Report No. 28
32. Harm caused by special oaths-Privy Council case.- Let us, then, examine the claim made on behalf of special oaths that there is no evidence to show that special oaths have done any harm. This claim does not appear to be well-founded. In this connection, attention may be drawn to the Privy Council case of Inder Prasad v. Jogmohan Das, (1927) 54 IA 301: ILR 2 Luck 316: 31 CWN 1053: AIR 1927 PC 165. The facts of that case, as stated in the judgment of the Privy Council delivered by Lord Blanesburgh, made some startling revelations. In a partition suit between the plaintiff, Inder Prasad, and the defendant, Jagmohan Das, the disputes as to the immovable properties were amicably settled. But with regard to the movables, the disputes became highly embittered.
After several years of protracted litigation, both the plaintiff and the defendant came to some amicable settlement even with regard to the movables, and, in pursuance of the agreement of both the parties which was recorded by the court, several lists of movable properties were filed by the plaintiff. Under the agreement as recorded by the court, these lists would have secured for the plaintiff a decree for practically the whole of his claim, and there would have been due to him from the defendant a sum exceeding two lakhs of rupees.
33. But then suddenly a strange thing happened. The whole situation cannot be better described than in the words of Lord Blanesburgh himself. His Lordship in the course of his judgment observed-
"But, then, a strange thing happened. For some reason unknown-the Subordinate Judge describes it as 'a fit of responsive generosity' on the part of the first plaintiff, he on the 30th March, 1922, when filing his lists, made in the court, in the presence of the first defendant, the offer on which everything now turns. It is thus recorded by the Subordinate Judge-
Lala Inder Prasad says he will give up out of his lists such items as Jagmohan Das denies before the Deity Lachmi Narsinghi. Jagmohan Das accepts this'."
34. In pursuance of this offer, Jagmohan Das, the defendant, took a special oath before the Deity and gave his evidence, the effect of which may best be stated in the words of the Privy Council-
"By admitting .practically all the items which involved any liability on
the part of the first plaintiff, and denying practically all the items which involved any liability on his own, the first defendant had transformed the lists which disclosed an indebtedness of over two lakhs of rupees from him to the plaintiff into a bill ultimately adjusted at Rs. 93,672-15-3 due by the plaintiff to himself and his son."
35. The plaintiff, thereafter, being thoroughly alarmed at this, protested to the Subordinate Judge about the proceedings, and the matter came ultimately to the Privy Council. Relying upon the language used in sections 8 to 12 of the Oaths Act, 1873, their Lordships of the Privy Council dismissed the appeal of the plaintiff with costs. But it will appear from the judgment of the Privy Council, that in more places than one the Privy Council stated that they were constrained to adhere to the view of the agreement taken by the courts below. Thus, their Lordship stated1--
"But on full consideration, their Lordships are in this matter constrained to adhere to the view of the agreement taken by the Courts below."
Again, their Lordships observed2-
"For all these reasons, their Lordships dealing on this branch of the appeal ....................are constrainedto agree with both courts in India that the statements made by the first defendant in the presence of the family Deity and before the Commissioners were conclusive upon the plaintiff."
1. 31 CWN 1053 (1058): right hand, in AIR 1927 PC 165 (168).
2. 31 CWN 1053 (1062): right hand, in AIR 1927 PC 165 (172).
36. A study of the facts of this case leaves no room for doubt that a great mischief and harm was done to the plaintiff in this case, because the courts, including the Privy Council, had no other alternative than to give effect to the mandatory provisions of sections 8 to 11 of the Indian Oaths Act, 1873. But it is clear from the judgment of the Privy Council, that the Privy Council was not at all satisfied with the result of the appeal; otherwise their Lordships would not have used the word 'constrained' more than once in the course of their judgment.