Prosecute Litigants who indulge in filing false claims in Courts invoking Section 209 IPC: Delhi HC
Delhi High Court, on Friday, called upon the Courts to invoke Section 209 of the Indian Penal Code in appropriate cases against the litigants who indulge in false claims. Justice J.R. Midha of Delhi High Court said that the litigants indulge in false claims because of the confidence that no action will be taken.
The Court made these observations in its 99 page judgment in Regular First Appeal. The appellant in this case, made a false claim before the Court and issued a show cause notice to the appellant to show cause why a complaint be not made against him under Section 340 CrPC for making a false claim under Section 209 of the Indian Penal Code. The Appellant later tendered unconditional apology which was accepted by the Court subject to deposit of costs of Rs. 50,000. The Court then heard the counsels on the scope of Section 209 of IPC and passed an elaborate judgment on the same
Need for invoking Section 209 IPC
- Section 209 of the Indian Penal Code, is a salutary provision enacted to preserve the sanctity of the Courts and to safeguard the administration of law by deterring the litigants from making the false claims. However, this provision has been seldom invoked by the Courts. The disastrous result of not invoking Section 209 is that the litigants indulge in false claims because of the confidence that no action will be taken.
- Making a false averment in the pleading pollutes the stream of justice. It is an attempt at inviting the Court into passing a wrong judgment and that is why it has been be treated as an offence
- False evidence in the vast majority of cases springs out of false pleading, and would entirely banish from the Courts if false pleading could be prevented.
- Unless the judicial system protects itself from such wrongdoing by taking cognizance, directing prosecution, and punishing those found guilty, it will be failing in its duty to render justice to the citizens.
- The justice delivery system has to be pure and should be such that the persons who are approaching the Courts must be afraid of making false claims.
- To enable the Courts to ward off unjustified interference in their working, those who indulge in immoral acts like false claims have to be appropriately dealt with, without which it would not be possible for any Court to administer justice in the true sense and to the satisfaction of those who approach it in the hope that truth would ultimately prevail.
Procedure to complain ‘offence’ under Section 209 IPC Explained
- Whenever a false claim is made before a Court, it would be appropriate, in the first instance, to issue a show cause notice to the litigant to show cause as to why a complaint be not made under Section 340 CrPC. for having made a false claim under Section 209 of the Indian Penal Code and a reasonable opportunity be afforded to the litigant to reply to the same. The Court may record the evidence, if considered it necessary.
- If the facts are sufficient to return a finding that an offence appears to have been committed and it is expedient in the interests of justice to proceed to make a complaint under Section 340 CrPC., the Court need not order a preliminary inquiry. But if they are not and there is suspicion, albeit a strong one, the Court may order a preliminary inquiry. For that purpose, it can direct the State agency to investigate and file a report along with such other evidence that they are able to gather.
- Before making a complaint under Section 340 CrPC., the Court shall consider whether it is expedient in the interest of justice to make a complaint.
- Once it prima facie appears that an offence under Section 209 IPC has been made out and it is expedient in the interest of justice, the Court should not hesitate to make a complaint under Section 340 CrPC.
Lawyers should not make claims in court which he knows is false
The court observed “a lawyer having actual knowledge about the falsity of a client’s claim (or after he subsequently acquires that knowledge), is not supposed to proceed to make that claim in Court and thereby, allow the client to gain something that he is not legally entitled to, or causes the adversary to lose something which he is legally entitled to. A lawyer should decline to accept instructions and/or doubt his client’s instructions if they plainly appear to be without foundation (eg, lacking in logical and/or legal coherence). However, a lawyer is not obliged to verify his client’s instructions with other sources unless there is compelling evidence to indicate that it is dubious. The fact that the opposing parties (or parties allied to them) dispute the veracity of his client’s instructions is not a reason for a lawyer to disbelieve or refuse to act on those instructions, and a lawyer should not be faulted if there are no reasonable means of objectively assessing the veracity of those instructions”
Litigants must come to court with clean hands
The Court made following observation on litigants “The Courts of law are meant for imparting justice between the parties. One who comes to the Court, must come with clean hands. More often than not, process of the Court is being abused. Property grabbers, tax-evaders, bank-loan-dodgers and other unscrupulous persons from all walks of life find the Court-process a convenient lever to retain the illegal gains indefinitely. A person, whose case is based on falsehood, has no right to approach the Court. He can be summarily thrown out at any stage of the litigation.”
Judge not a mere umpire, but explorer of truth
The court observed that a Judge is not a mere umpire at a wit-combat between the lawyers for the parties whose only duty is to enforce the rules of the game and declare at the end of the combat who has won and who has lost. He is expected, and indeed it is his duty, to explore all avenues open to him in order to discover the truth and to that end, question witnesses on points which the lawyers for the parties have either overlooked or left obscure or wilfully avoided. A Judge, who at the trial merely sits and records evidence without caring so to conduct the examination of the witnesses that every point is brought out, is not fulfilling his duty, the Court observed.
Read the Judgment here.