Examination of Witnesses by Police u/S. 161 Cr.P.C.

Police :Section 161 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for short ‘Cr.P.C.’) titled “Examination of witnesses by police” provides for oral examination of a person by any investigating officer when such person is supposed to be acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case. The purpose for and the manner in which the police statement recorded under Section 161 Cr.P.C can be used at any trial are indicated in Section 162 Cr.P.C.

See Also : How to Contradict Witness by Previous Statement

Section 162 Cr.P.C. reads as under:

# 162. Statements to police not to be signed–Use of statements in evidence.–

(1) No statement made by any person to a police officer in the course of an investigation under this Chapter, shall, if reduced to writing, be signed by the person making it; nor shall any such statement or any record thereof, whether in a police diary or otherwise, or any part of such statement or record, be used for any purpose, save as hereinafter provided, at any inquiry or trial in respect of any offence under investigation at the time when such statement was made:

Provided that when any witness is called for the prosecution in such inquiry or trial whose statement has been reduced into writing as aforesaid, any part of his statement, if duly proved, may be used by the accused, and with the permission of the Court, by the prosecution, to contradict such witness in the manner provided by section 145 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (1 of 1872); and when any part of such statement is so used, any part thereof may also be used in the re-examination of such witness, but for the purpose only of explaining any matter referred to in his cross-examination.

(2) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to apply to any statement falling within the provisions of clause (1) of section 32 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (1 of 1872), or to affect the provisions of section 27 of that Act.

Explanation.- An omission to state a fact or circumstance in the statement referred to in sub-section (1) may amount to contradiction if the same appears to be significant and otherwise relevant having regard to the context in which such omission occurs and whether any omission amounts to a contradiction in the particular context shall be a question of fact.

Section 162 Cr.P.C. bars use of statement of witnesses recorded by the police except for the limited purpose of contradiction of such witnesses as indicated there. The statement made by a witness before the police under Section 161(1) Cr.P.C. can be used only for the purpose of contradicting such witness on what he has stated at the trial as laid down in the proviso to Section 162 (1) Cr.P.C. The statements under Section 161 Cr.P.C. recorded during the investigation are not substantive pieces of evidence but can be used primarily for the limited purpose:-

(i) of contradicting such witness by an accused under Section 145 of Evidence Act;

(ii) the contradiction of such witness also by the prosecution but with the leave of the Court and

(iii) the re-examination of the witness if necessary.

Court cannot suo moto make use of statements to police not proved and ask question with reference to them which are inconsistent with the testimony of the witness in the court. The words in Section 162 Cr.P.C. “if duly proved” clearly show that the record of the statement of witnesses cannot be admitted in evidence straightway nor can be looked into but they must be duly proved for the purpose of contradiction by eliciting admission from the witness during cross-examination and also during the cross-examination of the investigating officer. Statement before the investigating officer can be used for contradiction but only after strict compliance with Section 145 of Evidence Act that is by drawing attention to the parts intended for contradiction.

[The above discussion on Section 162 Cr.P.C. is extracted from the latest judgment of the Supreme Court of India in V.K. Mishra Vs. State of Uttarakhand judgment dated 28 July 2015]