In all criminal cases, normal discrepancies are bound to occur in the depositions of witnesses due to normal errors of observation, namely, errors of memory due to lapse of time or due to mental disposition such as shock and horror at the time of occurrence. Where the omissions amount to a contradiction, creating a serious doubt about the truthfulness of the witness and other witnesses also make material improvement while deposing in the court, such evidence cannot be safe to rely upon. However, minor contradictions, inconsistencies, embellishments or improvements on trivial matters which do not affect the core of the prosecution case, should not be made a ground on which the evidence can be rejected in its entirety.
The court has to form its opinion about the credibility of the witness and record a finding as to whether his deposition inspires confidence. “Exaggerations per se do not render the evidence brittle. But it can be one of the factors to test credibility of the prosecution version, when the entire evidence is put in a crucible for being tested on the touchstone of credibility.” Therefore, mere marginal variations in the statements of a witness cannot be dubbed as improvements as the same may be elaborations of the statement made by the witness earlier. The omissions which amount to contradictions in material particulars i.e. go to the root of the case/materially affect the trial or core of the prosecution’s case, render the testimony of the witness liable to be discredited. (Vide: State Represented by Inspector of Police v. Saravanan and Anr., AIR 2009 SC 152; Arumugam v. State AIR 2009 SC 331; Mahendra Pratap Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (2009) 11 SCC 334; and Dr. Sunil Kumar Sambhudayal Gupta and Ors. v. State of Maharashtra JT 2010 (12) SC 287.
(2011) CriLJ SC 2162 : JT 2011 (3) SC 508 : (2011) 3 SCALE 425 : (2011) 4 SCC 324 : (2011) 2 SCC (Cri) 216
Categories: Judicial Dictionary