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Petitioner submitted false affidavit - Court levied Rs. 10 lakhs fine


Court :
Supreme Court of India

Brief :
On the material before us and the material considered by the High Court, we are satisfied that the imposition of costs by the High Court was justified. We find no reason to interfere with the impugned judgment and order.

Citation :
M/S SCIEMED OVERSEAS INC v. BOC INDIA LIMITED & ORS [SC]

M/S SCIEMED OVERSEAS INC v. BOC INDIA LIMITED & ORS [SC]
Special Leave Petition (C) No. 29125 of 2008

BRIEF FACTS

1. The facts are complicated. Suffice to mention that the appellant was the successful bidder in a work contract that was challenged by the respondent.

2. In the proceedings, the appellant filed an affidavit to the effect that nearly 85% of the work had been completed.

3. However, the High court found the statement made in the affidavit to be false after causing an inspection by an advocate.

4. Then the High court imposed a cost of Rs.10 lacs on the appellant for filing a false affidavit.

DECISION

Appeal dismissed.

REASON

5. The only question for our consideration is whether the High Court was correct in imposing costs of Rs. 10 lakhs on the petitioner for filing a false or misleading affidavit in this Court.

6. In our opinion, the imposition of costs, although somewhat steep, was fully justified given that the High Court also held that the contract in favour of the petitioner was awarded improperly and was of a commercial nature, the last two findings not being under challenge.

7. A global search of cases pertaining to the filing of a false affidavit indicates that the number of such cases that are reported has shown an alarming increase in the last fifteen years as compared to the number of such cases prior to that.

8. This is illustrative of the malaise that is slowly but surely creeping in. This 'trend' is certainly an unhealthy one that should be strongly discouraged, well before the filing of false affidavits gets to be treated as a routine and normal affair.

9. While impugning the order passed by the High Court, it was submitted by Sciemed that in fact the statement made in the affidavit filed in this Court was not a false statement but was bona fide and not a deliberate attempt to mislead this Court.

10. It was also submitted that the allegedly false or misleading statement had no impact on the decision taken by this Court and should, therefore, be ignored.

11. We are unable to accept either contention raised. The correctness of the statement made by Sciemed was examined threadbare not only by the learned Single Judge but also by the Division Bench and it was found that a considerable amount of work had still to be completed by Sciemed and it was not as if the work was nearing completion as represented to this Court.

12. Additionally, the Report independently given by the learned advocate appointed to make an assessment, also clearly indicated that a considerable amount of work had still to be performed by Sciemed. The Report was not ex parte but was carefully prepared after an inspection of the site and discussing the matter with Shailendra Prasad Singh the proprietor of Sciemed and an engineer of Sciemed as well as officers from the RIMS.

13. In the first instance, the work order was issued to Sciemed on 25th July, 2007 but this was not disclosed to the High Court when it disposed of W.P. (C) No.4203 of 2007 on 31st July, 2007. Had the factual position been disclosed to the High Court, perhaps the outcome of the writ petition filed by BOC would have been different and the issue might not have even travelled up to this Court. Furthermore, apparently to ensure that work order goes through, a false or misleading statement was made before this Court on affidavit when the matter was taken up on 14th March, 2008 to the effect that the work was nearing completion. It is not possible to accept the view canvassed by learned counsel that the false or misleading statement had 7 n Interpretation of Law 309 no impact on the decision rendered by this Court on 14th March, 2008. We cannot hypothesize on what transpired in the proceedings before this Court nor can we imagine what could or could not have weighed with this Court when it rendered its decision on 14th March, 2008.

14. The fact of the matter is that a false or misleading statement was made before this Court and that by itself is enough to invite an adverse reaction. In Muthu Karuppan v. Parithi Ilamvazhuthi (2001) 5 SCC 289 this Court expressed the view that the filing of a false affidavit should be effectively curbed with a strong hand. It is true that the observation was made in the context of contempt of Court proceedings, but the view expressed must be generally endorsed to preserve the purity of judicial proceedings. This is what was said: "Giving false evidence by filing false affidavit is an evil which must be effectively curbed with a strong hand.

15. Prosecution should be ordered when it is considered expedient in the interest of justice to punish the delinquent, but there must be a prima facie case of "deliberate falsehood" on a matter of substance and the court should be satisfied that there is a reasonable foundation for the charge."

16. On the material before us and the material considered by the High Court, we are satisfied that the imposition of costs by the High Court was justified. We find no reason to interfere with the impugned judgment and order.

17. The petition is dismissed.

 

FCS Deepak Pratap Singh
on 09 December 2022
Published in Corporate Law
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