Section 146 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872

(1) To test his veracity,

(2) To discover who he is and what is his position in life, or

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(3) To shake his credit, by injuring his character, although the answer to such questions might tend directly or indirectly to criminate him or might expose or tend directly or indirectly to expose him to a penalty or forfeiture:

Provided that in a prosecution for rape or attempt to commit rape, it shall not be permissible to put questions in the cross- examination of the prosecutrix as to her general immoral character.

Comments:

Principle:

Sections 146 to 152 may be used to shake the credit of witness by damaging his character. Under section 146 the power of cross-examination has been extended beyond limits of Section 138. Cross-examination covers not only “the form of the question” but also “the substance.” Ordinarily, in cross- examination a witness may be asked questions relating to relevant facts. But any additional questions may be asked under this section. A witness may, therefore, be subjected to be asked questions: (1) to test his veracity; (2) to discover who is he and what is his position in life, or (3) to shake his credit.

1. To test veracity means to ascertain honesty, integrity and worthiness:

“A witness may always be subjected to a strict cross-examination as to test of his accuracy, his understanding, his integrity, his biasness and his means of judging.” “Under section 146,1 question may be put to a witness in cross-examination to test his veracity and under section 153, Exception

(2) a witness may be contradicted when he denies any question tending to impeach his impartialities.

2. To discover who he is and what is his position in life:

It means to ascertain his proper identify and the relationship of the witness with the party for whose favour he is called as witness and is giving evidence. It is to know also the social, business and family background of the witness. It is also to ascertain “whether he is a professional witness or not.” This is permissible to place his testimony in a proper light with reference to bias in favour of the one party or prejudice against the other.

3. To shake the credit of witness means to discredit him by affecting his character:

Shaking the credit of a witness is to expose him whether he is a respectable person in society or not, or whether he is a bad moral character. “No question attacking a witness’s honour should be put unless and until counsel by inquiry has satisfied that the damaging fact is well founded and this he ought to do before he comes into court.”

Under this section when statement of a witness is contradicted with his previous statements, it is to be considered to assess the merit of the witness in determining his veracity. When the question is such that it may test to criminate the witness he may object to the question on the ground that the question is not relevant to the matter in issue. “Weapon of cross-examination is a powerful weapon by which the defence can separate truth from falsehood piercing through the evidence given by the witness, who has been examined in examination-in- chief.” By the process of cross-examination the defence can test the evidence of a witness. Whatever answer is given by the witness it shall not be used against him unless it is false evidence and sufficient to criminate him.

Cross-examination in rape case:

It is not permissible to put questions to a prosecutrix pertaining to her general character when the petitioners requested to screen blue video recording of the prosecutrix indulging in sexual acts. Questions which have no relevance to the issues before the court and which are apparently directed to cause discomfiture, if not humiliation, to the victim of sexual offences should not be permitted.

Exception:

It has been provided that in case of rape or attempt to commit rape it shall not be permissible to put questions in cross-examination of the prosecutrix as to her general immoral character. Therefore, the order of rejecting petitioner’s request to screen or show blue video recording of the prosecutrix indulging in sexual acts is proper.