNICIPALITY, 1968(1) Kar.L.J. 90, wherein this Court has held that a plea which has not been raised in the affidavit in support of the Writ Petition cannot be permitted to be raised at the hearing without the leave of the Court.

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