Read Judgment: Dr. Praveen R vs. Dr. Arpitha

Pankaj Bajpai

Bengaluru, September 16, 2021:The Karnataka High Court has held that 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, when there is a specific finding as to the falsity of statement made on oath by the respondent.

A Single Bench of Justice Krishna S. Dixit observed that act of perjury is a heinous offence in all civilized societies and 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 observation came pursuant to a petition filed by a husband seeking to initiate perjury proceedings against his estranged wife (respondent).

The background of the case was that the both the petitioner and the respondent were medical practitioners, and they had sought a decree for annulment of their marriage.While the proceedings were pending, the respondent filed an application u/s 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, seeking one lakh as monthly maintenance and a lump sum of seventy five thousand as litigation expenses.

However, pursuant to rejection of the same by the trial court, the respondent approached the High Court. When the matter was pending consideration, the petitioner filed a petition to initiate proceedings for the offence of perjury against the respondent, claiming that she had sought for maintenance by falsely contending that she was unemployed and had no income.

As the claim of petitioner was rejected by the trial court holding it to be premature, the petitioner approached the present High Court.

Stating that the offence of perjury is based upon recognition of the decline of moral values and erosion of sanctity of oath, Justice Dixit observed that unscrupulous litigants are found daily resorting to utter blatant falsehood in the courts which has to some extent resulted in polluting the judicial system.

The Bench reiterated that mere existence of the penal provisions to deal with perjury would be a cruel joke with the society unless the courts stop to take an evasive recourse despite proof of the commission of the offence.

It is not the case of respondent that the copies of Income Tax Returns produced by the petitioner for opposing the claim for maintenance, do not pertain to her or that their contents are untrue/incorrect; when the Court below has recorded a specific finding as to the income of the respondent from the medical profession that too on the basis of undisputed IT Returns for the relevant period; when it has also recorded a specific finding that the respondent has suppressed the fact that she was earning income”, observed Justice Dixit.

The High Court went on to observe that vehement contention that a Police investigation is launched against the petitioner/husband for producing copies of IT Returns and other documents of the respondent and therefore, till after its completion, no action for the commission of alleged perjury can be initiated, is bit difficult to countenance, more particularly, when the authenticity of these documents is not disputed.

Stating that the Police investigation has nothing to do with perjury allegedly committed by the respondent, the High Court concluded that the Trial Judge ought to have considered petitioner’s subject application with due seriousness and at the earliest point of time, there being no justification for deferring its consideration since it touched purity of judicial proceedings.

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