Perjury and punishment.


We are a strange country. We have laws that are never applied or followed even by courts!

Consider our perjury laws. The law provides a punishment for giving false evidence or a statement/declaration made which is received by law as evidence.

Affidavit is one such declaration. It is sworn by a person and is notarized by a Notary Public, who is a public officer. The notary is required to verify the documents for correctness before signing it. However, he can’t and doesn’t have to check the truthfulness of the declaration made.

People file affidavits in India without any implications. There have been cases where govt. officials have filed affidavits which were patently false. In 1990s, in the famous corruption case against  Jayalalitha, A secretary personnel of Govt. of India gave an affidavit to the court stating that an IAS officer (who was Director at Revenue department at the time) investigating Jayalalitha’s disproportionate assets was transferred because he was from Union territory and delhi govt. asked for his return from Madras, and thus GOI had to oblige. However, it turned out Delhi govt. never made such request, and the transfer was to take the heat off Jayalalitha! Court ruled that the officer be reverted to the post at revenue intelligence. However, it didn’t punish the Secretary who perjured himself.

There are many such examples in many cases. Famous one is the Jessica Lal case, where Shyan Munshi apparently (allegedly?) perjured himself and is roaming free.

The only case I know of where a court punished someone for perjury was the Zaheera Sheik, who flip-flopped on witness stand thus was sent to prison for a year. She, a victim who lost her family, perhaps perjured herself for lure of some money and justifiably punished.

But, how about punishing the rich and powerful?

What about our Chief Minister, Yediyurappa’s son? He allegedly gave an affidavit stating he doesn’t own any house in Bangalore to get another site allotted on a discretion quota of his father. When there were charges of nepotism, he surrendered the site. Apparently this is supposed to be the end of matter.  But, what about the perjury? He is a Member of Parliament, and if he gives a false affidavit and isn’t punished, why should anyone respect it?

What are we doing about folks who give patently wrong testimony? Our judicial system is close to a collapse because rarely the witnesses say the same thing all thru. Why are our national parties not fixing that, instead of bickering over political one-upmanship, calling the other parties ‘black’??

Afterall, If they really cared to fix corruption, best thing to do is strengthen judiciary and make police, CBI and other law enforcement arms (perhaps Lokpal) independent of the very govt. that gets accused of corruption. bring in a separate agency whose only job is to investigate and punish the rogue police (like Internal Affairs in USA). Provide for budgets to bring in best lawyers as prosecutors on tough cases. Provide witness and whistle blower protection funds. Create an independent body (again perhaps Lokpal/Lokayukta), who will decide if a allegation/complain against a civil servant or politician is substantive or  frivolous and thus grant prosecution within weeks (not months). Have all cases of corruption fast tracked so people can’t hope to die of age without facing jail terms.

It is such a specious argument that the politicians get frivoulous cases against them, so they need protection against frivolous prosecution. Our celebrities face such cases all the time. There are obscenity charges or fake marriage cases, and they don’t have the protection. Neither do our famous and monied businessmen, who too can attract frivolous complaints/charges/cases. Clearly such privileges need to be removed or moderated.

If we hope to become a developed nation, first thing we need to note is – No nation ever became developed without it being a country ruled by Rule of Law (not people).

All other talks and TV debates are so much humbug.

Corruption would automatically reduce, when there is fear of punishment.

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