WHEN WITNESS TO BE COMPELLED TO ANSWER

147. When witness to be compelled to answer.

If any such question relates to a matter relevant to the suit or proceeding the provisions of Section 132 shall apply thereto.

148. Court to decide when question shall be asked and when witness compelled to answer.

If any such question relates to matter not relevant to the suit or proceeding, except in so far it affects the credit of the witness by injuring his character, the Court shall decide whether or not the witness shall be compelled to answer it and may, if it thinks fit, warn the witness that he is not obliged to answer it. In exercising its discretion the Court shall have regard to the following considerations-

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(1) Such questions are proper if they are of such nature that the truth of the imputation conveyed by them would seriously affect the opinion of the Court as to the credibility of the witness on the matter to which he testifies.

(2) Such questions are improper if the imputation conveyed by them relates to matter so remote in time or of such a character that the truth of the imputation would not affect or would affect in a slight degree, the opinion of the Court as to the credibility of the witness on the matter to which he testifies.

(3) Such questions are improper if there is a great disproportion between the importance of the imputations made against the witness’s character and the importance of his evidence.

(4) The court may if it sees fit, draw from the witness’s refusal to answer, the inference that the answer if given would be unfavourable.

149. Question not to be asked without reasonable grounds.

No such question as is referred to in Section 148 ought to be asked, unless the person asking it has reasonable grounds for thinking that the imputation which it conveys is well-founded.

Illustration-
(a) A barrister is instructed by an attorney or Vakil that an important witness is a dakait. This is a reasonable ground for asking the witness whether he is a dakait.

(b) A pleader is informed by a person in Court that an important. Witness is a dakait. The information being questioned by the pleader, gives satisfactory reason for his statement. This is a reasonable ground for asking the witness whether he is a dakait.

Law Notes

(c) A witness, of whom nothing whatever is known, being questioned as to his mode of life and means of living gives unsatisfactory answer. This may be a reasonable ground for asking him if he is a dacoit.

(d) A witness, of whom nothing whatever is known, being questioned as to his mode of life and means of living gives unsatisfactory answer. This may be a reasonable ground for asking him if he is a dakait.

150. Procedure of Court in case of question being asked without reasonable grounds.

If the court is of opinion that any such question asked was without reasonable grounds, it may, if it was asked by any barrister, pleader, vakil or attorney report the circumstances of the case to the High court or other authority to which barrister, pleader, vakil or attorney is subject in the exercise of his profession.

151. Indecent and scandalous questions.

The Court may forbid any question or inquiries which it regards as indecent or scandalous, although such questions or inquiries may have some bearing on the questions before the Court unless they relate to fact in issue or to matters necessary to be known in order to determine whether or not the facts in issue existed.

152. Question intended to insult or annoy.

The Court shall forbid any question which appears to it to be intended to insult or annoy, or which, though proper in itself, appears to the Court needlessly offensive in form.

153. Exclusion of evidence to contradict answer to questions testing veracity.

When a witness has been asked and has answered any question which is relevant to the inquiry only in so far as it tends to shake his credit by injuring his character, no evidence shall be given to contradict him, but if he answers falsely, he may afterwards be charged with giving false evidence.
Exception 1
If a witness is asked whether he has been previously convicted of any crime and denies it, evidence may be given of his previous conviction.
Exception 2
If a witness is asked any question tending to impeach his impartiality, and answers it by denying the facts suggested, he may be contradicted.

Illustration-
(a) A claim against an underwriter is resisted on the ground of fraud. The claimant is asked whether, in a former transaction, he had not made a fraudulent claim. He denies it. Evidence is offered to show that he did make such a claim. The evidence is inadmissible.

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(b) A witness is asked whether he was not dismissed from a situation for dishonesty. He denies it. Evidence is offered to show that he was dismissed for dishonesty. The evidence is not admissible.

(c) A affirms that on a certain day he saw B at Lahore. A is asked whether he himself was not on that day at Calcutta. He denies it. Evidence is offered to show that A was on that day at Calcutta. The evidence is admissible, not as contradicting A on a fact which affects his credit, but as contradicting the alleged fact that B was seen on the day in question in Lahore.
In each of these cases the witness might, if his denial was false, be charged with giving false evidence.

(d) A is asked whether his family has not had a blood feud with the family of B against whom he gives evidence. He denies it. He may be contradicted on the ground that the question tends to impeach his impartiality.

154. Question by party of his own witness.

The Court may, in its discretion, permit the person who calls a witness to put any question to him which might be put in cross-examination by the adverse party.

Nothing in this section shall disentitle the person so permitted under sub-section (1), to rely on any part of the evidence of such witness.

155. Impeaching credit of witness.

The credit of a witness may be impeached in the following ways by the adverse party, or with the consent of the Court, by the party who calls him-
(1) By the evidence of persons who testify that they, from their knowledge of the witness believe him to be unworthy of credit.

(2) By proof that the witness has been bribed, or has accepted the offer of a bribe, or has received any other corrupt inducement to give his evidence.

(3) By proof of former statements inconsistent with any part of his evidence which is liable to be contradicted;

Explanation-
A witness declaring another witness to be unworthy of credit may not, upon his examination-in-chief, give reasons for his belief, but he may be asked his reasons in cross-examination, and the answers which he gives cannot be contradicted, though, if they are false, he may afterwards be charged with giving false evidence.

Illustration-
(a) A sues B for the price of goods sold and delivered to B. C says that he delivered the goods to B.

Evidence is offered to show that, on a previous occasion, he said that he had not delivered the goods to B.
The evidence is admissible.

(b) A is indicted for the murder of B.
C says B, when dying, declared that A had given B the wound of which he died.
Evidence is offered to show that, on a previous occasion, C said that the wound was not given by A or in his presence.
The evidence is admissible.

156. Questions tending to corroborate evidence of relevant fact, admissible.

When a witness whom it is intended to corroborate gives evidence of any relevant fact, he may be questioned as to any other circumstances which he observed at or near to the time or place at which such relevant fact occurred, if the Court is of opinion that such circumstances, if proved, would corroborate the testimony of the witness as to the relevant fact which he testifies.

Illustration-
A, an accomplice, gives an account of robbery in which he took part. He describes various incidents unconnected with the robbery which occurred on his way to and from the place where it was committed.

Independent evidence of these facts may be given in order to corroborate his evidence as to the robbery itself.

Next,
Section 157 to Section 166→


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Home - Indian Evidence Act, 1872 - WHEN WITNESS TO BE COMPELLED TO ANSWER – Section 147-156 (Chapter X) of Evidence Act