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Krutibas Sahu vs Madhab Das on 14 April, 1960

Orissa High Court
Krutibas Sahu vs Madhab Das on 14 April, 1960
Equivalent citations: AIR 1961 Ori 48
Author: S Barman
Bench: S Barman


S. Barman, J.

1. In this Civil Revision, the plaintiff is the petitioner in revision, directed against an order of the learned S. C. C. Judge Cuttack, in S. C. C. Suit No. 73 of 1957 dismissing the plaintiff’s suit on a handnote dated March 15, 1954 for a sum of Rs. 240/-payable with interest thereon at the rate of 12 per cent per annum, the total claim being Rs. 320/-inclusive of interest. The defence taken by the defendant in the written statement is shortly this : A blank piece of paper with signature and thumb impression on revenue stamp was given by the defendant to the village Punches for settlement of a dispute between the defendant and one Kunjaban Das over the offering of bhog to Gopalji Thakur where they were both priests.

The blank paper is stated to have been given to one Dhruba Sahu — one of the Punches — about 15 or 16 years ago. The dispute between the two parties was subsequently settled but the blank paper was not returned. Later on, the plaintiff, out of
enmity with the defendant, is stated to have got hold of this blank paper from Dhruba Sahu and made use of it as a handnote on the basis of which he filed the suit.

2. At the trial before the learned S. C. C. Judge, three witnesses were called by the plaintiff including the plaintiff as P. W. 1, the alleged scribe of the
document as P. W. 2 and another witness as P. W. 3 to prove payment of the consideration. On the side of the defence, two witnesses were called including the defendant himself as D. W. 1 and another witness as D. W. 2 who stated that the blank paper was given.

On the evidence before the trial Court, the learned Judge accepted the defence version of the case as pleaded in his written statement. It appears that the scribe of the document (P. W. 2) supported the defence version of the case, stating that it was a blank paper on which no consideration passed. It is in this state of evidence that the trial Court dismissed the suit. Hence this Revision.

3. Mr. S. N. Das Gupta, learned counsel for the plaintiff-petitioner herein, contended that the learned Judge was wrong in rejecting the plaintiff’s application to declare P. W. 2 as a hostile witness and permit him to cross-examine P. W. 2. I do not think that this contention is tenable in law. A witness is not necessarily hostile if in speaking the truth as he knows and sees it, his testimony happens to go against the party calling him; there is no proposition in the law of evidence that a witness who is not partial or partisan in favour of the party calling him is on that ground alone to be treated as hostile; the court always aspires to find if the witness desires to tell the truth; that aspiration is the yardstick which measures the appreciation of the evidence of a witness; it is with that object that Court is given the discretion to permit the person who calls a witness to put any question to the witness which might be put to him in cross-examination; that provision is enacted in Section 154 of the Evidence Act; Section 154 says nothing about declaring a witness hostile; it allows a party with the permission of the Court at its discretion to cross-examine his own witness in the same way as the adverse party; ordinarily a party calling his witness is not allowed to ask him these questions but this ordinary rule is relaxed in section 154; the purpose of such relaxation can only be to find out if the witness is one of truth and can be relied on, because cross-examination is the most powerful and effective instrument for bringing out and testing truth; but that is far from saying that a witness is hostile whenever his testimony is such that it does not support the case of the party calling him; such a view would seriously undermine the independence, integrity and dignity of a witness in a court of law (Tulsiram Shaw v. R. C. Pal Ltd., AIR 1953 Cal 160). In this state of the law of evidence as supported by authority cited above, I cannot accept the contention of the learned counsel for the plaintiff.

4. I have also considered all the other aspects of the case as appears from the judgment of the

learned S. C. C. Judge and find nothing to interfere
with his clear findings on fact. In this view of the
matter, the judgment of the learned S. C. C. Judge
is upheld. The result is that this revision is dismiss
ed but without costs.

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