ART OF CROSS EXAMINATION
Chapter X of Evidence Act 1872, deals with examination and cross examination of witnesses before court of law. The relevant sections are Section 136 to Section 166 of the Evidence Act.
Section 137 tells about examination-in-chief and cross-examination of a witnesses.
EXAMINATION OF A WITNESS IN COURT
Examination-in-chief– The examination of a witness who calls him.
After Examination-in-chief, the examination of the witness by an opposite party is called ‘Cross-Examination’.
The examination of a witness subsequent to Cross- examination is called Re-examination.
The Re- examination can be made to explain a matter stated in Examination-in-chief and if some new matter is narrated in Re-examination the adverse party can again cross examine about new matters.
Leading question– Any question suggesting a answer which the person putting it wishes or expects to receive is called leading question (Section 141 of the Indian Evidence Act)
The art of cross-examination is the most effective weapon for the discovery of truth, provided the weapon for the discovery of truth, provided the objective is not to confound a truthful witness but to extract truth from an unwilling witness.
It is unfortunate that trials in this country don’t take place in the manner that they are required to be conducted. One witness or half the witness is examined today, then the same witness comes after three months when examination in chief is over and forgotten, then the lawyer is supposed to cross-examine. It serves no purpose at all.
If you put so much interval between examination and cross-examination, the fellow goes and gets his best advice and gets ready for cross-examination. It happens almost invariably now, that is the state.
Cross examination needs humour, imagination, confidence, your bearing (self control and patience).
There are no fix questions for cross-examination. Questions to cross examine a witness varies from case to case and man to man. The age, position, status, expression in court, experience, qualification and expertise etc. are the subject to cross examination. Questions gets changed as per the response of the witness on the spot. The testimony of the child witness is normally not believed without corroboration because he can be tutored. But testimony of an adult man, if reliable, is sufficient to convict an accused.
CAN A PARTY CROSS EXAMINE HIS OWN WITNESS?
Yes, when a witness turns hostile (Section 154 of the Indian Evidence Act) and makes a statement against the party who calls him then he can be cross examine by his own party with the permission of the court.
PREPARATION FOR CROSS EXAMINATION-
1) The defense lawyer should prepare himself for cross examination in advance. He should read the whole challan, FIR, police statements, seizure memo, forensic report and all police documents.
2) He should also know the ingredients of the offense with which the accused is charged.
3) He should also prepare his defense in the case. So that he will be ready for pointing out omission and contradiction during examination in chief.
if a defense lawyer fails to point out ‘omission and contradiction’ during his cross-examination then he will not be allowed to point out this in future. So be careful on this point as it the ‘Biggest Art‘.
In case the witness is re-examined in the future, the defense lawyer will have opportunity to cross-examine the witness to point of omission and contradiction.
In cross examination, the truthfulness of the witness is challenged by asking questions about his status in life, his previous conduct, his previous conduct of conviction etc.
Some effective tips-
a) Keep it simple.
b) Keep it short.
c) Only ask questions that help you.
d) Avoid open ended questions.
e) You should know when to quit.
f) Build perfect timings for sensible move.