Read Order: Smt. Ritu @ Ridhima & Anr. v. Sandeep Singh Sangwan

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, March 21, 2022: While dealing with a petition filed by a wife, who was aggrieved by the initiation of perjury proceedings against her for non-disclosing her source of income in her maintenance proceedings, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that a petition under Section 125 Cr.PC is filed by a person who is unable to maintain herself or her children on account of lack of sufficient means, thus, it becomes the foremost duty of the party claiming maintenance to disclose to the Court her actual financial status so as to enable the Court to come to a conclusion as to the quantum of maintenance to be paid if any. 

Also, the Bench of Justice Jasjit Singh Bedi opined, “The practice of making false assertions in court ought to be discouraged because the dignity and sanctity of the court is undermined by such conduct of a party to a lis.”

The present revision petition was filed against the order of the Additional Principal Judge (Family Court), Ambala whereby it was ordered that it would be expedient in the interest of justice that an inquiry should be made against the petitioner (first respondent before the Family Court) into an offence under Section 191 IPC punishable under Section 193 and a separate complaint in this regard was ordered to be sent by the court to the court of CMJ, Ambala. 

In 2017, the petitioner-wife moved a complaint against the respondent-husband and his family members under Sections 498, 406, 506 and 312 IPC. The petitioner also filed an application under Section 125 Cr.PC along with an application for interim maintenance and in both applications she stated that she had no source of income or property and was unable. 

Before the Trial Court, the wife, during her deposition, maintained the same stand of having no income but she was confronted with the record relating to her job and she admitted that she was working as an Assistant Professor at Chitkara University, Rajpura on a monthly salary of Rs. 28,000/- per month. She joined the university on July 3, 2017, whereas she moved an application under Section 125 Cr.P.C. on July 26, 2017, where she denied having any source of income to support herself and her family. 

Due to this non-disclosure, the respondent-husband contended that she deliberately and intentionally gave wrong information to the court in order to grab the maintenance and harass him. He stated that it was the foremost duty of the parties, to tell the truth, so that the Court could reach a conclusion as to whether the amount claimed as maintenance by the wife was to be paid or not. Thus, the husband sought an inquiry as also the initiation of proceedings against her under Section 340 Cr.P.C. 

The Family Court concluded that the wife was legally bound to tell the truth but she made a false statement in the proceedings under Section 125 Cr.P.C. and thus, the Court came to the conclusion that it was expedient in the interest of justice that an inquiry should be made under Section 191 IPC. 

Also, since there were no allegations against the minor daughter, the application qua her was also dismissed. However, the court found while partially allowing the application of the husband that it was expedient in the interest of justice that an inquiry should be made against the wife for having committed an offence under Sections 191 IPC punishable under Section 193 IPC. It was this finding which was assailed by the petitioner-wife.

The petitioner’s counsel contended that she did not act deliberately or with an intention to commit perjury. The Counsel further referred to a number of judgments, wherein the Court held that it was not every case where it would be expedient to conduct proceedings under Section 340 Cr.PC and it was only in those cases where it was in the interest of justice to do so that such an inquiry can be ordered. 

Addressing the argument governing Section 360 Cr.P.C., the Court held that the proceedings under section 340 Cr.PC is undoubtedly initiated at the instance of one party but it is a matter of administration of justice and, therefore, ultimately it is between the parties and the court. Though, quite rightly, the effect of such proceedings may actually befall on either of the parties, added the Court. 

Further, on the need for disclosure of the source of income, the Court opined that a petition under Section 125 Cr.PC is filed by a person who is unable to maintain herself or her children on account of lack of sufficient means. Thus, the Court asserted that it becomes the foremost duty of the party claiming maintenance to disclose to the Court her actual financial status so as to enable the Court to come to a conclusion as to the quantum of maintenance to be paid if any. 

On the factual aspect, the Court opined that during the entire litigation including when the petitioner’s application for interim maintenance was decided, she did not disclose information about her job and her earnings and in fact deliberately and intentionally to grab maintenance, submitted wrong information to the Court that she was unemployed. 

The petitioner submitted that she gave all her documents to her counsel before joining the university, and by the time the petition was filed she joined the university and thus she could not disclose this fact. This explanation was found to be false, by the Court. The Court also stated that assuming that the said fact was missing in her petition under Section 125 Cr.PC, the Court could have been informed during the course of proceedings that there had been a change of circumstances regarding her obtaining employment. 

“However, as has already been mentioned above, no such information was furnished and only the cross-examination revealed her job and consequent salary. Thus it can safely be said that the possibility of her conviction was high and her actions were certainly deliberate and conscious to obtain maintenance”, added the Bench. 

Thus keeping in view the aforementioned facts and circumstances, the petition was dismissed by the Court. 

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