Cross examination is probably the most important stage where false cases filed by wives can get demolished – and at the end of it what looked like kevlar plated armour of a wife’s case looks worse than torn underwear. The gynocentric and women-protecting System will always try not to let the cases reach this stage and which is the reason the so called counselling by CAW/mahila thana etc, mediations in DV or in family courts are preferred routes to nip the possibility of any fight being put up by husband in the bud. He is given the carrot of mutual consent divorce and withdrawal of all cases in return for settlement money to wife. What all ‘justice’ can’t a bunch of money buy?
For those who have decided to go beyond the initial pain and uncertainty and willing to run it like a marathon rather than a sprint, cross-examination stage is the first stage where wife’s evidence is called into questioning and probing for inconsistencies, lies and contradictions.
Importance of various stages – Written Statement, Cross-Examination, Own Evidence, Final Arguments
Note: in this article, our area of discussion is the full trial of case proper e.g. CrPC 125, DV Act, Divorce, RCR case etc rather than about interim maintenance and other orders which do not follow the complete procedure of Civil or criminal procedure code. For interim orders, one can do interim arguments based on basic evidence at hand and call into doubt OP’s allegations and petition.
Before we get into some techniques of cross-examination, it’s better to lay stress that all of stages like Written Statement(WS)/Objection by husband, Cross-exam of wife, his own Evidence, and Final Arguments are very important. Each stage builds on the previous one and it becomes easier and more automatic as the case progresses since good foundation and structure has been laid in previous stages.
A good WS/objection lays the foundation of further fight whereas a weak objection statement gives more confidence to OP (Opposite Party) that the husband has been lulled into the settlement and mediation mode and with some right moves he can be psychologically pressured and brought down in the next so called mediation. Whereas a strong and detailed WS with possibly counter allegations (true of course) sets the stage that the fight has just entered round one, and husband is ready to fight for full 12 rounds. Those readers who don’t like the use of word fight may as well stop reading further. For them the time of mediation and settlement will come soon and their main concern should be how to collect 35 lakh or whatever amount wife is asking for, so they can re-activate their (second)shaadi.com profile for second marriage!
After husband’s WS is filed in court, usually if an interim application is filed by either side (mostly by wife for interim maintenance), it gets decided first before the stage of Evidence of wife comes up. As already discussed on this site, one should fight interim maintenance as if one’s life depends on it and take things easy only after interim maintenance has been either zeroed or reduced to a nominal amount. It does not mean however to escape one’s responsibility from child maintenance (not having kids is the only honourable route for that), as some morons seem to be concluding after doing cursory reading on this site.
After interim applications for maintenance or child visitation, any petition amendments etc are disposed, the time comes for wife’s evidence. Most likely she will produce the same set of lies and concocted stories as in her petition as her evidence affidavit.
Once wife submits evidence, one should be ready with cross-examination questions which should preferably be prepared by you and then only discussed with lawyer for additions/modifications.
After cross-examination of wife, you will submit your evidence where you can further cover things which are in same line as in your WS. You should not make evidence affidavit very different from WS – remember that structure can’t deviate too much from foundation. The main difference between Evidence Affidavit and WS is that in WS stage you deny wife’s false allegations, and also state your own points and allegations, and in evidence stage you get to submit original documents and other records like photos, messages, videos, emails etc which prove your statements and and poke holes in wife’s allegations.
Then comes the stage of your /husband’s cross-examination by OP advocate.
Once the stages so far have been done properly, preparing final arguments will be an automatic and easy thing. It is advised by few (though most advocates won’t do it for lack of time) to submit written arguments and not just argue verbally, and I advice that too. The simple reason is that how many things a judge will remember from one case to another that he/she would remember what was argued verbally in your case in previous hearing few weeks back!
Now we will look at preparing for wife’s cross-examination. Some of the points may be similar across all cases, but some points will vary depending on maintenance vs child custody case, so will divide it into sections based on topic.
Cross-Examination of wife in maintenance cases
In India, interim-maintenance and maintenance is the fuel on which the divorce and DV industry runs. Trying to cut this fuel supply is the best way to get an upper hand, get psychological boost, gain confidence, and an eventual win in the cases. Even in real wars, rivals gave special consideration and planned on how to cut off food/ration, fuel, and other supplies of opponents as a way to gain an upper hand and ultimately lead to a win.
Situation: Wife is qualified but she has not mentioned anything about it in her petition or evidence
Danger: abla-naari may be deemed unfit to get employed anywhere and poor husband will be bearing high maintenance for her.
Cross-exam questions to elicit educational qualifications
- What are your educational qualifications?
- From which college/institution did you do your XYZ course?
- What was the year when you passed out?
- etc etc
Cross-exam questions to elicit wife’s independent nature and non-abla-naari status:
- Did you study in XYZ college?
- Was that college in your hometown or outside?
- Assuming it was outside: Did you stay in a hostel then?
- Assuming it was in same city: How far was the college from your home? How did you reach college and back home from college? If she says she went by bus, then ask: Did anyone accompany you in the bus like your father etc? If she says no, then you can use that as argument later that if she can finish 3-4 years college course and travel in bus on her own everyday; what stops her applying, taking up a job, and travel by bus on her own now? Has she lost her ability to move out of home, go in bus/auto whatever, do productive things simply because she got married?
