Burden of False Claims- on Courts or on Litigants?

The country’s judicial system is loaded with baseless and bogus claims, and these petitioners are wasting the time of the courts for the wrong reasons. The legal system is plagued by false allegations and faux claims. Perjury has become an usual practice. False statements are commonly given, and falsified documents are submitted in Courts without any regard for the law or the consequences. There is a provision to counteract such false claims- Section 209 IPC, however, it has been hardly used.  History is a proof that the courts have never taken actions against such practices.  The point of contention is who suffers the most in a frivolous law suit- the courts or the innocent litigator?

It has been observed by Khehar J.[1] that courts in India are hampered within their responsibility of serving justice when they face false cases and that methods and means must be devised to restrict plaintiffs from filing frivolous claims. 

It is important to remember that on the opposite side of every careless and foolish assertion, there is an innocent victim. While the litigation is pending, he experiences long bouts of worry and restlessness for no apparent reason. He pays for the litigation out of his savings (or borrowings), fearful that the opposing side will manipulate him into defeat through no fault of his own. He spends a significant amount of time briefing and preparing attorneys for his case.  Doesn’t every defendant have a right to be reimbursed for all the losses he incurs due to no fault of his own?

Section 35(A) C.P.C

“On the off chance that on a significant perusing of the plaint it shows up obviously invented and meritless in the feeling of not unveiling a right to sue, courts should practice powers under Order VII. Rule 11, C.P.C. In the event that the suit is inspired by vexatious thought process, it ought to recollect the arrangement of Section 35A, C.P.C.”

[2]35A. “Compensatory costs in respect of false or vexatious claims or defences.– (1) If in any suit or other proceedings 2[including an execution proceeding but 3[excluding an appeal or a revision] any party objects to the claim or defence on the ground that the claim or defence or any part of it is, as against the objector, false or vexatious to the knowledge of the party by whom it has been put forward, and if thereafter, as against the objector, such claim or defence is disallowed, abandoned or withdrawn in whole or in part, the Court, 4[if it so thinks fit], may, after recording its reasons for holding such claim or defence to be false or vexatious, make an order for the payment to the object or by the party by whom such claim or defence has been put forward, of cost by way of compensation.”

“(3) No person against whom an order has been made under this section shall, by reason thereof, be exempted from any criminal liability in respect of any claim or defence made by him.”

The force under Order VII, Rule 11 discusses dismissal of plaint under four conditions, the first being non-divulgence of reason for activity, and the keep going one is on a bar of suit under any arrangement of law. For a request under Order VII, Rule 11. C.P.C., it is the plaint and the plaint alone which is to be thought of and on the off chance that the plaint put forth out a defense Indicating a reason for activity, the misrepresentation of the case would be a make a difference still up in the air at the preliminary and if at all the suit was observed to be vexatious or in view of bogus attestation, the offended party would be responsible for compensatory costs under Section 35A, C.P.C.

Section 209, Indian Penal Code

Dishonestly making a false allegation in a court, according to Section 209 of the Indian Penal Code, is a crime punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine. The following is the Section 209 of the Indian Penal Code: –

[3]“Dishonestly making false claim in Court — Whoever fraudulently or dishonestly, or with intent to injure or annoy any person, makes in a Court of Justice any claim which he knows to be false, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

A report was published in Kolkata in 1837 by the Bengal Military Orphan Press.  The report was delivered by Lord T.B. Macaulay, J.M. Macleod, G.W. Anderson and F. Millett, who served in the Indian Law Commission, created by General Governor of India, George Lord Aukland on June 15, 1835. The objective of the commission was to develop the Indian penal Code. 

The Law Commission suggested Clause 196, which would make filing any civil complaint containing a false allegation a crime and that too a punishable one. Section 209 of the Indian Penal Code was created after Clause 196 was changed into a relevant provision of the law. Clause 196 of the Commission’s report is reprinted below:

“Clause 196 Whoever, fraudulently, or for the purpose of annoyance, institutes any civil suit knowing that he has no just ground to institute such suit, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or fine, or both Explanation: It is not necessary that the party to whom the offender intends to cause wrongful loss or annoyance should be the party against whom the suit is instituted.”

The Indian Law Commission recognised the fact that they were introducing a new felony with no English precedent, and they were impelled to do this because false claims challenge the legal system to delay justice and jeopardise the sanctity of a court of justice as an unbiased custodian of truth.  The overall purpose of introducing such a law was to discourage people from submitting fake lawsuits.

Section 209 is a non-cognisable offence that can only be tried by a Magistrate of the First Class. A written complaint is has to be sent to the Magistrate regarding any such offence committed under Section 195 and Section 340 of Criminal Procedure Code.

The scope of Section 340 Cr.P.C. was determined in the judgment- Sanjeev Kumar Mittal v. State (2010)[4]. The important portion of the above mentioned case-

“If there is falsehood in the pleadings (plaint, written statement or replication), the task of the Court is also multiplied and a list that could be decided in a short time, then takes several years. It is the legal duty of every party to state in the pleadings the true facts and if they do not, they must suffer the consequences and the Court should not hold back from taking action.”

