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There is no specific definition of witness provided under a definitive section of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. To get a better understanding of the differentiation of the witness it is derived from the precedent established. Which have been discussed below for a better understanding of the same

Who is a Witness?

The witness is the person, who either willfully or mandatorily, under some provision, provides the testimony on a certain situation in a court of law.

What are the different type of Witnesses?

Witness

An essential principle to understand is that in decision making quality witnesses are preferred over the number of witnesses.

  • Victim Witness – generally this person is refered to as the PW 1 (prosecution witness no. 1) in normal case, and exhibit P 1. in the case of person related to the crime scene as a result of it he may also be the Victim Witnesses, and therefore in such situation, he will be victim as well as Related Witness.
  • Related Witness, one may be related to victims or accused. Also, one can be a person having direct relavance to the establiment of the fact in issue.
  • Interested Witness, if the person is interested with the issue directly or indirectly, he can be called as the interested witness.for example, in the execution of the probate, of person A, person C who is the brother-in-law of A, may have the interest in the execution and therefore, he can be called as the interested witness.
  • Independent Witness, this type of witness has no direct or indirect connection to the estbalishing oft he Fact in Issue.
  • Chance Witness, if the person was by chance present at the place of occurrence.and thereofre the testimony becomes relavant in the case.
  • Child Witness, they may be, if they can understand the question of Court. generally, in the case of child witness, collection of evidence is taken in very comfortable environment. generally, Child witness is considered as weak witness.
  • Hostile Witness, if the person coming from the party, and the person gives the statement against the same party for whose favour the witness came in the Court of law. He is hostile against the party for whom he was presented, in order to establish the fact. Generally, such intances are commonly seen in the lower court. In the case of Ramesh Harijan v State of UP, 2012  SC held that testimonies of Hostile Witness are to be considered as a caution, however their testimony is not outrightly rejected and they must be perfectly corroborated.
  • False Witness, fabricated witness, 100% false. generally, such witness is presented by the party to elongagte the procedings of the court in order to have time for preparation.

Some other categories which are important are mentioned herein,

  • Dumb Witness, they can’t directly express in words, Such witnesses also give the pieces of evidence in order to establish their fact, but such pieces of evidence do not hold documentary value. such evidence also comes under the category of the Oral piece of evidence. The aforementioned witness is not mutually exclusive, that is a person can be more than one type of witness at a time in a case.
  • Eye Witness

Ganpati v State Of TN, 2018. it was held in the case that, the Witness may be called an interested Witness, only when he or she derives, some benefit from the result of litigation and Fact-in-issue. And therefore, the related witness is not equivalent to an interested witness.

Girja prasad v State Of MP, 2008, it was held in the case that, the credibility of the Witness, should be adjudged on Touch Stone of Truthfulness and reliability. It should not be rejected merely because it is given by an interested witness.

Important Case Laws of Witnesses

Hostile Witness

State of Maharashtra v Praful B Desai,2003, it was held that Evidence through Video Conferencing can also be admissible in the Court of Law. this was held keeping in view the electronic revolution of with respect to the IT act, 2000.

RM Malkani v State of Maharashtra,1972 Tape Recordings are to be considered as a valid piece of evidence. 

Kameshwar Singh v State of Bihar1952, SC held that the maxim, Falsas in Uno Falsas In Omnibus. (When a person is wrong in one place, then he is wrong throughout) not applicable in India, minor contradiction and omission are the evidence are to be ignored, if there is Ring of Truth in the testimony of the Witness, and therefore The Rule of Evidence being Rule of Caution is applicable.

Ganesh K. Gulve v State of Maharashtra, 2002. Supreme Court held that it is the duty of the Court to separate the grain from the chaff. This essentially means that even if only a part of the statement given by the witness is helpful then the court is duty-bound to record the same.

Conclusion

The rules in India regulating competency and witness protection are up to date and are enacted with everyone in mind. The judiciary has bolstered the relevant legislations by interpretations, increasing its scope and applicability.

This article is written by Adish Jain, a 3rd-year law student at Symbiosis Law School, Noida.

References

  1. https://blog.ipleaders.in/witness-under-the-evidence-act-1872/#:~:text=A%20witness%20is%20a%20person,as%20testimony%2C%20and%20so%20on.
  2. http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/1692/Hostile-Witnesses-and-Efficacy-of-Law.html
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