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Maukhika Sakshya – Oral Testimony In Hindu Religion

Maukhika Sakshya is oral testimony in Hindu religion. According to Hindu legal texts, Maukhik Sakshya is an important piece of evidence in both civil and criminal matters. In fact, in spite of a provision for ordeals, Hindu law texts place more reliance on statements of witnesses or documentary evidence and allow divine proofs, divya, only when temporal proofs such as witnesses, documents, etc., fail to settle disputed issues.

Eyewitness accounts by a person who claims to ‘to have seen or heard” are said to be most reliable. Oral evidence has to be carefully assessed. Where witnesses make contrary claims with regard to a fact, a judge has to weigh the testimony of one against that of another.

Witnesses should be examined by court officials and cross examined by opposite parties to establish the truth. Judges are also to take into account circumstantial evidence and use reason to come to a conclusion and not rely merely on oral evidences. Oral evidence pertaining to circumstances leading to an incident is also relevant.

Demeanor of witnesses and their body language should be keenly observed by judges to assess whether they are speaking the truth.

Texts prescribe conditions of caste, sex and character which are liable to make a person disqualified to give evidence. But most texts also agree that in criminal matters those disqualifications do not debar a person from giving evidence.

Confessional statements and statements affirming civil liabilities made by a party before a person, knowingly or unknowingly, can be admitted to oral evidence.

It is obligatory for judges to record evidence without loss of time and preferably in the presence of the opposite party.

Witnesses cited by parties to tender evidence are obliged to do so or else face punishment. Those not specifically cited but expected to know something about the issue in question can also be summoned. Witnesses are exhorted to speak the truth and severe punishments are recommended for perjury.

Source Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume VII page 104 – 105 - IHRF