Civil Procedure Code (CPC)

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INTRODUCTION

Demeanor refers to the outward actual conduct and appearance of an individual. Demeanor isn't just what somebody says, however the way in which it is said. Elements that add to an individual's demeanor incorporate manner of speaking, facial expressions, gestures, and carriage. The term demeanor is regularly applied to a witness during a trial. Demeanor evidence is very significant in revealing insight into the credibility of a witness, which is one reason why individual presence at trial is viewed as of foremost significance and has extraordinary importance. Hence, it has come to be that the assertion of various legal rules and institutions is that the opportunity of a fact-finder to observe the demeanor of a witness is of great value in deciding whether or not to believe the witness’s testimony.

MEANING OF DEMEANOR OF A WITNESS

Every verbal message like what we say is accompanied by nonverbal clues like how we say it and what we look like when it is being said. The nonverbal clues consist of body language such as posture, body, hand and arm movements, facial gestures, eye contact and physical appearance generally dress and grooming habits; and the way of conduct while delivering– such as tone of voice, volume and inflection. These are some “demeanor evidence”; that consists of everything that the factfinder can readily recognize about a witness’s performance, except the semantic content of her testimony.

ILLUSTRATION

Mr. A was a witness to the case and he was examined by the Hon’ble Court. He was standing in the court in the shabby dress and he is tensed, anxious, sweating. The Judge notes that in the record and that influences the court, or gives the inference that the person is guilty or done something wrong. The demeanor of the witness is watched to satisfy that the testimony was granted by a competent and qualified person who is well aware of, what is he speaking or reflecting by his gestures or conduct. Here, the demeanor of Mr. A not seems to be competent and qualified and it is beyond the legal capacity.

MEANING ACCORDING TO BLACK LAW DICTIONARY

Black's law dictionary defines “demeanour as the tone of voice in which the witness' statement is made, the hesitation or readiness with which his answers are given, the look of the witness, his carriage, his evidence of surprise, his gestures, his zeal, his bearing, his expression, his yawns, the use of his eyes, his furtive or meaning glances, etc.”

HEARSAY GUIDELINES

Demeanor evidence is very remarkable in revealing insight into the credibility of a witness, which is one reason why individual presence at the trial is viewed as of foremost significance and has extraordinary importance concerning the HEARSAY guideline. Hearsay guidelines are statements that are made out of Court as evidence to prove the truth of the matter. Generally, the material submitted as proof will be assessed as to how it is relevant to the case, and how it is relevant to the facts stated in the matter concerned. The guidelines in regards to Hearsay assess the way in which the evidence is given. The motiveof these guidelines against hearsay is to guarantee that theadverse party is given an appropriate opportunity to interrogate the declarant to test whether his declaration is correct as well as reasonable.

SECTION 280 OF THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE, 1973

Section 280 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 deals with remarks respecting the demeanor of a witness and it says that “When a Presiding Judge or magistrate has recorded the evidence of witnesses, he shall also record such remarks (if any) as he thinks material respecting the demeanor of such witness whilst under examination”. 

IMPORTANCE OF DEMEANOR OF A WITNESS

Demeanor evidence is very important in revealing insight into the believability of a witness, which is one reason why individual presence at the trial is viewed as of central significance and has extraordinary importance.To help a Judge in its assurance of whether it ought to accept or doubt specific declaration, it should be furnished with the chance to hear explanations straightforwardly from a witness in court at whatever point conceivable. 

The case laws that are mentioned below will help in understanding the wide overview of the term “Demeanor of a witness” and how it helps to bring justice.

Importance of demeanor of awitness#01 Dattu Ramrao Sakhare and Others Vs. State of Maharashtra

The entire prosecution case rested upon the evidence of a child witness who is 10years old. It is, therefore, important to discover whether the evidence is authenticated from other evidence on record. If a child witnessfound competent to depose to the facts and reliable, one such evidence would be on the basis of conviction. In other words, even without an oath, the evidence of a child witness can be considered under Section 118 of the Evidence Act given that such witness can comprehend the inquiries and able to give rational responses thereof. The evidence of a child witness and credibility would rely on the conditions of each case. The only precaution which the court should bear in mind while evaluating the evidence of a child witness is that the witness must be a reliable one and his/her demeanor must be like any other competent witness and there is no likelihood of being mentored. There is no standard or practice that in each case the evidence of such a witness be corroborated before a conviction can be permitted to stand but, however as a rule of prudence the Court all the time finds it desirable to have the corroboration to such evidence from other dependable evidence on record. In the light of this well-settled principle, the Court proceeded to consider the evidence of child witness in this case.

Importance of demeanor of a witness #02 In Re: Srinivasalu Naicker vs. Unknown

In this case, the Civil Revision Petition is filed against the order made by the learned Subordinate Judge of Coimbatore. The facts that were raised, the first defendant argued that the material document on which the suit was based has been sent secretly to the Handwriting Expert and that he has given his opinion that the endorsement on the material document is a forgery and hence, as his evidence would be unavailable to the Court unless he is subjected to cross-examination and re-examination, a commission may be issued to examine him. While analysing the facts of the case the learned Subordinate Judge has held that it would be convenient and better to examine the witness in Court so that the Court may have an opportunity of hearing the evidence itself and seeing the demeanour of the witness. The demeanor of the witness is watched to satisfy that the testimony was granted by a competent and qualified person who is well aware of, what is he speaking. The learned Subordinate Judge dismissed this application and hence,the Revision Petition. 

