Section 157 allows the statement of a witness to be corroborated by his former statement relating to same fact at or about the time when the fact took place or before any competent authority. It requires that the former statement must relate to the same fact, i.e., the fact under inquiry and it must have been made at or about the time when took place.
Two conditions have to be fulfilled if the previous testimony of witness is admitted for corroboration, viz., (i) the statement must have been made at or about the time when the fact took place, (ii) the statement must have been made before a competent authority. Thus, the section provides for admission of evidence given for the purpose, not of proving a directly relevant fact, but of testing the truthfulness of the witness. The previous statement of particular witness can be used to corroborate only his evidence during trial and not evidence of other witness.
1. At or about the time when the fact occurred:
The statement of a witness must have been made at or about the time of occurrence if the present testimony is required to be corroborated. There must be “close proximity of time be taken the incident and the statement.” “The object of the section is to admit statements made at or about at time when the mind of the witness is still so connected with the events as to make it possible that his description of them would be accurate.” The statement of a married woman alleging that she had been raped, made immediately to her husband, was admitted.
But, the statement of a girl who was raped, made to her mother after few days after occurrence, could not be taken for corroboration. The son who witnessed a murder reported it soon thereafter to his father. The court held that the interval between the occurrence and the time of reporting by the son-eye-witness to his father did not cross the boundaries.
The testimony of the father could be used for corroboration of the son’s version. The corroboration can be sought from either direct evidence or circumstantial evidence or from both. The previous statement “at or about the time” can be powerful piece of corroboration. The statement made by the victim of rape immediately after the commission of rape is admissible under Section 8 or Section 157 of the Evidence Act.
2. Authority legally competent:
When the previous statement was not made at or about the time of occurrence it must be shown to have been made before an authority legally competent to investigate the fact. The section requires competency of the authority who can investigate the fact. “Authority legally competent to investigate the fact” are to be understood in general sense and not to be understood in technical sense. The authority to investigate relates only to facts not the case. Thus any statement made before investigating officer are not evidence, but they can be used to corroborate or contradict the witness in the witness-box.”
“Two things are required for this section to apply. The first is that a witness should have given testimony with respect to some fact and the second is that he should have made a statement earlier with respect to the same fact at or about the time when the fact took place or before any authority legally competent to investigate the fact.
Effect of Section 162, Cr. PC on Section 157:
The principles laid down in Section 157 of the Evidence Act is controlled by the Section 162 of the Criminal Procedure Code. When any statement falling under both the sections, Section 162 would prevail. Any part of a statement of a witness before the investigating officer can be brought on record only by way of contradiction. Section 162 Cr. PC is a special law which affects the provisions of Section 145 and 157 of the Evidence Act.
Effect of Section 164, Cr. PC:
A statement recorded by a magistrate under section 164 of Cr. PC is admissible as evidence to corroborate the statement made by the witness. Statements made before a magistrate during test identification are admissible under section 157. A dying declaration recorded with the belief that there was no chance of survival of its maker is in essence a statement recorded under section 164, Cr. PC and can be used under section 157 for the purpose of corroboration.
First Information Report (FIR):
The first information report is not a substantive piece of evidence that can be used under sections 157-and 158 to corroborate or contradict the testimony of person lodging the FIR. However the FIR cannot be given a complete go by since it can be used to corroborate the evidence of the person lodging the same. It was held that such FIR could not be used to corroborate the first information or to discredit other prosecution witnesses before whom the deceased had made a dying declaration.