Definition of Affidavit
1. In India, As per General Clauses Act Section 3(3)-
‘Affidavit’ shall include affirmation and declaration in the case of person by law allowed to affirm or declare instead of swearing.
2. Black’s Law Dictionary defines affidavit as:
“A voluntary declaration of facts written down and sworn to by the declarant before an officer authorised to administer oaths, such as a notary public”.
3. In Latin, affidavit literally means to “pledge one’s faith”.
Characteristics of the valid affidavit
- Only individuals can make an affidavit. Artificial juridical persons or incorporated entities are not allowed to make any affidavit.
- The affiant (the person who makes the affidavit is called affiant) must be legally competent to make such declaration.
- It should be a sworn statement taken before the authority who is competent to administer the oath. A legal Maxim in this regard worth noting is “judicio non creditor nisi juratis” (in judicial proceedings, a testimony is not believed unless given on oath).
- It should be on valid stamp paper and should be notarized.
- The affiant should state his full identity i.e. his full name, the name of his father, his profession or trade, and the place of his residence.
- Affidavit shall be divided into paragraphs and each paragraph needs to be numbered.
- The administrator of oath should identify affiant and also put his seal and signature.
- Affidavit needs to be verified. If an affidavit not properly verified, it cannot be admitted in evidence.
In an affidavit, the affiant can give his testimony only about two things‒
- Things which are within in his own knowledge, and when an affiant is giving the testimony about his knowledge, it cannot be given on behalf of someone else. For instance, the Manager of a company is not permitted to give an affidavit on behalf of the accountant of the company.
- The information which he believes to be true. This belief may not be purely based on his knowledge, but the belief is based on some information, In such situations, the source of information must be stated in the affidavit and affiant is obliged to clarify this fact by using words like ‘I am informed’,—
Withdrawal or amendment in the affidavit
An affidavit does not change the facts, but there are incidences which may arise when affidavit filed on record needs to be withdrawn or amended.
Amendment or withdrawal in the affidavit is possible in special circumstances like new facts came to the light, or the affidavit is based on some erroneous facts to add some facts which were missed during existing affidavit.
Affidavit is a very important and useful tool available to the affiant, in declaring the true facts, before the authority, for a documents which are missing inadvertently in a document due to the old format, new inclusion, providing the correct information or otherwise.