|TRUTH CERTIFICATION IN INDIAN JUDICIARY: What Holy Book Would Verity Truth?.......|
Posted by Vishva News Reporter on August 8, 2006
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.
As testament of
in Indian courts
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.
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
- 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.
on-line encyclopedia. The entire article on OATH can be read by clicking
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 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.)
MEANING OF USING HOLY
BOOKS FOR 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
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.
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
October 16, 2005)
INDIAN JUDICIAL SYSTEM
WESTERN JUDICIAL SYSTEM
- 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.
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
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
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'.
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
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?"
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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