Certain issues with evaluation of evidence a lawyer must know


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  1. Decided cases are not of much use in evaluating evidence. Each case depends on its own facts. A close similarity between one case and another is not enough to warrant like treatment because a significant details may alter the entire picture. One should avoid the temptation to decide cases by matching the colour of one case against the colour of another. The board resemblance between two cases is not at all decisive.[1] A judgment is not to be read as a statute. It must be read reasonably in its entirely. The effect of the judgment must be found out from the language used and the attendant circumstances in which they had been used.[2]
  2. Observation of courts are to be read neither as Euclid’s Theorems nor as provisions of statutes and that too taken out of their context. They must be read in the context in which they appear to have been made. Disposal of cases by blindly relying on a decision is not proper because an additional fact or a different fact may make a world of difference between conclusion inn two cases. Courts should not place reliance on decisions without discussion fact situation of the case on which reliance is placed.[3]
  3. There is no hard and fast rule regarding evaluation of evidence.[4] A witness can be disbelieved regarding some accused and believed regarding the other accused.[5] Where there are large number of accused and injured, witness can get confused and evidence cannot be rejected on the mere basis of contradiction.[6] In such case, conviction of any one could be sustained only if two or more witness support the case against that person; else, benefit of doubt must go to the particular accused.[7]
  4. Victims may act differently. Reaction and resistance would depend upon a variety of circumstances.[8] If eyewitness are not courageous enough to inform police or to go to the help of the injured, who was not a relative, it cannot be inferred that they had not witnessed the occurrence or that they are giving false evidence.[9]
  5. In a given case, instinct of self-preservation can be the dominant instinct.[10]
  6. No evidence should be adjudged adversely, making any other evidence including medical evidence as the sole touchstone for the test of credibility. Evidence must be tested for its own inherent consistency and inherent probability of that version, consistency with version of other witness held to be creditworthy, consistency with undisputed facts, credit-worthiness, their performance in the witness box, their power of observation, etc. then probative value of such evidence becomes eligible to be put into scale.[11]
  7. Culpability of each accused (in case and counter case) must be determined with reference to their individual overt acts.[12]
  8. When witnesses are rustic persons, their behavioural patterns, perceptions and habits must be taken into consideration and appreciated. Approaches that are too sophisticated, based on assumptions about human conduct cannot be applied to people accustomed to ways of village, as they may not have keen sense of time.[13]
  9. Fringe variations, discrepancies in details, contradictions in narration, and embellishments in non-essential part cannot militate against veracity of the core of testimony, if there is an impress of truth and conformity to probability in substantial fabric of prosecution story.[14]
  10. Exaggeration in the prosecution’s case about the commencement of the incident may not detract from the incident that was proved by eyewitness.[15]

[1] Parasa raja Manikyala Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh, AIR 2004 SC 132

[2] Prem Singh v. State of Haryana, AIR 2009 SC 2573

[3] Union of India v. Arulmozhi Iniarasu, AIR 2011 SC 2731

[4] Dalbir Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1979 SC 1384

[5] Ahmed Suleman Bhorat v. State of Gujarat, AIR 1971 SC 991

[6] Har Prasad v. State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1971 SC 1450

[7] Masalti v. State of UP, AIR 1965 SC 202

[8] State of UP v. Samman Dass, AIR 1972 SC 677

[9] Apren Joseph alias Current Kunjunju v. State of Kerala, AIR 1973 SC 1

[10] Sucha Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 2003 SC 3617

[11] State of UP v. Krishna Gopal, AIR 1988 SC 2154

[12] Kewal Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 2004 SC 72

[13] Shivaji Sahebrao Bobade v. State of Maharastra, AIR 1973 SC 2622

[14] Shivaji Sahebrao Bobade v. State of Maharastra, AIR 1973 SC 2622

[15] Parsuram Pandey v. State of Bihar, AIR 2004 SC 5068


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