Importance of demeanor of a witness #03 P. Ramlingam vs Y.B. Sannaiah

In this case,the plaintiff has filed the Revision Petition complaining that the witness of the plaintiff, the scribe to the document spoke against the very document and against the interest of the plaintiff himself, he sought permission of the Court to treat the witness as hostile. The standard should be of necessity be loosened up when the witness exhibits an opposite feeling, specifically, when he by his conduct, attitude, demeanor, or unwillingness to answer or to disclose the truth reveals that he is hostile or friendly to the party calling him. The Court in such a case may in its discretion, permit a party to put any question to his own witness which might be put in cross-examination by his opponent, that is, may permit him to lead. This in effect implies that the Court may in a fit case allow a party to cross-examine his own witness as accommodated under Section 137 of the Evidence Act.  Hence, the civil revision petition is allowed by the Court.

Importance of demeanor of a witness #04 AshrantBhartia and anr. V. Jagmohan Kerjriwal and ors.

In this case, the Appeal is directed against the judgement passed by the Court. It has been filed to obtain the probate of the last will and testament of the deceased. The issue that was raised for consideration with respect to the examination of the attesting witnesses to the will on commission. The application was opposed on the ground that until the examination of the witness is face-to-face, the truthfulness of the evidence of the witness will not be ascertained, as it is relatable to thedemeanor of the witness. As per the learned counsel, in the rarest of the rare case, where the Court doesn’t have the confidence in the ability of the commissioner to note or video record the demeanor of the witness or even video-recording can’t bring the demeanor which the     Court can see during the examination of such witness. The appeal was dismissed with addition to the safeguards given by the Learned Judge and directed the plaintiff to complete the examination in the two months from the date of fixing the time for examination according to the convenience of the parties.

Importance of demeanor of a witness #05 OrugunatiRanganayakamma vs MaduriLakshminarasamma And Anr.

In this case, the Civil Revision Petition is filed against the order of the District Munsif in which he allowed for the appointment of a commissioner for the examination of the witness for the plaintiff. The plaintiff filed a suit for the declaration as well as for the possession of certain properties on the strength of a will that is executed by one Krishnavenamma, who is the sister of the plaintiff was undergoingtreatment and she executed a will. The will purports to bequeath the entire properties of Krishnavenamma in favour of the plaintiff for the exclusion of the second defendant. The suit is resisted by the second defendant on the ground that the said will is a forged one and the husband of the plaintiff in connivance of the attestors and others brings a false will into existence. Observing the demeanor of a witness by the Court is a strong and sufficient ground for denying the issue of commission for examination of a defendant who is residing beyond the local limits of the Jurisdiction of the Court of law. The inconvenience of a party should not be a significant factor when the interest of Justice warrant that he would come in front of the Court. The order of the District Munsif is set aside and now witnesses be examined in the Court of law.

Importance of demeanor of a witness #06 Munjam Prasad vs The State of Andhra Pradesh

Munjam Prasad, the appellant-accused preferred an appeal by taking assistance of Legal Aid, aggrieved by the judgment wherein he was convicted for an offence under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to undergo Rigorous Imprisonment for a period of ten years and to pay a fine of three thousand, to undergo Simple Imprisonment for a period of three months. The learned Counsel contends that the learned Judge erred in accepting the sole testimony of the witness of the petitioner the alleged victim girl, which is highly unsure. The learned Counsel also submitted that the Doctor, who had issued the medical certificate was not examined and the same was marked through the Investigating Officer and hence, the such was not proved in accordance with the law. According to the Section 280 which says “The object of the provision is to give the Appellate Court some aid in estimating the value of evidence”. After the findings of the learned Judge were confirmed and the Criminal Appeal shall stand dismissed.

Importance of demeanor of a witness #07 Smt. Sucharita Sarkar vs Utpal Mukherjee

In this case, the Revisional Application is filed, the plaintiff in an eviction suit has challenged an order.The plaintiff's application to have a doctor who is a witness examined on commission was refused on the ground that the status of the said witness could not be a ground for issuance of commission. There were four submissions made by the learned counsel for the petitioner. And, one of them was that the recording of the evidence would deprive the court of law to watch the demeanor of the witness, which is one of the most important aspects in the dispensation of Justice or adjudicating the legal cause. After thehearing the learned counsels, it appears that the application for commission filed by the petitioner, wrongly stated to be under Order XXVI Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure, was substantially under Rule 4A of Order XXVI of the Code. Although there is the scope of misunderstanding the ground for seeking commission since no effective evidence could be taken in such a place and the liberty given by Rule 4A of Order XXVI of the Code can’t be expanded to such an extent as to suit the whims of the witness only. The court mentions that the court is not in the position to watch the demeanor of the witness, if the evidence is recorded by the commission doesn’t appear to be irrational and beyond the legal capacity.

CONCLUSION

After understanding all these cases which shows the “Importance of the demeanor of a witness” can be understood that, how much important is to see the manner of speaking, facial expressions, gestures, etc. while examining the witness.Various courts of the country have helped in deciding the true meaning of the term demeanor of a witness and the protection it gives to the citizens of the country. Equality before the law is one of the most basic fundamental rights which showcase that equal opportunity should be granted to everyone even the witness needs an equal opportunity with free will to represent their side. This article reflects the importance of the demeanor of a witness under Section 280 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 which deals with it.


 


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