Court would not be justified in imposing restrictions in the cross examination of a witness, objections to decided at the end of the trial

Ajit Sukhijia Vs Edgar Francisco Valles

Bombay HC, Goa Bench

09/07/2021

2016(2) ALLMR 447; WRIT PETITION NO. 411 OF 2015

About/from the judgment:

On plain reading of the said provisions, the contention of Shri Sudin Usgaonkar, learned Senior Advocate appearing for the Respondents, that the cross examination has to be restricted only to the statements made in the examination-inchief or in the pleadings cannot be accepted. It is always open in the cross examination to put questions in order that they can nullify or establish the veracity or otherwise of the allegations made in the proceedings.

7. When the relevancy and the admissibility of a particular question is seriously raised, it is the endeavour of the Court to elicit the answer after recording the objectives. The final decision on such objectives can be decided at the end of the trial. This view has been taken by this Court in the Judgment reported in 2015 SCC Bom 2571 in the case of Neema Hingarh vs. Ashish Hingarh, wherein it has been observed at Para 8 thus:


"8. In the case of Irfan Badshah (supra), the learned Single Judge of Delhi High Court considered Section 148 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 as also the decision of the Apex Court in the case of Special Cell, New Delhi v. Navjot Sandhi alias Afshan Guru, (2003) 6 SCC 641, wherein it was observed thus, "… the endeavour of the Court wherever there is a serious dispute with regard to the relevancy and admissibility of a question should be to elicit the answer of the witness after noting the objections. The final decision to reject particular evidence as irrelevant or inadmissible can be if required taken at the end of the trial. This procedure benefits even the appellate court as in a case where the question is disallowed or excluded from evidence and the appellate court feels that the same was essential, it is at this stage not required to remand back the matter for re-examination of the witness. Cross-examination is the main tool of an accused to test the veracity of the evidence of the witness and discredit his trustworthiness. Moreover, this does not mean that the trial court will not exercise its discretion in disallowing irrelevant questions."

In such circumstances, I find that the procedure followed by the learned Trial court refusing to allow the questions at the time of the cross examination, is not at all justified, unless the Court comes to the conclusion that the questions are inter alia those which a party cannot be forced to answer and are patent erroneous and put to delay the proceedings and for oblique purpose or have no nexus with the dispute between the parties.

As a general rule, the Court would not be justified in imposing restrictions in the cross examination of a witness. But however the Court may in the course of the trial come to the conclusion that some of the cross examination was unnecessary and, in such a case, the Court has powers to control the cross examination of a witness by the Counsel but such power has to be exercised in a reasonable way. As such, the Trial Court should see that the cross examination is not conducted in a rumbling way or that the questions are impermissible under the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act.

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