1. The general point raised the letter of reference is, at what stage, in an enquiry or trial, is an accused person entitled under Section 162 of the Criminal Procedure Code to ask the Court to furnish him with copies of statements made by prosecution witnesses to the police in the course of investigation. The wording of the section fixes the stage as ' when any witness is called for the prosecution.' It will be observed, however, that the purpose of furnishing the copy is to contradict the witness. This obviously implies that the witness has already made a statement which is open to contradiction, and, therefore, the stage at which the copy is to be furnished is the stage when the witness has made a statement which lays him open to contradiction by his former statement to the Police. We cannot subscribe to the contention that, before cross examination is opened at all, the accused is entitled to copies of all statements made by prosecution witnesses at the police investigation, that in effect, he is entitled to a copy of the prosecution brief. It appears to us, so far as we can gather from the meagre records on the point in this case, that that was the nature of the request put forward by the accused's pleader, and if that surmise is correct, then the refusal of the Stationary Sub-Magistrate was justified.
2. In practical working of the section what will usually happen is this. The accused's pleader will ask the witness what statement, if any, on any particular point he made to the police during the investigation, and when he replies, then the pleader may request the Court to refer to the statement before the police and furnish the pleader with a copy, having due regard to the 2nd proviso of the section. This 2nd proviso seems to have been overlooked by the learned Sessions Judge when he wrote the 2nd para, of his letter of reference.
3. As to para. 3 of the reference, we think it quite clear that the stage when the accused is entitled to ask for a copy, is, as indicated above, when the witness is under cross-examination, and has already made the statement which the accused wishes to contradict by proof of his former statement 60 the police.
4. No facts are made out in this case from which we can conclude that the provisions of Section 162, Criminal Procedure Code as interpreted above were not complied with in this case.
5. We therefore return the records.