TRUTH CERTIFICATION IN INDIAN JUDICIARY: What Holy Book Would Verity Truth?.......
Posted by Vishva News Reporter on August 8, 2006


Flag of IndiaEmblem of India

Indian Flag & Indian official emblem with motto: "Satyameva Jayate" (Sanskrit) = "Only Truth Will Win" The white in the flag signifies light, the path of truth to guide our conduct. The "Ashoka Chakra" in the centre of the white is the wheel of the law of dharma. Truth = satya, dharma =r virtue aret to be the controlling principles of those who work under this flag in India. The wheel represents the dynamism of a peaceful change in India.

Bhagavad Giitaa
Questioned  As testament of
in Indian courts

Hindustan Times: Press Trust of India: Varanasi, July 29, 2006

A sessions court in Varanasi will on Monday hear a petition questioning the logic of using the Bhagavad Giitaa only as a testament of truth in courts.

The application filed in the District and Sessions court by a lawyer questioned the choice of the Bhagavad Giitaa for Hindu litigants and witnesses to take oath in courts and not other scriptures like the four Vedas and the Ramayana.

It was filed under Section 5 of the Civil Procedure Code and the lawyer RK Verma said the Constitution also questioned the sanctity of the Bhagavad Giitaa as a holy book on the ground that it was a collection of discussions between Lord Krishna and the warrior Arjuna before the start of the 18-day Mahabharata war which killed about 1.7 billion peoples in about 3000 BC.

He asked the court to make a provision for religious books like the Vedas and Ramayana for Hindu litigants for giving testimony during court proceedings on the ground that these epics were "repositories of truth". The matter has been transferred for hearing in the court of Additional Sessions Judge NS Rawal for July 31.



"tell the truth,
the whole truth,
nothing but the truth
so help me God"

If a person has to testify in court as above,
what book with "holy scriptures"
must s/he swear on  the above ?

  • An oath (from Old Saxon "eoth") is either a promise or a statement of fact calling upon something or someone that the oath maker considers sacred, usually a god, as a witness to the binding nature of the promise or the truth of the statement of fact. To swear is to take an oath.
  •  A person taking an oath indicates this in a number of ways. The most usual is the explicit "I swear," but any statement or promise that includes "with N as my witness" or "so help me N," with N being something or someone the oath-taker holds sacred, is an oath.
  • Many people take an oath by holding in their hand or placing over their head a book of scripture or a sacred object, thus indicating the sacred witness through their action: such an oath is called corporal. However, the chief purpose of such an act is for ceremony or solemnity, and the act does not of itself make an oath.

(From Wikipedia-the free on-line encyclopedia. The entire article on OATH can be read by clicking here)


Please click on the next line to read an article titled "EXPERIMENTS WITH (UN)TRUTH IN INDIA" in 21st century Indian justice and adminstrative systems  by T.V. SOMANATHAN, a member of the Indian Administrative Service, is the presiding officer of the Tribunal for Disciplinary Proceedings, Tirunelveli Region and also the history of Indian judicial system and oath taking and its comparison with the meaning of oath taking in the western judicial systems....

The Oath of the Horatii, by

The Oath of the Horatii, by Jacques-Louis David

(The Roman salute is a closed finger, flat-palm-down hand raised at an angle (usually 45 degrees) and was used by the Roman Republic. The association of Roman salute with the German Nazis has been so strong that it is rarely used by non-Nazi organizations since the end of World War II. One exception to this is the Republic of China (on Taiwan), where the salute is still used when an office holder is swearing an oath.)


  • In my mind, the whole purpose behind placing one's hand on the Bible or a holy text and swearing to "tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help me God" goes beyond merely making a legally binding oath.

     It adds the dimension of this being a covenant with God.

    Thus, not only is the liar subject to legal punishment for perjury, but he is also subject to eternal punishment for lying to God.

    If the witness does not consider the Holy text to be holy then swearing on it is not as binding as swearing on something that he does consider holy.

    Obviously, with an atheist, it would not matter what you used, if anything. They do not believe in divinity or an afterlife.

    So, oaths before deity would have no real meaning to them. We would have rely entirely on the threat of legal action to insure their honesty (From: Answerbag: by Glenn Blaylock ( A) :Aug 24, 2005)

  • The power of the oath, really, is not in whether falsehood will ultimately be punished in the afterworld at some fateful future ultimate judging.

    Rather, the power of the oath lies in the current deeply-held belief of the person who is swearing.

    That is, swearing to God on a holy text doesn’t so much rely in actual future punishment for falsehood, but simply in the current fear of prospective punishment for falsehood.

