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Vijai Nath Vs. Damodar Das Chela Shiv Mangal Das and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 3526 of 1962
Judge
Reported inAIR1971All109
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Sections 96 and 107
AppellantVijai Nath
RespondentDamodar Das Chela Shiv Mangal Das and ors.
Appellant AdvocateJagdish Misra, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateG.P. Mathur, ;Vinod Swarup and ;Promod Swarup, Advs.
Excerpt:
(i) civil - oral evidence - sections 96 and 117 of the code of civil procedure, 1908 - section 96 empower the appellate court to re-assess the oral evidence - come to its own conclusion regarding the controversy in suit. (ii) malicious prosecution - burden of proof in case of malicious prosecution is on the plaintiff. - cantonments act[c.a. no. 41/2006]. section 346 & cantonment fund (servants rules, 1937, rules 13, 14 & 15: [h.l. gokhale, ag. cj, p.v. hardas, naresh h. patil, r.m. borde & r.m. savant, jj] jurisdiction of school tribunal constituted under maharashtra employees of private schools (conditions of service) regulations act, (3 of 1978) held, school run by the cantonment board is a primary school and it is not a school recognised by any such board comparable to the.....h.n. seth, j.1. this is a second appeal filed by defendant vijay nath against the judgment and decree dated 6th of july, 1962 passed by the additional civil judge, basti decreeing plaintiff's suit for recovery of rs. 226.25 as damages suffered by the plaintiff on account of criminal prosecution initiated by defendant which was false, malicious and had been initiated without any reasonable or probable cause.2. it is said that the defendantvijay nath filed a complaint against theplaintiff alleging that on 26th march,1960 at about 8 a. m. two bullocks belonging to damodar das were grazing thesugar-cane crop grown in vijai nath'sfield. when vijay nath after apprehending these bullocks was taking them tokine-house, damodar das stopped vijay nath and asked him not to take the bullocks to the.....
Judgment:

H.N. Seth, J.

1. This is a second appeal filed by defendant Vijay Nath against the judgment and decree dated 6th of July, 1962 passed by the Additional Civil Judge, Basti decreeing plaintiff's suit for recovery of Rs. 226.25 as damages suffered by the plaintiff on account of criminal prosecution initiated by defendant which was false, malicious and had been initiated without any reasonable or probable cause.

2. It is said that the defendantVijay Nath filed a complaint against theplaintiff alleging that on 26th March,1960 at about 8 a. m. two bullocks belonging to Damodar Das were grazing thesugar-cane crop grown in Vijai Nath'sfield. When Vijay Nath after apprehending these bullocks was taking them tokine-house, Damodar Das stopped Vijay Nath and asked him not to take the bullocks to the kine-house. Vijay Nath did not agree to this. Damodar Das raised an alarm on which certain persons, who along with Damodar Das are plaintiffs in the suit reached there. They snatched the bullocks and beat Vijay Nath who received a number of injuries. Vijai Nath however did not go to the police station on account of fear. He filed a complaint in the court of the Judicial Magistrate, Dumariaganj. The Judicial Magistrate summoned the plaintiffs and ultimately the complaint filed by Vijay Nath was dismissed for default. According to the plaintiffs this complaint was absolutely false, malicious and without any reasonable and probable cause. No incident as alleged by Vijay Nath, ever, took place and he was never beaten. Plaintiffs therefore claimed damages for their prosecution which was malicious and had been initiated without any reasonable and probable cause.

3. The defendant pleaded that the complaint filed by him was true and in no case it could be described as false or malicious. The plaintiff was therefore not entitled to the relief claimed by him.

4. Both the parties adduced evidence in support of their respective cases. Trial court came to the conclusion that the defendant did sow sugar-cane crop and the situation of his field was such that cattle belonging to the plaintiff could enter it and graze the sugar-cane crop. It found that the plaintiff's evidence which consisted of the statement made by Domodar Das and his labourer Bansraj was the evidence given by interested witnesses and as such it could not be relied upon. According to it the evidence produced on behalf of the defendant consisted of his own statement which was fully corroborated by the evidence given by Ram Nath against whom nothing could be said. It therefore believed the evidence tendered by the defendant and held that allegations made by Vijay Nath in his complaint appeared to be correct. The trial court was not inclined to draw any inference against the defendant from the fact that he got his complaint dismissed for default as in its opinion the prosecution of the plaintiff appeared to be based on facts. It could therefore, not be said that the complaint lodged by the defendant was malicious and without any reasonable and probable cause.

