Saturday 19 February 2022

Can the court recall a witness as per S 311 of CRPC to confront him with his later evidence before another forum?

The learned Counsel for the appellants seriously attacked the evidence of PW 2 Mokam Singh. This witness was examined by the Sessions Judge on 6.2.1991 and cross-examined on the same day by the defence counsel. Thereafter, it seems, that on behalf of the accused persons an application was filed and PW 2 Mokam Singh was recalled. PW-2 was again examined and cross-examined on 31.7.1991. It may be noted that some of the persons who were allegedly involved in this incident were minors and their case was tried by the Juvenile Court. PW 2 Mokam Singh was also examined as a witness in the case before the Juvenile court. In the Juvenile Court, he gave evidence to the effect that he was not aware of the persons who had attacked him and on hearing the voice of the assailants, he assumed that they were some Banjaras. Upon recalling, PW-2 Mokam Singh was confronted with the evidence he had given later before the Juvenile Court on the basis of which the accused persons were acquitted of the charge under Section 307 IPC for having made an attempt on the life of this witness.

In our opinion, the procedure adopted by the Sessions Judge was not strictly in accordance with law. Once the witness was examined in-chief and cross-examined fully, such witness should not have been recalled and re-examined to deny the evidence he had already given before the court, even though that witness had given an inconsistent statement before any other court or forum subsequently. A witness could be confronted only with a previous statement made by him. At the time of examination of PW 2 Mokam Singh on 6.2.1991, there was no such previous statement and the defence counsel did not confront him with any statement alleged to have been made previously. This witness must have given some other version before the Juvenile Court for extraneous reasons and he should not have been given a further opportunity at a later stage to completely efface the evidence already given by him under oath. The courts have to follow the procedures strictly and cannot allow a witness to escape the legal action for giving false evidence before the court on mere explanation that he had given it under the pressure of the police or some other reason. Whenever the witness speaks falsehood in the court, and it is proved satisfactorily, the court should take a serious action against such witnesses.

 Supreme Court of India

Mishrilal & Ors vs State Of M.P. & Ors on 11 May, 2005
Author: K Balakrishnan
Bench: K.G. Balakrishnan, B.N. Srikrishna
Citation: 2005 AIR SCW 2770   
Read full Judgment here: Click here

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