While appreciating the evidence of a witness, the court has to assess whether read as a whole, it is truthful. In doing so, the court has to keep in mind the deficiencies, drawbacks and infirmities to find out whether such discrepancies shake the truthfulness.
Some discrepancies not touching the core of the case are not enough to reject the evidence as a whole. No true witness can escape from giving some discrepant details. Only when discrepancies are so incompatible as to affect the credibility of the version of a witness, the court may reject the evidence.
Section 155 of the Evidence Act enables the doubt to impeach the credibility of the witness by proof of former inconsistent statement. Section 145 of the Evidence Act lays down the procedure for contradicting a witness by drawing his attention to the part of the previous statement which is to be used for contradiction.
The former statement should have the effect of discrediting the present statement but merely because the latter statement is at variance to the former to some extent, it is not enough to be treated as a contradiction. It is not every discrepancy which affects creditworthiness and trustworthiness of a witness.
There may at times be exaggeration or embellishment not affecting credibility. The court has to sift the chaff from the grain and find out the truth. A statement may be partly rejected or partly accepted.
See Also : Leela Ram v. State of Haryana, (1999) 9 SCC 525
Want of independent witnesses or unusual behavior of witnesses of a crime is not enough to reject evidence. A witness being a close relative is not enough to reject his testimony if it is otherwise credible. A relation may not conceal the actual culprit.
The evidence may be closely scrutinized to assess whether an innocent person is falsely implicated. Mechanical rejection of evidence even of a ‘partisan’ or ‘interested’ witness may lead to failure of justice. It is well known that principle “falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus” has no general acceptability.
See Also : Gangadhar Behera v. State of Orissa, (2002) 8 SCC 381
On the same evidence, some accused persons may be acquitted while others may be convicted, depending upon the nature of the offence. The court can differentiate the accused who is acquitted from those who are convicted. A witness may be untruthful in some aspects but the other part of the evidence may be worthy of acceptance.
Discrepancies may arise due to error of observations, loss of memory due to lapse of time, mental disposition such as shock at the time of occurrence and as such the normal discrepancy does not affect the credibility of a witness.