Cross-Examination under Indian Evidence Act

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a. Cross-examination must be related to relevant facts but unlike re-examination, it need not be confined to facts deposed to in the preceding examination (Section 138). Further it differs from both of them in as much as leading questions can be asked (Sections 142 /143).

b. No cross-examination can be allowed of a witness who is “summoned to produce a document (Section 139)[ but it is competent of a witness to character (Section 140)”.

c. A witness may be cross examined as to previous statements made by him in writing or reduced into writing and relevant to matters in question without such writing being shown to him or being proved (Section 145).

d. The range of cross-examination is unlimited, the only circumscribing limits being that it must relate to relevant facts (Section 138).

e. By sections 146 to 150 the legislature has tried to give very wide powers to the cross examiner to help him in finding out the truth. In oral depositions laid out before the court. In cross-examination, a witness may be asked question.
1) to test his veracity;
2) to discover who he is and what is his position in life;
3) to shake his credit by injuring his character, although his answer might criminate him or expose him to penalty or forfeiture (Section 146).

f. All questions or inquires which are indecent or scandalous, unless they relate to facts in issue, are to be avoided (Section 151);
And all questions which are calculated to insult or annoy or couched in a needlessly offensive form (Section 152).

g. Cross-Examination is in almost all cases undertaken by the adverse party; but the court may permit a party to cross-examine his own witness if he proves to be a hostile witness (Section 153).

h. In Warrant cases tried by magistrates, the accused person can after the charge has been framed and he has given his plea, re-call and cross-examine any witness for the prosecution (Section 246 Cr. P.C.).


Exemption from cross-examination

Dying declaration

Cross-Examination of person called to produce a document (Section 139): A person summoned to produce a document does not become a witness and cannot be cross-examined unless he is called as a witness.

Examination by Court: It is not the province of the court to examine the witnesses, unless the pleaders on either side have omitted to put some material question or questions.

Leading question (Section 143): Leading questions may be asked in cross-examination.

Cross-Examination as to previous statements in writing (Section 145)

Protection of Witness :-Section 148-52 are intended to protect a witness against improper cross-examination.

Exclusion of evidence to contradict answers to questions testing veracity (Section 153): When any witness answers any question which is relevant in so far as it shakes his credit, no evidence can be given to contradict him but if he answers falsely he may be charged with giving false evidence.

A hostile witness can be cross-examined u/s 154

Learn More [Cross- examination manual]

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