Perjury

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Perjury

False Evidence

Sections 191, 192 and 193 of the IPC deal with giving or fabricating false evidence. What amounts to giving false evidence has been defined u/s 191. “The salient features of the former section are as follows:

  • Intentionally making a false statement
  • Declaration by a person who is under a legal obligation to speak the truth.”[1]

The giving of false evidence amounts to the practicing of fraud upon the court. Thus, to make a statement of false evidence within the meaning of this section, it must be established that the person was legally bound by an oath or an express provision of law (A) to state the truth, or (B) to make a declaration upon any subject.[2] The offence can be committed even when the plaintiff or the defendant is not legally bound to do so but binds himself by an oath voluntarily. In other words, he enters the witness box voluntarily, and makes an affidavit to make a truthful sentence, but states something false.[3]

Declaration

It was held in Mehrban Singh, that a declaration means a formal statement made in writing and required by law to be made in writing. To invoke the section the statement must be a false statement and the person making it must know or believe it to be false or must not believe it to be true to this section. A false verification of a written statement filed in a suit is an offence under this section. It is necessary to prove that the facts, which if accepted as true, show that the statement made by the accused is not merely incredible, but cannot possibly be true.[4]

Legally bound by oath or by express provision of Law, Etc

It was held in Fateh Ali v Queen Express[5]  that to hold a person liable u/s 191 it is necessary that the accused should be legally bound by an oath before a competent authority. If the court has no authority to administer an oath the proceeding will be coram non judice (such acts are wholly void) and a prosecution for false evidence will not stand. On the same line, if the court is acting beyond its jurisdiction, the charge will not be sustained.[6]  The court must be an Indian court, otherwise no offence is committed for which the accused can be held liable in India.[7]

Oath

An oath or solemn affirmation is not a sine qua non in the offence of giving false evidence.[8] The offence may be committed although the person giving evidence has neither been sworn or affirmed.[9]

An Express Provision of Law

Under it sanction of an oath is not necessary. There must be a specific provision of law compelling a person to state the truth.[10] When the accused is not bound by an express provision of law to state the truth, he cannot be charged with giving false evidence.[11]

Fabricating False Evidence

Section 192 defines the offence of fabricating false evidence. The essence of the offence consists in making a false entry in a book of record or electronic record or in a document containing a false statement so as to cause a judge, a public servant or an arbitrator to entertain an erroneous opinion on any material point.

Ingredients

  • “Causing any circumstance to exist or making any false entry in any book of record or electronic record or making any document containing a false statement,
  • Doing one of the abovementioned acts with the intention that it may appear in evidence in a judicial proceeding, or in a proceeding taken by law before a public servant, or an arbitrator;”[12] and
  • Doing such act with the intention that it may cause any person in such proceeding, to form an opinion upon the evidence to entertain an erroneous opinion touching any point material to the result of such proceedings.[13]

In the case of Baban Singh v. Jagdish Sitigh[14], the Apex Court held that where a witness swears by a false affidavit in a proceeding before a Court, the offence would fall under Sections 191 and 192 and is liable for punishment under the former sections.

Difference between ‘Giving False Evidence’ and ‘ Fabricating False Evidence’

Giving False Evidence Fabricating False Evidence
General intention.  Particular intention.
Committed by a person who is bound by a legal duty to state the truth. The section is silent.
The false statement need not be material to the case. The fabricated evidence must be material to the case.
There should be a proceeding. It is not required.

 

Punishment

Section 193 prescribes punishment for giving false evidence. It can be divided into parts. The first part lays down the punishment for intentionally giving false evidence or fabricating false evidence in a judicial proceeding. The second part deals withthe punishment for intentionally giving false evidence or fabricating false evidence other than a judicial proceeding.

In the case of Virindar Kumar Satyawadi v State of Punjab[15], it was held that when a candidate at an election makes a false declaration on solemn affirmation before a Returning Officer, the offence comes under the second part of Section 193 and not in the first part.

Difference between Perjury and Section 191 of IPC

Perjury

Section 191

Two witnesses are required to prove perjury.  The section is silent.
The false statement must be material to the case. The section is silent.
It must be before a competent tribunal in reference to a judicial proceeding. The section includes any statement made under oath or otherwise, in pursuance of a legal duty to make it whether in a judicial proceeding or otherwise.
The false statement must be necessarily made under an oath or solemn. Oath is not an essential ingredient. The person must be under a legal duty to speak the truth.

Position in United States

According to section 1001 of Title 18 of the United States Code, a false statement is a crime irrespective of made under oath. In contrast, an oath is the hallmark of the three perjury statutes in Title 18.[16]Sections 1621 and 1623 condemns false material statements made under oath in federal official proceedings and federal court proceedings respectively. Subornation of perjury or persuading another to commit perjury is barred under section 1622. The aforementioned four sections impose imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years. But section 1001 is punishable by imprisonment for not more than eight years when the offense involves terrorism or one of the various federal sex offenses.[17]Even for the crime of conspiracy to commit any of the four substantive offenses, the maximum penalty is five years.  

