A typographical error in an affidavit has put former Delhi Mayor and BJP councillor Arti Mehra in a spot with a city court. The court recently held that nobody,howsoever high he or she may be,can be allowed to get away with filing documents casually or irresponsibly during the legal proceedings.
Asking the lower court to conduct an inquiry and hold a trial if required,Additional District Judge (ADJ) Kamini Lau dismissed the order of a lower court,which had granted reprieve to Mehra from prosecution by discharging her from criminal liability and allowing her to amend the disputed part of the affidavit.
The controversy arose from an affidavit filed by Mehra in December 2004 over the size of a park in Gautam Nagar in South Delhi. The document was filed by Mehra along with five other residents of the area while contesting a petition filed by one Gian Chand,who had claimed that Mehra,also the councillor of the area,had erected barriers on the public road and was not allowing the residents to enter the park. The affidavit read that the area of the park was 25 square yards while according to Chand and a report by an engineer,it was 425 square yards.
Seeking the prosecution of all the six persons,including Mehra,for submitting false affidavit,Chand had filed an application before the civil judge under the Code of Criminal Procedure.
In her defence,Mehra contended that it was a typographical error and she wanted to incorporate necessary amendments in her affidavit. Accepting her plea,the civil judge exonerated her of the criminal charges and subsequently allowed her to change the content in November 2007.
Chand then filed an appeal against the order,claiming the civil judge decided the application hastily without even a preliminary inquiry into the issue.
ADJ Lau found favour with the plea and observed that the civil judge should not have decided the matter hurriedly without giving an opportunity to the parties to substantiate the claim. Legally also,the decision was not right as the lower court first exonerated her and then allowed her to amend the affidavit which should have been in the reverse order,noted the court.
Defining it as a statutory obligation on all the litigants,ADJ Lau further said,The trial courts should be cautious while dealing with such allegations. Under no circumstances should an impression be given that the parties to the litigation can easily get away or else it will shake the confidence of the people in judicial institution. No person,however high,can be allowed to take the court proceedings casually or irresponsibly.