Legal Provisions Regarding “False Evidence and Offences Against” in India – Section 191 of IPC

It demonstrates, makes clear or ascertains the truth of the very fact or point in issue either on the one side or on the other. To decide the disputes evidence is the most important thing before the Courts.

The parties to the disputes create falsification of truth and evidences. Hence the framers of the Penal Code specifically concentrated and framed the provisions under Chapter-XI and prescribed the punishments for false evidence and offences against public justice.

Giving False Evidence

Definition: Section 191 defines “Giving False Evidence”.

Sec. 191. Giving false evidence:

Whoever, being legally bound by an oath or by an express provision of law to state the truth, or being bound by law to make a declaration upon any subject, makes any statement which is false; and which he either knows or believes to be false or does not believe to be true, is said to give false evidence.

Explanation-1:

A statement is within the meaning of this Section, whether it is made verbally or otherwise. ,

Explanation-2:

A false statement as to the belief of the person attesting is within the meaning of this Section, and a person may be guilty of giving false evidence by stating that he believes a thing which he does not believe, as well as by stating that he knows a thing which he does not know.

Illustrations:

(a) A, in support of a just claim which B has against Z for one thousand rupees, falsely swears in 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 hand-writing 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 hand-writing, states that he believes a certain signature to be the hand-writing 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.

Important Points:

A. The definition of “Giving False Evidence” in Section 191 is intended for the purposes of the provisions of this Code. This Section does not contain any general principle of law and general application. The Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code are sister codes.

The former is substantive law, and the latter is procedural law. For ascertaining the truth and imposing the criminal liability, the Courts rely on the evidence produced before them. Whatever the evidence is liable to be produced before the Courts, they must be legally bound by an oath.

Perjury, (n) = violation of an oath.

B. For the purposes of this Section, the prosecution is required to prove,

(i) That the accused was legally bound by an oath or by an express provision of law to state the truth or to make a declaration;

(ii) That upon any subject accused made the statement which is false;

(iii) That the accused either knew or believed it to be false or did not believe the statement to be true.

C. “Whoever is being legally bound by on oath”:

Where a person is legally bound to give evidence, he should give it by an oath. He should state the truth. In any manner he should not tell the false or concocted stories. He should not mislead the Court. That is why Section 191 specifically defines giving false evidence as punishable.

D. While disposing Ranjit Singh vs. State of Pepsu (AIR 1954 SC 1114), the Supreme Court observed:

“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 submission 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 had an affidavit and, therefore the submission that any false statement which he had made after taking the oath is not covered by the words of Section 191, is not supportable 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 has 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 chooses 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 the oath requires but a person put on oath must state the truth. In our opinion this contention is wholly devoid of force and must be repelled.”

E. Affidavits:

Section 191 applies to affidavits.

F. Pleadings:

If a person falsely verifies a plaint or written statement or execution application and gives false evidence, such person is held liable under this Section.

G. Contradictory Statement:

If a witness gives two contradictory statements, he is punishable under this Section.

H. Statements of the accused:

Where an accused makes false statement under Sections 161, 164 or 313 of Cr.P.C. or in written statement, he is punishable under this Section.

I. Punishment:

Section 193 imposes punishment for giving false evidence. The offender shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine.

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