The Kerala High Court recently directed a man to withdraw a complaint filed by him against his wife who made a false claim before a family court that she is not a doctor in order to claim interim maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
A division bench of Justices Alexander Thomas and CS Sudha said that proceedings for perjury (making false statement to court) cannot be initiated on all statements and arguments before the Court as it will open a floodgate of litigation.
“As held in Chandrapal Singh (Supra), day-in and day-out averments are made by the parties to the case, some of which are accepted and some others are rejected. If in all such cases, proceedings for perjury are to be filed, not only will that open up floodgates of litigation, but it would also be an abuse of the process of the court and the courts will not have time for any other matter apart from considering such issues. Therefore, in these circumstances, we hold that this is not a fit case in which the proceedings under Section 340 CrPC ought to have been initiated. In the result, the appeal is allowed. The complainant in annexure A3 complaint is directed to withdraw the complaint,” the Court said.
The Court was considering an appeal filed by a woman against a family court decision which had asked the husband to file a complaint before the Magistrate for offence punishable under Section 193 (punishment for false evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The woman had initially approached the family court seeking maintenance from her estranged husband under Section 125 of CrPC.
During the cross-examination of the case, she denied being a doctor in a clinic, and claimed that she has no means to maintain herself.
Her estranged husband disproved her statement through the examination of the proprietor of the clinic she works.
Thereafter, the estranged husband filed a petition contending that his wife denied her employment status during the cross-examination and hence, committed the offence under Section 191 (giving false evidence) of Indian Penal Code (IPC), punishable under Section 193 of IPC.
The family court accepted the arguments of the estranged husband and directed him to lodge a complaint against his wife under Section 340 of CrPC before the jurisdictional Magistrate
This prompted the wife to move the present appeal before the High Court.
The High Court after referring to various precedents said that courts are not bound to make a complaint in a routine manner regarding the commission of an offence on false statements or averments and such a course should be adopted only if the interest of justice requires the same and not in every case.
In the present case, the family court did not arrive at a conclusion that it is expedient in the interest of justice that an enquiry should be made into the alleged offense.
The Court said that proceedings against false statements cannot be initiated on all statements and averments before the courts as it will open up a floodgate of litigation.
“Acceptance or rejection of evidence by itself is not a sufficient yardstick to dub the one rejected as false. Falsity can be alleged when truth stands out glaringly and to the knowledge of the person who is making the false statement. Day in and day out in courts averments made by one set of witnesses are accepted and the counter-averments are rejected. If in all such cases complaints under Section 199 IPC are to be filed, not only there will open up floodgates of litigation but, it would unquestionably be an abuse of the process of the Court.” Court noted.
Therefore, the Court directed the husband to withdraw his complaint before the jurisdictional Magistrate against his wife.
The petitioner was represented by advocates Benny Joseph, MB Sandeep, R Priya amd Amal Stanly.
The respondent was represented by Senior advocate Saigi Jacob Palatty.