Showing posts with label criminal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label criminal. Show all posts

27 October 2020

Bail can not be denied to chargesheeted accused on the ground of abscondence of other accused

It is pertinent to note that the other ground raised by the prosecution is that the co­accused, who is relative of the present applicant, is absconding and, therefore, present petitioner may not be enlarged on bail.
Bail can not be denied to chargesheeted accused on the ground of abscondence of other accused
Now, it is well settled principle of criminal jurisprudence that even for securing presence or for getting whereabouts of the co­accused, no police custody remand could be granted. The same principle will apply in the case where bail is sought by the accused and the charge sheet is already filed against him/her. If there is laxity or inability of the prosecution to arrest the co­accused, on that ground the other accused against whom investigation is over and charge sheet is filed cannot be denied the right of getting bail in a given case.[Para No.7]

26 October 2020

Mere existence of motive to commit an offence by itself cannot give rise to an inference of guilt nor can it form the basis for conviction

Needless to say motive is that which impels a person to do a particular act. There can be no action without a motive. Motive may create a very strong suspicion but it cannot take the place of proof. Mere possibility of existence of motive cannot make the accused guilty, as held by the Hon'ble Apex Court in the case of Sarwan Singh Rattan Singh vs. State of Punjab. Where the prosecution case depends on circumstantial evidence, motive assumes significance and goes a long way to prove the case of the prosecution as held by the Hon'ble Apex Court in the case of Shivaji vs. State[Para No.36]

Mere existence of motive to commit an offence by itself cannot give rise to an inference of guilt nor can it form the basis for conviction
   Mere existence of motive by itself is not an incriminating circumstance and it cannot give rise to an inference of guilt nor can it form the basis for conviction. Motive for the crime, even if adequate, cannot by itself sustain a criminal charge. In the case in hand, we have discussed elaborately how the prosecution is found wanting in establishing the "last seen" theory. Therefore, practically, there is no evidence to establish any of the circumstances, which in such type of cases, need to be established by the prosecution and even if we assume for the sake of argument that the accused was harboring a motive to commit the murder of the deceased, that in itself, for want of other positive evidence, will not sail the prosecution through.[Para No.37]

22 October 2020

There is no limitation of period for invoking High Court's inherent powers u/s.482 Cr.P.C.

If evidence is relevant, it is admissible irrespective of how it is obtained


The Investigating Agency has no power to appreciate the evidence



    Regarding limitation, although delay is duly explained in the petition, however, there is no applicability of Limitation Act on Section 482 Cr.P.C. being the inherent powers of this Court. The said section is starting itself with a non-obstante clause (Notwithstanding) therefore, this Court has power to exercise inherent powers where there is miscarriage of justice and abuse of process of law. Non-applicability of Limitation Act and non- providing of limitation period in Cr.P.C. with regard to Section 482 Cr.P.C., the intention of the legislature was not to restrict this Court to use these powers in appropriate cases. Thus, raising the issue of limitation period about Section 482 Cr.P.C. is itself contrary to the intention of legislature and the very section itself. In this regard, judgments relied upon by the respondent no.2 (complainant) are not applicable, as facts and circumstances of those cases are different from the case in hand.[Para No.49

There is no limitation of period for invoking High Court's inherent powers u/s.482 Cr.P.C.
    As far as the issue of source of document is concerned, the Hon'ble Supreme Court and various High Courts including the case of Pushpadevi M. Jatia vs. M.L. Wadhavan & Ors.: (1987) 3 SCC 367 relied upon by respondent no.2 (complainant) held that the source of the evidence is not material, as long as it is admissible under the law, the same may be considered. If evidence is relevant, it is admissible irrespective of how it is obtained.[Para No.50]

.......

18 October 2020

The proof of demand is an indispensable essentiality to prove the offence under The Prevention of Corruption Act

In the light of the serious discrepancies in the evidence of the prosecution, the accused is entitled for benefit of doubt. The demand of bribe is not established by clinching evidence. Acceptance of bribe suffers from serious doubt. In Sujit Biswas Vs. State of Assam, it was held that Suspicion, however grave it may be, cannot take the place of proof and the prosecution cannot aford to rests its case in the realm "may be" true but has to upgrade it in the domain of "may be", in order to steer clear of any possible surmise or conjuncture. Court must ensure that miscarriage of justice are avoided and if in the facts and circumstances, two views are possible then, the benefit of doubt must be given to the accused. Applying the legal principle as above, the material on record, leave note manner of doubt that the prosecution in the present case, has failed to prove unequivocally the demand of illegal gratification and even its acceptance. In the case of P.Satyanarayna Murthy Vs. District Inspector of Police, State of Andhra Pradesh & Anr. It was held that the proof of demand of illegal gratification is gravamen of offence under Sections 7 and 13(1)(d)(i) and (ii) of the P.C. Act and in the absence thereof mistakenly the charge therefore, would fail. Mere acceptance of any amount by way of illegal gratification or recovery thereof, dehors the proof of demand, ipso facto, would not be sufficient to prove home the charge under these sections of the Act.
As a corollary, failure of the prosecution to prove the demand for illegal gratification would be fatal and mere recovery of the amount from the person accused of the offence under Sections 7 or 13 of the Act would not entail his conviction thereunder. In the case of B. Jayaraj v. State of Andhra Pradesh. It was held that the presumption under Section 20 of the P.C. Act can be drawn on proof of acceptance of illegal gratification was received for doing or forbearing to do any oficial act. Proof of acceptance of illegal gratification can follow only if there is proof of demand. In catena of decisions, the Apex Court has held that mere possession of recovery of currency note from an accused without proof of demand would not establish an offence under Section 7 as well as Section 13(1)(d), 13(2) of the P.C. Act. It has been propounded that in absence of proof of demand of any illegal gratification, the use of corrupt or illegal means or abuse of position as a public servant to obtain any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage, cannot be held to be proved. The proof of demand has been held to be an indispensable essentiality to prove the offence. In the present case, the demand as well as acceptance is under shadow of doubt and has not been established beyond reasonable doubt. 31 Considering the discrepancies in the evidence of the prosecution witnesses, I find that the evidence adduced against the accused by prosecution suffers from doubt. In the circumstances, the evidence relating to demand and acceptance cannot be believed. The accused is entitled for benefit of doubt and deserves to be acquitted.[Para No.30]

