Report No. 185
This Section refers to the subject "Question not to be asked without reasonable grounds". It reads as follows:
"149. 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."
There are four illustrations (a) to (d) below Section 149. Illustration (a) refers to a question by a barrister, instructed by an attorney or vakil that an important witness is a dakait: It is permissible; Illustration (b) A pleader is informed by an 'informer' that an important witness is a dakait. The pleader is entitled to put the question; Illustration (c) A witness of whom nothing whatever is known, is asked at random if he is a dakait. The question cannot be permitted; Illustration (d): A witness of whom nothing is known is unable to give answers to his source of living. He can be asked if he is a dakait. (Of course, in these illustrations, it is necessary now to use the word 'legal practitioner').
In Sri Lanka, the word 'barrister' is changed as 'advocate' and 'dakait' as 'thief' in Ills. (a) to (c); in (d) for 'dakait', the word 'professional gambler' is used.
In chapter 84 of the 69th Report, considerable literature has been referred to as to duties of a lawyer while questioning witnesses but finally in para 84.9, no amendments were suggested. It was only recommended that the word 'advocate' be used in the illustrations. (draft not given)
We recommend revising the four illustrations as follows:
"(a) A legal practitioner is instructed by another legal practitioner that an important witness is a thief. This is a reasonable ground for the first legal practitioner for asking the witness whether he is a thief.
(b) A legal practitioner is informed by a person in Court that an important witness is a thief. The informant, on being questioned by the legal practitioner, gives satisfactory reasons for his statement. This is a reasonable ground for asking the witness whether he is a thief.
(c) A witness, of whom nothing whatever is known, is asked by a legal practitioner at random whether he is a thief. There are here no reasonable grounds for the question.
(d) A witness, of whom nothing whatever is known, being questioned by a Legal practitioner as to his mode of life and means of living, gives unsatisfactory answers. This may be a reasonable ground for asking him if he is a thief."