Section 231 of Cr.P.C- Evidence for prosecution

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231. Evidence for prosecution

(1) On the date so fixed, the Judge shall proceed to take all such evidence as may be produced in support of the prosecution.

(2) The Judge may, in his discretion, permit the cross-examination of any witness to be deferred until any other witness or witnesses have been examined or recall any witness for further cross-examination.


Before commencing a trial, a Sessions Judge must satisfy himself that all necessary evidence is available. If it is not, he may postpone the case, but only on the strongest possible ground and for the shortest possible period. Once the trial commences, he should, except for a very pressing reason which makes an adjournment inevitable, proceed de die in them until the trial is concluded [AIR 1984 SC 618]

In trials before a Court of Session the prosecution “shall be conduced by a Public Prosecutor.” Section 226 of the Code enjoins on him to open up his case by describing the charge brought against the accused. He has to state what evidence he proposes to adduce for proving the guilt of the accused. If he knew at that stage itself that certain persons cited by the investigating agency as witnesses might not support the prosecution case he is at liberty to state before the Court that fact. Alternatively, he can wait further and obtain direct information about the version which any particular witness might speak in Court. If that version is not in support of the prosecution case it would be unreasonable to insist on the Public Prosecutor to examine those persons as witnesses for prosecution.

When the case reaches the stage envisaged in S. 231 of the Code the Sessions Judge is obliged “to take all such evidence as may be produced in support of the prosecution.” It is clear from the said Section that the Public Prosecutor is expected to produce evidence “in support of the prosecution” and not in derogation of the prosecution case. At the said stage the Public Prosecutor would be in a position to take a decision as to which among the persons cited are to be examined. If there are too many witnesses on the same point the Public Prosecutor is at liberty to choose two or some among them alone so that the time of the Court can be saved from repetitious depositions on the same factual aspects. That principle applies when there are too many witnesses cited if they all had sustained injuries at the occurrence. The Public Prosecutor in such cases is not obliged to examine all the injured witnesses. If he is satisfied by examining any two or three of them, it is open to him to inform the Court that he does not propose to examine the remaining persons in that category. This will help not only the prosecution for relieving itself of the strain of adducing repetitive evidence on the same point but also helps the Court considerably in lessening the workload. Time has come to make every effort possible to lessen the workload, particularly those courts crammed with cases, but without impairing the cause of justice[(2000) 7 SCC 490 ]

In Masalti vs. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1965 SC 202. It is contextually apposite to extract the following observation of the Bench: “It is not unknown that where serious offences like the present are committed and a large number of accused persons are tried, attempts are made either to terrorise or win over prosecution witnesses, and if the prosecutor honestly and bona fide believes that some of his witnesses have been won over, it would be unreasonable to insist that he must tender such witnesses before the Court.”

In Shivaji Sahabrao Bobade vs. State of Maharashtra (1973) 2 SCC 793, Krishna Iyer J., speaking for a three Judge Bench had struck a note of caution that while a Public Prosecutor has the freedom to pick and choose witnesses he should be fair to the Court and to the truth.

Further Investigation

It is settled law that carrying out further investigation even after filing of the charge-sheet is a statutory right of the Police, (vide K. Chandrasekhar vs. State of Kerala and Others, (1998) 5 SCC 223.) The material collected in further investigation cannot be rejected only because it has been filed at the stage of trial. The facts and circumstances show that the trial Court is fully justified to summon witnesses examined in the course of further investigation. It is also clear from Section 231 of the Cr.P.C. that the prosecution is entitled, to produce any person as witness even though such person is not named in the earlier charge-sheet.

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