Skill, after luck! Cross-examination!

Never undermine the importance of the skill. First of all, let me tell you that the “skill” is not found in law books; it’s something which you have to inculcate or explore within yourself.

A lawyer has to be a psychologist. He is always expected to peep deep into the mind of the clients, colleagues, witnesses and judges and then calculate his own next move. In this post I’ll narrate you a personal experience which may be of interest to my younger colleagues. In the year 1998, I was engaged by a husband to defend him and his family in a criminal complaint filed by his estranged wife alleging cruelty (Sec. 498A) and criminal breach of trust (Sec. 406). Her allegation was that she had been treated with cruelty by her in-laws and then driven out of her matrimonial home and that all her jewellery (stridhan) which she had entrusted to them for safe custody had been retained by them and that they were not returning the same despite her repeated demands.


When the case reached the evidence stage, her mother came to court to depose in support of her allegations. When that lady (mother) in her fifties was making her statement-in-chief, I was carefully watching her mannerism and attitude. I noticed that she was filled with utmost sense of pride about her social standing and that she was quite pompous. I hit the point where to strike! I remained unusually calm and let her sermonize and say whatever she could. She exhausted herself and finished her statement-in-chief. When the judge asked me to cross-examine, I looked into her eyes, made her more self-conscious and loudly asked her “My client has informed me that you are a very greedy, stubborn and vindictive lady and you have sold all your daughter’s jewellery to prosecute my client and his family just to satisfy your own ego.” Hardly I had finished with my sentence, she exploded like a nuke and clamoured “Vakil sahab, I hail from a very rich family, have my own jewellery in kilos and I have not touched even an ear-ring of my daughter.” Pretending as if I had something in my pocket, I confronted her “I have a proof with me that you have sold all your daughter’s jewellery last week only to pay fees to her lawyer and also buy a new car for yourself.” Now she burst into flames and shouted “You are speaking a white lie in the court, all my daughter’s jewellery is still lying safely in my almirah and I have not even touched that.” I retorted “Rather you are telling a lie in the court. Can you bring that jewellery in court on the next date to prove that my client was telling a lie, and not you?” She replied “Why next date? I can bring the whole jewellery today itself in half an hour.” And then she on her own took out a key from her purse and stated: “This is the key of that almirah.” The judge asked me to stop, and asked his peon to offer a glass of water to that poor lady! The fate of the case stood decided! And the hapless lawyer of the wife watched the whole show helplessly!

Advocate Sakal Bhushan practiced law at Jammu and Kashmir High Court at Jammu for a couple of decades before moving to New Delhi where he is an Advocate at the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court of India. He frequently comments on matters related to law, constitutional and legislative affairs. Mail him at and follow him on Facebook


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