Published on: 15 September 2023 at 09:40 IST
Court: Supreme Court of India
Citation: Munna Pandey v. State of Bihar (2023)
Honourable Supreme Court of India has held that the Trial Court Judge is under obligation to ask the to confront the witnesses under the exercise of the powers under the aegis of Section 165 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. It is held that in the interests of justice, the Trial Judge can look at the record of the police investigation and can recal the officer and other witnesses and questioned them in the manner provided by Section 165 of the Evidence Act, 1872.
43. The presiding officer of the Trial Court also remained a mute spectator. It was the duty of the presiding officer to put relevant questions to these witnesses in exercise of his powers under Section 165 of the Evidence Act.
Section 162 of the CrPC does not prevent a Judge from looking into the record of the police investigation. Being a case of rape and murder and as the evidence was not free from doubt, the Trial Judge ought to have acquainted himself, in the interest of justice, with the important material and also with what the only important witnesses of the prosecution had said during the police investigation. Had he done so, he could without any impropriety have caught the discrepancies between the statements made by these witnesses to the investigating officer and their evidence at the trial, to be brought on the record by himself putting questions to the witnesses under Section 165 of the Evidence Act.
There is, in our opinion, nothing in Section 162 CrPC to prevent a Trial Judge, as distinct from the prosecution or the defence, from putting to prosecution witnesses the questions otherwise permissible, if the justice obviously demands such a course. In the present case, we are strongly of the opinion that is what, in the interests of justice, the Trial Judge should have done but he did not look at the record of the police investigation until after the investigating officer had been examined and discharged as a witness. Even at this stage, the Trial Judge could have recalled the officer and other witnesses and questioned them in the manner provided by Section 165 of the Evidence Act. It is regrettable that he did not do so.
Drafted By Abhijit Mishra