Legal provisions regarding Giving False Evidence under section 191 of Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Giving False Evidence:
The offence under Section 191, IPC comprises of the following elements:
(i) A false statement, made by a person, who is;
(ii) Bound by an oath; or
(iii) By an express provision of law; or
(iv) A declaration which a person is bound by law to make on any subject; and
(v) Which statement or declaration is false and which he either knows or believes to be false or does not believe to be true.
The three essential pre-requisites are:
(i) A legal obligation to state the truth;
(ii) The making of a false statement or declaration; and
(iii) Being in its falsity.
Bound by Oath or Law to say the truth
False evidence to be punishable must be given in a proceeding in which the accused was bound by an oath or by an express provision of law to state the truth, or who is bound by law to make a declaration upon any subject.
The Oaths Act 1969 empowers all courts and all persons having, by law or consent of parties, authority to receive evidence and commanding officers of Military Stations to administer oaths and affirmations.
The oath or affirmation is to the effect that the witness ‘will speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but truth’. The duty to state the truth is laid down in Section 8 of the Oaths Act, 1969. Whenever in a court of law, a person binds himself on oath to state the truth he is bound to state the truth.
If the court has no authority to administer an oath, the proceedings will be coram non judice and a prosecution for false evidence cannot stand. Similar will be the case where a court is acting beyond its jurisdiction.
Any omission or irregularity in the administration of oath cannot invalidate any proceeding or render inadmissible any evidence whatsoever. Thus, even if the competent authority fails to administer the oath altogether or commits an irregularity in the administration of the oath, it does not affect the liability of the person to speak the truth. If a person deposes falsely before such competent authority, he is liable for prosecution for giving false evidence under Section 191.
The words ‘legally bound by an oath’ contemplate a witness. No advocate is legally bound by an oath or by an express provision of law to state the truth. A lawyer cannot be held guilty for either giving false evidence under Section 193 or using evidence known to be false under Section 196.
An oath or a solemn affirmation is not a sine qua non in the offence of giving false evidence. The offence may be committed although the person giving evidence has neither been sworn nor affirmed. When in a Court a person binds himself on oath to state the truth he cannot say that as he was not bound under law to go into the witness-box or make an affidavit, a false statement which he had made after the oath is not covered by Section 191.
In certain cases the law requires a declaration from a person of verification in a pleading such a declaration if made falsely will be covered by Section 191.
Plaints, written statements and other pleadings in suits are instances of such statements made under express provision of law. The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, under which these pleadings are filed, casts a legal duty on persons filing plaints etc. to speak the truth.
Similarly, affidavits sworn to by witnesses in proceedings before court are also sworn statements, whether the witness is under an obligation to state the truth or not. Even a false statement made in an affidavit filed as true ‘to the best of knowledge and belief of a person amounts to giving false evidence.
However, a person does not commit perjury, if he, in his voluntarily made affidavit, makes assertions not from his personal knowledge but from what he had told and where there is nothing to show the assertions are not correct.
Under Section 191, it is not necessary that the false evidence should be concerning a question material to the decision of the case; it is sufficient if the false evidence does not bear directly on a material issue in the case being relative to incidental or trivial matters only, that would be a matter to be taken into consideration in fixing the sentence.
False Statement to be inattentively made:
Under Section 191, three criterions have to be established to constitute an offence. They are:
(i) A statement known to be false; (ii) the person making the statement knew or believed it to be false or did not believe it to be true; (iii) such a statement was made intentionally.
The illustrations given under Section 191 succinctly explain these ingredients.
The burden of proving falsity of the statement is on the prosecution. The accused must be established to make a statement which was false or which he knew to be false or not to have believed it to be true. The question whether a statement was known to be false to the maker is one of fact, which must be decided on the proved circumstances of each case.
The falsity must be known to the maker at the time of the making of the statement, for otherwise, it is possible that he believed in his statement at the time he made it and its falsehood was revealed to him later on.
Merely because a person makes two contradictory statements, one of which must be false, it does not make out a case of perjury unless the falsity of one of the two statements as charged in the indictment is positively proved to be so.
One person instigating another to make a false statement may not be guilty of giving false evidence, but he will be guilty of the abetment of that offence. A person would be liable for abetment when it is shown that he instigated the making of a statement, and also that it was made falsely.
It would be abetment whether the abettor instigates another to make a false statement or to suppress a true Statement. A person asking a witness to suppress certain facts in giving his evidence would be guilty of abetment under Section 191.
The following are some examples of false evidence:
(i) A witness falsely deposing in another’s name;
(ii) A person falsely verifying his plaint;
(iii) An official making a false return of the service of summons;
(iv) Declaration made by a person for obtaining a marriage twice,