Concept of Impeaching Credit of Witness under Evidence Law by Nishu Singh


Witness plays an important role in Evidence law. The witness performs an important public duty of assisting the court in deciding on the guilt or protects the accused in a case. Sometimes, the witness take bribe or unworthy credit which can be loss for the parties to lose the case from either of side. Section 155 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 deals with the impeaching credit of witness which means exposing the real character of witness to the court, so that the court may not trust him. The credit of a witness is generally impeached by the opposite party, but when the witness become aggressive, his credit may be impeached with the permission of court or by the party who calls him. The Section permits the following method where opposite party can impeach credit of witness. According to Section 155, it states that: “the credit of a witness may be impeached in the following ways by the adverse party with the consent of the court or by the party who calls him”:

1.     By the evidence of persons who testify from their knowledge of witness believe him to be unworthy of credit.

2.     By the proof that witness has been bribed or accepted the offer of a bribe or received any other corrupt inducement to give his evidence.

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3.  By the proof of former statements inconsistent with any part of his evidence which is liable to be contradicted.

ILLUSTRATION – A sues B for the price of goods sold and delivered to B. C says that A delivered the goods to B. The evidence is offered to show that on previous occasion that he had not delivered the goods to B. The evidence will be admissible.[i]

Method of Impeaching Credit of Witness

There are following methods mentioned in this section for impeaching credit of witnesses:-

·       Unworthy of Credit – Producing witnesses who testify from their personal knowledge of the witness that he is unworthy of credit and such person should have personal knowledge of the witness. The court cited following points from the judgement of the Supreme Court i.e., A person who witnesses a murder reacts in his way. Some are stunned, become speechless and stands crumble to the spot. Some become uncontrolled and start wailing and shouting for help while some people run away to keep themselves removed from the spot and others rush to the rescue of the victim. So, everyone reacts in his own special way. There is not set rule of natural reaction and everyone has different reaction in different incident. To discard the evidence a witness on the ground that they did not react in a particular manner is to appreciate evidence in a wholly unrealistic and unimaginative way.

·       Corrupt Inducement – When the witness has either taken bribe or accepted the offer of a bribe or some other corrupt inducement for giving his evidence. This type of witness is not an independent witness but is one who has been hired. This witness often known as Pocket witness. If this fact is proved, the witness loses his credit immediately.

·       Former Inconsistent Statements – By showing earlier statements of the witness which contradict his present statements can be cited only to the extent to which section 153 would permit such contradiction. If a witness disowns any statement which is inconsistent with any part of his statements made earlier, he can be contradicted by calling the attention to those parts of statement which are to be used for contradicting him, but asking questions in cross-examination with the reference to such statements would not serve any purpose.

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·       Immoral Character of Prosecutrix for Rape – When a man is being prosecuted for rape or an attempt of ravish, it may be shown that Prosecutrix, the complainant, is generally a woman of immortal character. When the Prosecutrix is being subjected to prolonged and harassing cross-examination, the Supreme Court has advised the court not to sit as silent spectator to the harassment. The court must safeguard the honour of the Prosecutrix otherwise woman victims of crime would be compelled to reconcile with the stroke of luck and go on tolerating vicious attacks violently outside the court and embarrassing inside the court.


A witness who expresses the opinion to the court that another witness is unworthy of credit shall not state the reasons for his opinion in the examination-in-chief. But he may be called upon to explain his reasons in cross-examination. Whatever reason he may give shall not be contradicted but if the answer is false, he may be prosecuted or charged for giving false evidence.[ii]

Here, in this article I will explain the Section 155 which plays an important role in the false witness who takes bribe or unworthy credit and can also be charged with the false evidence.

[i] Bare Act, Indian Evidence Act, 1872, The credit…..will be admissible.

[ii] [ii] Dr. Avtaar Singh, The Principles of the Law of Evidence, 23rd Edition, 2018

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About Author

I am Nishu Singh, BALLB, 3rd Year, Student of JEMTEC SCHOOL OF LAW, Greater Noida

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