Supreme Court Guidelines

Use of statements made before police

Tahsildar Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1959 SC 1012: 1959 Cr LJ 1213

1. A statement in writing made by a witness before a police officer in the course of investigation can be used only to contradict his statement in the witness box and for no other purpose;

2. Statements not reduced to writing by the police officer cannot be used for contradiction;

3. Though a particular statement is not expressly recorded, a statement that can be deemed to be part of that expressly recorded can be used for contradiction, not because it is an omission strictly so-called but because it is deemed to form part of the recorded statement;

4. Such a fiction is permissible by construction only in the following three cases:

(i) when a recital is necessarily implied from the recital or recitals found in the statement: illustration: in the recorded statement before the police the witness states that he saw A stabbing B at a particular point of time, but in the witness box he says that he saw A and C stabbing B at the same point of time; in the statement before the police the word “only” can be implied i.e., the witness saw A only stabbing B;

(ii) a negative aspect of a positive recital in a statement: Illustration: in the recorded statement before the police the witness says that a dark man stabbed B, but in the witness box he says that a fair man stabbed B; the earlier statement must be deemed to contain the recital not only that the culprit was a dark complexioned man but also that he was not of fair complexion; and

(iii) when the statement before the police and that before the Court cannot stand together: Illustration: the witness says in the recorded statement before the police that A after stabbing B ran away by a northern lane, but in the Court he says that immediately after stabbing he ran away towards the southern lane; as he could not have run away immediately after the stabbing i.e., at the same point of time, towards the northern lane as well as towards the southern lane, if one statement is true, the other must necessarily be false.

The aforesaid examples are not intended to be exhaustive but only Illustrative. The same instance may fall under one or more heads. It is for the trial Judge to decide in each case, after comparing the part or parts of the statement recorded by the police with that made in the witness box, to give a ruling, having regard to the aforesaid principles, whether the recital intended to be used for contradiction satisfies the requirements of law.

Source: M A Rashid, Supreme Court Guidelines and Precedents

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