Types Of Witnesses In Evidence Law


The witness is considered an important part of criminal and civil cases. Justice is declared in the Court based on the evidence required to be produced by the witness. A witness is considered to be a person who has personally witnessed an event taking place. The Indian Evidence Act describes certain provisions regarding persons capable of giving evidence in a Court of Law and its admissibility.

Section 118 of the Evidence Act described that a competent witness is that whom have an understanding and ability to answer the questions that are asked to him by the court. Any individual can become a witness. There is no curtailment on who can be witnessed. Any person such as a male, female, child or old person can be considered as a witness. Only the limitations that the person must be competent to furnish a reasonable answer in a Court. If a person can do this, it will not be considered as a witness.

An outstanding English scholar, Jurist Jeremy Bentham has given his opinion about the definition of witnesses by considering the “witness as the ear and eye of justice”.

The witness is the person who is called to the Court by the higher authorities and whatever he has seen or heard related to any case, he tells the Court so that the accused should be punished for his mistake and in the interest of right by the Court, the decision can be taken.  The witness is considered different from the accused because it plays an important role in getting justice. Witnesses, therefore, play a vital role in assisting the court in separating facts from allegations and claims made by both the parties in criminal and civil cases.

As from the case, Madhuranatha vs State of Karnataka the phrase word has been defined is defined as a person who is capable of providing information regarding relevant facts through oral statements and written statements, that has been asked in the Court of law.

Importance of Witnesses

1. The witness is considered an integral part of the evidence.

2. Witnesses play an important role in functioning the just and fair trial in the Criminal Justice System.

3. In India, the judge can arrive at a conclusion in the context of the case with the help of the arguments and evidence given by the prosecution and the defence.

4. State of Gujrat v. Anirudh Singh, the Supreme Court held the necessity and significance of witnesses by asserting that “it is the important duty of every witness who knows about any crime to come to the court to give evidence and help in taking the right decision”.

5. In the case of Mrs Neelam Katara v. Union of India & others, Justice Gita Mittal and Justice J.R. Mirdha stated that the administration of justice depends on the witness, as he comes forward and gives his testimony without any fear and pressure so that the right decision can be taken. If the witness gives his statement out of fear, due to which the right decision will not be taken, then the administration of justice becomes weak and despised.

Types of Witnesses

Interested Witness

Interested witnesses are those witnesses who wish to give relevant information to the Court in respect of any matter to make the offender punishable. A willing witness wants that the accused to be behind the prison for the crime he has committed.

For Example, X is a family friend of Y and Y has committed many crimes but Y was never caught by the police.  X always takes care of Y and is fully aware of what happened to Y.  Suddenly Y was caught by the police for committing a crime and was put in jail. X is considered a willing witness if he wants to make a statement in court to prove that Y is a habitual offender. X is an interested witness and the motive is to make the offender punishable. 

State of Haryana vs Shakuntal, in this case the Court elucidate the term witness, The interesting witness is that one who wants to give information about an accused can have many reasons, first, he has enmity with him or there may be some other motive behind doing so. It is an uncontroversial fact that the testimony of the intending witness may lack credibility and confirmation is essential for its acceptance. Further, it is well settled that the intending witness wants the conviction of the accused, hence it is necessary to exercise caution in the judicial approach while taking such testimony into account.

Chance Witness

Any person who is accidentally present at the crime scene or is passing through the crime scene and has seen the incident happening, then it is called the chance witness.

For instance, A and B, famous businessmen are dealing drugs in an old house where no one lives or it can be said that no one usually goes. And R is a news reporter passing through that street who was told about the meeting to be held there. Suddenly R went to that place for a general inspection and saw that P who is there, had a gun in his hand and wanted to kill Q, whereas R suddenly came here on the crime scene and saw the incident with his own eyes. That’s why here news reporter R will be considered as chance witness.