In order to maintain the sanctity of the justice system, the High Court of Karnataka[5] deemed it necessary to proceed against fraudulent allegations. The Court also stated that clemency on the part of courts had led to litigants receiving wrong signals. I firmly believe that courts have to be held liable for increasing number of false claims filed in India. Had they taken correct measures in time to cub the menace, it would not have reached to this disastrous stage.  The important portion of the above mentioned case-

“It has unfortunately become common place for the pleadings to be taken very lightly and for nothing but false and incorrect statements to be made in the course of judicial proceedings, for fabricated documents to be produced and even in cases where this comes to the light of the Court the party seems to get away because the Courts do not take necessary counter-action.”

Once this arises, it is quite disappointing since the legal system’s true foundation is built on the concepts of faith and credibility, with the goal of getting statements under oath from the litigants which is required to form a proper judgement after weighing the several arguments.  I this is not just a concern of morals, but also a rigid legal necessity that every claim produced be truthful to the degree that it can be checked and corrected to the best of the maker’s understanding. When a client tells their Advocate to prepare the pleadings, the client bears the primary duty since the Advocate, as an Officer of the Court, operates only on the instructions received by him, and although the lawyer is not exempted from indictment. If the circumstances are ambiguous, it is his client’s obligation to notify his competent Attorney, and if false claims are made in the filings, the side on whose account such assertions are submitted bears all liability.

The justice framework must be unadulterated and ought to be with the end goal that the people who are moving toward the Courts should fear making bogus cases. To empower the Courts to avoid inappropriate obstruction in their working, the individuals who enjoy indecent behaves like bogus cases must be suitably managed, without which it would not be feasible for any Court to seek justice in the genuine sense and as per the general inclination of the people who approach it with the expectation that reality would eventually win. At whatever point a bogus case is made under the steady gaze of a Court, it would be suitable, in the primary case, to give a show cause notice to the disputant to show cause with regards to why a grumbling be not made under Section 340 Cr.P.C. for having made a bogus case under Section 209 of the Indian Penal Code and a sensible chance be stood to the defendant to answer to something similar. The Court might record the proof, if it is vital.

Section 165, IEA

Section 165 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 contributes the Judge with whole powers to put any inquiry to any witness or party; in any structure, whenever, about any act significant or insignificant. Section 165 is planned to arm the Judge with the power to get the truth and deliver justice. The impact of this Section is that to reach the root cause of the matter, the Court will actually want to check out and ask into each fact/claim and subsequently conceivably get important demonstrative proof which might prompt other proof stringently applicable and permissible. The Court isn’t, in any case, allowed to establish its judgment on any but pertinent assertions.

The Judge mulled over by Section 165 is certainly not a simple umpire at a mind battle between the legal advocates for the gatherings whose main obligation is to implement the guidelines of the game and announce toward the finish of the battle who has won and who has lost. He is expected, and to be sure it is his obligation, to investigate all roads open to him to find truth and keeping that in mind, question witnesses on focuses which the attorneys for the gatherings have either disregarded or wilfully kept away from. A Judge, who at the preliminary only sits and records proof without mindful so to direct the assessment of the witnesses/evidence submitted that each point is brought out, isn’t satisfying his obligation.

On the off chance that the facts are adequate to submit that an offense seems to have been committed and it is expedient in the interests of justice to continue to submit a question under Section 340 Cr.P.C., the Court need not structure a ‘preliminary enquiry’. However, in case they are not and there is doubt, yet a solid one, the Court might arrange a ‘preliminary enquiry’. It can guide the State office to examine and record a report alongside such other proof that they can accumulate.

Conclusion

The Civil Procedure Code Section 35(A) and the Indian Penal Code’s Section 209 were designed to protect the integrity and credibility of the justice seeking institution by discouraging petitioners from lodging false allegations. Because the litigants are certain that no charges will be brought if Section 209 is not invoked, the catastrophic outcome is that they make alarming number of fraudulent allegations.

The assessment is that both the courts and the innocent party suffer equally. However, the nation as a whole suffers since the actual cases seeking justice get delayed because of such fraudulent claims and hence, our judicial system is still lacking as compared to other countries.


[1] Subrata Roy Sahara v. Union of India (2014) https://indiankanoon.org/doc/82476980/

[2] “Consult & Hire Top Rated Lawyers in India.” LawRato.com. Accessed October 7, 2021. https://lawrato.com/indian-kanoon/cpc/section-35A.

[3] “Section 209 in the Indian Penal Code – Indiankanoon.org.” Accessed October 7, 2021. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/83621866/

[4] “Sanjeev Kumar Mittal vs the State on 18 November, 2010.” Accessed October 7, 2021. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/83621866/

[5] A. Hiriyanna Gowda v. Stat of Karnataka https://indiankanoon.org/doc/862200/

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