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HomeLegal MaximsFalsus in uno, falsus in omnibus

Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus

Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus

Literal Meaning

False in one thing, False in everything

Origin

Latin

Explanation

According to this theory, a witness who has provided misleading information in any one area of their testimony could be seen to be unreliable throughout. The first goal of the principle was to encourage truthfulness in witness evidence by emphasizing the grave penalties associated with dishonesty. It has evolved and been understood differently over time in different jurisdictions, frequently weighing against the requirement for justice and the understanding that human testimony is subject to error.

In Mahendran v State of Tamil Nadu[1], it has been held that the said maxim is not applicable in India as it has been stated that the witnesses cannot be regarded as liars. This maxim has neither received the status of the rule of law nor is regarded as a mere rule of caution.

In general parlance, the core elements of this maxim include-

  • Witness Credibility- The core of the concept deals with a witness’s credibility. Witnesses may have their entire testimony rejected as untrustworthy if it is discovered that they were knowingly misled about a significant fact. This strategy relies on the idea that a witness’s total integrity is called into question when they exhibit dishonesty in one area.
  • Equality and Fairness- The fairness principle must be taken into consideration while using the legal maxim “falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus”. Even if a witness makes a misleading remark that is not relevant or was made in good faith, their testimony shouldn’t always be rejected outright. In order to guarantee that justice is carried out, courts must carefully consider the type and consequences of the untruth.
  • Judicial Authority- Judges may choose how to apply this rule in each case according to its unique circumstances and background. When determining whether to apply the principle, courts frequently take the seriousness and significance of the untruth into account.

Application of Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus (In Indian Context)

However as started above, that this maxim is not applicable in India and is applicable as caution only. It can be understood through judicial interpretation-

  • Nisar Ali v. State of Uttar Pradesh[2]– The Supreme Court held that the maxim “falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus” is not a sound rule to apply in the evaluation of evidence in India. The Court emphasized that merely because a witness has lied in some part of their testimony, it does not necessarily mean that their entire testimony should be discarded. Instead, it is the duty of the court to carefully scrutinize the evidence and separate the truthful parts from the false ones.
  • Ugar Ahir v. State of Bihar[3]– The Court stated that human memory is fallible and discrepancies in testimony can occur. Therefore, it is essential to assess the evidence in its entirety and determine which parts are credible.
  • Ganesh v. State of Maharashtra[4]– The Supreme Court emphasized that minor discrepancies or falsehoods in certain parts of a witness’s testimony should not lead to the rejection of the entire testimony.

So, this is evident through these cases that this maxim is not explicitly applicable to India. Indian courts favor a more impartial approach, considering the witness’s general credibility and the materiality truthfulness.

Criticism of Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus

  • Possibility of Injustice – Strict adherence to the principle of “falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus” may result in unjust consequences by totally discrediting a witness’s evidence due to insignificant or unimportant lies.
  • Fallibility of Humanity – Human perception and memory are flawed by nature. Witnesses may recall information incorrectly or make honest mistakes. Rigidly applying the principle might unfairly penalize witnesses and fail to take into consideration these common human errors.

Conclusion

The important legal maxim “Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus” deals with the reliability of witness testimony. Although its application must be carefully balanced with fairness and an understanding of human fallibility, it is based on the desire to promote equity and justice. This principle is consistent with the larger Indian judicial philosophy that places greater weight on a thorough and impartial assessment of the evidence than rigid adherence to established doctrines.

[1] Mahendran v State of Tamil Nadu 2019 (5) SCC 67

[2] Nisar Ali v. State of Uttar Pradesh (1957) AIR 366

[3] Ugar Ahir v. State of Bihar (1965) AIR 277

[4] Ganesh v. State of Maharashtra (1996) SCC (1) 288

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Sarita Gupta
Sarita Gupta
I graduated and secured Third Rank under my University. Currently, I am pursuing my post graduation in Law with dual specialization in Constitutional Law and Cyber Law.
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