The Essential Ingredients of the offence of Perjury? (Indian Penal Code, 1860)
The ingredients of the offence giving false evidence are: (1) a person must be legally bound (a) by an oath or any express provision of law to state the truth; or (b) to make a declaration up on any subject; (2) he must make a false statement; (3) he must know or believe it to be false; or (4) not believe it to be true.
A few illustrations will make the point amply clear: (a) A, in support of a just claim which B has against Z for a sum of money, falsely swears, on 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 handwriting of Z.
Here A states than which he knows to be false, and, therefore, gives false evidence. But if An in good faith believed the signature to be that of Z, which turns out to be wrong. A is not guilty of giving false evidence, for here A’s statement is merely as to his belief, and true as to his belief, (c) 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, (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. Gives false evidence whether Z was at that place on the day named or not. The offence of giving false evidence is termed perjury in English law.
The English law differs from the Indian law in respect of giving false evidence in the following respects:
1. The English law requires that the false statement must have reference to some judicial proceedings and the false evidence is given before a competent tribunal. This is not so in the Indian law, and the distinction only exists in reference to the degree of punishment imposed.
2. Under the English law perjury must be proved by two witnesses, or by one witness with proof of other material and relevant facts, confirming his testimony. No particular number of witnesses is needed under the Code.
3. Under the English law the matter sworn to must be material to the cause pending in the court. But according to the Code it is not necessary that the statement should be material.
4. An oath, or an affirmation rendered equivalent to it by law, is an essential element of the offence under the English law. In India an oath is merely one of the forms to bind a party to speak the truth.
And even if an oath is improperly administered by an incompetent person, the offence would be committed if the party giving the false statement were bound by an express provision of law to state the truth.
A man not bound to enter the witness-box chooses to do so and makes a statement in Court on oath which is false to his knowledge. Can he be prosecuted for perjury under Section 193, I.P.C.?
Ans. 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, I.P.C. It is no defence to say that he was 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 that a person put on oath must state the truth. (Ranjit Singh v. State of Pepsu, 1959 A.W.R., S.C. 371.)