WHAT IS PERJURY?
Perjury is the “willful and corrupt taking of a false oath in regard to a material matter in a judicial proceedings.” It is sometimes called “lying under oath” i.e., deliberately telling a lie in a courtroom after having taken an oath to tell the truth. It is important that the false statement be material to case at hand, means that false statement could effect the outcome of the case. It is not considered perjury, for example : to lie about age unless age is a key factor in proving the case.
Perjury can be used as a threat. Although, perjury is a very serious crime under state and Federal laws, and while prosecutors often threaten prosecution, the member of actual prosecution for perjury is tiny. The prosecution of perjury stemming from civil law suits are particularly call. This is because it is difficult to prove that someone is intentionally misstating a material fact, rather than simply testifying honestly from faulty memory.
Perjury also known as Forswearing, which means willful act of swearing a false oath or affirmation to tell the truth weather spoken or in writing concerning matters material to a judicial proceedings. Means, the witness falsely promises to tell the truth about matters which affect the outcome of the case, for example: that is not considered perjury to lie about ones age unless, age is a a factor in determining a legal result.
Perjury is considered a serious offense as it can be used to usurp the power of the courts, resulting in miscarriage of justice.
PERJURY IN INDIA
Under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), section 191 defines perjury as “giving false evidence” and by interpretation it includes the statements retracted later as the person is presumed to have given a “false statements” earlier or later,whom the statement is retracted.
Section 191 of IPC states perjury as:
whoever, being legally bound by an oath or by any express provision of law to state the truth, or being bound by law to make a declaration upon any subject, make any statement which is false, and which he either knows or believes to be false evidence.
Statements of interpretation of fact are not perjury because people often make inaccurate statement. Individuals may have honest but mistaken beliefs about certain facts, or their recollection may be inaccurate.
Like most other crimes in the common law system, to be convicted of perjury one must have had the intention [Mens Rea] to commit the act, and to have actually committed the act [Actus Reus]. Subordination of perjury, attempting to include another person to perjure themselves, is itself a crime.
WHY IT IS A CRIME?
Perjury is a crime because a witness swears, or affirms to tell the truth and, for the credibility of the court, witness testimony must be relied on as being truthful.
The rule of perjury also apply when a person has made a statement under penalty of perjury, even if the person has not been sworn as affirmed as a witness before an appropriate official.
DEVELOPMENT OF PERJURY IN INDIA
Two developments in two sensational criminal cases.
The Best Bakery Case, relating to the Gujarat Communal Rights. Jessica Lal's Murder Case.
The Best Bakery Case and murder case of Model Jessica Lal, have brought into sharp focus the issue of “perjury” defined in Indian penal laws as “giving false evidence”.
While the Bombay Special Trail Court in the Best Bakery Case has issued notices to Zaheera Sheikh for “Perjury” or “flase evidence” as she had retracted her statement several times, the Delhi High Court has Suo Motu, taken cognizance of the police (prosecution) theory on “Hostile Witness” in the Jessica Lal Murder Case.
Both the cases demonstrate that time has come in India to strictly enforce the law relating “perjury” or “false statement”, which would go a long way in future criminal cases.
For a person's statement an oath, testimony, and in sworn affidavit is regard as truth are vital evidence...