- ENGLISH LAW vs. INDIAN LAW
In English law, witnesses cannot be forced to answer questions that might incriminate them. However, Section 132 of the Indian Evidence Act takes a different approach, obligating witnesses to answer relevant questions, even if self-incriminating.
- DISTINCTION FROM CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION
Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution safeguards individuals accused of offenses from self-incrimination. However, this protection does not extend to witnesses. Section 132 remains unaffected by Article 20(3).
- DEFINITION OF WITNESS
Section 132 applies only to individuals who are formally sworn in as witnesses and provide testimony in the witness box. It does not cover statements made during the investigative phase under Section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
- VOLUNTARY vs. COMPELLED TESTIMONY
Section 132 pertains to witnesses who are compelled to testify. If a person voluntarily offers testimony, they are not granted protection under this section.
- SAFEGUARDS FOR COMPELLED WITNESSES (PROVISO TO SECTION 132)
The proviso to Section 132 outlines important safeguards for witnesses who are compelled to answer potentially self-incriminating questions:-
- They will not face arrest or prosecution based on their statements.
- These statements cannot be used as evidence in criminal proceedings, with the exception of potential perjury charges for providing false testimony.
In conclusion, Section 132 of the Indian Evidence Act is a significant provision that compels witnesses to provide truthful testimony, even when their responses may incriminate them. This provision plays a crucial role in the pursuit of justice and maintaining the credibility of legal proceedings.