The Namdev V. State of Maharashtra, through this case the Court had set a clear distinction between natural witness or chance witness. Both these witnesses have to be trusted, provided their evidence is credible and admissible by the law. But whatever chance witness and natural witness are saying, it will be necessary to check their statement that whatever they are saying is reasonable or not. Its reliability should be checked before trusting them that justify the law.

Stock Witness

Stock is defined as something that is kept or preserved as per availability for future use. A stock witness is a person who stays on the back foot of the police and comes to testify in Court as per the directions of the police. The testimony of a stock witness is not considered credible and the court tried not to rely on the testimony made by such witness. While the judges dislike this kind of witness. Instead of relying on a stock witness, the court must look at another piece of evidence to deliver a verdict in a case.

For instance, X will work as a witness for the police, whatever crime has been committed. Suppose an act has been committed where the police and prosecution do not have enough evidence proof to justify their case. Then here the police invite A to testify against the accused as a witness and A will say that he saw the accused committing the crime. But this type of witness testifies only in favour of the prosecution, so the court does not consider such a witness.

Ramesh Kumar vs State of Himachal Pradesh, in this case, Justice RL Khurana on the matter observed that since the person was arrested under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985, the person had to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 10 years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh in default of payment, the person had to undergo further imprisonment for one year. Independent witnesses did not appear during the investigation and trial of the case and only stock witnesses appear in the case. No evidence was presented by the accused and for that matter, in the absence of evidence, it could not be proved that the stock witness provided by the policemen would be credible and hence the appeal was dismissed.

Eye Witness

Eyewitness means any person who is present at the crime scene and sees with his own eyes what happened at the crime scene so such a person is called an eyewitness. Any person such as a stranger or relative can be an eyewitness.  It is commonly said that anything can deceive but the eyes cannot. From the point of view of the evidence, eyewitnesses are considered important evidence in solving any case. The Court must examine the witness strictly by the law. If the testimony is found to match with other evidence, there is no harm in admitting such a witness.

For instance, Suppose A is a shopkeeper and has kept his shop open during midnight. One day B and his cousin have made up a mentality to take revenge on C. So B and his cousin reached C’s house and beat him so badly that his head started bleeding. B and his cousin thought that B’s condition was critical, then ran away from the place and left B alone. This scene of the incident was witnessed by the shopkeeper. So here the shopkeeper is considered an eyewitness because the incidents have happened in front of the shopkeeper.

In Pratap Chauhan v Ram Naik, the Supreme Court held that the statement of an eyewitness need not be ignored and it is important to examine the eyewitness with due care and care. The court further held that the testimony of an eyewitness cannot be quashed on the ground of minor alterations.

In the landmark judgment of Vikas Kumar Roorkewal v State of Uttarakhand Ors, the Supreme Court declared that that witness plays an important role in the criminal justice system and that every legislative measure concerning witnesses contributes to the fundamental principle of a fair trial.

Related Witness

A person who is called a related witness is the one who has been called by his relative to be a witness or to be produced as a witness. Any person’s statement shall not be discarded or rejected neither it can be said that he’s biased in the case, due to the reason that he is the relative of the person who has called him to be the witness. A related witness will always favour his relative and not the truth this should not be presumed on their own. There is a condition in which related witness evidence must be appreciated in court that is after strict scrutiny, it is found that his witness is something on which they can rely upon, and gives a hint of trustworthiness and credibility of giving testimony.

Now the question arises who can be the concerned witness, for example, any person such as wife, husband, brother, sister, father, mother or any relative of the individual. The statement of a person who belongs to the party should be rigidly constructed, and every action should be put together to draw the truth, this is done by common conscience when the person belongs to the party.

In the case of Bishan Das v. Crown, it was held that the mere fact that the evidence given by the wife against her husband was accepted in the Court of Session without any objection, was taken by or on behalf of the husband. Section 122 takes away the bar made by the IEA.

