Falsus in Uno, Falsus in Omnibus

“It is a well settled position of law that the testimony of a witness cannot be discarded in toto merely due to the presence of embellishments or exaggerations. The doctrine of ‘falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus’, which means ‘false in one thing, false in everything’ has been held to be inapplicable in the Indian scenario, where the tendency to exaggerate is common. This Court has endorsed the inapplicability of the doctrine in several decisions… It is not uncommon for witnesses to make exaggerations during the course of evidence. But merely because there are certain exaggerations, improvements and embellishments, the entire prosecution story should not be doubted.

This Court in State of Punjab v. Hari Singh, (1974) 4 SCC 552 observed as follows:

As human testimony, resulting from widely different powers of observation and description, is necessarily faulty and even truthful witnesses not infrequently exaggerate or imagine or tell half truths, the Courts must try to extract and separate the hard core of truth from the whole evidence. This is what is meant by the proverbial saying that Courts must separate ‘the chaff from the grain’. If, after considering the whole mass of evidence, a residue of acceptable truth is established by the prosecution beyond any reasonable doubt the Courts are bound to give effect to the result flowing from it and not throw it overboard on purely hypothetical and conjectural grounds.”

Thus, it cannot be doubted that it is the duty of the Court to separate the chaff from the grain. Moreover, minor variations in the evidence will not affect the root of the matter, inasmuch as such minor variations need not be given major importance, inasmuch as they would not materially alter the evidence/credibility of the eye witnesses as a whole.”

 –Hon’ble Justice Mohan M. ShantanagoudarMenoka Malik v. The State of West Bengal,  [Criminal Appeal No. 1198 OF 2006].