Perjury under Indian Laws

Lying under oath before a court of law is considered perjury. In everyday life, lying might not always be considered objectionable, but in a court of law, it is illegal to voluntarily swear a false oath and make false statements (by statement during a hearing, affidavit or any other statement). A false oath can lead to an innocent person getting the punishment and a criminal receiving a free hand.

Ever since civilization started, people who believe in God have believed that no one can lie after swearing by God. Then, when European influence increased, this practice started being used in court, and the trend of swearing upon the Bible or other religious texts started, which can be seen until the medieval period and beyond.

Bare Act PDFs

The oath played a major role in the proceeding, as it is believed to be the true testimony of the person involved in that particular legal matter.

Thus, false swearing upon oath, which in legal terms is known as perjury, is considered a serious offence because it undermines the integrity of the legal system and can have serious consequences.

Perjury can occur in both civil and criminal proceedings. In civil proceedings, due to less evidence and lengthy procedures, perjury is not as detectable. However, in criminal proceedings, with strong evidence and cross-examination of parties and witnesses, perjury can be proved.

Since a simple lie can affect the direction of the case and lead to a severe threat to the justice system, perjury is a threat to the justice system.

What Constitutes Perjury?

The following things should be considered while considering a statement perjurious:

Bare Act PDFs
  1. The statements made by any person under oath may include court hearings, trials, depositions, affidavits, and sworn written statements.
  2. A statement made by any person that has been found false must be under the knowledge of the person who made it, knowing it to be false.
  3. Intention is an important element, so it is required to prove that the intention of the defendant or witness must be deceiving.
  4. A false statement must be directly related to the case. Minor inaccuracies in the statement shall not be construed as perjury.

Both in civil and criminal cases, perjury is punishable for the written and oral statements of a person found willingly false.

What Is the Significance of Religious Swearing In a Court of Law?

Religious swearing in courts has been traced back in history when traditional and religious beliefs were deeply enrooted in the legal system. Swearing on the Holy Text or God was considered a symbol of honesty and truthfulness.

The reason behind religious swearing was to emphasize how serious the person is about the statement and also create a sense of moral duty and obligation. It makes people feel scared that they would have to face dire spiritual consequences if they made a false statement upon oath.

It is more serious, weighty, and encouraging for someone to keep their word and tell the truth when they invoke a spiritual or moral authority. It emphasizes the grave responsibility of making sworn declarations in legal settings by drawing on traditional or religious ideals.

In modern times, this court method is not used as much as it was before, but the reasoning behind the oath-taking would be the same as before.

Legal requirements have been introduced to this procedure so that no one can testify falsely because some individuals who hold the belief that God does not exist can also swear falsely to God.

Perjury is typically classified as a criminal offence punishable by law. The jurisdiction and the particulars of each case determine how severe the penalties are.

Perjury Under IPC

Perjury laws are centred on sections 191 to 195 of the Indian Penal Code in Chapter XI (False Evidence and Offenses against Public Justice).

  • Sections 191 and 192: Giving or fabricating false evidence is punishable.
  • Section 193: Perjury is punishable with imprisonment for up to 7 years and a fine.
  • Sections 194 and 195: Fabricating false evidence in a capital offence.

Whoever gives or fabricates false evidence with the intent to convict someone of a capital offence or imprisonment for life in India can be punished with life imprisonment or up to ten years of rigorous imprisonment, along with a fine.

If an innocent person is wrongfully convicted and executed because of this false evidence, the individual providing it may face either the death penalty or the aforementioned punishments.

Perjury Under BNS, 2023

The provisions of Perjury in Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (BNS), are mentioned under Chapter XIV (False Evidence and Offences Against Public Justice). No major changes, alterations, or additions were made regarding the offence except the punishments. Sections 229 and 230 of BNS talk about fines and punishment. It ranges from five thousand rupees to death punishment.

Perjury Under Contempt of Courts Act

According to the judge’s discretion, perjury may additionally lead to charges of contempt of court under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.

  • Punishment for contempt of court may include simple imprisonment for up to 6 months, along with fines of up to Rs 2,000.
  • In cases of continued contempt, there may be penalties of simple imprisonment of up to one year and fines up to Rs 5,000 imposed upon conviction.
  • In cases of contempt concerning interference with the judicial process or cases involving constitutional points, imprisonment may extend to a minimum of 6 months, along with fines levied by the courts.
  • The Supreme Court and High Courts have extensive powers under Articles 129 and 215 of the Constitution, respectively, to punish contempt of it.

Private parties affected by perjury do not have standalone rights to sue for damages under Indian statutes. However, the court can prosecute perjury as obstruction of justice when revealed during proceedings. There are certain exceptions to perjury; for example, statements made in good faith to help reconcile people or secure pardon are exempted under section 195 of the IPC.


A false oath is known as perjury in law. Swearing on God or religious texts has been an ancient ritual that morally and spiritually obliges a person to be true to his words.

“Intention” is the essential element for this crime; the individual must have known the statement was false or misleading at the time it was made. But if the statement is said to be correct as per the conscious mind of the person, then it would not constitute perjury, even if the statement is found wrong later.

There is no specific law designated to deal with perjury. Perjury is punishable under the Indian Penal Code of 1860, Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita of 2023, and the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971.

Bhanu Choudhary
WritingLaw » Law Notes » Perjury in India – The Crime of Lying Under Oath Law Study Material
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