Punishment for Giving False Evidence (Perjury) in India
(i) Being legally bound by an oath or by an express provision of the law to state the truth, or to make a declaration, upon any subject;
(ii) Makes a false statement;
(iii) Which he either—
(a) Knows or believes to be false, or
(b) Does not believe to be true (Section 191).
A statement within the meaning of this section may be verbal or written. A false statement as to the belief of the person attesting is a false statement. If a person states that he believes what really he does not believe or that he knows a thing which in fact he does not know, such person may be guilty of giving false evidence. [Explanations (i) and (ii), Section 191].
(a) A, in support of a just claim which B has against Z for one thousand rupees, falsely swears on a trial that he heard Z admit the justice of B’s claim. A has given false evidence.
(b) A, being bound by an oath to state the truth, states that he believes a certain signature to be the handwriting of Z, when he does not believe it to be the handwriting of Z. Here, A states that which he knows to be false, and therefore gives false evidence.
(c) A, knowing the general character of Z’s handwriting states that he believes a certain signature to be the handwriting of Z; A in good faith believing it to be so. Here, A’s statement is merely as to his belief, and is true as to his belief and therefore although the signature may not be the handwriting of Z, A has not given false evidence.
(d) A, being bound by an oath to state the truth, states, that he knows that Z was at a particular place on a particular day, not knowing anything upon the subject. A gives false evidence whether Z was at that place on the day named or not.
(e) A, an interpreter or translator, gives or certifies as a true interpretation or translation of a statement or document, which he is bound by oath to interpret or translate truly, that which is not and which he does not believe to be a true interpretation or translation. A has given false evidence.
Following are the ingredients:
(1) The accused should be legally bound: —
(a) By an oath; or (b) by any law to state the truth; or (c) to make a declaration; and
(2) The accused makes a false statement; and
(3) The accused knows or believes the statement to be false.
The offence of giving false evidence is called ‘perjury’ under the English law. The very essence of the offence of perjury consists in an attempt to mislead and deceive the Court. The giving of false evidence is the practice to play fraud upon the Court by making it believe as true that which the deponent does not believe to be true. The offence is thus contempt of the Court, and the Criminal Procedure Code, therefore, requires that it must sanction a prosecution of the accused.
Under this section an accused must be legally bound by an oath or by an express provision of law to state the truth before a competent authority. But an oath or solemn affirmation is not a sine qua non to the offence of giving false evidence. The offence may be committed although the person giving evidence has neither been sworn nor affirmed.
The opening words of Section 191, “whoever being legally bound by an oath or by an express provision of law to state the truth……..” do not support the proposition that a man, who is not bound under the law to make an affidavit, can, if he does make one deliberately refrain from stating truthfully the facts which are within his knowledge.
The meaning of these words is that whenever in a Court of law a person binds himself on oath to state the truth, he is bound to state the truth, and he cannot be heard to say that he should not have gone into the witness-box or should not have made an affidavit and therefore the proposition that any false statement which he had made after taking the oath is not covered by the words of Section 191, is not sustainable.
Whenever a man makes a statement in Court on oath, he is bound to state the truth, and, if he does not, he makes himself liable under the provisions of Section 193. It is no defence to say that he was not bound to enter the witness-box.
A defendant or even a plaintiff is not bound to go into the witness-box, but if either of them choose to do so he cannot, after he has taken the oath to make a truthful statement, state anything which is false. Indeed the very sanctity of oath requires that a person put on oath must state the truth.
If a Court administering the oath is acting beyond its jurisdiction, a conviction will not be sustained.
Section 164 of Cr. P.C. gives power to certain Magistrates to record statements and confessions. A statement recorded in the manner prescribed for recording evidence, that is, after administering oath or affirmation may be made the ground of prosecution for perjury.
Under the clause ‘an express provision of law’ sanction of an oath is not necessary, but a specific provision of law is required to compel a man to state the truth. It is to be proved that the false statement is made under the sanction of law.
As regards ‘the declaration upon any subject’ the words ‘any subject’ denote that the declaration must be in connection with a subject regarding which it was to be made. A person who falsely verifies his plaint or written statement is to be held guilty of giving false evidence.
A declaration as to one’s income under the Income Tax Act or as to possession of a certain firearm under the Arms Act or indeed under any law will be declaration made under the sanction of law and as such the declarant will be under a penalty for making a false declaration.
“Makes any statement which is false”:
The words “makes any statement which is false” include anything stated in declaration though it may have nothing whatever to do with it. In other words, a false statement whether it amounts to a declaration or not, would be penal if made by a person bound as in the three opening clauses of the section, its material to being immaterial.
Falsehood of a statement must be established by direct proof. When any assertion in any affidavit appended to the petition is proved to be false it amounts to perjury, under Section 191 and is punishable under Section 195.
Such a statement when satisfactorily proved, is quite a good evidence in proof of the charge as the incriminatory statement of a person charged with any other offence and on precisely the same ground that it is admission of the accused person inconsistent with his innocence.
The false evidence must be intentionally false to the knowledge or belief of the person giving it. Intention is an essential ingredient. A man who swears that he believes or thinks a fact to be true when it is not so, is guilty of the offence.
The making of false statement, without having any knowledge as to whether the subject-matter of a statement is false or not, is legally a giving of false evidence. B swears to a particular fact without having knowledge at the time as to whether the fact be true or false, it is as such a perjury as if he knew the fact to be false, and equally indictable.
In the case of Baban Singh v. Jagdish Sitigh, the Supreme Court upheld that where a false affidavit is sworn by a witness in a proceeding before a Court, the offence would fall under Sections 191 and 192. Such witness could be punished under Sections 191 and 192 of I.P.C.
But a drunken person, who signs an affidavit, is not to be held guilty of the offence of perjury evidence contrary to the allegation in the affidavit because its contents cannot be said to have been properly understood by him.
Under Section 161(2), Cr. P.C., a person shall be bound to answer all questions relating to a case put to him by a Police Officer, other than the questions the answers to which would have a tendency to expose him to criminal charge or to a penalty, or forfeiture.
It was not that the words ‘shall be bound to answer all questions’ did constitute an express provision of law to state the truth, within the meaning of this section. Hence, a person making false statement in answer to questions put by an investigating Police Officer under Section 161, Cr. P.C., cannot be convicted for giving false evidence.