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  • The High Court of Orissa had held that a witness cannot be allowed to seek correction or modification of his/her deposition statement after he affixes his sign on deposition sheets once the evidence or statements were read to him, and those that are recorded by chief-examination and cross-examination.
  • A single Judge Bench of Justice Sangam Kumar Sahoo disallowed a revision petition denying the relief and said, "The object of the reading over prescribed by this section, is not to enable the witness to change his story but to ensure that the record faithfully and accurately embodies the gist of what the witness said. The section is not intended to permit a witness to resile from his statement in the name of correction. The object underlying section 278 of the Code is to obtain an accurate record of what a witness means to say and to givehim an opportunity of correcting his evidence taken down by the Court if any."
  • The Court further added that if there is any new fact that lies with the witness which was left out by mistake, then the respective counsel can file an application with regards to those things.
  • The petitioner was under trial for an offence committed under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881. He was examined by his counsel as Defendant Witness 1 (D.W.1) during the chief examination and by the opposite counsel in cross-examination.
  • Once the cross-examination was over, the evidence was read to the petitioner and explained, upon which he affixed his signature to the deposition sheets.
  • A few days later, the petitioner’s counsel filed a petition in Trial Court requesting for a correction to be made in the recording of evidence. They state that though the petitioner had answered correctly during the examination, it was wrongly recorded in court.
  • The trial court after hearing both parties held that after the evidence was recorded, it was read out and explained to D.W.1 and he had signed them after being satisfied that the contents are true and correct, therefore the petition was rejected stating that prayer to make changes cannot be made without bringing D.W.1 to the dock.
  • The petitioner’s counsel, Mr. Gyanaloka Mohanty argued that after receipt of the certified copy of the deposition, It occurred to them about the false recording made by the court ensuing which a petition for correction was filed.
  • The petitioner is a graduate and it was his responsibility to check the irregularities to the court while affixing his sign, but he was unable to verify the evidence thoroughly. Thus, he shall not be deprived of the opportunity to bring before the notice of the court, the wrong recording which would otherwise have its repercussions.
  • According to Section 278 of CrPC states the procedure concerning evidence when it is completed. It said that when evidence from each witness is taken and completed under Sections 275 and 276 of CrPC, the same shall be read out to him in presence of the accused if present or his pleader, if he appears by pleader, and if necessary shall be corrected. It was further provided that if the witness denies the correctness of any part of the evidence, when it was read over to him, the Magistrate or the Presiding officer may instead of correcting him, shall make a memorandum of the objection made by the witness and add remarks as necessary.
  • The Bench noticed that as per Section 80 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 when the Magistrate endorses the certificate on the deposition sheet, it is deemed that when the deposition was read out to the witness and the witness had confirmed it to be true, the Court is bound to accept the same until proved to be untrue.
  • A witness shall always be provided with an opportunity to make any corrections or explanations or contradictions in the deposition, and the final statement that he acclaims to be true shall only be taken into consideration.
  • The court upheld that all the civil and criminal courts must read out the deposition to the witness before asking him to sign it.
  • It further added that if the petitioner wants to depose any new fact that was left inadvertently, to prove his case the counsel can file an application for recall of the petitioner to depose only such things. The recall petition has to contain specific questions as to the questions that shall be put forward to the D.W.1 and the Trial court shall declare if those are relevant and proper.
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