- Darshan Hiranandani, CEO of the Hiranandani Group has given a “sworn affidavit” to the Ethics Committee of Lok Sabha making a series of allegations against TMC MP Mahua Moitra and several other individuals.
What is sworn affidavit?
- An affidavit is a “sworn statement a person makes before a notary or officer of the court outside of the court asserting that certain facts are true to the best of that person’s knowledge”.
- Section 3(3) of India’s General Clauses Act, 1897, defines an “affidavit” as an “affirmation and declaration in the case of persons by law allowed to affirm or declare instead of swearing”.
- In its 1977 ruling in Chhotan Prasad Singh vs. Hari Dusadh, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court said “it is an essential characteristic of an affidavit that it should be made on oath or affirmation before a person having authority to administer the oath or affirmation.”
Can anyone make an affidavit at any time?
- In Chhotan Prasad Singh, the court referred to Section 4 of the Oaths Act, 1969, and made it clear that “all courts and persons having by law or consent of parties” the authority to receive evidence are authorised to administer such oaths and affirmations.
- But they can only do so “where they are otherwise acting in the discharge of the duties or in exercise of the powers imposed or conferred upon them” by law.
- Additionally, the court observed that only those magistrates who were acting in the course of their duty could administer oaths and affirmations to the persons making the affidavits, and failure to meet this requirement would render the affidavits as “inadmissible” evidence.
- Affidavits are routinely made in the course of legal proceedings or trials.
- They can also be made for other purposes, such as registering one’s property, or to declaring one’s legal heir(s).
What is an “approver affidavit”?
- In legal terms, an “approver” is a person who is directly or indirectly concerned, involved or privy to an offence.
- An accomplice or an accused in a case can later turn approver, siding with the prosecution in return for a lesser sentence or pardon.
- Section 306 of the CrPC has provisions for tender of pardon for an accomplice in a crime “on condition of his making a full and true disclosure of the whole of the circumstances [of the offence] within his knowledge relative to the offence”.
- There is no legal definition of an “approver affidavit”, the expression used by Moitra.