Wife filing false information in maintenance case can be prosecuted for perjury


In a recent case decided by the Gujarat High Court, it was held that laws which are otherwise in favour of the distressed wife, when are sought to be misused by declaring completely incorrect facts and also by suppressing the material aspect, in that case the wife can be prosecuted for the offence of perjury, i.e., for submitting false information before the court. This order was passed by Justice Sonia Gokani of the high court on 20 October 2016 in the case of Sejalben Tejasbhai Chovatiya v. State of Gujarat [SPECIAL CRIMINAL APPLICATION (QUASHING) NO. 7666 of 2016]. In this case, the petitioner wife had allegedly submitted false information in her maintenance case against her husband, concealing information about her income.

On the basis of an application moved by the husband before the Family Court, Rajkot to take action against wife under sections 195 read with section 340 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) committing an offence under sections 191, 192 and 193 of the Indian Penal Code, the Family Court recorded the evidence on both the sides and directed the Registrar of Family Court to file an application before the Pradyuman Nagar police station under sections 191,192 and 193 of the Indian Penal Code.

The petitioner wife challenged this order before the Gujarat High Court vide the above Special Criminal Application for quashing the said order.

The high court noted that admittedly, this order had arisen on account of the affidavit given by the petitioner wife, wherein she had declared herself a house­wife having no source of income. However, she has admitted in her cross-examination that she has obtained Rs. 4 lakhs from her previous husband at the time of taking divorce from him. Moreover, an application came to be moved before the Family Court, Ahmedabad by the husband that though she is earning a salary of Rs.40,000/­ from business, she had mentioned in her affidavit that she was a house wife and had no source of income.

The High Court noted that the Family Court had elaborately discussed the law and applied the said law to the facts to hold that the petitioner wife had not stated the correct facts on oath. She had stated that she was doing house­hold work and had no source of income while her income was Rs.40,000/­ per month from the business. She had of course, revealed that she had received sum of Rs. 4 lakhs from the earlier marriage. With regard to the income tax returns, she was found to have given false evidence. With regard to the fixed deposit and the amount that has been credited in her FDR, she stated that she has no knowledge with regard to her accounts in Central Bank of India and Rajkot Co­operative Bank. The husband also examined the witness, who was Inspector in the Income­Tax Department, wherein she submitted her personal income and her income tax returns had been brought on the record to indicate that from the year 2011-­12 she had income from business at Rs.1,48,251/­. The business profit was worth Rs.1,84,251/­. The Family Court had also given the details from Income Tax returns of her income of every assessment year. Senior Manager of Central Bank of India of Rajkot also had given the details that total of Rs. 17 lakhs, which were deposited in the name of the petitioner wife that towards the fixed deposit receipt, which she had not disclosed. The Family Court on noticing that she was getting sufficient income from the fixed deposit receipt and yet had not admitted in the evidence produced by her stating that she had no source of income, had directed the initiation of the prosecution under section 195 read with section 340 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

In these circumstances, the high court observed that the only aspect that required to be considered was as to whether it was expedient in the interest of justice that such prosecution would be necessary. This expediency, as held by the Supreme Court, was not weighing the magnitude of the injury suffered by the person affected by it but having regard to the effect or impact that the offence would have on administration of justice and considering the factual scenario, the Court has formed a preliminary opinion to hold that it is a case of perjury.

The high court further observed that:

“As can be noticed from the chronology of events and the evidence that has been adduced before the Court concerned, it is certain that the injury which could have been sustained by the other side has not resulted on account of this alleged falsehood because respondent No.2 could find out at an appropriate time the details which he has furnished before the Court. So far as its impact on the administration of justice is concerned, this Court has no reason to interfere as often it is found that the litigants coming before the Court chose to speak blatant lies and do so with complete impudence.”

The high court held that laws which are otherwise in favour of the distressed wife when are sought to be misused by declaring completely incorrect facts and also by suppressing the material aspect, the trial Court at the time of considering the case found that the impact on the administration of justice would make it expedient for it to direct the prosecution.

In these circumstances, the high court refused to interfere the order of the Family Court directing prosecution of the petitioner wife for perjury in her maintenance case. It was held that even otherwise, the petitioner would get all the opportunities to defend her case effectively. Accordingly, her Special Criminal Application for quashing of the Family Court order was dismissed.

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