Ali Vs. The State of Uttar Pradesh  INSC 15 (14 February 1957)
in formation report-Report made by accused--Use of Burden of Proof in criminal
cases -Witness disbelieved as to Part of his testimony-Whether should be rejected
first information report is not a substantive piece of evidence and can only be
used to corroborate the statement of the maker under s. I57 Of the Evidence Act
or to contradict it under S. 145 of that Act. It cannot be used as evidence
against the maker at the trial if he himself becomes an accused, nor to
corroborate or contradict other witnesses, It is a cardinal principle of
criminal jurisprudence that the innocence of an accused person is presumed till
otherwise proved. It is the duty of the prosecution to prove the guilt of the
accused subject to any statutory exception.
maxim falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus has not received general acceptance in
different jurisdictions in India, nor has it come to occupy the status of a
rule of law. It is merely a rule of caution. All that it amounts to is that in
such cases the testimony may be disregarded and not that it must be
disregarded. The doctrine merely involves the question of weight of evidence
which a court may apply in a given set of circumstances but it is not a
mandatory rule of evidence,
APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal Appeal No. 150 of 1956.
by special leave from the Judgment and order dated October 18, 1955, of the Allahabad High Court in Government Appeal No. 60 of 1953 arising out of the judgment
and order dated July 8, 1952, of the Court of Sessions Judge at Bareilly in Criminal Sessions Trial No. 27 of 1952.
Ram Prem and P. C. Agarwala, for the appellant, 658 Gyan Chand Mathur and C. P.
Lal, for the respondent.
February 14. The Judgment of the Court was delivered by KAPUR J.-The appellant
along with one Qudrat Ullah was tried for the murder of one Sabir. The latter
was tried under s.
read with s. 114 of the Indian Penal Code for abetment, and the former under s.
302 I.P.C. Both the accused were acquitted by the learned Sessions Judge of Bareilly. But the State took an appeal to the Allahabad High Court against the appellant
only and the judgment of acquittal in his case was reversed and he was
convicted under s. 302 I.P.C. and sentenced to 'transportation for life'.
Against the judgment of the High Court the appellant has brought this appeal by
facts which have given rise to the appeal are that Sabir was murdered on the
11th May, 195 1, at about 6-30 p.m. The First Information Report was made by
Qudrat Ullah the other accused at 6-45 p.m. the same day, i.e., within about 15
minutes of the occurrence. The prosecution case was that there was an exchange
of abuses between the deceased and the appellant near the shop of the First
Informant, Qudrat Ullah. The cause of the quarrel was that on the evening of
the occurrence while Qudrat Ullah was sitting in his shop and the deceased was
sitting just below the shop, the appellant came out of his house and on seeing
him, the deceased asked him as to why he was in such a " dishevelled
condition ", which annoyed the appellant and gave rise to an exchange of
abuses. On hearing this noise, the prosecution witnesses arrived at the spot
and saw the appellant and the deceased grappling with each other. The appellant
is stated to have asked Qudrat Ullah to hand over a knife to him which Qudrat
Ullah did; this knife is Ex. I II', with which the appellant stabbed the
deceased and then fled away. As a result of the injuries the deceased fell down
in front of Qudrat Ullah's shop; some witnesses have stated that he fell on the
wooden plank in front of the shop. Qudrat Ullah picked up the knife which had
been 659 dropped by the appellant, put the deceased in a rickshaw and took him
to the hospital from where he went to the Police Station and made the First
Information Report. An objection has been taken to the admissibility of this
report as it was made by a person who was a co-accused. A First Information
Report is not a substantive piece of evidence and can only be used to
corroborate the statement of the maker under s. 157 of the Evidence Act or to
contradict it under s. 145 of that Act. -It cannot be used as evidence against
the maker at the trial if he himself becomes an accused, nor to corroborate or
contradict other witnesses. In this case, therefore, it is not evidence.
Sub-Inspector went to the spot, started investigation and arrested the
appellant the same evening at his house.
postmortem examination of the deceased showed injuries on the person of the
deceased and, according to the doctor., death was due to shock and ha emorrhage
on account of the punctured wound in the chest, causing injuries to the lungs
and these injuries could be caused with a sharp-edged weapon.
appellant and the deceased both belong to a sect of Jogis. Evidence discloses
that the deceased and the appellant were quite friendly with each other, and so
were the deceased and Qudrat Ullah, who is a butcher and had a shop which is a
part of his house. Adjacent to the shop is the house of the appellant. Eye
witnesses of the occurrence were Yad Ali, P.W. 1, Banne, P.W. 2 and Mohd.
Ahmed, P.W. 3. Having been told by the sister of the deceased as to the occurrence,
Ashraft, P.W. 4 came to the spot later and found the deceased lying
unconscious. Shakir, P.W. 5, younger brother of the deceased, on arriving near
the shop of Qudrat Ullah heard the appellant and the deceased exchanging
abuses, but was not a witness of the assault' as just at that time he had gone,
at the request of Qudrat Ullah, to fill his Chillum for the hookka and when he
came back he found the deceased lying unconscious and the appellant running
away towards his house.
evidence of Yad Ali P. W. 1, is that he heard an exchange of abuses between the
deceased and the appellant and when he moved about 4 or 5 paces he 660 saw them
grappling with each other. The appellant had the deceased ,in his grip",
he asked Qudrat Ullah to hand over a knife to him which the latter did and with
it the appellant stabbed the deceased and then went away to his house. The
statement of Banne is similar and so is the statement of Mohd. Ahmed, P. W. 3.
