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Report No. 28

9. Oaths in ancient India.-Oaths existed in ancient India, both under the Hindu and under the Muhammadan Law. Dr. K.P. Jayaswal, states1-2:-

"Oaths which have been treated by Hindu lawyers as a species of ordeal came under the province of the Dharma thinkers. They recommend its application to all witnesses in the King's courts, and Apastamba prescribes special formulae to be administered. (II, 11, 29. 7-10).".

1. Dr. K.P. Jayaswal Manu and Yajnavalkya, (Tagore Law Lectures, 1917) (1930 Edn.), p. 12, para. 18.

2. As to the Arthashastra School, see Dr. JayaswaJ, ibid., p. 133.

10. Mahamahopadhyaya Kane, after a review of ancient texts, observes1;-

"The oath consisted of two parts, viz.-

(i) the requirement to tell the truth, and

(ii) the exhortatory and imprecatory part.

Both were administered by the presiding judge."

The learned author refers to the verses from Gautama, Manu, Vishnu and Narada2 and says that they "contain very long exhortations addressed by the judge to the witnesses relating to the importance and high worth of truth, stating how the conscience of a man pricks him, what rewards await the truthful witness here and in the next world, and what sin and terrible torments in hell are the lot of an untruthful witness, what evil befalls even the deceased ancestors of an untruthful witness and how he is liable to be punished by the King."

1. Kane History of Dharmashastras, (1946), Vol. 3, p. 343.

2. Kane, ibid., pp. 1008 and 1009 gives the texts from Narada in Sanskrit.

Indian Oaths Act, 1873 Back

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