Question: The maxim FALSUS IN UNO FALSUS IN OMNIBUS (false in one particular false in all) is everywhere a somewhat dangerous maxim, but it is especially dangerous in India. Amplify this statement. What are the general principles to appreciate oral testimony of a witness in a criminal trial? [D.J.S. 1990] Find the answer to the mains question only… Read More »

Question: The maxim FALSUS IN UNO FALSUS IN OMNIBUS (false in one particular false in all) is everywhere a somewhat dangerous maxim, but it is especially dangerous in India. Amplify this statement. What are the general principles to appreciate oral testimony of a witness in a criminal trial? [D.J.S. 1990] Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [The maxim FALSUS IN UNO FALSUS IN OMNIBUS (false in one particular false in all) is everywhere a somewhat dangerous maxim, but...

Question: The maxim FALSUS IN UNO FALSUS IN OMNIBUS (false in one particular false in all) is everywhere a somewhat dangerous maxim, but it is especially dangerous in India.

Amplify this statement. What are the general principles to appreciate oral testimony of a witness in a criminal trial? [D.J.S. 1990]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [The maxim FALSUS IN UNO FALSUS IN OMNIBUS (false in one particular false in all) is everywhere a somewhat dangerous maxim, but it is especially dangerous in India. Amplify this statement. What are the general principles to appreciate oral testimony of a witness in a criminal trial?]

Answer

In the exercise of appreciation of evidence, the court has to distinguish between normal and material discrepancies. While normal discrepancies do not corrode the credibility of a party’s case, material discrepancies would do so.

Each case is to be decided on its own facts. The said point is covered under the maxim “falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus” meaning thereby false in one thing, false in everything. The said maxim has no application in India and the witnesses cannot be branded as liars.

The maxim falsus in uno falsus in omnibus is not a rule of law. It is only a rule of caution. The maxim has no application in India. Where the evidence of a witness was not accepted in reference to some of the accused persons, the court did not accept the argument that his testimony should be rejected against all accused persons. A witness cannot be taken to be false in all respects when he has been shown to be false in one respect.

It is therefore not required that the entire testimony of a witness be disregarded because one portion of such testimony is found to be false. Thus, the court can separate the truth from the false statements in the witnesses’ testimony.

Even where a major portion of the evidence is found to be deficient, if the residue is sufficient to prove the guilt of the accused, his conviction can be sustained notwithstanding the acquittal of a number of his co-accused.

The doctrine merely involves the weight of evidence which a court may apply in a given set of circumstances, but it is not what may be called ‘a mandatory rule of evidence (Nisar Ali v. State of Uttar Pardesh AIR 1957 SC 366).

The doctrine is a dangerous one especially in India for if a whole body of the testimony were to be rejected because the witness was evidently speaking an untruth in some aspect, it is to be feared that the administration of criminal justice would come to a dead stop. Therefore, it has to be appraised in each case as to what extent the evidence is worthy of acceptance, and merely because in some respect the court considers the same to be insufficient for placing reliance on the testimony of witnesses, it does not necessarily follow as a matter of law that it must be disregarded in all respect as well.

Only because eye-witness deviates from her statement made in the FIR, her evidence cannot be held to be unreliable. Thus an attempt has to be made in terms of felicitous metaphor, separate grain from the chaff, truth from falsehood.

In the case of N. Jayaraman v. State of Tamil Nadu, [AIR 1993 SC 777] it was clear that due to mutual enmity amongst Trade Unions the deceased was injured and because of these injuries, the deceased died. The prosecution case was that every accused caused the injury. But four accused were released and two were convicted.

It was held by Supreme Court that only because the testimony of some of the witnesses was not sufficient for conviction, the testimony of every (all) witness should be rejected, this is not correct and the phrase falsus in uno falsus in omnibus is not applied in toto.

In Harischandra and others v. State of Delhi (1996) the Supreme Court said:

“While appreciating the evidence of witness in a criminal trial, especially in case of an eye witness, the maxim falsus in uno falsus in omnibus cannot apply and the court has to make effort to sift the grain from the chaff.

It is of course true that when a witness is said to have exaggerated in his evidence at the stage of trial and has tried to involve many more accused and if that part of the evidence is found acceptable, the remaining part of the evidence has to be scrutinised with the care and the court must try to see whether the acceptable part of evidence gets corroborated from other evidence on record so that the acceptable part can be relied on.”

The Supreme Court further said when in a murder trial the evidence of injured eye-witness regarding involvement of accused in question was corroborated by the earliest recorded statement, one of them at the hospital and also by the medical evidence, it could not be held that their statement could not be relied on regarding the accused in question on the ground that such statement was not relied on as regards the other accused who were acquitted by the trial court and their acquittal were not interfered with by High Court.

It was more so when such acquittal of other accused was based on the ground that there was no clear evidence regarding the involvement of those accused and that in FIR it was mentioned that they were standing on the road outside the house in which occurrence took place.

Thus, ‘Falsus in uno falsus in omnibus’ maxim which is not a rule of law but a rule of caution has no application in India.

It is a mere rule of caution.

It has not come to occupy the status of law in India. In case, the major portion of evidence is found to be deficient but if the residue is sufficient to prove the guilt of an accused, notwithstanding acquittal of other co-accused persons, he can be convicted.

It is the duty of the Court to separate the grain from the chaff. Where chaff can be separated from the grain, it would be open to the Court to convict an accused notwithstanding the fact that the evidence has been found to be deficient to prove the guilt of other accused persons.


Important Mains Questions Series for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

  1. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-I
  2. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-II
  3. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-III
  4. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-IV
  5. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-V
  6. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VI
  7. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VII
  8. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VIII
  9. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-IX
  10. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-X
Updated On 2021-10-07T13:18:56+05:30
Admin LB

Admin LB

Next Story