5. During the course of its discussion the trial court observed that in a suit for malicious prosecution the burden lies on the plaintiff to prove that his prosecution was without reasonable and probable cause and that it was actuated by malice. According to it the prosecution may lack reasonable and probable cause in two ways: 'Firstly the occurrence may not have taken place and secondly the plaintiff may not have participated in the same. Thus the negative burden lay on the plaintiff. This burden is very well discharged by the denial made by the plaintiff himself. The plaintiff having discharged the initial burden it became the duty of the defendant to prove that an occurrence took place and the plaintiff took part in the same. In the circumstances, the trial court was satisfied that the statements made by defendant and his witness fully proved what was required of him.

6. Learned Munsif then went into the question of damages and came to the conclusion that if the plaintiff's suit was to be decreed they would have been entitled to a sum of Rs. 226.25 only as damages. In view of his finding that the defendant's complaint appeared to be true the learned Munsif dismissed the suit. '

7. In appeal, correctness of the finding, recorded by the trial court about the quantum of damages, in case the plaintiffs succeeded in establishing their claim, was not questioned by either of the two parties. The lower appellate court observed that considering the nature of the complaint, allegations made therein were such which were either true or false to the personal knowledge of the complainant (defendant Vijay Nath). If the complaint was false, an inference that the same had been filed maliciously and without reasonable and probable cause would become inevitable. It also noticed that in this case plaintiff was required to prove a negative fact and he produced evidence in support of that case. His evidence consisted of denial of the fact that Damodar Das's cattle ever grazed Vijay Nath's sugar cane crop or that those cattle were being taken to kine-house, and were rescued by the plaintiffs after indulging in a Marpit. The appellate Court then proceeded to consider the evidence produced on behalf of the defendant. He pointed out some contradictions in the statements of defendant's witnesses and also noticed certain circumstances. It held that the oral testimony was not reliable. The explanation given by the defendant as to why he was not able to prosecute his complaint was also not found to be accepted. The Court then came to the conclusion that the complaint filed by the defendant was false to his knowledge and that in the circumstances absence of reasonable and probable cause and presence of malice could be presumed. The appeal filed by the plaintiff was allowed and his suit for recovery of Rs. 225.25 as damages was decreed.

8. The defendant Vijay Nath has now come up in second appeal before this Court. Learned counsel for the appellant raised following arguments in support of his case that the decree passed by the lower appellate Court was illegal.

(1) The trial Court believed the evidence given by the defendant and disbelieved that given on behalf of the plaintiffs. Lower appellate Court should not have interfered with the appraisement of evidence made by the trial court. Interference with the findings of the trial court after taking a different view about the credibility of the witnesses, made the decree passed by the appellate court contrary to law.

(2) In a suit for malicious prosecution the burden of proving that the complaint made by the defendant was without any reasonable and probable cause and was actuated by malice is on the plaintiff. This burden could be satisfied only if the plaintiff adduced evidence to show that the complaint made by the defendant could not possibly be true. The judgment of the lower appellate court shows that it was of opinion that plaintiff's duty was merely to produce negative evidence and since the evidence produced by the defendant was not reliable, a conclusion that the defendant's complaint was false to his knowledge was to be drawn. The learned counsel contended that this approach made by the lower appellate court was wrong.

