Sections 153 and 165 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 must be strictly construed and narrowly interpreted if the Courts governed by that statute are to be spared the task in many suits of prosecuting, on most imperfect material, issues, which have no bearing upon that really in contest between the parties.
Semble, Section 158 of the Indian Evidence Act is in accordance with the opinions of the Judges in the case of Attorney-General v. Hitchcock (1847) I Ex. 91.
Where, in order to corroborate a witness, a letter written by him was tendered and received in evidence under Section 137 of the Indian Evidence Act, the Judicial Committee, in holding that, under the circumstances, the letter was not properly receivable for any purpose, made the following pertinent observations;.' Its contents ought to have been excluded from judicial consideration in all Courts as completely w they have been ignored by their Lordshipa,'
1. [The following portions of their Lordships' judgment only are material for the purposes of this report.] When the case for the respondents was reached, they sought to contradict all these denials of Mehta by substantive evidence, adduced under Section 155(3) of the Indian Evidence Act. The learned Judge permitted them so to do by calling Bhattacharjee, the respondents' manager at Rangoon, the District Magistrate's butler and Lalu Misser. The last denied that Mehta had ever made any such statement to him; the others supported the stories which Mehta had denied. The learned Judge found that in these last denials Mehta had lied, and he accordingly refused to consider his evidence at all. Upon thia two questions arise for discussion. The first is whether the evidence in rebuttal was properly admitted. Their Lordships are not prepared to hold that the evidence of Bhattacharjee and the respondents' manager on this issue was not properly received, but they think the section was stretched beyond its true purport in admitting the evidence of the butler and Lalu Misser. Sections 158 and 155 of the Indian Evidence Act must, in their Lordships' judgment, be strictly construed and narrowly interpreted if the Courts governed by that statute are to be spared task in many suits of prosecuting, on most imperfect material, issues, which have no bearing upon that really in contest between the parties. Section 153 does not go far beyond, if it goes at all beyond the case of Attorney-General v. Hitchcoek (1847) 1 Ex. 91 on which doubtless it was based....
2. The second matter on which their Lordships feel it desirable to observe is the tendering and reception in evidence of the letter written by Bhattacharjee to his official chief in June 30, 1923. This letter was tendered and received under Section 157 of the Lord Indian Evidence Act. Their Lordships desire emphatically to say that the letter was not, under that section, properly receivable for any purpose. It was of no greater value as evidence, although it was calculated to do much more injury to impartiality than an anonymous letter. It is idle to suggest that the letter was tendered to (ix a date, and to its malign influence may well be largely attributable the statement of the learned trial -Judge in his judgment, 'For come reason that I am unable to explain I feel that there is more in the case than meets the eye'; as well as the strong view against the appellants taken by the learned appellate Judges. Its contents ought to have been excluded from judicial consideration in all Courts as completely as they have been ignored by their Lordships....
3. These are the reasons for their Lordships' humble advise to His Majesty that this appeal should be allowed, and the decree of the learned trial Judge restored, with costs, both before the Board and in the appellate Court.