Principle of Criminal Jurisprudence

Explaining the rudimentary principles of proving contradictions in a criminal trial

The craft of cross examination is often tested by the ingenuity of a trial lawyer in impeaching the credibility of a witness by extracting contradictions such that his previous testimony becomes unworthy of belief. The art of cross examination has always been deemed the surest test of truth and a better security than oath[1]. The method lies in introducing and proving an otherwise inadmissible evidence, with a masterful knowledge of the underlying laws of evidence. At a macro level, the broad contours of impeaching the credit of a witness is contemplated under Section 155 of the Evidence Act, 1872 (the “Act”), where under inter alia proving contradictions play a formidable part. Superior courts in India have time and again emphasised on the imperativeness of proving contradictions in consonance with the procedure prescribed under Section 145 the Act. Whilst, in a large measure, Section 145 of the Act is worded to take within its fold the procedure for proving contradictions in both criminal and civil trials by an adverse party, outlined below is an attempt at non-exhaustively analysing the procedure for extracting and proving contradictions in a criminal trial.

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