What is an affidavit?

What is an affidavit?
What is an affidavit?

Affidavit is defined as a written sworn statement of fact voluntarily made by a person under an oath or affirmation administered by a person authorized to do so by law.

Such statement is witnessed as to the authenticity of that person’s signature by a taker of oaths, such as a notary public or commissioner of oaths.

‘Affidavit’ shall include affirmation ‘and declaration in the case of persons by law allowed to affirm or declare instead of swearing.

Another way to think of an affidavit is as a sort of written court testimony. Where, in a court of law, you are required to place your hand on a Holy Book and swear that you’re telling the truth and nothing but the truth, similarly on an affidavit, you do this in writing. You’re under oath, but you’re testimony is on paper. They are important in a way that the oral submission/evidence/testimony is only admissible before a judge but an affidavit can be used as an alternative to this.

However, misleading information in an affidavit can lead to perjury charge against the affiant but if the affiant forgets to include something or omits something then he cannot be penalized for such omission. If the affiant mentions something in the affidavit which is not an established fact or is not backed up by some evidence, then he will have to mention that it is his ‘opinion’.

The law on affidavits in India is governed by Section 139, Order XIX of the Code of Civil Procedure and Order XI of the Supreme Court Rules. Judiciary at many instances have upheld the importance of the veracity of an affidavit by the virtue of the aforementioned rules and sections.

In 1910, Calcutta High Court in the case of Padmabati Dasi v. Rasik Lal Dhar [1]adhered strictly to Order XIX Rule 3 of the CPC and laid down that every affidavit should clearly express how much is a statement of the affiant’s knowledge and how much is a statement of his belief, and the grounds of belief must be stated with sufficient particularity to enable the Court to judge whether it will be correct to rely on such belief.

In another case, M/s Sukhwinder Pal Bipan Kumar and others v. State of Punjab and other [2], this Court reiterated the aforementioned principle and held that under Order XIX, Rule 3 of the Code of Civil Procedure it was mandatory for the affiant to disclose the nature and source of his knowledge and information with sufficient particulars. The Court also held that in a petition where allegations are not affirmed, as aforesaid, it cannot be regarded as supported by an affidavit as required by law.