The Karnataka High Court recently held that consideration of perjury complaints cannot be deferred or delayed, and that it is a heinous offence in civilized societies
Justice Krishna Dixit of the High Court opined,
“Act of perjury is treated as a heinous offence in all civilized societies; consideration of complaints with regard to the same cannot be deferred or delayed; otherwise there is all possibility of the fountain of justice being polluted.”
The Court passed the order in a plea moved by a person seeking to initiate perjury proceedings against his estranged wife, the respondent. The petitioner and the respondent were both medical practitioners seeking a decree for annulment of their marriage.
While the proceedings were pending, the respondent filed an application under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, seeking ₹1,00,000 as monthly maintenance and a lump sum of ₹75,000 as litigation expenses. However, this was rejected by the trial court, following which she appealed against the order before the High Court. That petition is pending.
The husband then filed a petition to initiate proceedings for the offence of perjury against the respondent-wife, claiming that she had sought for maintenance while falsely contending that she was unemployed and had no income. The same was rejected by the trial court, holding it to be premature. Aggrieved by the same, the petitioner moved the High Court.
Justice Dixit noted that the lower court had rejected the respondent’s claim for maintenance after going through her Income Tax returns and considering the fact that she was a postgraduate in medicine. “Thus there is a specific finding as to falsity of statement made on oath by the respondent”, said the High Court.
The High Court further said that the application to initiate perjury proceedings against the respondent could not have been turned down by the subordinate court. “…the application of petitioner for initiating action for the offence of perjury, could not have been turned down as being premature merely because main matter is still pending; consideration of such an application has nothing to do with the outcome of the main matter at all.” Going one step further, the Court criticized the subordinate court for refusing to take action. “The inner voice of this decision (Mahila Vinod Kumari vs. State of Madhya Pradesh) appears to have fallen on the deaf ears of the learned Judge of the court below.” Adding on, the Court said, “…the reason assigned by the Court below for holding petitioner’s subject application to be premature, is unsustainable to say the least; the view of the learned trial Judge that petitioner can move similar application subsequently offends sense of justice; applications of the kind need to be considered on merits at the earliest point of time so that a loud message goes to the unscrupulous section of the litigant public as to what would befall the perjuring parties.” With these observations, the Court proceeded to allow the petition and remit the matter back to the subordinate court for fresh consideration.