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In India where large number of complaints and cases are filed in civil and criminal courts
every day, delay in justice is common as pendency of cases in courts are also growing
rapidly. Examination of witnesses plays an important role in the presentation of the evidence
in a court of law irrespective of civil or criminal case and admissibility of evidence is also an
important aspect which has to be decided by the judges only. Due to which each case will be
looked upon clearly and it will take long time to pass the judgment by the court.
Section 145 allows the cross- examination of a witness with respect to previous
statements made by him in writing or reduced into writing or reduced into writing, and
relevant to matters in question, without such writing being shown to him, or being proved;
but, if it is intended to contradict him by the writing, his attention must, before the writing
can be proved, be called to those parts of its which are to be used for the purpose of
contradicting him.

The general rule is that the contents of a writing cannot be used unless the writing is itself
produced. This section is an exception to this rule. The purpose is two-fold, one that the
credit of the witness can be impeached as well as that the statement cannot be used as a
positive evidence of the facts contained in writing. This Section mandates that if any
contradiction in the evidence of a witness in his previous statement is intended to be used, the
attention of the witness must be called to that particular part of his previous statement and has
to proved in an appropriate manner.

This Section applies only to contradictions. But if there are omissions in the previous
statements that are not contradictions but throw some doubt on the veracity of what was
omitted, the uncertainty may be capable of removal by questions in re-examination as was
decided in LAXMAN V STATE1.

Section 146 says that a witness during cross-examination, may, in addition to the questions
herein before referred to, be asked any questions which tend:

1) to test his veracity.

2) to discover who he is and what is his position in life, or

3) to shake his credit, by injuring his character, although the answer to such questions might
tend directly or indirectly to criminate him or might expose or tend directly or indirectly t
expose him to a penalty or forfeiture.

Such questions can be asked even if the answer might tend to directly or indirectly
incriminate the witness or expose him to a penalty or forfeiture.

The testimony of a witness is recorded in the form of answer question. Witness is not
permitted to deliver a speech to the Court, but is supposed only to answer the question. This
way the testimony of the witness, can be confined to the facts relevant to the issue. Such
process of recording the evidence is called his examination.
1. 1974 3 SCC 704
No leading questions can be asked. The object of this examination is to get from the witness
all material facts within his knowledge relating to the party's case. It is the duty of the counsel
to bring out clearly and in proper chronological order every relevant fact in support of his
client's case to which the witness can depose.


The art of Cross-Examination plays an important role in the trial of each case which
involves hard work and talent of lawyers while providing justice to their clients. A perfect
lawyer should learn the art of Cross-Examination not by reading newspapers but the
successful artist learns by doing it, or watching others do it well; by reading trial and
deposition transcripts or, better yet, by conducting the examination personally. The trial
lawyer must learn as well to adapt to particular witnesses and different cases.
The purpose of the crossexamination is to test the veracity of the witness. No evidence affecti
ng a party is admissible against that party unless the latter has had an opportunity of testing it
s truthfulness by cross-examination2
The Supreme Court has pointed out that if the oral testimony of certain witness is contrary to
proved facts, their might well be discarded on that ground. If their testimony is on face of it
unacceptable, courts are bound to accept it merely was no cross examination. The purpose of
cross examination is to expose the truth about the testimony of the witness.3
The main object of Cross-Examination is to find out the truth and detection of falsehood
inhuman testimony. It is designed either to destroy or weaken the force of evidence which is
already given by a witness. Cross-Examination of witness is a duty of every lawyer towards
his client and not a matter of glory and fame. It is the most efficacious test to discover the
truth and to detect the false statements of the witness. It should be remembered that the
Justice should not be defeated by the improper Cross-Examination. One of the purposes of
Cross-Examination is to asking questions regarding what the witness has stated in the
Examination-in-chief and the answer is the reply by the witness to the question put by the
The object of cross-examination 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-examining party.
Cross-examination, though a very powerful, is also a very dangerous engine. It is adouble-
edged weapon, and as often wounds him who wields it, as him at whom it is aimed. To wield
it to advantage requires a great practice and natural tact. It should be keep in mind 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. But if the adverse party has had liberty to
cross-examine and has not chosen to exercise it, the case is then the same in effect as if he
had cross-examined. Often, however, one needs to spend time with the witness to develop
several critical points to counter the impact of the direct examination. Before initiating a


