The Single Bench of the Bombay High Court, Justice Vibha Kankanwadi said that in certain cases the cross examination cannot be limited to the contents of the examination-in-chief. The court said it may go beyond examination-in-chief as the purpose of the cross-examination is to test the veracity or impeach the credit of the witnesses.
In the instant case, the petition was regarding the order passed by the trial court Judge by upholding the objection of the Special Public Prosecutor without considering the relevance of the question by defence advocate during cross-examination of the witness. An application was also filed by the original informant for intervention. The bench said,
" Here the learned Sessions Judge could not have put entire shutter down in respect of putting forth the questions but then he was supposed to consider the relevancy of the question first. While deciding the relevancy of the question it could not have been travelled beyond the limits laid down by the law. In certain cases the cross cannot be limited to the contents of the examination-in-chief. It may go beyond that as the purpose of the cross-examination is to test the veracity or impeach the credit of the witnesses."
The court further opined that though relevancy and admissibility are used as synonym terms, it has to be judged from different angles. Relevancy of the question, generally, comes first and then admissibility is required to be decided.
While relying on several cases, the court laid emphasis on Bipin Panchal's case mentioned by the trial court judge while passing the impugned order. In the said case the apex court has stated that the trial court can make a note of objection when an objection is raised during evidence recording or oral evidence. The court opined that the said discretion will have to be exercised judicially.
Further the court observed that the examination of witnesses and the powers of the court was aptly summarized in the decision of the Delhi High Court R.K Chandolia v. CBI & Ors. where it is clearly endorsed that the Court has to control and have the power to decide the relevancy and admissibility of any question that may be put to a witness.
The court further noted that decision in Chandolia case was reiterated in Inder Sain v. CBI where the Punjab and Haryana High Court held that the trial court is the best judge to decide the relevancy of the questions put up by the defence counsel during cross-examination of a witness.
While dismissing the petition, the court said,
"There might be certain questions which would be beyond those documents and as an expert they are required to be elucidated from him. No straight jacket formula can be laid down as to what should be permitted and what should not be permitted as it depends upon the question that would be put and the relevancy and admissibility of the same and / or of the admissibility will have to be decided at that time."
In addition, the court said that the Additional Sessions Judge is bound by the decisions of this case in recording evidence henceforth. The court also allowed the application for intervention by the informant.
Case Title: Sanjay v. The State of Maharashtra
Case No.: Crl. W.P.No.1764 of 2019
Quorum: Justice Vibha Kankanwadi
Appearance: Advocate Sunny S Khivansara(for applicant), R.S. Kulkarni (for intervenor), Mr. A.A.Jagatkar (APP for respondent)
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