Compiled by: Sachi Kapoor | Concept & Edited by: Dr. Mohan Dewan

"Do you solemnly swear that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?" a question we've heard time and again in multiple courtroom dramas. Commonly known as the Oath, this is a mandate for a person testifying in the Court of Law or submitting an affidavit (as per The Oaths Act, 1969). If a person defies such a mandate by lying under Oath, it amounts to a crime called 'Perjury' in addition to 'Contempt of Court'.

Perjury is an act, where a person produces false evidence with complete knowledge of such evidence being false before the Court of Law in an attempt to deceive or mislead the court and lead to miscarriage of justice. Lying in an affidavit will also amount to Perjury since an Affidavit is a truthful submission made before the Court of Law under Oath. In case, the crime of Perjury has taken place, the Court has every right to disregard such falsely produced evidence/affidavit and serve such person with a punishment. Perjury is a serious criminal offence which attracts Section 193 of the IPC.

Contempt of Court is referred to an offense of being disobedient or discourteous towards a Court of Law and/or its officers in the form of behavior that opposes or defies the authority, justice and more specifically the dignity of the court. The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, provides for Contempt in the face of Supreme Court or High Court under Section 14. This Section empowers the Court to initiate a suo moto action against the person involved in the act of contempt.

In the recent judgment, Louis Vuitton Malletier vs Mr. Omi and Anr., a Trademark Infringement matter, the Delhi High Court witnessed the case of a false affidavit produced in the Court of Law by the Defendant. The petitioner Louis Vuitton Malletier, a highly reputed company, filed a suit for permanent injunction restraining infringement of trademark, copyright, passing off, dilution and tarnishment, damages, etc. against the Respondents. During the proceedings of the case, it was brought to light by the Investigating officer that the affidavit sworn by the Defendant was incorrect and false and in fact the Defendant had attempted to mislead the Court. The Court then relied upon its power under Section 14 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 and disregarded the false affidavit. The Court further sentenced the defendant to one month of simple imprisonment in addition to imposing a fine of Rs.2000/-.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.