9. According to the learned counsel the lower appellate court at one stage noticed that in a case where both sides produced evidence, burden of proof becomes irrelevant and the case has to be decided after weighing evidence produced by both the parties, but it ignored this position and proceeded to decide the case as if the burden of proving that the complaint was true lay on the defendant

10. Learned counsel for the plaintiff-respondent however, contended that the lower appellate court was fully competent to appraise the evidence produced by the parties and to take a view different from that taken by the trial Court. The appellate Court was fully competent to arrive at its own conclusions. According to him the appellate court has recorded a finding of fact that the complaint filed by the defendant was malicious and without reasonable or probable cause and that finding cannot be interfered with in a second appeal. The finding, recorded by the lower appellate court is not vitiated because of placing any wrong burden of proof on any party. He also urged that in this case both the parties adduced evidence in support of the facts mentioned in the complaint. The lower appellate court believed the evidence produced by the plaintiffs and disbelieved that produced by defendant. It came to the conclusion that the complaint filed by the defendant was malicious and without any reasonable or probable cause. In the circumstances the question of burden of proof became immaterial and of an academic interest only. The decree passed by the lower appellate court was not vitiated by any error of law.

11. I find no force in the first argument raised on behalf of the defendant-appellant namely that the appellate court should not have disturbed the finding of fact recorded by the trial court when the same was based on appreciation of oral evidence and on the credit to be attached to the oral testimony of the witnesses. Section 96 of the Code of Civil Procedure enjoins upon an appellate court to hear the appeal and to arrive at its own conclusion about the controversy raised in the suit. It is jnot bound by the findings recorded by the trial court in the same manner as a second appellate court is bound by the findings of fact recorded by a lower appellate Court. It is well established that an appeal is continuation of the suit and the appellate court has got to reassess the evidence produced in the case. It would therefore be incorrect to say that lower appellate court commits an error of law if it reassesses the oral evidence and comes to a conclusion different from that of the trial court.

12. In this connection learned counsel appearing for the appellant relied on the following observations made by the Privy Council in the case of Bombay Manufacturing Co. v. R. B. Moti Lal'Shiv Lal reported in AIR 1915 PC 1.

'It is doubtless true that on appeal the whole case, including facts is with in the jurisdiction of the appeal court, but generally speaking, it is undesirable to interfere with the findings of fact of the trial Judge who sees and hears the witnesses and has an opportunity of noting their demeanour specially in cases where the issue is simple and depends on the credit attached to one or other of conflicting witnesses. Nor should his pronouncement with respect to their credibility be put aside on a mere calculation of probabilities by the court of appeal. Where the issue is simple and straightforward and the only question is which set of witnesses is to be believed the verdict of the Judge trying the case should not be lightly disregard ed.'

13. While making the aforesaid observations their Lordships of the Privv Council made it clear that in an appeal the whole case including the facts of the case are within the jurisdiction of the appellate court. They however sounded a note of caution to the appellate court and observed that generally speaking it is undesirable to interfere with the appraisement of evidence made by the trial court in cases where the conclusions are based on credit to be attached to the evidence of witnesses and where the issues involved are comparatively simple. While making these observations their Lordships did not lay down any rule of law that the appellate court cannot interfere with the findings recorded by the trial court which findings are based on appraise ment of oral evidence. It cannot therefore be said that in a case where the appellate court which appraises the oral evidence and comes to its own finding which is contrary to a finding recorded by the trial court it commits an error of law.

14. In the case of Sarju Pershad Ramdeo Sahu v. Jwaleshwari Pratap Narain Singh, reported in : [1950]1SCR781 , their Lordships of the Supreme Court observed:--

'Where the question for consideration for the appellate court is undoubtedly one of fact the decision which depends upon appreciation of the oral evidence adduced in the case, the appellate court has got to bear in mind that it has not the advantage which the trial Judge had in having the witnesses before him and of observing the manner in which they deposed in the Court. This certainly does not mean that when an appeal lies on facts, the appellate court is not competent to reverse a finding of fact arrived at by the trial Judge. The rule is and it is nothing more than a rule of practice that when there is conflict of oral evidence of the parties on any matter in issue and the decision hinges upon the credibility of witnesses then unless there is some special feature about the evidence of a particular witness which has escaped the trial Judge's notice or there is a sufficient balance of improbability to displace his opinion as to where the credibility lies, the appellate court should not interfere with the findings of the trial Judge on a question of fact.' At another place their Lordships observed that the duty of the appellate court, in such cases, is to see whether the evidence taken as a whole can reasonably justify the conclusion which the trial court arrived at or whether there is an element of improbability arising from the proved circumstances which, is the opinion of the Court outweigh such findings

15. Aforesaid observations make it clear that when an appeal lies on facts, the appellate Court is competent to reverse a finding of fact recorded by the trial Court. The rule is that when there is a conflict or oral evidence of the parties on any matter in issue, then, unless there is some special feature about the evidence of a particular witness which has escaped the notice of the trial Judge or there is sufficient balance of probability to displace the opinion of the trial Judge as to where the credibility lies, the appellate Court should not interfere with a finding of a fact recorded by the trial Judge. This is nothing more than a rule of practice. It is therefore generally desirable that while appraising evidence of witnesses the appellate Court should not appraise the evidence for itself and it commits a mistake of law if it arrives at a conclusion different from that arrived at by a trial Court.

16. I am therefore of opinion that the judgment and decree passed by the lower appellate Court are not contrary to law on the first ground urged by the learned counsel for the appellant.

17. I will now consider the second ground urged by the learned counsel for the appellant. In the case of Balbhaddar Singh v. Badri Shah reported in AIR 1926 PC 46, it was held that the ingredients to be established for maintaining an action for malicious prosecution are--

(1) That the plaintiff was prosecuted by the defendant.

(2) That the proceedings complained of terminated in favour of the plaintiff if from their nature they were capable of so terminating.

(3) that the prosecution was instituted against him without any reasonable or probable cause.

(4) That it was due to malicious intention of the defendant and not with a mere intention of carrying the law into effect.

In that case, Balbhaddar Singh plaintiff was accused of having participated in a murder and it was alleged that the prosecution had been initiated at the in stance of Badri Shah. In this connection the Privy Council observed as follows:--

'......... but in their Lordships opinion the Subordinate Judge has a little left out of view that this is not a case which must be determined on a balance of probabilities. The question is not: Did the appellant commit the murder? or Did Badri Shah invent the murder against them? The two queries exhaust the possibilities of the situation. The question is: Have the appellants proved that Badri Shah invented and instigated the whole proceedings for prosecution:............ The appellants must therefore go the whole way. There is no half way point of rest. They must show that Badri Shah invented the whole story as far as it implicated the appellants and tutored Raghunath and Teja to say it. That is a very heavy onus of proof, arid unless they sustained it the appellants must fail.'

18. In the case of Devi Atma Nand v. Shambhu Lal, reported in 1965 All LJ 317, Dhawan, J. observed:--

'It is elementary that a plaintiff who claims damages for having been made a victim of malicious prosecution must prove that the defendant prosecut ed him without reasonable or probable cause and was also actuated by malice. The absence of reasonable cause and malice are two separate ingredients to be proved in every suit for malicious prosecution and a plaintiff will not succeed if he proves absence of reasonable cause but not malice or vice versa. The absence of reasonable and probable cause does not lead to any presumption that the person in filing the complaint must have acted maliciously. Of course he may rely on total absence of reasonable cause as part of his evidence that the defendant must have been actuated by wrongful or evil motive in prosecuting him. The Court can regard the absence of reasonable cause as evidence of wrongful motive to be weighed against other evidences on the issue of malice ....'

19. A perusal of the aforesaid authorities clearly brings out that in an action for malicious prosecution, burden of proving the four ingredients pointed out by the Privy Council in AIR 1926 PC 46 is on the plaintiff. Further plaintiff is not required to prove that the allegations made in the complaint are incorrect. What he is required to make out is that there was no reasonable and probable cause for initiating his prosecution.

20. In the present case it is not disputed that the first two ingredients out of the four ingredients are made out namely that the plaintiffs were prosecuted by the defendant and that the proceedings complained of terminated in favour of the plaintiff. The only controversy between the parties that remains is whether plaintiff has been able to prove that he was prosecuted without any reasonable and probable cause and whether the action of the defendant in initiating the action was malicious. As pointed out by Dhawan, J. in Devi Atma Nand's case, 1965 All LJ 317 absence of reasonable and probable cause and malice are two separate ingredients both of which are to be proved in a suit for malicious prosecution and a plaintiff cannot be expected to succeed if he merely proves absence of reasonable and probable cause and not malice or vice versa. Absence of reasonable and probable cause in all cases does not necessarily lead to an inference of malice. But a total absence of reasonable cause may be relied upon as a piece of evidence for showing that defendant acted wrongfully or with evil motive in prosecuting the plaintiff.

In the case before me, the defendant initiated criminal proceedings on the allegation that the incident of grazing of a sugar-cane field took place in his , presence. Further there was a Marpit in which the plaintiff assaulted him. If the plaintiff is able to prove that the incident of grazing and the Marpit did not take place and that the complaint against him was false, in the absence of any explanation from the defendant court of law would be justified in believing that there was no reasonable and probable cause and that the defendant was actuated by malice in initiating criminal prosecution. At any rate in such circumstances there would be nothing wrong if the Court considers existence of malice and absence of reasonable and probable cause so probable that a prudent man ought to act on this supposition.

21. If, on the other hand, the nature and quality of the evidence produced by the plaintiff is not such on the basis of which a Court can come to a definite conclusion that the incident did not take place, the defendant will not be required to give any explanation as to why he initiated the prosecution. The question of an explanation for initiating the prosecution arises only in such cases where the plaintiff is able to prove that the alleged incident did not take place which was claimed to have been witnessed by the defendant.

22. Learned counsel for the appellant urged that for sustaining a conviction for a offence under Section 193, I. P. C. and in proceedings under Section 476, Cr. P. C. no one can be convicted of giving false evidence except on proof of facts which if accepted as true show not merely that it is incredible but that it is impossible that the statement of the party accused made on oath may be true, and if the inference from the facts proved falls short of this conclusion his conviction cannot be sustained. In support of this contention he relied on the cases of Asghar Ali v. Emperor, AIR 1942 Nag 80, Mana Lal Sarda Mal v. Ramkishan : AIR1959MP264 , Hira Nand Ojha v. King-Emperor, (190.6) 10 Cal WN 1099, Padarath Singh v. Ratan Singh, AIR 1920 Pat 419. Lal Moni Nonia v. Emperor, AIR 1924 Pat 276.

According to the learned counsel in a suit for malicious prosecution, more or less the same ingredients are to be proved that are required to be proved during a trial for an offence under Section 193, I. P. C. or in proceedings under Section 476, Cr. P. C. He therefore contends that while deciding whether or not plaintiff has been able to prove its case, the same standard should be applied as is applied in a criminal case. In order to prove that the complaint made by the defendant was not correct, the plaintiff had to produce evidence to show that it was impossible that the allegations made in the complaint could be true. So long as plaintiffs evidence fell short of proving that it was impossible for the incident in question to have taken place, it could not be held that plaintiff had succeeded in proving that the complaint filed by the defendant was false and as such malicious and lacked reasonable or probable cause.

23. In my opinion, the extreme position as urged by the learned counsel cannot be accepted. It is not possible to derive any advantage from the dictum laid down in various cases mentioned above, which relates to criminal prosecution and criminal proceedings. There is a fundamental difference in the extent of burden that lies on the prosecution to establish the ingredients of a crime and that which lies upon a plaintiff in a civil suit in establishing his case-No case has been cited by the learned counsel where the standard as stated in the criminal cases cited by him has been applied while appraising evidence in a suit for malicious prosecution. A complaint may be filed making such allegations which may be false but which may not be impossible. I see no justification why the plaintiff should be required to prove that the allegations made in the complaint were not only false but were also impossible. I am therefore of opinion that it is not necessary for the plaintiff to prove, not only that the incident in question did not take place but that it was impossible for it to have taken place.

24. Next question that arises for consideration in this connection is whether or not the lower appellate court has considered the case from a correct angle keeping in view the burden that lies on the plaintiff to make out a case that the complaint filed by the defendant was false and as such it had been made without any reasonable, and probable cause. According to learned counsel for the appellant, what the lower appellate court did was merely to notice that the burden of proving mat the defendant's complaint was false lay on the plaintiff, but then it thought that as in such a case what the plaintiff could do was merely to adduce negative evidence, which he did by denying the incident, it was not necessary to test the intrinsic worth of plaintiffs evidence. According to it mere denial on oath, without looking into the worth of plaintiff's evidence, was sufficient to shift the burden on the defendant to substantiate the case set out by him in the complaint. Learned counsel contended that the burden could not be discharged by a mere denial of the incident by the plaintiff, who had to establish his case by reliable and credible evidence that the incident did not take place.

Learned counsel for the respondent, on the other hand, contended that the burden which lay on the plaintiffs had been amply discharged by a denial of the incident by the plaintiff on oath, and it was for the defendant to establish by reliable evidence that the allegations made in the complaint were true. If he failed to do so the defendant would be liable for damages in action for malicious prosecution.

25. In support of his contention learned counsel for the respondent relied on the case of Surendra Nath v. Bidhu Bhushan : AIR1944Cal64 where it was held that 'in an action for malicious prosecution the onus of establishing absence of reasonable and probable cause to justify the defendant in launching the prosecution lies in the first instance on the plaintiff. The onus is not, however, a stationary burden. When the plaintiff has given such evidence which if not answered would entitle him to succeed, the burden of proof is shifted to the defendant. It is not a burden that goes on for ever resting on the shoulders of the person upon whom it is first cast: As he brings evidence which until it is answered rebuts evidence against which he is contending, then balance descends on the other side and the burden rolls over until again there is evidence which once more turns the scale. That being so the question of onus of proof is only a rule for deciding on whom the obligation of going further if he wishes to win rests.'

26. According to this decision, if it is found that the plaintiff has given such evidence which if not answered would entitle him to succeed, the burden of eliciting facts which would explain the circumstances appearing in the plaintiff's evidence showing that the action was neither malicious or without reasonable or probable cause would be on the defendant. But before this stage is reached the evidence produced by the plaintiff has got to be scrutinised and the Court has got to decide whether that evidence is reliable or not and whether, if accepted, it leads to an inference of malice or absence of reasonable and probable cause on the part of the defendant, in initiating criminal prosecution. This case is no authority for the proposition that mere denial of the incident made by the plaintiff and his witnesses is sufficient to shift the burden of proving that the incident did take place in the manner alleged in the complaint, to the defendant.

27. In the case of Abrath v. North Eastern Rly. Co., (1883) 11 QBD 440 Bowen L. J. while dealing with a case for malicious prosecution observed as follows:--

'Wherever there is an action to be tried generally plaintiff begins. If he proves nothing he fails. If he proves his case and the other side proves nothing to answer it the defendant fails. The test is if no more evidence were given in addition to what has already been 'proved which side would win. But the onus of proof does not rest for ever on the shoulder of the party on whom it is cast in the first instance. When it gives evidence which rebuts the evidence against him it shifts burden and it rests on the opponent. The question as to onus of proof is only a mode of deciding who has to go further and how much further he has to go. It is not a rule by which the Jury are enabled to decide as to the value of the conflicting evidence. As soon as a conflict of evidence arises there ceases to be any question of burden of proof. As causes are tried the term 'onus of proof may be used in more ways than one ... ... ... ... ... ...... ... ... In an action for malicious prosecution it is for the plaintiff to show that the circumstances are such that there is no reasonable and probable cause. In one sense it may be said that this is the assertion of a negative proof and it has been contended that, when it comes to the question of establishing a negative proposition the onus of proof is shifted but if the assertion of the negative is essential to the plaintiff's case the burden of proof is still on the plaintiff The terms negative and affirmative are relative, not absolute. In dealing with a question of negligence the proposition to be made out may be either negative or affirmative. Where a person asserts affirmatively that a certain state of facts is present or absent or that a particular thing is insufficient for a particular purpose that is a positive averment, must be proved positively. It is said that there is an exception where the facts lie peculiarly within the knowledge of the opposite party, but counsel for the plaintiff does not go so far as to say that it is always so and I think the general proposition cannot be maintained.'

28. These observations also make it clear that in a case for malicious prosecution even though, as generally understood absence of reasonable and probable cause is a negative assertion, still the burden of proving it lies on the plaintiff- The plaintiff can prove absence of reasonable and probable cause as also the existence of malice, in a case where he is accused of having committed an offence in the presence of the complainant, by showing that the incident did not take place. But then the burden would be on him to establish this, and merely because it happens to be a negative fact, the burden does not shift to the defendant and he is not required to adduce evidence for showing that the incident did take place. The plaintiff can prove his case by examining himself on oath and by producing other corroborative evidence. If, on scrutiny, evidence produced by him is found to be reliable, he succeeds in showing that the incident did not take place and in making out a case that the proceedings initiated against him were malicious and without a reasonable and probable cause But, it will not be correct to say that irrespective of the worth of his evidence mere denial on his part or on the part of his witnesses would be enough to shift the burden on the defendant requiring him to prove that the incident did take place in the manner alleged by him in the complaint.

29. There is nothing in the case of Ucho Singh v. Nageshwar Prasad. AIR 1956 Pat 235 and S. T. Sahib v. Hasan Ghani Sahib. : AIR1957Mad646 which runs contrary to the observations made by me above. In our case if the evidence produced on behalf of the plaintiff is found to be reliable it would lead to an inference that the defendant initiated the plaintiff's prosecution maliciously and without reasonable and probable cause. The burden of explaining the circumstances in which the prosecution was launched would be on the I defendant. But, it would not be the same thing as saying that the burden of proving that the complaint made by the defendant was true shifted to him. In some cases the only way of meeting the plaintiff's case may be to show that the allegations made in the complaint were true, in which event there would be evidence on behalf of both the parties in support of their respective cases and the question on whom the burden of proof lies would become irrelevant. The court will have to weigh the evidence produced by the parties and to find which of the two versions is acceptable.

30. A perusal of the judgment of the lower appellate court shows that the lower appellate court thought that as the burden which lay upon the plaintiff was to prove a negative fact it was amply discharged by the plaintiff by examining himself and another witness who denied the incident. The burden of establishing that allegations made in the complaint were true then shifted to the defendant. There is not a single observation in the judgment of the lower appellate court to show that it scrutinised the evidence produced on behalf of the plaintiff and found it to be reliable. No attempt was made by it to meet the objections raised by the trial Court about the reliability of the evidence given by the plaintiff and his witness. Although the Court noticed that in a case where both parties have adduced evidence question of burden of proof becomes irrelevant, still it did not weigh the evidence produced on behalf of the plaintiff. It merely found the evidence produced by the defendant to be unreliable and therefore decreed the suit. There may be a case where the evidence produced both on behalf of the plaintiff and the defendant may be unreliable. In such a case it will be the plaintiff, on whom the burden of establishing his case lies, who will fail.

31. There is nothing in the judgment under appeal to indicate that the lower appellate Court was of opinion that even if defendant's evidence was ruled out, plaintiff's evidence was such which could be relied upon and that acting upon such evidence it was recording a finding that the complaint made by the defendant was false to his knowledge. In the circumstances I think that the judgment and decree passed by the lower appellate Court cannot be upheld.

32. In the result the case will have to go back to the lower appellate Court for recording a finding, whether in the circumstances of the case the evidence produced on behalf of the plaintiff was reliable and on its basis a definite finding could be recorded that the incident as alleged in the complaint made by the defendant did not take place. In case it comes to the conclusion that the evidence is reliable and on its basis a finding should be recorded that the incident as alleged in the complaint did not take place, the plaintiff would succeed as defendant's evidence has already been held to be unreliable. If however the plaintiff's evidence is also found to be discrepant the suit will fail and will have to be dismissed.

33. I, therefore set aside the judgment and decree of the Additional Civil Judge dated 6th of July, 1962 and remand the case to the lower appellate court with a direction to readmit the appeal to its original number and to rehear it keeping into view the observations made above and in accordance with law. Costs hitherto shall abide the ultimate result.


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