2. Maganlal Vs. King Emperor AIR 1946 Nagpur 126

3. Juwar Singh v. State of M.P , AIR 1981 S.C 373.

Cross-Examination of any witness, the lawyer should clearly bear in mind those points he or
she wishes to make with that witness. And then, he or she should write them down. These
points also should be discussed with those who are assisting at trial. Patience is the virtue in
Cross-Examination and judges must give chance to every party to Cross-
Examine the other partys witness.

The right of Cross-Examination is one of the most powerful instrumentalities provided

lawyers in the conduct of litigation. One of the most important purposes of Cross-
Examination is to attempt to destroy the testimony or the credibility of the opponents
witnesses. Justice is not served if a witness is unable to communicate credibility to a jury.
The search for truth is the ultimate and idealistic end of all litigated matter in a court trial.
A lawyer should use leading questions i.e. is that correct? and isnt it a fact etc. at the
time of Cross-Examining of the witness because asking only leading questions is perhaps the
oldest rule of Cross-Examination. It is an old rule because it is a good one. Leading questions
are most effective because they essentially allow the Cross-Examiner to testify and the
witness to ratify. The technique advances one of the important dynamics of the courtroom is
control. Asking leading questions allows the Cross-Examiner to be forceful, fearless,
knowledgeable and informative. Good thing come from leading questions. Usually be aware
that leading questions also can grow tiresome. No one likes to hear a hundred questions in a
row that end with, is that correct? and all the questions put during the trial of Cross-
examination must be lawful as permitted under Sec: 146 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
Questions asked during the Cross-Examination must be relevant to the issue related in the
facts of the case and indecent & scandalous questions can also be asked by the advocate at
the time of Cross-Examination unless they relate to the fact in issue. Most importantly
questions intended to insult or annoy should be forbidden by the court though questions
seems to be proper.
The court who has authoritative power to decide the case can recall the witness for the Cross-
Examination based on the facts and circumstances of the particular case and a summary
procedure does not take away the rights of the parties to Cross-Examine whereas every party
has to be given fair deal in the matter of Cross-Examination. There are certain important
points which can be considered as chief heads of the Cross-Examination as follows:-
1. To cause the witness to alter or amend his evidence by questioning about his testimony.
2. To modify the evidence given under the Examination-in-chief, by causing the witness to
speak to supplementary facts to show the reasons and circumstances.
3. To discredit the evidence of witness by putting questions connected with his character.
4. From reasons arising out of his evidence by causing him to give further evidence.
5. To cause him to give evidence to be received as true.
Case Study:

1. Hari Narayan singh v/s State of West Bengal

(Ratio-Impeaching the credit of a Witness by Cross-Examining)
According to this case court observed that it is not necessary that all the persons who happen
to be there should be brought as witnesses. One witness out of several is good enough, if his
testimony legally acceptable and believable.

2. Bhagwan Singh v/s State of Bihar

(Ratio-Cross-Examination of Hostile Witness)
In this case Supreme Court observed where the court gives permission to the prosecutor to
Cross-Examine his own witness thus characterizing him as, hostile witness, that fact does not
completely effaces his evidence. The evidence remains admissible in the trial and there is no
legal bar to base a conviction upon his testimony if corroborated by other reliable evidence.
Cross- examination need not be confined to the facts statedby the witness in his examination-
in-chief. It can extend to the whole range of relevant fact and also the fact exposing the
credibility of the witness

3.Casting P. Ltd v. M.M Sundresh

Right of cross-examination allowed to be exercised by one co-respondent against the other
when their interests are in direct conflict with each other.


1. (2009 CriLJ 4001 [cal.])

2. (AIR 1976 SC 202)

3. AIR 2003. Kant. 293