Question: "Evidence is to be weighed and not counted." Explain. Or, "How many witnesses are necessary to proof of any fact"?


Note: this post is a part of our important question answer series on Evidence Law. You can read other questions by clicking here.



The maxim "evidence is to be weighed and not counted" means that the quality of evidence is more important than the quantity. In other words, it is better to have a few reliable witnesses than many unreliable ones. This principle is enshrined in Section 134 of the Indian Evidence Act, which states that "no particular number of witnesses shall be required for proof of any fact in the case."

This principle is rooted in the belief that the legal system should focus on the substance and reliability of the evidence presented rather than the sheer number of individuals testifying. This rule applies on both, be it a civil or criminal one.

In the context of rape cases, this principle becomes of a great importance. This is because rape is a crime that is often committed in private, and there may be only one witness to the crime. The principle ensures that victims of rape are not denied justice simply because there is only one witness to the crime.


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Landmark Cases

There are many examples of cases where the court has convicted an accused person based on the testimony of a single witness.

In State of M.P. V. Chhagan (1998 CriLJ 2179), the court held that Indian legal system does not emphasise on the plurality of witnesses. Our legal system always has laid down the emphasis on the weight, quality and value of the evidence rather quantity and plurality of witnesses. As a result, the court has complete discretion to convict an accused based solely on the testimony of a single witness. Conversely, in many cases, the court may choose to acquit an accused, even in the presence of several witnesses testifying against them, if the court finds issues with the credibility or reliability of their testimony.

In the Ganpat Ram case (1995 CriLJ 1466, 1995 (1) WLC 281), the court emphasized that when the testimony of a sole eyewitness is reliable, trustworthy, and cogent, it should not be disregarded due to minor omissions, especially considering that the evidence was examined years after the incident occurred. In situations where it is practically impossible to present more than one witness before the court, the court should place its reliance on the testimony of the sole witness if it satisfies the court's standards.


Also read: Question: Examine whether the Indian Constitution is federal or not.



The principle of weighing evidence rather than counting it is an important one. It helps to ensure that the legal system is fair and just. It encourages the prosecution to focus on presenting high-quality evidence, rather than simply trying to call a large number of witnesses.


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