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Evidence Act 1950 [Act 56]

148 Court to decide when question shall be asked and when witness compelled to answer   cite [+]

(1) If any question relates to a matter not relevant to the suit or proceeding, except so far as it affects the credit of the witness by injuring his character, the court shall decide whether or not the witness shall be compelled to answer it, and may, if it does not think fit to compel him to answer the question, warn the witness that he is not obliged to answer it.

(2) In exercising its discretion, the court shall have regard to the following considerations:

(a) the questions are proper if they are of such a nature that the truth of the imputation conveyed by them would seriously affect the opinion of the court as to the credibility of the witness on the matter to which he testifies;

(b) the questions are improper if the imputation which they convey relates to matters so remote in time or of such a character that the truth of the imputation would not affect or would affect in a slight degree the opinion of the court as to the credibility of the witness on the matter to which he testifies;

(c) the questions are improper if there is a great disproportion between the importance of the imputation made against the witness's character and the importance of his evidence;

(d) the court may, if it sees fit, draw from the witness's refusal to answer, the inference that the answer, if given, would be unfavourable.

149 Question not to be asked without reasonable grounds   cite [+]

No such question as is referred to in section 148 shall be asked unless the person asking it has reasonable grounds for thinking that the imputation which it conveys is well founded.

ILLUSTRATIONS

(a) An advocate is instructed by another advocate or reliable source that an important witness is a professional gambler. This is a reasonable ground for asking the witness whether he is a professional gambler.

(b) An advocate is informed by a person in court that an important witness is a professional gambler. The informant, on being questioned by the advocate, gives satisfactory reasons for his statement. This is a reasonable ground for asking the witness whether he is a professional gambler.

(c) A witness of whom nothing whatever is known is asked at random whether he is a professional gambler. There are here no reasonable grounds for the question.

(d) A witness of whom nothing whatever is known, being questioned as to his mode of life and means of living gives unsatisfactory answers. This may be a reasonable ground for asking him if he is a professional gambler.

150 Procedure of court in case of question being asked without reasonable grounds   cite [+]

If the court is of opinion that any such question as is referred to in section 148 was asked without reasonable grounds, it may, if it was asked by an advocate, report the circumstances of the case to the High Court or other authority to which the advocate is subject in the exercise of his profession.

151 Indecent and scandalous questions   cite [+]

The court may forbid any questions or inquiries which it regards as indecent or scandalous, although they may have some bearing on the questions before the court, unless they relate to facts in issue or to matters necessary to be known in order to determine whether or not the facts in issue existed.

152 Questions intended to insult or annoy   cite [+]

The court shall forbid any question which appears to it to be intended to insult or annoy, or which, though proper in itself, appears to the court needlessly offensive in form.

153 Exclusion of evidence to contradict answers to questions testing veracity   cite [+]

When a witness has been asked and has answered any question which is relevant to the inquiry only so far as it tends to shake his credit by injuring his character, no evidence shall be given to contradict him; but if he answers falsely he may afterwards be charged with giving false evidence.

Exception 1-If a witness is asked whether he has been previously convicted of any crime and denies it, evidence may be given of his previous conviction.

Exception 2-If a witness is asked any question tending to impeach his impartiality and answers it by denying the facts suggested, he may be contradicted.

ILLUSTRATIONS

(a) A claim against an underwriter is resisted on the ground of fraud.

The claimant is asked whether in a former transaction he had not made a fraudulent claim. He denies it.

Evidence is offered to show that he did make such a claim.

The evidence is inadmissible.

(b) A witness is asked whether he was not dismissed from a situation for dishonesty. He denies it.

Evidence is offered to show that he was dismissed for dishonesty.

The evidence is not admissible.

(c) A affirms that on a certain day he saw B at Malacca.

A is asked whether he himself was not on that day at Penang. He denies it.

Evidence is offered to show that A was on that day at Penang.

The evidence is admissible, not as contradicting A on a fact which affects his credit, but as contradicting the alleged fact that B was seen on the day in question in Malacca.

(d) A is tried for a rape on B. B is asked in cross-examination whether she has not had illicit intercourse with C and D. She denies it. Evidence is offered to show that she has had such intercourse with C and D. The evidence is not admissible.

In each of the cases in illustrations (c) and (d) the witness might, if the denial was false, be charged with giving false evidence.

(e) A is asked whether he has not said that he would be revenged on B, against whom he gives evidence. He denies it.

He may be contradicted on the ground that the question tends to impeach his impartiality.

154 Question by party to his own witness   cite [+]

The court may, in its discretion, permit the person who calls a witness to put any questions to him which might be put in crossexamination by the adverse party.

155 Impeaching credit of witness   cite [+]

The credit of a witness may be impeached in the following ways by the adverse party or, with the consent of the court, by the party who calls him:

(a) by the evidence of persons who testify that they from their knowledge of the witness believe him to be unworthy of credit;

(b) by proof that the witness has been bribed, or has accepted the offer of a bribe, or has received any other corrupt inducement to give his evidence;

(c) by proof of former statements inconsistent with any part of his evidence which is liable to be contradicted;

(d) (Deleted by Act A729).


Explanation-A witness declaring another witness to be unworthy of credit may not, upon his examination-in-chief, give reasons for his belief, but he may be asked his reasons in cross-examination, and the answers which he gives shall not be contradicted, though, if they are false, he may afterwards be charged with giving false evidence.

ILLUSTRATIONS

(a) A sues B for the price of goods sold and delivered to B.

C says that he delivered the goods to B.

Evidence is offered to show that on a previous occasion he said that he had not delivered the goods to B.

The evidence is admissible.

(b) A is indicted for the murder of B.

C says that B, when dying, declared that A had given B the wound of which he died.

Evidence is offered to show that on a previous occasion C said that the wound was not given by A or in his presence.

The evidence is admissible.

156 Questions tending to corroborate evidence of relevant fact admissible   cite [+]

When a witness whom it is intended to corroborate gives evidence of any relevant fact, he may be questioned as to any other circumstances which he observed at or near to the time or place at which the relevant fact occurred, if the court is of opinion that the circumstances, if proved, would corroborate the testimony of the witness as to the relevant fact to which he testifies.

ILLUSTRATION

A, an accomplice, gives an account of a robbery in which he took part. He describes various incidents, unconnected with the robbery, which occurred on his way to and from the place where it was committed.

Independent evidence of these facts may be given in order to corroborate his evidence as to the robbery itself.

157 Former statements of witness may be proved to corroborate later testimony as to same fact   cite [+]

In order to corroborate the testimony of a witness, any former statement made by him whether written or verbal, on oath, or in ordinary conversation, relating to the same fact at or about the time when the fact took place, or before any authority legally competent to investigate the fact, may be proved.


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