The Karnataka High Court in its order dated August 31, 2021 observed that consideration of complaints regarding perjury should not be deferred or delayed by courts.
Justice Krishna S Dixit said,
Act of perjury is treated as a heinous offence in all civilised societies; consideration of complaints with regard to the same cannot be deferred or delayed; otherwise there is all possibility of the fountain of justice being polluted.
Petitioner husband & respondent wife are both medical practitioners.
The wife in support of her application for maintenance had filed an affidavit dated 07.11.2013, claiming that she was unemployed & did not have any income. The court rejected the application of the husband by its order dated February 6, 2015, holding the application to be premature.
In 2013, husband had filed for annulment of marriage with the respondent, while the wife had filed an application under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, seeking Rs 1,00,000 as monthly maintenance and for a lump sum of Rs 75,000 as litigation expenses. The same were rejected vide order dated 06.02.2015, and her challenge thereto is pending.
The husband then filed an application in IA No.8 u/s. 151 of CPC, 1908 r/w Section 301, etc. of Cr.P.C. 1973 requesting the court to initiate proceedings for the offence of perjury contending that the respondent-wife in her affidavit dated 07.11.2013 supporting the application for maintenance had falsely stated as to her unemployment & lack of income.
However, the learned judge of the court below vide order dated 06.02.2015 rejected the application holding it to be premature.
Husband challenged an order passed by the trial court, rejecting his application seeking to initiate perjury proceedings against his wife.
Defense by Wife
Sr. Advocate C.H.Jhadhav appearing for the respondent (wife) opposed the petition stating that a complaint has been filed by the respondent-wife in relation to petitioner allegedly producing income Tax Returns & other documents of the respondent, the police are still investigating the matter and therefore the question of perjury is premature.
Further, whether in a case of alleging perjury, action needs to be taken or not, is a matter left to the discretion of the Court concerned before whom the substantive proceedings are pending and therefore, discretionary orders of the kind cannot be subjected to deeper scrutiny in writ jurisdiction.
Karnataka High Court
The observation was made by the court while hearing a petition filed by an estranged husband.
The court reproduced the order of the trial court which recorded,
If these IT Returns are taken into consideration, the respondent is having income and she is also earning income… She has not filed any counter to the objections filed by the petitioner and also with respect to these IT Returns. In fact, by filing a complaint she has admitted that she has filed Income Tax Returns. Under such circumstances, she has suppressed the fact that she was earning income.
Justice Dixit, observed
Thus there is a specific finding as to falsity of statement made on oath by the respondent. Even before this Court, it is not the case of respondent that the copies of Income Tax Returns produced by the petitioner for opposing the claim for maintenance, do not pertain to her or that their contents are untrue/incorrect.
The court opined,
When the Court below has recorded a specific finding as to the income of the respondent from the medical profession that too on the basis of undisputed IT Returns for the relevant period; when it has also recorded a specific finding that the respondent has suppressed the fact that she was earning income; that being the position, the application of petitioner for initiating action for the offence of perjury, could not have been turned down as being premature merely because the main matter is still pending; consideration of such an application has nothing to do with the outcome of the main matter at all.
Referring to the judgment of the apex court in the case of Mahila Vinod Kumari vs. State of Madhya Pradesh, (2008) 8 SCC 34 in which the court had observed as under:
The evil of perjury has assumed alarming proportions in cases depending on oral evidence and in order to deal with the menace effectively, it is desirable for the Courts to use the provision more effectively and frequently, than it is presently done.
The court also said,
The inner voice of this decision appears to have fallen on the deaf ears of the learned Judge of the court below.
Further, the Karnataka High Court said,
The learned trial Judge ought to have considered petitioner’s subject application with due seriousness and at the earliest point of time, there being no justification for deferring its consideration since it touched purity of judicial proceedings.
Lastly, the court concluded by saying,
The reason assigned by the Court below for holding petitioner’s subject application to be premature, is unsustainable to say the least; the view of the learned trial Judge that petitioner can move similar application subsequently offends sense of justice; applications of the kind need to be considered on merits at the earliest point of time so that a loud message goes to the unscrupulous section of the litigant public as to what would befall the perjuring parties.
The court then went on to allow the petition and set aside the trial court order and remitted the matter back for consideration afresh and noted that till the application is decided, the main matter pertaining to annulment of marriage, filed by the husband be parked at a bay.
The order also quoted anguish expressed by Supreme Court in Swarna Singh vs. State of Punjab (2000) 5 SCC 668 about rampant perjury in courts merit a mention that read,
Perjury has also become a way of life in the Law Courts. A trial Judge knows that the witness is telling a lie and is going back on his previous statement, yet he does not wish to punish him or even file a complaint against him.
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