Producing the documents during cross examination is permissible under law: Supreme Court

The case of Mohammed Abdul Wahid Vs Nilofer & Anr. (Special Leave Petition (Civil)No.14445 of 2021), there were two contradictory judgements by the high court of Bombay single bench. The judgements address the difference between a party to a suit and a witness in a suit, as well as when it is permissible to produce documents directly during cross-examination. The court determined that a witness and a party to a suit are not the same, and evidence cannot be produced during cross-examination. On appeal, the division bench upheld the decision. The current petition concerns the validity of Bombay High Court judgements.

The court concluded that neither a witness nor a party to a suit serves a different purpose in the witness box and that Order XVI Rule 21’s “so far as it is applicable” clause does not suggest otherwise. It was noted that neither the Plaintiff nor the Defendant is prohibited from appearing before the court to present evidence by the term “witness.”

In regards to the production of evidence, the court decided that the parties to the lawsuit would also profit from the freedom to produce documents for the two purposes of cross-examining witnesses and refreshing one’s memory. The court noted that if these documents are not used to properly ask questions of and receive answers from either party in a lawsuit, the other party may not be able to adequately prove their case, which could seriously jeopardise the proceedings. As a result, the proposition that the law distinguishes between a party to a suit and a witness for the purposes of evidence is invalid. It is well established law that what is not pleaded cannot be argued, because the other party must be aware of the contours of the case in order to adjudicate it.


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Written by – Surya Venkata Sujith

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