Section 132 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872

Proviso:

Provided that no such answer, which a witness shall be compelled to give, shall subject him to any arrest or prosecution, or be proved against him in any criminal proceeding, except a prosecution for giving false evidence by such answer.

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Comments:

Scope:

Under section 132 a witness is not excused from answering any question relevant to the matter in issue. This section abolishes the privileges of witness who is at the same time deprived of claiming the excuse. “It deals with the self- incriminating statements in the form of question.” He is said to be compelled to give evidence on matter in issue. He cannot refuse answer except at the cost of adverse party.

Principle:

According to this section where a witness is questioned relevant to the matter in issue in any civil suit or criminal proceeding he can be compelled to answer all questions and cannot be excused from answering any question on the ground that the answer might expose him to civil or criminal proceeding or may tend to his prejudice.

The proviso, on the other hand, protects witness that if a witness is compelled to give answer, he shall not be liable for arrest or prosecution nor the answer can be proved against him in any criminal proceeding. However if the answer is false, the witness may be prosecuted for giving false evidence. The protection of the proviso to Section 132 can be applied to a private witness who has been compelled to answer any question during the investigation. A witness is absolutely protected from criminal prosecution on the basis of the evidence as an approver.

Nature of answer:

The answer must relate to compulsion. The protection is granted to the cases in which a witness is compelled to answer. In case of voluntary answer there is no protection. “If the witness is made to understand that he must answer all the questions without exception, it would amount to compulsion.”