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Relevancy Of Question Asked During Cross-Examination Relates To Pleadings & Rival Stands, Not Merits Of Such Stands: Delhi High Court

Nupur Thapliyal
15 Sep 2022 3:15 PM GMT
Relevancy Of Question Asked During Cross-Examination Relates To Pleadings & Rival Stands, Not Merits Of Such Stands: Delhi High Court
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The Delhi High Court has observed that merits of the rival stands cannot be a material consideration while examining whether a particular question that the party desires to pose to a witness is relevant or irrelevant. "Relevance or irrelevance is to be decided by juxtaposing the question that is being sought to be put with the pleadings of the parties and their rival stands before the court,...

The Delhi High Court has observed that merits of the rival stands cannot be a material consideration while examining whether a particular question that the party desires to pose to a witness is relevant or irrelevant.

"Relevance or irrelevance is to be decided by juxtaposing the question that is being sought to be put with the pleadings of the parties and their rival stands before the court, and not with respect to the merits of such stands," Justice C Hari Shankar added.

The proceedings emerged in relation to an Eviction Petition instituted by respondent against the petitioners before the Additional Rent Controller seeking their eviction under the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958.

On 4th August 2018, the respondent filed an application before the ARC, seeking leave to withdraw the petition, stating that she was no more interested to continue the same. Accordingly, vide order dated 7th August 2018, the eviction petition was dismissed as withdrawn.

After 15 days, the respondent again filed another Eviction Petition praying for eviction of the petitioners from the tenanted premises. Leave to defend the eviction petition was granted to the petitioners by the Additional Rent Controller.

Thereafter, during the course of trial, the ARC disallowed certain questions while cross examination of respondent's grandson who testified as PW-1.

Aggrieved by the said disallowance of questions which the petitioners desired to pose to PW-1, the petitioners had filed petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India.

The Court was of the view that while the power of the Court to disallow questions which are irrelevant cannot be gainsaid, the question of relevancy is, more often than not, problematic, especially at the stage when evidence is being recorded, and the appropriate course of action would be to allow, rather than disallow, the questions, except where they are manifestly irrelevant.

The Court thus agreed with the observations made in the case titled R.K.Chandolia v. CBI and observed thus:

"Questions which relate to facts in issue are, on the other hand, manifestly, relevant. To borrow from R.K.Chandolia, questions which, may be directly relevant in the bearing on, elucidating, or disproving, the very merits of the points in issue, are ex facie relevant."

The Court added that a litigant is entitled to plead, to further his case, all facts and grounds as he deems appropriate. It also opined that the litigant is also entitled to lead all such evidence, oral and documentary, as he can, to prove the said facts so as to establish the stand that he seeks to espouse.

"Questions geared to that end cannot be disallowed. Else, it would amount to the Court obstructing the litigant from proving his case, which is, needless to say, unthinkable in law," the Court said further.

The Court was of the view that there was no indication in the records of the proceedings before the ARC as to why it disallowed the four questions which the petitioners desired to pose to PW-1 as irrelevant.

"While it is open to a court, as Mr. Gupta contends and as has been held in R.K.Chandolia, not to allow asking of questions, to a witness, which are irrelevant, the reason for the court regarding the questions as irrelevant must be forthcoming from the record of proceedings. It cannot be left to the realm of guesswork," the Court said.

It added, "Else, questions could be arbitrarily allowed or disallowed, which could create chaos in the matter of recording of evidence and could also seriously prejudice the party in proving the case that he seeks to establish. In the present case, the record of proceedings dated 7th June 2022 does not indicate why, according to the learned ARC, the questions which he chose to disallow were irrelevant."

Accordingly, the Court quashed the decision of the ARC to disallow four questions which the petitioners desired to pose to PW-1.

"The respondent is directed to make PW-1 available, so that the said questions could be posed to PW-1 by the petitioners, on a date to be fixed by the learned ARC in that regard," the Court ordered.

The plea was accordingly allowed.

Case Title: RAVINDER SURI & ORS. v. DAYAWATI (SINCE DECEASED) THR LRS

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 870

Click Here To Read Order 


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