‘It’s all very well to paint justice blind, but she does better without a bandage round her eyes. She should be blind indeed to favor or prejudice, but clear to see which way lies the truth.’- Lord Dennings in the case of National Coal Board 1957. Law is set in place to provide justice to all but when two parties come to the court pleading the other as guilty, one of them is the real guilty one. Therefore, one party is getting falsified in every case. If the defendant is at fault, then the procedure of law punishes them but what will happen in cases where the plaintiff has bought in the false suit?
JUSTICE FOR ALL IS HAMPERING
Public justice is the political dimension of philanthropy, concern for creation, and the realization of the common good. It is especially the responsibility of governments and citizens to look at whether those seeking and implementing equitable policies can live with dignity and participate equally in society or not. False Court Cases are a bane to society since they not only increase the load of the honourable courts to deliver relief to the injured but also the ones with true intentions have to wait for years just to achieve their share of justice in this fast-forward world. These untrue claims are choking the judicial system. The citizens of the nation believe in the system of justice only because they have faith that their rights will be safe and that they will be able to live freely but the false cases and statements in the court just delay the process further. The rights get injured and society has to pay for this delay.
FALSE COURT CASE
A court case becomes false when either the defendant or the plaintiff appeals to the honourable court on false grounds and with the motive to harm the other party. It can even be termed not true when the evidence, witness, or statement is baseless and false and this is proved in a court of law.
Malicious Prosecution: A Tort
False court proceedings are dealt with in tort law under the ambit of malicious prosecution. It is a kind of legal proceeding brought against a person who with illegal or improper motives and without good reason has falsely alleged against another person in a court of law. It arises from malafide or improper motive and without any genuine cause to sustain the matter which has reached the thresholds of the court.
SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM!
Section 209 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860
Chapter 11 of the Indian Penal Code’s section 209 provides relief from false court cases.
Section 209 of the Indian Penal Code came into being because of the Law Commission’s suggestion on 15th June 1835 where the commission decided that false pleading should be punished by the court itself under clause 196 since it went against the nature of justice to the public at large.
This section talks about fraudulent false claims in court and states that anyone who claims in court that they know to be false in a fraudulent or dishonest manner or with the intent to harm or embarrass someone shall be punished by either imprisonment or a fine.
This section is included under the offenses against public justice and is non-cognizable and non-compoundable. For Section 209 to come into force the foundation should be false and it should be deliberative false justification.
The objective of the party making the false claim should be to defraud the party to the suit and sometimes even an outside party, “with intent to injure or annoy any person” in Section 209 means, that the object of injury may be to defraud a third party and the party doesn’t need to be also having a stance in the suit.
Essential Ingredients in the Making of Section 209
- The accused should make a claim which has to be a fact or a set of facts that exist or do not exist and on which the party seeks a result;
- The claim was made in a Court of Law [Badri v. Emperor, here the court held that jurisdiction is not the prime concern for section 209 but the fact that a false claim was made should be seen as important];
- The claim has to be false, either in totality or in part, and had a foundation in fraud, dishonesty, or the intent was to either injure or annoy a person.
WHY CRIMINALIZE FALSE PLEA?
The reason for outlawing erroneous claims and defenses is that both parties in the courts cannot exploit and mishandle the process of law by deliberative misrepresentation, thereby distorting the course of justice and undermining the authority of the law and judicial system. The case of Hs Bedi v. National Highway Authority of India states that ‘defense is complete the moment a false claim is filed in the court of law’. Para 16.1 (conclusions) of the judgment which talks about the Indian Penal Code further elaborated that Section 209 is a convenient endowment designed to safeguard and keep intact the dignity of courts and shelter the organization of justice by discouraging complainants from putting forth untrue statements. However, this provision of the court of law is invoked by the courts in matters of a very serious nature only. The calamitous outcome of Section 209’s failure to appeal is for petitioners to indulge in false allegations, believing that no action will be taken against them at any stance of the case proceedings. This provision of law should be beseeched in appropriate cases to avert the misuse of the procedure of law, shelter the home of justice from letting any wrong happen in it, keep the path of justice flawless of impediments and give validity to the principles of law.
SEARCH OF TRUTH BY COURTS
The Indian Evidence Act, of 1872 provides remedy via the judicial officials themselves. According to Section 165, a person with judicial powers may, at any time and in any form, question a witness or a party about relevant or unrelated facts to clarify relevant facts or to obtain appropriate evidence in a case. They can even order the release of documents or objects. Then neither the party nor the representative shall have the right to contest any such question or order or to cross-examine a witness without the permission of the Court in answering such question. This is done so that the courts themselves can find the truth in the matter and the falsehood of the case can be removed. Sometimes, judges even use this method to find out whether the case is based on false grounds or not.
The law sees everyone as equal in its eyes but if someone lays a false trap for another then the law is bound to protect and provide first aid to the injured. Therefore, when the person is falsely accused then the provisions of the law help them. False court cases are an offense against the public at large and the legal framework still needs to work more on this aspect of law for a better tomorrow.
Author(s) Name: Charu Kohli (Vivekanand Institute of Professional Studies, Delhi)