FALSE ALLEGATIONS AND THE STEPS TAKEN BY THE LAW TO PREVENT IT
Updated: Mar 26, 2021
Author: Manali Agrawal
A Few days back, the High Court of Allahabad acquitted a person named Vishnu of false rape charges after he has spent 20 years in jail. This fact makes us take a pause and ponder over the matter that how easily in India, prime years of an innocent person’s life can get wasted in jail solely because he was allegedly “falsely” of an offense. There are abundant provisions and laws to deal with the matter, but the implementation of those is not apparent in reality. Cases of false allegations are ever-increasing.
In most cases, the false cases are implicated to satisfy the personal grudges or political rivalry of a person. We can say that false allegation are those allegations that are made deliberately while having reasons to believe or having knowledge that a person or persons have not committed the offense for which he is alleged. Such acts do not secure the ends of justice and are done only to fulfil personal motives. Other than causing unfair harassment of an “innocent accused” such allegations create an unnecessary burden on the Judiciary, hampering its quality and efficiency.
LEGISLATIONS DEALING WITH FALSE ALLEGATIONS:
A plethora of legal provisions and judicial pronouncements are available in the Indian legal system, which provides remedies for a person against whom false accusations have been made. Some of them are:
1. Article 226 of the Constitution of India: If false allegations are made in an FIR and the Subordinate Court, ignoring the fact that the FIR is false, and the police officer or the public servant has knowingly registered it, pass any decree against the innocent accused, the person against whom false allegations are made, can file a Writ Petition before the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution. If the High Court is satisfied with the petition, it can pass the Writ of Prohibition, where the Subordinate Court can be ordered to stop such criminal proceedings involving vexatious trial. Or it can pass the writ of Mandamus, where the High Court can order the Police officer who had knowingly registered the false complaint to perform his duties legally.
2. Section 211 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860: It provides for punishment when a false charge or proceeding is made by a person, knowing that there is no just or lawful ground for the same, intending to cause injury to another person. Punishment under section is imprisonment which may extend to two years, or with fine, or both. Further, it provides that if such a false charge or proceeding is made against any offense punishable with the death sentence, life imprisonment, or imprisonment of seven years or more, the punishment will be imprisonment which may extend to seven years and fine.
3. Section 250 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973:
Section 250 provides that if a magistrate, after undergoing the trial, discharges the accused, and is satisfied that there was no reasonable ground for making such accusations, may order the person who made false accusations to pay compensation to the “innocent accused”. It also provides that if the person defaults in paying the compensation, he may be sent for imprisonment for the term which may exceed 30 Days. However, the amount of compensation cannot exceed the amount that a magistrate is empowered to impose.
4. Defamation Charges: If any false allegations are made against any person, and he is acquitted by the competent Court from the allegations, the charges of defamation can be instituted against the person making false accusations under Section 499 and 500 of the IPC on the ground that his reputation is affected in consequence of the false allegations made against him. If the cause of defamation is proved, a person making false allegations can be punished with imprisonment, which may extend to two years, or fine, or both. This is concerning criminal defamation cases.
A civil suit can also be filed under Section 19 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 for claiming compensation, for defamation due to the false allegation, from the person who made false allegations.
5. Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973: Section 482 of the CrPC confers inherent power to the High Courts to make any order necessary to prevent abuse of the process of any court or otherwise for securing the ends of Justice. Thus, if the High Court is satisfied that there is no prima-facie ground for the case against the accused, and the allegations made against him are vexatious, the High Court is empowered to quash the FIR by Section 482 of the CrPC.
In the case of Bhajan Lal,the Supreme Court gave certain guidelines to High Court and said that if the complaint is made with mala-fide intention with the ulterior motive of satisfying personal grudges, the High Court should exercise its power under Section 482 of the CrPC.
6. Section 14 of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013: (Hereinafter referred to as POSH Act) Section 14 of the POSH Act, provides for the punishment for women for making false allegations under this Act. The act is applicable only in cases of sexual harassment of Women at the Workplace. Therefore, this remedy is helpful only if a false allegation is made to the sexual harassment of women at the workplace.
Other than these certain general provisions, there are specific provisions in different acts, like Section 45(14) of the Prisons Act, 1984, Section 5 of the Public Service (Inquiries) Act, 1850, Section 56 of the Army Act, 1950 which deals with cases of false allegations in their specific domain. Thus, we can conclude here that in fact, there are a plethora of provisions and laws to deal with the issue of false allegations, but any kind of positive implementation of these provisions is not apparent as the cases of false allegations of an offense are ever-increasing. It calls for a review of these provisions or even demands stricter punishments for the persons, making false allegations. The law must act as deterrence in cases of false allegations because even a higher amount of compensation to a person accused of a false crime is not adequate and the precious time of one life as well his reputation cannot be restored, even with a hefty amount of compensation.
https://www.livelaw.in/pdf_upload/rape-accused-incarcerated-for-20-years-acquitted-by-allahabad-high-court-389917.pdf : Order of Vishnu v. State of UP. State of Haryana and Ors. v. Bhajan Lal and Ors., 1992 Supp (1) SCC 335