    Or, at least, that the current oath is truly solemn, in the eyes of the person who is swearing. Either way, the oath should be sworn on the text held most holy by the person doing the swearing. (CrimBlog: October 16, 2005)




  • About 1000 AD, India then had a vEDik culture and lifestyle. This means that the judicial system then was based on the DHARm-shaasTR of vED which contains the scientific knowledge of creation and life. DHARm-shaas`TR=sciences of DHARm which has the laws to operate the entire humanity and the creation for harmonious co-existence is explained very simply in the texts of mHaabhaart compiled by vyaas-muni.
  • Since about 1000 AD, the invaders from many cultures such as Turks, Muslims and Christian western civilization forcefully imposed its will on Indian people. This imposition changed the original Indian judicial system based on vEDik culture and lifestyle. This imposed changes over the  millennium is seen in the current Indian judicial system which is a mix of various cultures on the corrupted foundation of vEDik lifestyle and culture. 
  • Theoretically, the Indian system is very similar to western system due to 250 effect of British colonialism on Indian culture.
  • In India, Evidence in courts is to be given under oath. The Oaths Act 1969, which replaced the Indian Oaths Act 1873 which was installed by British governments.
  • The Oaths Act 1969 uses the standard `truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth' phraseology, and requires that oaths be administered in all lower courts by the presiding officer himself. In disciplinary proceedings, evidence is not taken on oath but witnesses are nevertheless under a legal obligation to tell the truth. Similar is the case in quasi-judicial proceedings.
  • The oath of office for the President of India and other elected official is as follows:
    I, [Name] , do swear in the name of God/solemnly affirm that I will faithfully execute the office :of President (or discharge the functions of the President) of India and will to the best of my :ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law and that I will devote myself to :the service and well-being of the people of India.

  • As per Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, India's first Vice President, clarified the meaning of the tri-clour Indian with the Ashoka Chakra as follows both of which has a reference to upholding TRUTH and law as in dharma:

    "Bhagwa or the saffron colour denotes renunciation or disinterestedness. Our leaders must be indifferent to material gains and dedicate themselves to their work.

    The white in the centre is light, the path of truth to guide our conduct. The green shows our relation to (the) soil, our relation to the plant life here, on which all other life depends.

    The "Ashoka Chakra" in the centre of the white is the wheel of the law of dharma. Truth or satya, dharma or virtue ought to be the controlling principle of those who work under this flag.

    Again, the wheel denotes motion. There is death in stagnation. There is life in movement. India should no more resist change, it must move and go forward. The wheel represents the dynamism of a peaceful change."

To understand the above in the context on Indian culture please give YOURSELF a quick primer on the India on the Wikipedia-the free online encyclopedia by clicking here .



From: Hindu: September 17, 2002:  By T.V. SOMANATHAN

If our justice and administrative systems show much evidence of decay, it is partly because there is much decay of evidence. In the land of Gandhi, a few experiments in fighting untruth are overdue.

THE DECISION of the American Securities and Exchange Commission to require chief executives of companies to swear an oath to the truthfulness of their accounts is one which, to the Indian eye, seems peculiar. The average Indian chief executive can be forgiven for asking what is so great about swearing an oath. Surely this is a meaningless and purely symbolic ritual? Yet, at the time of writing, the deadline set by the SEC has passed, and several chief executives have asked for extension of time on grounds that they are not yet ready to take their oaths. What explains this vast gulf in perception? The answer lies not in sociology but in the law. Americans take oaths more seriously not because they are more truthful but because they are more fearful of being punished if they are caught lying.

India's legal system, like America's, is derived from English common law in both substance and procedure. One of the fundamental underpinnings of the English system is that every person who gives evidence on oath has not merely a moral but a legal duty to tell the truth. The law contains provisions to punish those who lie under oath and even those who encourage or abet others in lying under oath. When false evidence is given in a judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding it is called perjury.

Perjury and false evidence are taken very seriously in both England and the United States, as the conviction of ex-Conservative politician and novelist Jeffrey Archer in England and the long criminal investigation (and eventual debarring from legal practice) of Mr. Bill Clinton in America show. Most American lawyers would not dream of even privately advising witnesses to lie on the stand, since they would run the risk of being prosecuted for suborning perjury. Because what one says on oath is taken seriously, the very ritual of swearing the oath is also taken seriously in courts and in other situations where sworn evidence is to be given. Witnesses are asked to raise their right hand and place the left on the Bible (or other holy book). When courts resume after a recess, judges often make it a point to remind the witness (whose testimony is to continue) that he is still under oath. American newspapers are fond of publishing photographs of famous people taking their oaths before giving sworn testimony to Congressional committees.

Theoretically, the Indian system is very similar. Evidence in courts is to be given under oath. The Oaths Act 1969, which replaced the Indian Oaths Act 1873, uses the standard `truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth' phraseology, and requires that oaths be administered in all lower courts by the presiding officer himself. In disciplinary proceedings against public servants, evidence is not taken on oath (even though these enquiries, as a result of a series of judicial pronouncements over the years, have acquired many of the other characteristics of a criminal trial), but witnesses are nevertheless under a legal obligation to tell the truth. Similar is the case in quasi-judicial proceedings.

In practice, the situation is very different. Oath taking in many lower courts, far from being solemn, is perfunctory to the point of irrelevance. The witness is often merely asked by the bench clerk or the examining advocate to say "I shall speak the truth" and he usually mumbles something inaudible in response. The swearing of oaths in the name of God, elaborate reference to the `whole truth and nothing but the truth' or the placing of the witness' hand on a book considered holy by him are now largely confined to the cinema screen. Affidavits before notary publics can usually be `sworn' without the deponent even appearing in person, for a `fee'.

