Perjury

Relevant Sections: Section 209 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) & Section 340 of the Criminal Procedure Code. (Cr. P. C)

Meaning of Perjury:

1. Perjury is the Criminal offense of lying under Oath.

2. A Perjury Charge may be brought when someone makes a false statement after being sworn in or promising to tell the truth in a legal situation.

Section 209 of the Indian Penal Code:

The essential features of an offence called Perjury under Section 209 are:

1. The accused made a claim;

2. The claim was made in a Court of Justice;

3. The claim was false, either wholly or in part;

4. That the accused knew that the claim was false; and

5. The claim was madea.

a. fraudulently,

b. dishonestly, or

c. with intent to injure or

d. to annoy any person.

A Contender makes a ‘claim’ before a Court of Justice for the purpose of Section 209 when he seeks certain relief or remedies from the Court and a ‘claim’ for relief necessarily impasses the ground for obtaining that relief.

Section 209 of the Indian Penal Code makes dishonestly making a false claim in a Court as an offence punishable with imprisonment upto two years and fine.

Claim:

The word ‘claim’ for the purposes of Section 209 of the Penal Code would also include-

a. the defence adopted by a defendant in the suit.

b. The reason for criminalizing false claims and defences is that the plaintiff as well as the defendant can abuse the process of law by deliberate falsehoods, thereby perverting the course of justice and undermining the authority of the law.

With Intent to Injure or Annoy Any Person:

The words “with intent to injure or annoy any person” in Section 209 means

A. that the object of injury may be to defraud a third party.

B. It is not necessary that the party to whom the offender intends to cause wrongful loss or annoyance should be the party against whom the suit was instituted.”

Court of Justice

Section 209 uses the words ‘Court of Justice’ as distinguished from a “Court of Justice having jurisdiction.”

It is therefore immaterial whether the Court in which the false claim was instituted had jurisdiction to try the suit or not.

Proper Evidence

The prosecution has to prove that the accused made a false claim.

A mere proof that the accused failed to prove his claim in the civil suit or that Court did not rely upon his evidence on account of discrepancies or improbabilities is not sufficient.

Applicability

This section is not limited to cases where the whole claim made by the defendant is false.

It applies even where a part of the claim is false.

The mischief that the drafters intended to address under Section 209 of the Indian Penal Code.

What to Consider?

Whether the litigant’s ‘claim’ is false, is not considered merely from whatever he pleads (or omits to plead):

1. that would be to elevate form over substance.

2. To make out the offence, the Court does not merely inspect how a litigant’s pleadings have been drafted or the case has been presented.

3. The real issue to be considered is whether, all said and done,

4. the litigant’s action has a proper foundation which entitles him to seek judicial relief.

Not Just ground

The term “no just ground” in characterising a false claim, means that-

1. the substance of a party’s claim is crucial.

2. The critical question, accordingly, is whether there are any grounds, whether in law or in fact, to make a claim even if they are not revealed in the pleadings itself.

Section 209 was enacted-

1. to preserve the sanctity of the Court of Justice and

2. to safeguard the due administration of law by deterring the deliberate making of false claims.

3. Section 209 was intended to deter the abuse of Court process by all litigants who make false claims fraudulently, dishonestly,

4. or with intent to injure or annoy.

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