Kerala High Court Expands Spousal Testimony Rights in Civil Cases.

Recently, the Kerala High Court ruled in Smitha v. Anil Kumar & Ors that spouses may testify on each other’s behalf during civil case trial proceedings under Section 120 of the Indian Evidence Act. Justice Kauser Edappagath noted that a husband and wife are competent to offer evidence under Section 120 of the Indian Evidence Act if it comes to both their own and their spouse’s knowledge.

The woman whose application was being considered by the court had filed a civil claim that was still pending in a trial court. The woman, who was the trial court’s plaintiff, had asked for authorization to call her husband as a witness or present evidence on her behalf. However, approval to do this was rejected by the trial court. According to the trial court, no one could be permitted to testify on behalf of another, and further stated that the husband may only be questioned as a witness for the plaintiff. The plaintiff filed an application with the High Court challenging the same. The counsel for the plaintiff claimed that the trial court erred in its ruling because it disregarded Section 120 of the Indian Evidence Act, which expressly permits spouses to testify on behalf of one another in civil cases. The husband was a crucial witness who may offer important testimony that would be pertinent to the case, the High Court was informed. In reaching a decision, the High Court reviewed Section 120 of the Indian Evidence Act, which stipulates that “In all civil proceedings, the parties to the suit, and the husband or wife of any party to the suit, shall be competent witnesses…”

The High Court noted that even in the absence of a power of attorney, this clause supersedes the standard procedural standards and permits non-litigating spouses to testify in lieu of their litigating spouses. Because of this, the High Court disapproved with the trial court’s conclusion in this regard and overturned the decision to deny the plaintiff’s request for her husband to testify in her place.

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Written By – Gnaneswarran Beemarao



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