A misconception

Most advocates in India think nothing of `instructing' or `coaching' `their' witnesses on how to answer questions in court. The practice is rampant of parties in civil, criminal and disciplinary cases approaching witnesses and bribing or threatening them into turning `hostile' to the party which calls them. Giving false statements to public servants is also de rigueur. Since most cases in India are appealed to the higher courts, it might seem that the manner in which evidence is taken in the lower courts or before administrative authorities is not critical. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Appeals from the lower courts are generally on points of law or on appreciation of evidence, and as far as the actual evidence is concerned what is recorded by the lower courts or quasi-judicial fora in most civil, criminal and disciplinary matters is usually final.



As is the case with most offences, India's statutes are not to be found wanting when it comes to proscribing (and prescribing punishments for) false evidence. The Indian Penal Code contains elaborate provisions defining offences and fixing sentences for a variety of situations where false evidence is given. These are to be found in Chapter X ("Contempts of the lawful authority of public servants") and Chapter XI ("False evidence and offences against public justice"). The record in enforcing these sections of the Penal Code is however dismal. Prosecution for false evidence is extremely rare and the fear of such prosecution even rarer.

Widespread prevalence

The widespread prevalence of perjury and false evidence has serious consequences. The large number of prosecutions of the rich and the powerful which start with a bang and end with a whimper (in acquittal) can be traced to it. So too can the large number of murders and other grave crimes which have their roots in unsettled or unfairly settled civil disputes. So ubiquitous is false evidence, that it has become a near-universal practice for defence lawyers to conclude their cross examinations of prosecution or plaintiff's witnesses with a stock suggestion that "I put it to you that you are lying in order to... (insert reason)" whether or not they have shown any foundation for such an inference.

This is not the case in either England or the U.S. where (for instance) such a suggestion is not routinely put to police officers or witnesses who are generally felt to be respectable. When the Anglo-Saxon requirement of benefit of doubt going to the accused is juxtaposed onto a very non-Anglo-Saxon approach to perjury and to the evidentiary value of statements made to the police, it is small wonder that the guilty in criminal cases walk free far more often than they should. The public look up to the judiciary to do justice, but the judiciary has to go by evidence. The fact that many witnesses lie enters into the sub-conscious of the magistrate, judge or presiding officer and makes his job in appreciating evidence far more difficult than that of his counterparts in countries where lying under oath is less common. If the evidence is false, judicial proceedings are polluted at source and can only result in injustice, with the acquittal of the guilty or in the punishment of the innocent. After all, "if the salt has lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?"

Vigilance mechanism

Like many of India's problems, describing the problem is easier than finding a solution. However, there are a number of steps which can be taken to make a beginning. First, the problem has to be attacked at the root by making witnesses more conscious of their obligations to man and God to tell the truth in court. Oath taking has to be made more formal, partly through stricter compliance with, and partly by amending, the Oaths Act 1969. Witnesses who claim to belong to a religion must be required to place their hands on the appropriate book and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, etc. In a country where belief in religion plays such a large part, and where for many people fear of God is greater than fear of law, this can do no harm and possibly much good. Those who, claiming to belong to no religion, wish to make an affirmation rather than an oath must be asked to first make an affirmation that they do not believe in any religion. The fact that they are required to do so may have some effect in deterring those who pretend to be atheists or agnostics to avoid the oath taking, since they would be loath for their co-religionists to find out that they claimed to be atheists. Those who take an affirmation rather than oath (on grounds of not believing in God, etc.) should be formally reminded that they can be prosecuted for giving false evidence.

Secondly, a conscious effort should be launched to prosecute persons for giving false evidence not only in judicial proceedings but also in administrative matters where a public servant is entitled to take a statement. Even if many of these prosecutions fail (perhaps due to false evidence!) the mere fact that such cases are being prosecuted will have deterrent effect. Thirdly, the Penal Code needs to be amended. Most of the offences in Chapters X and XI, though clearly and comprehensively defined, are both non-cognisable and bailable. Non-cognisability means that prosecution can only be commenced after a magistrate has held a preliminary enquiry, and not directly by the police. The police cannot register an FIR for a non-cognisable case. While keeping the offences bailable (i.e. bail is available as a matter of right) it would be useful to make some of these offences cognisable so that cases can be registered by the police. Finally, the Supreme Court through the High Courts could set up a watchdog mechanism under the superintendence of a sitting Justice, to look out for perjury in the original trial in lower courts of sensitive cases involving important personalities or grave crimes. The watchdog agency should initiate suo motu action if false evidence is detected or suspected. The very existence of such an evidentiary vigilance mechanism may deter prospective perjurers in these `high profile' cases.

If our justice and administrative systems show much evidence of decay, it is partly because there is much decay of evidence. In the land of Gandhi, a few experiments in fighting untruth are overdue.

T.V. SOMANATHAN (The author, a member of the Indian Administrative Service, is the presiding officer of the Tribunal for Disciplinary Proceedings, Tirunelveli Region. The views expressed are purely personal.)


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