This evidence was not accepted by the learned Sessions Judge and he acquitted
both the accused.
State took an appeal only against the appellant which was allowed by the High
Court. It held " We may concede that the eye-witnesses have falsely
implicated Qudrat Ullah by deposing that he handed over his knife to the respondent
on his demand. There was no enmity between him and Sabir and he bad no motive
to get him killed by the respondent.
does not at all appear probable that after abetting the murder of Sabir he at
once took him on a rickshaw to the hospital and from there went at once to the
police station and lodged a report against the respondent. This conduct of
Qudrat Ullah is so inconsistent with the part said to have been played by him
in the occurrence that we have little hesitation in rejecting the evidence about
the part played by him." The High Court, however, accepted the. testimony
of the eye- witnesses as against the appellant's guilt and observed:
are satisfied that the prosecution has fully established the, case against the
respondent. There is not the slightest doubt about his guilt. The presumption
of innocence has been fully rebutted by the prosecution. The case against him
does not become doubtful merely because the learned Sessions Judge said that
there was a doubt about his guilt." The learned Judges also came to the
conclusion that the view taken by the learned trial Judge was ;one " which
no reasonable person could have taken. It was a wholly erroneous view of the
evidence which has resulted in gross miscarriage of justice inasmuch as a murderer
escapes punishment",. In the circumstances of the case and considering
that there was some provocation, the High Court sentenced the appellant to I
transportation for life.
There is a passage in the Judgment of the High Court which appears to us to be
disconsolate and indicative of a wrong approach in deciding the guilt of an
the learned Judges recognised the principle that the onus was not on the
accused, yet one of the observations is such that it comes perilously near to
putting - the burden on the accused if it does not actually do so. The High
Court has said:
respondent himself did not have the courage to say that he did not find them at
the spot. If 'he were innocent, he must have come out -of his house immediately
on hearing the noise and must have known who was present there and; who was
not" This passage is so destructive of the cardinal principle of criminal
jurisprudence as to the presumed innocence of an accused person till otherwise
proved that it has become necessary to reiterate the rule stated by eminent
authorities "...... that it is the duty of the prosecution to prove the
prisoner's guilt subject to any statutory exception." it was next
contended that the witnesses had falsely implicated Qudrat Ullah and because of
that the Court should have rejected the testimony of these witnesses as against
the appellant also. The well-known maxim falsus in uno falsus in omnibus was
relied upon by the appellant. The argument raised was that because the
witnesses who had -also deposed against Qudrat Ullah by saying that he had
handed over the knife to the appellant had not been believed by the Courts
below as against him, the High Court should not have accepted the evidence of
these witnesses to convict the appellant. This maxim has not received general
acceptance in different jurisdictions in India; nor has this maxim come to
occupy the status of a rule of law. It is merely a rule of caution. All that it
amounts to is that in such cases the testimony may be disregarded and not that
it must be disregarded. One American author has stated:
Woolmington v. The Director of Public Prosecutions, 1935 A. C. 462.
SUPREME COURT REPORTS  validity............ and secondly, in point of
utility because it merely tells the jury what they may do in any, event, not
what they must do or must not do, and therefore, it is a superfluous form of
words. It is also in practice pernicious.......... " (1) The doctrine
merely involves the question of 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 ".
for the appellant drew our attention to a passage from an unreported judgment
of the Privy Council, I Chaubarja Singh v. Bhuneshwari Prasal Pal.
The defendants own evidence and that of several of his witnesses is of no use
to, him. He cannot contend that any court of law can place reliance on the oath
of people who have admittedly given false evidence upon the other branches of
the case." This passage is a very slender foundation, if at all, for
conferring on the doctrine the status of anything higher than a rule of caution
and the Privy Council cannot be said to have given their weighty approval to
any such controversial rule which has been termed as " worthless",
"absolutely false as a maxim of life" and "in practice
pernicious" in works of undoubted authority on the law of evidence (2).
High Court was not unmindful of what the witnesses stated as to Qudrat Ullah's
part in the commission of the offence and having taken that into consideration,
While the learned Sessions Judge was right in acquitting Qudrat Ullah, he was
completely wrong in acquitting the respondent of whose guilt there was not the
direct evidence made out a clear case against him and there was no sound reason
for disregarding it." After discussing the evidence of the witnesses and
the discrepancies pointed out by the appellant the High Court held " there
is not the slightest doubt about his guilt." (1) Wigmore on Evidence Vol.
III para 1009.
Wigmere Vol. III para 1009.
It was because of the above two contentions raised by counsel for the appellant
and because it was a case of reversal of a judgment of acquittal that we allowed
counsel to go into the evidence which he analysed and drew our attention to its
salient features and to the discrepancies in the statements of witnesses and
the improbabilities of the case; but we are satisfied that the learned Judges
were justified in coming to the conclusion they did and the view of the trial
judge was rightly displaced. Upon a review of the evidence of the prosecution
witnesses we have come ,to the conclusion that the appellant was rightly
appeal is, therefore, dismissed and the judgment of the High Court is affirmed.