154. Question by party of his own witness –
1[(1)] The Court may, in its discretion, permit the person who calls a witness to put any question to him which might be put in cross-examination by the adverse party.
2[(2) Nothing in this section shall disentitle the person so permitted under sub-section (1), to rely on any part of the evidence of such witness.]
Mere possibility of not supporting case by person without any positive indication is no ground to invoke section 154 and permit cross-examination. More so, when said person is not yet examined as witness; Rehana Begum v. Mirza M. Shaiulla Baig (Dead) by L.Rs., AIR 2005 Kant 446.
Cross-examination of own witness
Grant of permission by court to cross examine his own witness by a party should be judicially exercised deposition in opposition, permission by court to declare him hostile not proper; S. Murugesan v. S. Pethaperumal, AIR 1999 Mad 76.
In a criminal prosecution when a witness is cross-examined and contradicted with the leave of the court, by the party calling him, his evidence cannot, as a matter of law, be treated as washed off the record altogether. It is for the Judge to consider the fact in each case whether as a result of such examination and contradiction, the witness stands thoroughly discreted or can still be believed in regard to a part of his testimony. If the Judge finds that in the process, the credit of the witness has not been completely shaken, he may, after reading and considering the evidence of the witness, as a whole, with due caution and care, accept, in the light of the other evidence on the record, that part of his testimony which he finds to be creditworthy and act upon it. If in a given case, the whole of the testimony of the witness is impugned and in the process, the witness stands squarely and totally discredited the Judge should, as a matter of prudence, discard his evidence in toto; Pandappa Hanumappa Nanamar v. State of Karnataka, (1997) 3 Supreme Today 63.
Evidence of hostile witness
The fact that witnesses have been declared hostile does not result in automatic rejection of their evidence. Even the evidence of a hostile witness if it finds corroboration from the facts of the case may be taken into account while judging the guilt of an accused; Lella Srinivasa Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh, AIR 2004 SC 1720.
Reliability of hostile witness
It is settled law that evidence of hostile witness also can be relied upon to the extent to which it supports the prosecution version evidence of such witness cannot be treated as washed off the record. It remains admissible in the trial and there is no legal bar to base conviction upon his testimony if corroborated by other reliable evidence; Koti Lakshman Bhai v. State of Gujarat, AIR 2000 SC 210.
The entire evidence of a prosecution witness, who turns hostile and is cross-examined by the Public Prosecutor with the leave of the court, is not to be discarded altogether as a matter of law; Pandappa Hanumappa Nanamar v. State of Karnataka, (1997) 3 Supreme Today 63.
Cross-examination of a hostile witness does not completely efface his evidence. The evidence remains admissible in the trial and there is no legal bar to base a conviction upon his testimony if corroborated by other reliable evidence; Pandappa Hanumappa Nanamar v. State of Karnataka, (1997) 3 Supreme Today 63.
1. Section 154 renumbered as sub-section (1) thereof by Act 2 of 2006, sec. 9 (w.e.f. 16-4-2006).
2. Ins. by Act 2 of 2006, sec. 9 (w.e.f. 16-4-2006).