Report No. 185
Section 157 says 'Former statements of witness may be proved to corroborate later testimony as to same fact'. It reads as follows:
"157. In order to corroborate the testimony of a witness, any former statement made by such witness relating to the same fact, at or about the time when the fact took place, or before any authority legally competent to investigate the fact, may be proved."
This Section provides for the admission of evidence given for the purpose, not of proving a relevant fact, but of testing the witness's truthfulness. Consistency of statements can be of some help in finding out if the witness is truthful but merely because there is consistency there is no guarantee that the witness is truthful for if a person has a motive to mislead, he can be consistent in making false statements. Section 8 may make a complaint of a woman raped given soon after the rape relevant under Section 8 (see ill (j)) and Section 157 may taken in, statements other than complaints.
What is admissible under Section 157 is not substantive evidence.
In Ramratan v. State: AIR 1962 SC 124, it was held that the witness to be corroborated need not state in his testimony that he had made a former statement to another witness who is corroborating him. Of course, if he also says so in his testimony, that would add to the weight of the evidence of the person who gives evidence in corroboration. Thus, Section 157 is quite useful.
In Rameshwar v. State: AIR 1952 SC 154, the Supreme Court held that the previous statement may be relevant but the weight to be attached to it may differ in each case. The time factor may also vary from case to case.
Next question is as to the last part of Section 157 "or before any authority legally competent to investigate the fact."
The word 'investigation', according to Section 2(h) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, is applicable only to proceedings taken by the police or by any person, other than a Magistrate, who is authorized in this behalf.
The word 'investigate' in Section 157 is not o be understood in the narrow sense it is used in the Code of Criminal Procedure. It must carry its ordinary meaning in the sense of 'ascertainment of facts, sifting of materials, search for relevant data etc.' (State v. Pareswar: AIR 1968 Orissa 20). It is broader than what it is under Cr.P.C. As to 'investigate' under Cr.P.C. See H.N. Rishbud v. State, AIR 1955 SC 196).
It has held that the meaning of words 'legally competent to investigate the fact', is having power under some law, statutory or otherwise. (R v. Kumar Muthu, 1919 MWN 199)
As to the First Information Report, the Supreme Court held it is not substantive evidence. It can only be used for corroboration under Section 157 or for contradiction under Section 145 (Nisar Ali v. State : AIR 1957 SC 366; Aghnoo v. State: AIR 1966 SC 119. See also Haisb v. State AIR 1972 SC 283; Damodar v. State AIR 1972 SC 622; Shanker v. State: AIR 1975 SC 755.
Statements can be made to police officers under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Section 162 prescribes the mode of recording statements. Under Section 162, when any witness who is examined by the Police is called for the prosecution at an inquiry or trial in respect of any offence under investigation, his previous statement or record thereof shall not be used for any purpose except (1) the contradiction of such witness by the accused under Section 145; (2) the contradiction of such witness also by the prosecution but with leave of the Court and (3) the re-examination of the witness if necessary.
The statement cannot be used for corroboration for contradiction of defence witnesses (Sat Paul v. Delhi Admn: AIR 1976 SC 294). The statement cannot be used for corroboration (Tehsildar v. State AIR 1959 SC 1012).
So far as statements made before a Magistrate under Section 164 Code of Criminal Procedure are concerned, they are admissible in evidence to corroborate the statement made by the witness before the committing Magistrate. Bhagwan v. State of Punjab AIR 1952 SC 214; Dhanabal v. State: AIR 1980 SC 628. Here the Supreme Court enlarged the meaning of the word 'investigation'. See also Manarli v. R 37 CWN 1066 (Sarkar 15th Ed., 1999, p. 2284). Statement under Section 164 Cr.P.C. is not substantive evidence but it can be used to support or challenge evidence given by the person who made the statement (Bhuboni v. R : AIR 1949 PC 257).
Statements made before a magistrate during test identification are admissible under Section 157. Section 164 Cr. P.C. covers the case where a magistrate acts under this Section and records a statement made to him (Samiruddin v. R: AIR 1928 Cal 500).
In the 69th Report, it was observed (para 88.34) that in as much as a statement before a Magistrate during identification parade is relevant under Section 157 though technically it is not 'investigation' as understood under Section 2(h) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and to cover statements under Section 164 Code of Criminal Procedure, or "under other statutory provisions by authorities other than police such as Judicial Magistrates, an amendment of Section 157 is desirable in view of the obscurity prevalent on the subject."
It was recommended in para 88.35 (see also para 88.36A) that Section 157 "be modified by a suitable amendment to provide for the above matter. In brie.- this is not a draf.- the amendment should bring within the fold of the Section "authorities" (H.N. Rishbud v. State of Delhi AIR 1965 SC (96) which are under law competent to inquire into or to record statements".
The format was not given. If we insert an Explanation that the 'statements' shall include statements before all authorities competent to inquire into a fact or to record statements, there is the danger of including statements under Section 162 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 also which it is not permissible. To avoid such a contingency, we suggest adding an Explanation as follows:
"Explanation: The statements made before any authority, legally competent to investigate the fact include statements made before a Judicial Magistrate in an identification parade and also statements made before such a Magistrate under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973."