Calcutta High Court: Documentary Evidence Prevails Over Oral Testimony in Legal Dispute

Calcutta High Court - law insider

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Published on: January 3, 2024 at 11:15 IST

The Calcutta High Court recently ruled that in the presence of documentary evidence, oral testimony from witnesses alone cannot diminish its probative value.

Justice Siddhartha Roy Chowdhury, in a single bench ruling, emphasized that when documentary evidence like Exhibits 7, 8, 8/1, and 9 is available, the oral testimony of D.W. 2 cannot adequately counter or challenge its probative worth.

The case under consideration involved a plaintiff who had filed a partition suit, asserting that Chhabi Rani Bhadra, his mother, owned the property in question, passed away intestate in 1984, and left the property to her husband and son.

The plaintiff alleged that despite seeking an amicable settlement with the defendants, who were step-siblings, they refused to acknowledge his rightful share.

The defendants contended that Chabi Rani Bhadra was not the plaintiff’s mother and that he was the son of his father’s elder brother. They argued that the property had been legally sold to defendant no 1.

During the proceedings, the defendants claimed that oral evidence contradicted the plaintiff’s claim of being Chabi Rani Bhadra’s son. They asserted that the plaintiff failed to provide evidence supporting his biological relation to Chabi Rani Bhadra.

The plaintiff’s counsel argued that the plaintiff’s appearance for board exams in 1976, backed by his admit card, was proof of his relationship with his father.

The Court analyzed the conflict between oral testimony and documentary evidence concerning Sections 35 and 50 of the Evidence Act. Referring to Section 50, which considers conduct indicative of a relationship, the Court evaluated multiple Supreme Court judgments.

Emphasizing the significance of documentary evidence, particularly the admit card, the Court highlighted its priority over oral evidence.

It noted discrepancies between D.W. 2’s testimony and Exhibits 7, 8, 8/1, and 9, reinforcing the relationship between Aswini and Dilip as father and son. Consequently, the Court upheld the trial court’s decision, dismissing the appeal and maintaining the suit’s reinstatement.

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