Affidavit holds no value unless backed by deposition of party

Can an affidavit signed by a person but not produced before any authority hold any weight in law? The answer is an obvious no.

Employing this logic, supporters of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje argued that an affidavit purportedly signed by her to back Lalit Modi’s plea for residency in the United Kingdom was never produced before any authority in the UK. They also said that Raje never deposed in consequence of her affidavit, as per UK’s Civil Procedure Rules, making its effect nugatory. Hence, they argued, there is no reason for the Congress to seek her resignation.

Notably, both in Indian and the UK jurisprudence, mere production of an affidavit is not deemed as sufficient. Though it is recognised in Indian laws and courts, any evidence on affidavits is accepted only when the deponent is personally and physically present to give it before the quasi-judicial authorities.

Before recording a statement, the authorities administer oath to the witness. This makes the affidavit acceptable as evidence under the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act and Indian Oaths Act. An affidavit per se would not hold any evidentiary value in the suits unless the parties had given a consent for it under particular provision of law. Affidavits are not even included in the definition of evidence as provided in Section 3 of the Evidence Act, 1872.

Though there have been demands to accept evidence of formal witnesses during the trial on affidavit in order to save the time and avoid unnecessary hassles to the witnesses, but the practice has so far not been accepted. In a verdict on March 14, 2015 in “Mrs Priyanka Srivastava and another appellant Versus State of UP and Others”, the Supreme Court directed that all applications filed before a judicial magistrate for registration of an FIR must be supported with an affidavit by the complainant.

“In our considered opinion, a stage has come in this country where Section 156(3) CrPC applications are to be supported by an affidavit duly sworn by the applicant who seeks the invocation of the jurisdiction of the magistrate. That apart, in an appropriate case, the learned magistrate would be well advised to verify the truth and also can verify the veracity of the allegations. This affidavit can make the applicant more responsible,” the court had said.

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