International Bridges to Justice India (IBJ India) in association with Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) conducted a day long workshop for Trial Advocates on Lessons on Cross Examination of Witnesses in securing justice for the accused on 24 April, 2011 at Hotel Om Towers, Jaipur. The purpose of the workshop was to highlight the importance of cross examination of witnesses in a criminal trial and to strengthen the skills of budding lawyers in effectively defending the accused by understanding the basic rules of examination of witnesses and their cross examination. The session also highlighted the common errors committed in conducting examination and cross-examination of witnesses that result in miscarriage of justice for the accused.
The day’s session began with the inauguration of the workshop by Hon’ble Mr. Justice R.S.Chauhan (Judge, Rajasthan High Court).
He emphasized that lawyers should be armed with the knowledge of forensics and medical science as well when dealing with criminal cases. A good criminal lawyer is a good psychologist he said. “You will have to cross examine every type of witness differently” said Justice Chauhan. He stressed that advocates should understand people before they understand the laws. According to him golden rule of effective cross-examination is that every lawyer must study the charge sheet, FIR, statement of witnesses very carefully as lawyers have to contradict the witnesses when they give their statements. The site of crime should be visited, post mortem report should be studied, and the site plan must be compared with facts stated. He emphasised that books on medical jurisprudence should be studied very utmost care. He pointed out that at the time of cross examination, there is hardly any Narcotic Test or Brain Mapping on the spot; in such a scenario, body language of a person and his gestures such as eye movement can be very crucial.
Next Session was taken by Mr. Ravi Yadav a leading criminal defence lawyer in Jaipur practising at the Rajasthan High Court who about The Common Rules and Tips on examination and cross examination of witnesses. He highlighted the golden rule to be observed at all times that a good lawyer never looses his temper in court even if the case is going against him. Patience always pays. He mentioned that “whenever you read a charge sheet, a picture should start running in your mind. In cross-examination, the ‘charge’ should be the priority. Keep in mind that you have to demolish the charge, and ask questions accordingly.”
Third Session session focussed on the importance of examination of Expert witnesses (Specially Medical Experts). Dr. Sumanta Dutta , Asst. Prof., Forensic Medicine Department) from SMS Medical College, Jaipur gave a detailed presentation on the importance of examination of expert witness and how knowledge of medical science can benefit the advocates in cross-examination of medical experts in a trial. Dr. Dutta prepared a presentation on Human Anatomy and according to him every lawyer should know that thoroughly. He explained the most delicate parts of the body and how failure of some organs can cause sudden death. He stressed that a defence lawyer must be aware of all these things and should utilize the information that scientific medicine can furnish.
The last session was a mock demonstration of cross-examination of witnesses by Ajay Verma, Advocate, Fellow, International Bridges to Justice. A scenario was prepared and explained to the students. It was murder cases where the few Participants were asked to play different characters and the other Participants were then asked to cross examine them. The idea was to have each participant an experience of art of cross examination by participating in the simulation exercise. The participants seemed very enthusiastic about this exercise and realised cross examination is not such an easy nut to crack.
One of the participants was very excited and shared in the feedback that that this was his first workshop of this type by which he gained valuable knowledge and it will be definitely help him in effective defense if accused.
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