Mere Contradictions In Witness' Statements Insufficient To Attract Perjury: Bombay HC [Read Judgment]

Mere Contradictions In Witness Statements Insufficient To Attract Perjury: Bombay HC [Read Judgment]

The High Court of Bombay has recently held that mere contractions in the statement of the witness cannot be the sole ground for conviction for perjury and the objectionable statements have to be perused as a whole to determine if the false statement was given willfully and knowingly.

Justice S.M. Modak has allowed an appeal that arose out the judgment of the special judge, under the Prevention of Corruption Act, wherein the witness was convicted for giving false evidence and sentenced to simple imprisonment for a period of one month.

The appellant was the panch-witness in a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act wherein a junior engineer in the MHADA (Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority) was tried under Sections 7 and 13(1)(d) of the Act for demanding illegal gratification of Rs 500 from the de facto complainant for release of allotment of tenement in his favour.

The special judge had acquitted the accused for the offences under the Act and resorted to the jurisdiction under Section 344 Cr.P.C. against the appellant for giving false evidence during the course of examination and an explanation was sought for initiating action for giving false evidence. Subsequently, on an "unsatisfactory" explanation given by the appellant, he was convicted and sentenced to simple imprisonment for a period of one month.

The Court has highlighted the requirements of Section 344 CrPC as follows;

(a) the witness had given false evidence,

(b) he gave it willfully/knowingly,

(c) he gave it with intention of using it in such proceeding,

(d) Court forms an opinion about giving of false evidence by such witness,

(e) it is necessary and expedient in the interest of justice to try the witness summarily.

On fulfilling above conditions, the Court should –

(a) give reasonable opportunity to show cause against possible conviction.

(b) then sentence him appropriately

In the instant case (Manikrao Shavram Wagh v. The State Of Maharashtra), the bench found that the special judge erred in sustaining conviction for perjury for the reason of non-fulfillment about the condition as to willful or knowingly giving false answer.

Allowing the Appeal the Bench has set aside the conviction for perjury was set aside the conviction and sentence

Read the Judgment Here