Section 145 is to deal with one of the methods of impeaching the credit of witness. Under Exception 2 of Section 153 of the Evidence Act a witness may be asked any question tending to impeach his impartiality. It permits oral statement to be used for contradiction. But the present section deals with the method of contradicting previous statements of witness in writing by cross- examination. The rule will apply where a witness is not a party to the suit and would not apply when a party to the suit is examining himself as a witness.
Section 145 consists of two parts. According to the first part a witness may be cross-examined as to previous statement made by him in writing or is reduced into writing without showing the writing to him or proving the same. Second part is intended to contradict him through cross-examination where the previous statement is in writing. The object of the section is either to test the memory of witness or to contradict him by previous statements in writing.
This section applies to both civil and criminal cases. The section has no application where the witness sought to be contradicted nor by his own statement but by the statement of another witness. In the first part there is only cross- -examination. There is no rule of law that an earlier statement shall be treated as correct and the subsequent contrary statement shall be discarded.
Under the section if the witness is sought to be impeached by way of contradiction between his present statements with previous statement his attention must be called to it. The object of this procedure is to give the witness a chance of explaining or reconciling his statements before contradiction can be used in evidence.
If the contradiction is put to witness and it is denied by him even then it will not amount putting contradiction to witness. An unsigned statement cannot be used to contradiction. In order to contradict statements taken under section 162, Cr. PC the attention of the witness must be drawn to that part of the statement which contradicts the present statement, but it cannot apply to statements recorded under section 161 of the Cr. PC. A witness can be contradicted with statement records under section 161, Cr. PC. during the course of investigation.
The question of contradicting statements has been considered by the Supreme Court in number of cases. Omission to state a fact amounts to contradiction. According to the opinion of the court if it is intended to contradict him his attention must be drawn to those parts writing of it which are to be used for the purpose of contradicting him.
It has also been held that if the witness drawn to have made any statement which is inconsistent with his present stand, his testimony in court on that score would not be vitiated until cross-examination proceeds to comply with the procedure presented in the second Section 145 of the Evidence Act. In case of inconsistency between two statements is a matter of appreciation of evidence and it is for the court to examine the same.
The attention of the witness must be called to those part and which must be put and read out to the witness before questioning for the purpose of contradiction. If it is not put before questioning it cannot be used for contradiction.
Section 145 is not attracted when a statement made by a witness is contradicted by other witness.
The First Information Report recorded under section 154 of the Cr. PC may be used to contradict the present statement of the witness, although it is not substantive piece of evidence. It may also be used for contradiction under section 157 of the Evidence Act. The statement may be used as an admission for civil litigation.