There is an age-old rule that if you dispute the correctness of the statement of a witness you must give him opportunity to explain his statement by drawing his attention to that part of it which is objected to as untrue, otherwise you cannot impeach his credit.
In State of U.P. v. Nahar Singh (1998) 3 SCC, a Bench of this Court stated the principle that Section 138 of the Evidence Act confers a valuable right to cross-examine a witness tendered in evidence by the opposite party. The scope of that provision is enlarged by Section 146 of the Evidence Act by permitting a witness to be questioned, inter alia, to test his veracity.
It was observed: (SCC p. 567, para 14) “14. The oft-quoted observation of Lord Herschell, L.C. in Browne v. Dunn [(1893) 6 R 67 (HL)] clearly elucidates the principle underlying those provisions. It reads thus: ‘I cannot help saying, that it seems to me to be absolutely essential to the proper conduct of a cause, where it is intended to suggest that a witness is not speaking the truth on a particular point, to direct his attention to the fact by some questions put in cross-examination showing that imputation is intended to be made, and not to take his evidence and pass it by as a matter altogether unchallenged, and then, when it is impossible for him to explain, as perhaps he might have been able to do if such questions had been put to him, the circumstances which, it is suggested, indicate that the story he tells ought not to be believed, to argue that he is a witness unworthy of credit.