Material Witness

The witness who talks related to the critical facts or related issues in the suit or prosecution is known as a material witness. Non-fulfillment to analyzing material witnesses in civil cases, hamper the conditions of success of parties. Non-successful in analyzing the material witness by the pursuit in criminal cases might turn out in clear acquittal of the accused. Individuals who are connected to the affair in civil matters, needed to be brought as witnesses after all the analysis of those witnesses is compulsory. A material witness is an observer in connection to the subject form of the litigation and it doesn’t signify medium about parties.

Mohit vs the State of Haryana, the court observed that the material witness was not analyzed by the pursuit through he was connected with the enquiry. In the time of evaluation of evidence, he was summoned. His points were given up by pursuit as he succeed in the case. The prosecution doesn’t have to analyze all witnesses connected to specific circumstances. But, the probative points of a few other witnesses are not at all impacted due to it.

Official Witness

When an individual belongs to the police force and gives his statement in the Court of law, it will consider as an official witness. The person on duty gives evidence in favour of the prosecution that’s why it is termed as an official witness. It is said that the evidence of a police witness should not be rejected simply because a person belongs to the police force, and hence he may be biased towards the prosecution to make the case stronger. As such, their credibility cannot be doubted. The Court must examine the witness strictly by the law, and if his testimony is matched by other evidence, there is no harm in admitting it. If the official witness is credible and trustworthy, there is no reason to deny it.

For instance, suppose A is a police officer performing his night duty. Suddenly, A saw a man who is drunk and running towards a street. A follows that man. When A reaches the place he saw that the man was trying to kill his wife with a knife. So here A is considered as the official witness because the crime scene took place in front of A.

Child Witness

If a child has the intellectual capacity to grant reasonable testimony relating to any case and the court is satisfied with his statement, then that evidence shall be considered. Any child can testify in court within a reasonable sound.

Algupandi v State of Tamil Nadu, Court proclaimed that a child is considered as a qualified witness but the testimony of such a child witness tends to be reasonable, valid and verified by additional case evidence. There is not any harm in accepting evidence given by the child witness.

It was held in the case of Ramu Alias Ram Kumar V. State, the Court must record the evidence of a child witness in the form of question and answer, even if no procedure has been prescribed concerning how the testimony of a child witness is recorded.

Defence Witness

In a criminal proceeding, the defence contests the validity and veracity of the prosecution’s case. At the request of the defence, a witness is called to be known as a defence witness.

Right of Witness in India

  1. Right to refuse to testify if the accused is a relative of a witness.
  2. It has given the right to testify in a language familiar to the witness.
  3. Witness has the right to seek legal aid.
  4. Witness also has the right to see the fees for any expenses.
  5. It is important to have a safe waiting area during court proceedings.
  6. Witness Should have the right to know the status of investigation and prosecution of crime.
  7. Witness has the right to be dealt with compassion and honour.
  8. Witness has the right to be protected from harm and threat.
  9. Witness has an important right to give evidence while remaining anonymous.
  10. Right to stay in a safe place and transport.


In the evidence of the above, discussions victims and witnesses play a significant function in bringing justice. They have important obligations and duties in the criminal justice system, and truth testimonies are much expected of them. And only because of these, the accused get punished, as it has been learned from the above discussion that there are different types of witness but all the witness has only one purpose to punish the criminal so that there is fair and just treatment in the society. If possible, be afraid of doing any other wrong to the victim. The right decision is taken only because of witnesses. The witness is in an oral and documented form.


1. https://blog.ipleaders.in/witnesses-under-the-indian-evidence-act/

2. https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/justice/witnesses/types of witnesses.html#l0b797

3. https://bailmeout.in/types-of-witnesses-indian-evidence-act/

4. https://www.latestlaws.com/articles/witness-protection-for-effective-legal-regime-in-india-by-akshat-aggarwal

This article has been written by Shikha Mishra, 3rd Year BBA.LL.B Student at Banasthali University.

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