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Report No. 42

11.11. Evil of false medical certificates.-

One addition to the chapter seems to us useful. It concerns the use of false medical certificates. It is common knowledge that unscrupulous persons do not hesitate to use such certificates to gain advantage in the course of litigation, and sometimes for purposes unconnected with the courts. It will be noticed that sections 196 and 197 of the Code provide punishments for using false certificates which are required by law to be given or which state facts of which the certificates are good evidence.

Medical certificates do not fall within that description; but, because of the regard in which the medical profession is held, the courts and other public officials usually accept such medical certificates at their face value. We think it proper that the making of a false medical certificate and, correspondingly, the use of such a certificate, should be punishable. We are making this suggestion not because many doctors issue false certificates, but because the courts almost invariably accept them as true, and there should be a legal sanction to ensure that such certificates are, in fact, true.

11.12. New sections recommended.-

We, therefore, recommend the insertion of two new sections as follows.-

"198A. Issuing or signing false medical certificate.- Whoever, being a medical practitioner, issues or signs any medical certificate or certificate of fitness, knowing that such certificate is false in any material particular, shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both; and, if he knows that the certificate is intended to be used in any stage of a judicial proceeding, he shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

198B. Using as true a medical certificate known to be false.- Whoever corruptly uses or attempts to use any such certificate as a true certificate, knowing the same to be false in any material point, shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both; and, if he so uses or attempts to use it in any stage of a judicial proceeding, he shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both."

11.13. Sections 199 and 200.- Section 199 deals with false declarations, and section 200 deals with the corrupt use of such false declarations. They need no change.

11.14. Section 201.-

Section 201 punishes any person who, knowing that an offence has been committed, destroys the evidence of that offence in order to screen the offender. The punishment varies according to the nature of the offence, so that if the offender sought to be hidden in this manner is punishable with death, the offender is liable to imprisonment upto seven years, while if the offence be punishable with imprisonment upto ten years, the maximum imprisonment is three years.

For some time, there was a controversy whether a person who commits an offence and then destroys evidence of the offence, could be punished under section 201. The Supreme Court1 has decided that he can be so punished; and although this may, at first sight, seem somewhat incongruous, the courts have, on the whole, found this view useful for practical purposes. We do not think it is necessary to amend section 201 in the contrary sense.

1. Kalwati, AIR 1953 SC 131: 1953 SCR 546.

11.15. Sections 202 and 203 to be transposed.-

Section 202 punishes the person who intentionally omits to give information concerning an offence which he is legally bound to give, and section 203 punishes the person who gives false information concerning an offence. Logically the latter section should come first. We propose that section 202 and the main part of section 203 may be transposed. The Explanation may continue to be a part of the revised section 203.

11.16. Section 20.-amendment proposed.-

Section 204 punishes the destruction of any document which can be compelled to be produced as evidence in a Court or when it has been summoned or required to be produced. The section mentions only a 'document', although anything other than a document can easily be required to be produced in a Court, and we do not see why the destruction of such a thing if it be good evidence, should not be equally punishable. We, therefore, recommend that in this section after the words "any document" the words "or other thing" be inserted.

11.17. Sections 205 to 207.- No change is needed in sections 205, 206 and 207.

11.18. Interference with property attached by court's order to be punishable.-

While sections 206 and 207 punish certain fraudulent acts designed to prevent the seizure of property under the orders of a Court, there is no direct provision in the Code against the removal of attached movable property. We consider that once any movable property has been lawfully attached by order of a Court of Justice, any authorised removal of, or interference with, that property should be punishable irrespective of the motive or intention of the person concerned. We propose that the following section may be inserted after section 207:

"207A. Removal of attached property.- Whoever, knowing or having reason to believe that any movable property has been lawfully attached by the order of a Court of Justice, removes or interferes with such property otherwise than in accordance with law, shall, whether or not he was a party to the proceedings in which the order was made, be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both."

11.19. Sections 208 to 210.- No change is needed in sections 208, 209 and 210.

11.20. Section 21.-overlap with section 182 considered.-

Like section 182, section 211 is intended to prevent false accusations being made against innocent persons, which not only cause harassment to those persons but also result in wastage of public time. Section 182 is briefly described as 'false information with intent to cause a public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person', while the heading of section 211 runs 'false charge of offence made with intent to injure'. These two provisions are complementary to each other and designed to operate in different situations. The courts have, however, frequently found it difficult to determine which provision would be applicable in a given situation.

Thus, if a person gives false information to a police officer that another person has committed an offence, does he give false information to a public servant within the meaning of section 182, or does he institute criminal proceedings within the meaning of section 211? The High Courts are not agreed in the answer, and the conflict has not yet been resolved by the Supreme Court.1

The practical importance of this conflict lies in the procedural rule2 which requires a complaint by a public servant for a prosecution under section 182, and by a court for a prosecution under section 211 when the matter relates to a court proceeding. To remove this fruitful source of dispute in courts over what is after all a procedural detail, we propose to confine section 211 to proceedings instituted, and charges made, in a court, while other cases of false information will fall under section 182.

1. The judgment in State of Punjab v. Brijlal, AIR 1969 SC 355 (359) deals with a different question, namely, that during the pendency of a complaint on the same fact as those given in the first information report, the magistrate cannot take cognizance without complying with section 195(1)(b), Criminal Procedure Code.

2. Section 195, Criminal Procedure Code.

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