What are the essential ingredients of the offence of Perjury?

By | July 17, 2021
IPC Mains Questions Series Part

Question: What are the essential ingredients of the offence of Perjury?

Or

What do you mean by ‘giving false evidence’. Explain and illustrate.

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [What are the essential ingredients of the offence of Perjury?]

Answer

Section 191 of IPC talks about when a person is said to give false evidence. According to the provision, whoever, being legally bound by an oath or by any express provision of law to state the truth, or being bound by law to make a declaration upon any subject, makes any statement which is false, and which he either knows or believes to be false or does not believe to be true, is said to give false evidence.

Explanation 1 to section 191: A statement is within the meaning of this section, whether it is made verbally or otherwise.

Explanation 2 to section 191: A false statement as to the belief of the person attesting is within the meaning of this section, and a person may be guilty of giving false evidence by stating that he believes a thing which he does not believe, as well as by stating that he knows a thing which he does not know.

The offence intended to be covered under this section is the offence of perjury in English law. According to English statutory law (the Perjury Act 1911), as stated in Halsbury’s Laws of England:

“A person is by statute guilty of the crime of perjury if, lawfully sworn as a witness or as an interpreter in a judicial proceeding; he lawfully makes a statement material in that proceeding which he knows to be false or does not believe to be true.”

The offence as defined in section 191, IPC, comprises of the following five elements:

(1) A false statement, made by a person, who is;

(2) Bound by an oath; or

(3) By an express provision of law; or

(4) A declaration which a person is bound by law to make on any subject; and

(5) Which statement or declaration is false and which he either knows or believes to be false or does not believe to be true.

The three essential prerequisite conditions are:

  • A legal obligation to state the truth;

The words ‘legally bound by an oath’ contemplate a witness. Section 191 is applicable only when a statement is made by a person bound by an oath or by an express provision of law to state the truth, or who is bound by law to make a declaration upon any subject. In other words, it means that he is under a legal obligation to speak the truth in view of the oath administered to him or because of the express provision of law, which binds him to speak the truth.

  • The making of a false statement or declaration

It is no doubt true that s 191 opens with the words ‘whoever…,’ meaning thereby that every person who makes a false statement on oath is liable to be prosecuted.

  • Belief in its falsity

In order to constitute an offence under this section, three criteria have to be established:

  1. that the statement was false;
  2. the person making the statement knew or believed it to be false or did not believe it to be true, and
  3. that such a statement was made intentionally.

Important Mains Questions Series for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

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