Supreme Court's Ruling on Document Production in Civil Trials

Chambers of Ishaan Garg

Ch. No. 217, Western Wing, District & Sessions Court, Tis Hazari, New Delhi, Delhi 110054

+91 8851742417, +91 8800386163

1. Introduction

The Supreme Court has made a significant ruling regarding the production of documents during cross-examination in a civil trial.

2. The Verdict

The Court ruled that a document can be produced during cross-examination to confront a party to the suit or a witness, asserting that there is no distinction between the two.

3. Overturning Previous Judgment

The verdict overruled the Bombay High Court's decision, which stated that documents could only be produced at the stage of cross-examination to confront a witness, not a party to the suit.

4. The Case Background

The case revolved around specific rules of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908, namely Order VII, Rule 14(4), Order VIII, Rule 1A(4), and Order XIII, Rule 1(3).

5. Supreme Court's Considerations

The Supreme Court deliberated on whether there is a difference between a party to a suit and a witness in a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure.

6. Clarification on Distinction

Justice Karol, authoring the judgment, clarified that the High Court's view was incorrect. The Supreme Court stated that witnesses and parties to a suit, for the purposes of adducing evidence, are on the same footing.

7. Document Production in Cross-Examination

The Court ruled that documents can be produced in cross-examination to confront either the witness or a party to the suit.

8. Freedom to Produce Documents

The Court concluded that the freedom to produce documents for cross-examination or refreshing memory serves its purposes for parties to the suit as well. The law does not differentiate between a party to a suit and a witness for the purposes of evidence.

9. Confrontation Limitations

The Court clarified that confrontation, except during cross-examination, is not allowed unless the document was included with the plaint or written statement filed before the court.

10. Equality of Parties and Witnesses

The Court affirmed that there is no difference between a party to a suit as a witness and a witness simpliciter. Therefore, the production of documents for both a party to the suit and a witness at the stage of cross-examination is permissible within law.

11. Conclusion: Purpose of the Trial

Justice Karol emphasized that the ultimate purpose of any trial is the discovery of truth. This ruling serves to uphold this principle by ensuring a fair and comprehensive cross-examination process.

Citation: 2023 INSC 1075

December 14, 2023