What we are trying to elicit above is to show the court that wife had lived outside home for 3-4 years while training on a professional degree/course. If she is independent enough to live away from home in a hostel/PG etc, then it is evident that she is educated and independent enough to find a job and maintain herself on her own than live like a parasite on husband. Wiping the abla-naari label is the objective here.
Assuming wife lies about her educational qualifications, then her marriage bio-data, online profile, such sources will come handy to either further cross-exam her on the spot, or submit them later as part of your evidence exhibits. The choice of marking that exhibit during wife’s cross-exam vs submit own evidence exhibit is a judgment based on situation.
Cross-exam questions to tackle non-working wife (who left work after marriage)
One of the chief problems in maintenance cases is that well-qualified and women working before marriage promptly leave their job after marriage, and probably take a silent vow to never do any paid work outside home again. Their probable dream is to file cases on husband and live off husband’s earnings while escaping any duties of a wife.
The problem is also exacerbated by the fact that many Indian men are living in the fantasy land that their wife if confined to household and future motherhood duties instead of working outside, then she will be a modern version of of Sati-Savitri. The confusion is probably about the cause and effect. It may be true that many Sati-Savitris of the past were housewives, but simply being a housewife doesn’t a Sati-Savitri make, else a Kaikeyi could also fit into that role. So one should drop this idea that a housewife can be easily controlled and a working woman may become too independent and may not care much about husband. The data and statistics clearly show that vast majority (probably 80-85%) of maintenance cases are filed by women who are not working outside home at the time. So not working outside home cannot be assumed to be a barometer of being an easily controlled wife. If they were so easily controlled by being housewives, then why did they drag husband into police station and various courts?
- Here first you need to finish up the questions already above about wife’s educational qualifications, living in hostel vs bus to college. Having built that base, further questions below.
- Is it true that you were working in xyz company and drawing salary of abc per month? Assuming this fact was in her marriage bio-data or verbally told, there is high likelihood she will admit and say yes. Remember they are usually over-confident that now that they are housewives, no one can make them work ever again! But if she lies even about work before marriage, you have to elicit the truth in another way. (Hint: Evidence)
- For how many years/months did you work? (This is just a basic data point type of question)
- How many employees were there in that company? Here one has to exercise judgment and ask such questions especially if the company is a large company, or well-known company, or MNC brand company etc. But if wife had worked in a 6 people office, then this may not be so important.
- Did you go through an test and interview process before employment? It may seem very common sense type of question, but the argument we need to make later is: if she can take a 3-4 years college degree, and apply for job and go through test and interviews, and get job and if she can do it once, why can’t she do it again now? Facts of her educational qualifications, ability to get a job, and ability to do a job is being established at the end of these questions.
Cross-examination questions to tackle domestic violence type allegations whether in DV, CrPC 125, Divorce or any other law not yet passed
Situation: Wife alleges in her petition that she was not given food (a copy-paste favourite allegation)
Before I put down some questions, a general point is in order that sometimes one need not question mechanically on every allegation, but depending on the scale of joke-worthiness vs danger-score of the allegation, one can either do a routine question “I suggest to you that you have made a false statement/allegation that xyz happened”. Replace xyz with “I was not given food”, “I was locked in the bathroom” type of joke-worthy allegations. A decision whether an allegation is joke-worthy or damage-causing depends on the overall context also. A formula can’t be given.
Cross-exam questions to counter wife’s statement that she was not given food
Let’s take example where wife is housewife.
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- Were you staying at home while your husband was at office? She will say yes, what else she will say that she was out shopping with girlfriends?
- Is it correct to say that the house was a 2 bedroom house with a separate kitchen. Again yes.
- Did you have access to the kitchen during the day? Here the wife may get a hint that things are not going her way and she may either say yes and get demolished on further questions, or try to act smart and try to change her version from statements made in petition. Either way it is simple matter to poke harpoon sized holes in her allegations by now. It’s very easy to say “I was not given food”, but what stopped her from preparing and having food when there was a kitchen and food supplies at home with unrestricted access during the day!
Cross-exam questions to counter wife’s statement that she was locked in the bathroom
By now the eternal questioning-types and doubters may start asking but what if my wife says that she was locked in the bathroom, so she could not go to the kitchen etc etc. Eternal doubters can’t be satisfied, but here are some questions to demolish the “locked in bathroom” and “I was restricted from going out” type of allegations.
- Do you have a mobile phone? Yes.
- Is you mobile phone number dddddddddd? Yes
- You have stated in para 3 of petition that you were locked in bathroom. Can you tell on what date it happened and what was the time? Dates and times are the last things on minds of wives or their advocates when they write petitions because they hope to wrap up things by counselling/mediation stage into MCD and settlement. Expect some “I don’t remember exactly” and such type of evasive answers.
- Did you call anyone about the incident afterwards? If she says that she did not call anyone, then ask her why did you not call? She won’t be able to give any good reason so it can then be suggested that she did not call because such an incident never happened. If she says that she called her mother, then knowing the date/time asked earlier can nail her lie if she didn’t. Getting itemized phone bills is most helpful in such situations since it nails the lie and puts a cannon size hole in wife’s overall case.
Cross-examination in criminal cases like IPC 498A/406/354
To be written…
Cross-exam questions to counter wife’s dowry allegations
To be written…
Cross-exam questions to counter wife’s stridhan/jewellery with in-laws allegations
To be written…
Further cross-exam points to be written … (ask in comments if you want to know how to ask cross-examination questions on a specific situation).
Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer