Oath against Oath

It may not always be safe for a Writ Court to decide issues and facts having great impact on the general public or a large part of it only on the basis of Oath against Oath.”

– Hon’ble Justice Dipak Misra, Riju Prasad Sharma v. State of Assam, [Civil Appeal Nos. 3276-3278 of 2013].

‘Oath against Oath’ is an interesting phrase. The Court will rather believe the oath of the Plaintiff than the oath of the Defendant, if there is Oath against Oath; because it supposed, that the Plaintiff had wrong done to him, and that the Defendant is the wrong-doer, and may therefore be rather supposed to swear falsely to protect himself from the justice of the law, than the Plaintiff that is forced to fly to the law to obtain his right. This is no rule though.

In Saw Wah v. The Queen, [2014] VSCA 7 it was held recently: “the importance of evidence of good character is sometimes underrated. In a case involving Oath against Oath, such evidence can be of particular significance.

By the end of the 18th Century evidence of good character was constantly admitted. “A remarkable instance is provided by the trial of Arthur O’Connor for high treason in 1798 where Mr. Erskine was one of a large number of distinguished persons who testified to the prisoner’s character for loyalty. Erskine, indeed, in the course of his evidence, stated that, with the choice before him of defending Mr. O’Connor or of giving evidence as to his good character, he chose the latter, and the Attorney-General, Sir John Scott, told the jury that in all doubtful cases, character ought to have very considerable weight indeed.”