1. These two revision petitions arise out of two I. As. filed in the Court below for the purpose of recalling P. W. 1 and for permission to cross examine him with reference to previous statements recorded by the same Court. The relevant facts are that the respondent-plaintiff instituted the suit in the court of small causes for recovery of a certain amount. The trial of the said suit had an unfortunate and chequered career. The Chief Judge, who tried the case first, was transferred before the case was concluded. He had recorded the statement of P. W. 1., the plaintiff, It is known that under the provisions of the Hyderabad Small Cause Courts Act full evidence of a witness is not recorded nor it is read out to be witness nor his signature taken thereupon. What is recorded is only the notes made of the statement before the small Cause Court by the Judge. Subsequently another Chief Judge came in. According to the provisions of the small Cause Courts Act, a de novo trial could be concluded he was also transferred and the present Chief Judge of the City Small Cause Court commenced the trial. He recorded the statement of P. W. 1 again. While the witness was in the course of cross-examination, the learned counsel for the defendants sought to put to P. W. 1 certain statements he had made previously before the two presiding Officers of the Small Cause Court in this very case for the purpose of contradicting the witness under Section 145 of the Evidence Act.
The plaintiff objected to this course and consequently I. A. No. 513 of 1966 was filed by the defendants with a request that P. W. 1 should be permitted to be cross-examined with reference to the previous statements. Both these applications were objected to by the plaintiff. The lower court dismissed both these petitions mainly on the ground that the notes of the statement of P. W. 1 made by the two Presiding Judges of the Court of Small Causes, Hyderabad do not come within the meaning of the word 'statement' appearing in Section 145 of the Evidence Act. The defendants therefore cannot be permitted to cross-examine P. W. 1 with reference to those two previous statements for the purpose of contradicting him under Sec. 145 of the Evidence Act. It is this view that is now questioned in these two revision petitions. Since the questions are common I would dispose them of by one common order.
2A. Section 145 of the Evidence Act reads as follows:
'A witness may be cross-examined as to previous statements made by him in writing or reduced into writing, and relevant to matters in question without such writing being shown to him, or being proved but, if it is intended to contradict him by the writing, his attention must before the writing can be proved, be called to those parts of it which are to be used for the purpose of contradicting him.'
The preliminary portion of the said section permits a witness to be cross-examined with reference to previous statements made by him either in writing or which statements were reduced into writing. In either case, the cross-examination must be relevant to the matters in question. That can be done even without such writing being shown to him or being proved. But if the purpose of the cross-examination is to contradict him by the previous statement or any portion thereof, before the writing can be proved, the attention of the witness must be called to those parts of the previous statements which are sought to be used for the purpose of contradicting him. The term 'statement' is not defined any where is the Evidence Act. It has a wider connotation. The section itself contemplates a statement which is either written by the witness himself or which was reduced into writing by some one else. It would not therefore be proper to construe the expression 'statement' in a narrower way. That would defeat the very purpose of Section 145.
2. The object and effect of the rule in Section 145 has been thus stated by Alderson, B. in Attorney General v. Hitchcock, (1847) 1 Ex 91 (102):
'A witness may be asked any question which, if answered, would qualify or contradict some previous part of that witnesses' testimony, given on the trial of the issue, and, if that question is put to him and answered, the opposite party may then contradict him .......... You may ask him any question material to the issue, and if he denied it, you may prove that fact, as you are at liberty to prove any fact material to the issue.'
3. In this case the previous statement is the evidence given by P. W. 1 before the Court of Small Causes, It is no doubt true that under the provisions of the Small Cause Courts Act it was not obligatory on the part of the Court to record the statement in full and then read it out to the witness and obtain his signature thereon. Under the provisions of that Act, it is enough if the notes of the evidence are reduced into writing by the Judge of the Small Cause Court. Merely because the statement is not recorded in full or it is not read out or his signature obtained thereon, I fail to see how such a record of evidence could be excluded from the meaning of the word 'statement' appearing in Section 145. It is a statement which though not in the hands of the witness himself, yet it is a statement which has been reduced into writing by the Judge of the Small Cause Court. Such a statement therefore can be put to the witness under Section 145 for the purpose of contradicting him. It cannot be in doubt that the previous statement may be letter, account books, written statement or even depositions. In the case of depositions they can either be in the form of fully recorded statements by the Court or notes made of the statement under the provisions of the Small Cause Courts Act. I do not therefore see as to why a statement , which was reduced into writing, in the form of notes by a Court of small Causes cannot come within the ambit of Section 145. I am of the view that any evidence taken in a summary case including a small cause case maybe admissible upon the conditions and for the purposes described in Section 145 of the Evidence Act. Unless otherwise compelled by may authority, I am inclined to hold that such a statement falls within the purview of Section 145 of the Evidence Act. I do not therefore agree with the learned Chief Judge that the defendants could not put questions under Section 145 with reference to those previous statements of P. W. 1 with a view to contradict him under Section 145 of the Indian Evidence Act.
4. There is no direct authority which will cover the case in point. There are, however, observations made in the following cases which support the conclusion. In Tahsildar Singh v. State of U. P. : 1959CriLJ1231 their Lordships observed:
'The record of a statement, however perfunctory, is assumed to give a sufficient guarantee to the correctness of the statement made, but if words not recorded are brought in by some fiction, the object of the section would be defeated.'
5. In Emperor v. Najibuddin, AIR 1933 Pat 589 a Bench of the Patna High Court said;
'A statement to an investigating officer can be deemed to have been 'reduced into writing' even when the officer has not recorded the statement in full, but has merely noted the gist of what was stated to him.'
6. In Emperor v. Ajit Kumar Ghosh, AIR 1945 Cal 159 it was observed by the learned Judges:
'For S. 162 it is immaterial whether the statement is recorded in the actual words of the witness. It is sufficient if it is written in the diary merely in the form of a memorandum.'
7. It will thus be clear that in the abovesaid cases even the statements which were not fully recorded or statements which were recorded in the form of memorandum were treated as statements falling within the ambit of section 145 of the Evidence Act. I am therefore satisfied that the Court below has erred in disallowing the two applications.
8. I would therefore allow the revision petitions and set aside the orders of the Court below. The Court below would permit P. W. 1 to be recalled and allow the defendants to cross-examine P. W. 1 with reference to his previous statements for the purpose of Section 145. Evidence Act. The petitioners will get their costs in C. R. P. No. 1968 of 1966 only.
9. Petition allowed.