Witnesses are examined in three stages. They are
- Examination – in- chief,
- Cross- examination and
- Re- examination.
At this stage the lawyer are entitled to put such questions which are relevant to the fact in issue. They can not put leading question. Questions, which suggest answers, are regarded as leading questions, whose usual answer would be in yes or no form. However leading question may be asked in the following two situations as
- Where the subject matter is beyond controversy and
- where the subject matters has already been proved in the court.
Witnesses vary in nature. Some may be talkative; others shy; lawyers must use their skill to bring out facts from the witness, which are relevant and important to their case. The must control talkative witness, while encourage to speak shy – witness.
Cross- examination starts after the completion of examination in chief and opponent lawyer has right to cross –examination. At this stage he/she is as liberty to put leading question to the witness. His/her questions may have been designed to test the veracity, credibility and accuracy of the statement deposited by the witness. Exposing his/her bad character may impeach the witness. It is one of the grounds to discredit the witness. Witness may be discredited by showing relationship between him/her and the litigant, by showing his/her interest in between him/her and litigant in the subject matter of case. He/she may be contradicted by presenting statement made by him/her or some other occasion. Cross-examination is double edged weapon which should be wailed with great caution. It is one of the most crucial part of the examination of the witness which may affect the out come of the case. According to Philip Wendel, it is double-edged weapon, if you know to wield, it helps to cut enemy’s neck. Otherwise, it cuts one’s own hand. When a witness is cross-examined, he/she may be asked any question which tends:
to testify his/her veracity (correctness)
to discover, who he/she is and what is his/her position and
to shakes his/her moral character
After the completion of cross-examination the first presenting party has right to reexamination but he/she can not ask questions on new subject matter. He/she must be limited to the impact of cross-examination. He/she should try to make thinks correct which has been distorted in cross-examination. He/she can not ask leading question in re-examination except in the following situations;
If not objected by the adverse party or
With the permission of the court or
Already sufficiently proved matter (undisputed)
The other adverse party may further re-cross examine the witness.