Leading Questions: Understanding Their Significance in Indian Evidence Act
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Leading Questions: Understanding Their Significance in Indian Evidence Act

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Are you curious about the role of leading questions in the Indian Evidence Act? Do you want to explore their importance in judicial proceedings and criminal cases? Look no further! In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the concept of leading questions, their scope, exceptions, and the relevance of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.


When it comes to legal proceedings, evidence plays a critical role in determining the outcome of a case. The Indian Evidence Act, 1872, governs the admissibility and relevancy of facts in issue through the application of judicial proceedings. In this article, we will explore the concept of leading questions, their purpose, and their significance in the Indian legal system.

Historical Context: The Evolution of the Indian Evidence Act

Before the enactment of the Indian Evidence Act in 1872, the admissibility and relevancy of facts in issue were decided based on customs and usage, particularly during the Mughal period. However, with the advent of British rule, India witnessed the codification of laws, including the Indian Evidence Act, which brought about a significant change in the legal landscape.

Understanding Leading Questions

Definition and Purpose

Leading questions, as defined by legal scholars such as Jeremy Bentham and Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, are questions that suggest the desired answer to the witness. These questions are framed in a manner that leads the witness to respond in a specific way, thereby influencing the outcome of the case. The objective of using leading questions is to ascertain the truth and test the credibility of the witness.

Scope and Application

Under the Indian Evidence Act, the concept of leading questions is discussed in Sections 141 to 143, which are part of Chapter 10 of Part III. A leading question is one that hints at the desired answer, either directly or indirectly. The answer to a leading question is often limited to a simple "yes" or "no," providing accuracy and correctness to the evidence presented.

Section 141: Definition of Leading Questions

Section 141 of the Indian Evidence Act defines leading questions as those that suggest the answer that the questioner expects to receive. These questions inherently indicate or contain the answer, often leaving the witness with limited options for response. For example, an attorney might ask, "The respondent had a corporate firm with a mala fide intention, correct?" This type of leading question is strategically used to validate the witness's statements in favor of the questioner.

Section 142: Limitations on Asking Leading Questions

While leading questions can be effective in cross-examination, Section 142 of the Indian Evidence Act imposes limitations on their use. According to this section, leading questions must not be asked in examination-in-chief or re-examination without the permission of the court. However, the court may permit leading questions in these stages of the proceedings for matters that are introductory, unchallenged, or already sufficiently proved.

Section 143: Permissibility of Leading Questions in Cross-Examination

In cross-examination, leading questions are allowed and play a crucial role in testing the credibility of the witness. Section 143 of the Indian Evidence Act states that leading questions may be asked in cross-examination without any objection from the adverse party. This provision ensures that the examiner has the freedom to control the direction of questioning and elicit the necessary information.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Leading Questions


  1. Time Conservation: Leading questions help save time by focusing on the most relevant information and eliminating unnecessary discussion.
  2. Directional Guidance: Leading questions lead the respondent in a specific direction, allowing for a systematic exploration of the facts.
  3. Root Cause Analysis: By exposing hidden assumptions and root causes, leading questions help uncover the underlying issues of a case.
  4. Persuasion: Leading questions can compel the respondent to reason step-by-step, potentially convincing them of the truth.


  1. Bias: Leading questions introduce bias into research, potentially leading to subjective responses that do not reflect the true perceptions of the respondents.
  2. Lack of New Insights: The use of leading questions often results in regurgitated responses, providing little new information or insights.
  3. Altered Behaviors: The use of leading questions can influence the behaviors of respondents, affecting the quality and accuracy of the data gathered.
  4. False Feedback: Leading questions may lead to false feedback, providing an inaccurate impression of the market's perception of a product or service.

Case Laws on Leading Questions

Several case laws have shed light on the interpretation and application of leading questions in the Indian legal system. Let's explore some notable cases:

  1. Varkey Joseph v. State of Kerala: This case emphasized that leading questions should not violate Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which safeguards an individual's right to life and personal liberty. The court held that questions should not infringe upon a person's privacy or cause harm.
  2. Barindra Kumar Ghose and Ors. v. Emperor: This case highlighted the role of the court in determining the validity of leading questions. The court should exercise discretion and permit or disallow leading questions based on their relevance and adherence to legal procedures.
  3. Mohinder Singh v. State of Punjab: In this case, the court emphasized that leading questions should not be cantankerous, irrelevant, or scandalous in nature. The purpose of the court is to ensure a fair and just trial, and leading questions should not hinder the proceedings.

Recommendations for the Use of Leading Questions

To ensure the appropriate use of leading questions and protect the rights of the parties involved, the following recommendations are suggested:

  1. Prioritize Relevance: Leading questions should be asked only when necessary and relevant to the case at hand. Out-of-context questions should be avoided to prevent misleading or inaccurate responses.
  2. Experienced Questioning: Leading questions should be posed by experienced lawyers who understand the nuances of the legal system. This ensures that the questions are framed effectively and ethically.
  3. Respect Privacy: Leading questions should not infringe upon the privacy of the witness or the parties involved. Embarrassing, insulting, or scandalous questions should be avoided unless absolutely necessary for the fair adjudication of the case.
  4. Amendment of Section 151: Section 151 of the Indian Evidence Act, which deals with the admissibility of scandalous questions, should be reviewed and amended to ensure the protection of privacy and relevance.


Leading questions play a significant role in the Indian legal system, particularly in cross-examination. They allow for the exploration of facts, testing of witness credibility, and the discovery of the truth. However, their use should be regulated, and ethical practices should be followed to ensure a fair and just trial. By understanding the scope, limitations, and advantages of leading questions, legal professionals can effectively navigate the Indian Evidence Act and promote the administration of justice.

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