False allegations, as the name suggests refer to any statement or comment made or any substance claimed against someone without any evidentiary value or known to not be true, intended to defame a person or cause agony. False allegations in the court of law lead to vexatious and malicious litigations which often lead to wastage of the precious time of the courts and the judicial machinery along with ruining the reputation of the victim and various other issues faced by them.
In India, the rule of law has stated that every person shall be presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, leading to the stance that every case of prosecution or every allegation made against a person shall be taken as the word of truth only if it has been established beyond any reasonable doubt and there exists no reason for an adjudicator to think that the allegation is untrue. However, there is no statute in India that has expressly laid down specific punishments for false allegations made against an individual.
In India, it has been claimed by various eminent jurists and scholars that there is a need to inculcate various legal provisions in the Indian legal system which would deter the filing of fake complaints and fabricated cases. The highest number of false allegations are usually made in cases pertaining to rape, dowry harassment, matrimonial disputes, and the SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Legal Actions Against False Allegations In India
There are various recourses that can be used to counter legal actions against false allegations in India which are as follows:
- Seeking an Anticipatory Bail – The first step that should be taken by the victim of a false allegation in India is to seek anticipatory bail from the nearest court having jurisdiction to grant anticipatory bail in case a First Information Report (FIR) is filed against him/her in order to get protection from arrest based on a fabricated allegation. Before an arrest is made, anticipatory bail can be granted under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Seeking an anticipatory bail aids the victim in not only avoiding any arrest which may cause huge mental agony and loss of reputation but also enables him to prepare for defending himself in a better manner.
- Quashing of the First Information Report – A false allegation or complaint in the form of an FIR can be quashed by the High Court of the concerned state by filing an application under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure where the court has the inherent power to secure the ends of justice by passing appropriate orders. However, there are various grounds that the accused needs to establish like proving that the act or omission of the accused against which the allegation has been made does not constitute an offense, the incident alleged in the complaint has never taken place, the allegations are baseless which have been filed out of personal enmity, etc.
- Provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Section 209 of the Indian Penal Code states that any person who dishonestly, fraudulently, or with an intention to injure or annoy any person, makes any claim in the court of justice which he knows to be false, he shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend up to 2 years and shall also be levied fine. In case the court finds that the sanctity and veracity of the courts are breached, it has adequate power to use such provisions to punish the offender. Moreover, section 120B of the Indian Penal Code can also be invoked in case any person feels that a criminal conspiracy that is being formed may be used against him in the future.
- Provisions of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 – In order to substantiate any allegation in a court of law, concrete evidence is a prerequisite. Section 193 of the Indian Evidence Act states that whoever intentionally submits any false evidence in any stage of judicial proceedings or fabricates any false evidence which may be used in any stage of judicial proceedings shall be punished with a term extending up to seven years and also be liable to fine. Secondly, Section 196 of the Evidence Act also states that whoever uses or attempts to use any false evidence by portraying it as genuine shall be punished in the same manner as if he gave false evidence.
- Provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 – Under various sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure, any victim of a false allegation can seek compensation in the courts of justice. Section 250 of the Code substantiates the same and states that any acquitted person has the power to file for compensation for agony without any reasonable cause and the court shall grant him compensation and may also sentence the wrongdoer to simple imprisonment.
Even though there is no specific statute or provision in the Indian legal system which lists down protective measures against any false allegation or complaint, various relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, Code of Civil Procedure, and the Indian Evidence Act can be used parallelly to obtain relief or initiate legal proceedings against frivolous allegations and complaints.
The need of the hour is to enact a statute by the legislature that holistically covers broad paradigms ranging from compensation to imprisonment and fine for false allegations in order to curb the growing menace of frivolous litigations in the country and ease the burden from the already burdened shoulders of the judiciary and the investigating agencies.
What should one do if someone has falsely accused them of a crime in India?
To address a false complaint filed against you, you can seek its quashing through a petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. This empowers the High Court to dismiss criminal proceedings against the accused.
How can one establish that an FIR (First Information Report) is false?
To request the quashing of an FIR, you can approach the High Court. It is essential to prove to the court that the FIR was lodged with malicious intent to cause harm or inconvenience and is devoid of truth. The burden of proof rests on the petitioner.
What constitutes proof of guilt or innocence?
The principle of presumption of innocence establishes that every person accused of a crime is considered innocent until proven guilty. In this context, the prosecution carries the legal burden of proving guilt by presenting compelling evidence to the trier of fact, such as a judge or a jury.
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