High Court (India)

February 26, 2019

Perjury insufficient to be attracted on grounds of mere contradictions in Witness’ Statements: Bombay HC (Nagpur Bench)


In an appeal heard before the Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) held that mere contradictions in Witness’ Statements is not enough to attract Perjury. Further, the Hon’ble Judge by its order dt. 19th February 2019acquitted the Accused, who whilst the hearing of the offences charged against him under the Section 7, 13 (1) (d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, had allegedly given false evidence during the course of examination.

The Accused was tried in the original Special Case No. 4/1999 for having demanded Rs. 500/- from the Complainant, Ganesh Deshmukh during the raid successfully conducted in the month of April 1998 by the Office of MHADA, Ankola. During the court proceedings, in the chief examination he mentioned that money was demanded for release of allotment of tenement in favour of complainant (as expected by the prosecution). But, during the cross-examination, the accused stated that the possibility of accepting the amount was for procurement of water supply line. The Special Judge disturbed due to the somersault of the accused in his statements, decided to resort to the jurisdiction bestowed under the provisions of S. 344 of the Cr PC. Not being satisfied by the written explanation provided by the accused, the Special Judge sentenced him to simple imprisonment for one month and inflicted fine of Rs. 200/-.

The Accused or the Appellant challenged the correctness of the judgement before the High Court of Bombay, at Nagpur.

The High Court stated that the true test for determining whether the statement is false or not is whether the two statements are contradictory or irreconcilable to each other. Certainly, the amount can either be paid as an illegal gratification or it can be paid for laying of water pipeline which seems to be a legitimate purpose. It cannot be for both the purposes. This test is certainly satisfied. It further stated that there cannot be any doubt that the Court being the guarantor and protector of the justice delivery system has to be cautious while encouraging truthful evidence. And, whenever the sanctity of oath is being misused for telling lie, the Court has to intervene and to set the law in motion. In this instant case, the High Court found that the learned Special Judge was courageous enough to initiate action for perjury, but, he lost sight to the fulfilments of ingredients of giving false evidence.

On account of these discrepancies, the impugned judgement of the trial court cannot be sustained. Accordingly, the appeal was allowed and the Criminal application No. 440 of 2005 convicting the appellant under S. 193 of the Indian Penal Code is set aside. Fine paid was returned. All personal and surety bond taken from the appellant was returned.

(Shri Manikrao s/o Shivram Wagh v. State of Maharashtra, Criminal Appeal No. 699 of 2006, High Court of Bombay (Nagpur Bench), decided on 19.2.2019 by Justice S Modak

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