Report No. 185
Impeaching credit of witness.
Clause (1) of section 155:
In the 69th Report, it was suggested (see paras 87.11 and 87.24) that clause (1) of section 155 should be amended, as a matter of clarification, by using the words, "impeach his credibility, accuracy or veracity" instead of "believe him to be unworthy of credit".
We agree with this recommendation.
Clause (2) of section 155:
In para 87.12 of the 69th Report, it was stated that no amendment is necessary in regard to this subsection. We agree.
Clause (3) of section 155:
It is necessary to clarify clause (3) of section 155 by further adding, after the words 'liable to contradiction' the following words:
"that is to say, evidence on a fact in issue or a relevant fact or evidence relating to any matter referred to in the First or Second Exception to section 153."
Further, we recommend the addition of the following words in the beginning of clause (3) :-
"subject to the provisions of section 145"
We recommend accordingly.
Clause (4) of section 155:
We reiterate the recommendation in the 172nd Report for deletion of this clause. But now the said recommendation has been carried out by Indian Evidence (Amendment) Act, 2002 (Act 4 of 2003).
We recommend section 155 should be revised as follows:
"155. Impeaching the credit of witness.- The credit of a witness may be impeached in the following ways by the adverse party, or with the permission of the Court, by the party who calls him-
(1) by the evidence of persons who, from their knowledge of the witness, could impeach his credibility, accuracy or veracity;
(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) subject to the provisions of section 145, by proof of former statements inconsistent with any part of his evidence which is liable to be contradicted, that is to say, evidence on a fact in issue or a relevant fact or evidence relating to any matter referred to in the First or Second Exception to section 153; and provided that the Court is satisfied that the probative value of the answer to the question has or would override the prejudicial effect thereof.
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.
(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 goods to B.
The evidence is admissible.
(b) A is indicted for the murder of B.
C says that B, when dying, declared that A had given B the would of which he died.
Evidence is offered to show that, on a previous occasion, C said that the would was not given by A or in his presence.
The evidence is admissible."
The other provision, instead of section 155(2) as recommended, will be section 155A. (We change the word 'he' in the 69th Report as 'accused'. We omit the case of questioning the prosecutrix as done under section 155(4)).
"155A. Impeaching the credit of the accused while examining him as a witness.- When an accused person offers himself as a witness in pursuance of section 315 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, it shall not be permissible to put questions to another witness and such witness, if asked, shall not be compelled to answer, questions which tend to show that the accused has committed or has been convicted or been charged with any offence other than that in which the accused is charged or that the accused is of bad character, unles.-
(i) the proof that the accused has committed or has been convicted of such other offence is relevant to a matter in issue; or
(ii) the accused has personally or by his legal practitioner asked questions of the witness for the prosecution with a view to establishing his own good character, or has given evidence of his good character; or
(iii) the nature of the conduct of the defence is such as to involve imputations on the character of the witness for the prosecution (other than the character of the prosecutrix) without obtaining the leave of the Court for asking the particular question; or
(iv) the accused has given evidence against any other person charged with the same offence, and the Court is satisfied that the probative value of the answer to the question has or would outweigh the prejudice that may be caused."