Section 141 of Evidence Act :- Leading Questions.—
Any question suggesting the answer which the person putting it wishes or expects to receive, is called a leading question.
Section 141 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 deals with leading questions. A leading question is one which suggests the answer or puts words in the mouth of a witness. It is a question that prompts or encourages a witness to give a particular answer.
According to Section 141, leading questions may be asked in the following circumstances:
- When examining a witness who is incapable of giving a coherent answer without the assistance of leading questions, such as a child or a person who is mentally challenged.
- When examining a hostile witness, that is, a witness who is adverse to the party that called him/her as a witness.
- When examining an expert witness.
However, in all other cases, leading questions cannot be asked during examination-in-chief or re-examination. This is because leading questions are likely to suggest the answer and influence the testimony of the witness.
Leading Questions in Practice: An Example
To better understand the application of Section 141, let’s analyze an example case. In the case of ‘State vs ABC’, during the cross-examination of a key witness, the defense attorney posed several leading questions implying the witness’s complicity in the crime. The prosecution objected, citing Section 141, as these questions suggested the answer, potentially influencing the witness’s testimony. The judge ruled that the questions were indeed leading and not permissible during direct examination, highlighting the section’s critical role in ensuring unbiased and uninfluenced witness testimonies.
The purpose of this provision is to ensure that witnesses give their testimony freely and truthfully, without being influenced or prompted by leading questions. It is also intended to prevent any party from manipulating the testimony of a witness to suit their case.