Position in United Kingdom

Section 1 of Perjury Act, 1911 defines the term perjury. It states that any person who lawfully sworn as a witness or as an interpreter in a judicial proceeding wilfully makes a statement material in that proceeding, which he knows to be false or does not believe to be true, shall be guilty of perjury.[18] The punishment prescribed is penal servitude for a term not exceeding seven years, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to a fine or to both.

Position in Pakistan

Under Section 194 of Pakistan Penal Code any person giving or fabricating false evidence, intentionally or knowingly thereby that he will cause a person to be convicted of an offence which is capital by any law is liable to be punished with imprisonment for life or with rigorous imprisonment, which may extend to ten years and he may also be liable to fine.[19] Further, if an innocent person is convicted and executed in consequence of such false evidence, the person who gave such false evidence would render himself liable to be punished either with death or with rigorous imprisonment extending to ten years and with fine.[20]

Illustrations

Illustration 1: P appears as a witness in a case which D has filed against A for Rs. 40,000/- falsely swears that he heard A admitting of taking money from D. P in this case has given false evidence.

Illustration 2: B who is a translator, bound by oath, certifies the translation of a document which is not and which he does not believe to be a true translation. B has therefore given false evidence.  

Illustration 3: R who is bound by oath believes a signature to be of E knowing the general character of E’s handwriting. R has not given false evidence because his statement is based on a mere belief. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is perjury?

Perjury has been derived from the Latin term‘perjurium’. As per the Oxford Dictionary perjury means “the offence of wilfully telling an untruth or making a misrepresentation under oath.”[21] In other words, any person on being lawfully bound under an oath intentionally or wrongfully makes a false statement.

  1. Why perjury is a crime?

The judicial system is dependent upon truthful testimony of witnesses and experts in both criminal and civil cases. It also includes verbal and written information. With the help of the information so provided the court decides the guilt of the accused. If they do not depose truthfully, there is a high probability of miscarriage of justice. The pillar of democracy shall collapse.

  1. How to file a perjury case in India?

There are two ways to file a perjury case- by way of application or suomotu. The application can be filed by any such person who is not a party to the proceedings in relation to which the offense is committed. The court where such type of application is filed decides whether inquiry is to be conducted or not. With respect to record findings, one has to make a complaint in writing specifying the offence, facts on which it is based and evidence available for proving it. The judge shall sign the complaint himself and send it to First Class Magistrate having jurisdiction.

  1. How to prove perjury?

Convicting an accused for perjury on the basis that there is an oral evidence to show that the statement made by him is false is unsafe and dangerous.  If this principle was to be applied, no person would be ready to depose before the court. That is why the evidence to prove perjury should strong beyond all reasonable doubt. In the presence of two contradictory statements the accused should be convicted only if the statements are wholly conflicting.

[References]

[1]K.D.Gaur, Textbook on Indian Penal Code, (5th edition, Universal Law Publication, 2015) at Pg. – 331.

[2]Id.

[3]Ranjit Singh v State of Pepsu, AIR 1959 SC 843.

[4]Hari Singh Gour, Penal Law of India, 11th ed., (1987) Vol. II, pp. 1721-1744.  

[5] (1894) PR No. 15 of 1894.

[6] Empress v Chait Ram, (1883) ILR 6 All 103.

[7]Rambharathi, (1923) 25 Bom LR 772. 

[8] Queen v Sheik Edoo, (1865) 2 WR (Cr) 9.

[9]Shava, 1891 ILR 16 Bom 369.

[10]Ranjit Singh v State of Punjab, AIR 1959 SC 843. 

[11]Hari Charan Singh, (1900) ILR 27 Cal 455.

[12]Supra note 1 at pg-333.

[13]Ashiq Mahomed v Emperor, (1936) 37 CrLJ 562(Lah).  Supra note 1 at pg-333.

[14]1966 SCR (3) 552.

[15] AIR 1956 SC 153.

[16] Charles Doyle, False Statements and Perjury: An Overview of Federal Criminal Law, Retrieved from https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/98-808.pdf.

[17]Id. 

[18]Perjury Act, 1911. Section 1. Retrieved on 21/07/18 from https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo5/1-2/6/section/1.  

[19] Pakistan Penal Code, Retrieved on 21/07/18 from https://www.oecd.org/site/adboecdanti-corruptioninitiative/46816797.pdf.

[20] Id.

[21] Perjury, Retrieved on 21/07/18 from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/perjury.

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Soma Sarkar
I am Soma Sarkar from Chanakya National Law University, Patna pursuing BA LLB (Hons.). My areas of interest include Criminal laws and Arbitration laws. I have a passion for research and legal writing. I am also an active member of Legal Aid Cell of my college and also member of Eucotopia, the environmental group of my college. My goal is to become an arbitrator.