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June 25, 2021

Introduction:— The act of eliciting by questions a person’s knowledge of facts or science. A witness undergoes three examinations: (1) Examination-in-chief, which is made by the party calling him; (2) Cross-examination by the opposite party; and (3) Re-examination, by the party who called the witness, which is confined to matters arising out of the cross-examination.


The ultimate quest in any judicial determination is to arrive at the truth, which is not possible unless the deposition of witnesses goes through the fire of cross-examination. In a criminal case, using a statement of a witness at the trial, without affording to the accused an opportunity to cross-examine, is tantamount to condemning him unheard. Life and liberty of an individual recognised as the most valuable rights cannot be jeopardised leave alone taken away without conceding to the accused the right to question those deposing against him from the witness box, Sunil Mehta v. State of Gujarat(2013) 9 SCC 209: (2013) 3 SCC (Cri) 881. 

 The examination of a witness on one side by the other, generally after examination in chief, but sometimes not; as in the case of an examination on the voir dire, which is in the nature of a cross-examination; and if one party calls a witness, and he is sworn, the other party may cross-examine him, although the party who has called him put no question at all to him. Sometimes cross-examination takes place by leave of the judge after re-examination. And if a witness be called to proves some preliminary and collateral matter only, as the handwriting of a document tendered in evidence, he is a witness in the cause, and may be cross-examined as to any of the issues in the cause.

Re-examination:—An examination of a witness after a cross-examination upon matters arising out of such cross-examination. If the re-examination disclose new matter which the cross-examining party could not anticipate, the Court in its discretion may permit him to cross-examine upon it. 

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