17 October 2020

Bail should be granted or refused based on the probability of attendance of the party to take his trial

By now it is well settled that gravity alone cannot be a decisive ground to deny bail, rather competing factors are required to be balanced by the court while exercising its discretion. It has been repeatedly held by the Hon'ble Apex Court that object of bail is to secure the appearance of the accused person at his trial by reasonable amount of bail. The object of bail is neither punitive nor preventative. The Hon'ble Apex Court in Sanjay Chandra versus Central Bureau of Investigation (2012)1 Supreme Court Cases 49; has been held as under:­ "The object of bail is to secure the appearance of the accused person at his trial by reasonable amount of bail. The object of bail is neither punitive nor preventative. Deprivation of liberty must be considered a punishment, unless it can be required to ensure that an accused person will stand his trial when called upon. The Courts owe more than verbal respect to the principle that punishment begins after conviction, and that every man is deemed to be innocent until duly tried and duly found guilty. Detention in custody pending completion of trial could be a cause of great hardship. From time to time, necessity demands that some unconvicted persons should be held in custody pending trial to secure their attendance at the trial but in such cases, "necessity" is the operative test. In India , it would be quite contrary to the concept of personal liberty enshrined in the Constitution that any person should be punished in respect of any matter, upon which, he has not been convicted or that in any circumstances, he should be deprived of his liberty upon only the belief that he will tamper with the witnesses if left at liberty, save in the most extraordinary circumstances. Apart from the question of prevention being the object of refusal of bail, one must not lose sight of the fact that any imprisonment before conviction has a substantial punitive content and it would be improper for any court to refuse bail as a mark of disapproval of former conduct whether the accused has been convicted for it or not or to refuse bail to an unconvicted person for the propose of giving him a taste of imprisonment as a lesson."[Para No.5]

Bail should granted or refused based on the probability of attendance of the party to take his trial

    Needless to say object of the bail is to secure the attendance of the accused in the trial and the proper test to be applied in the solution of the question whether bail should be granted or refused is whether it is probable that the party will appear to take his trial. Otherwise also, normal rule is of bail and not jail. Apart from above, Court has to keep in mind nature of accusations, nature of evidence in support thereof, severity of the punishment, which conviction will entail, character of the accused, circumstances which are peculiar to the accused involved in that crime.[Para No.6]

16 October 2020

While releasing accused on default bail u/s.167(2) of Cr.P.C. the court can not impose any condition of depositing cash amount or to report before police station daily

Having heard the learned counsel for the respective parties and considering the scheme and the object and purpose of default bail/statutory bail, we are of the opinion that the High Court has committed a grave error in imposing condition that the appellant shall deposit a sum of Rs.8,00,000/­ while releasing the appellant on default bail/statutory bail. It appears that the High Court has imposed such a condition taking into consideration the fact that earlier at the time of hearing of the regular bail application, before the learned Magistrate, the wife of the appellant filed an affidavit agreeing to deposit Rs.7,00,000/­. However, as observed by this Court in catena of decisions and more particularly in the case of Rakesh Kumar Paul (supra), where the investigation is not completed within 60 days or 90 days, as the case may be, and no chargesheet is filed by 60 th or 90th day, accused gets an “indefeasible right” to default bail, and the accused becomes entitled to default bail once the accused applies for default bail and furnish bail. Therefore, the only requirement for getting the default bail/statutory bail under Section 167(2), Cr.P.C. is that the accused is in jail for more than 60 or 90 days, as the case may be, and within 60 or 90 days, as the case may be, the investigation is not completed and no chargesheet is filed by 60th or 90th day and the accused applies for default bail and is prepared to furnish bail. No other condition of deposit of the alleged amount involved can be imposed. Imposing such condition while releasing the accused on default bail/statutory bail would frustrate the very object and purpose of default bail under Section 167(2), Cr.P.C. As observed by this Court in the case of Rakesh Kumar Paul (supra) and in other decisions, the accused is entitled to default bail/statutory bail, subject to the eventuality occurring in Section 167, Cr.P.C., namely, investigation is not completed within 60 days or 90 days, as the case may be, and no chargesheet is filed by 60 th or 90th day and the accused applies for default bail and is prepared to furnish bail.[Para No.9]

    As observed hereinabove and even from the impugned orders passed by the High Court, it appears that the High Court while releasing the appellant on default bail/statutory bail has imposed the condition to deposit Rs.8,00,000/­ taking into consideration that earlier before the learned Magistrate and while considering the regular bail application under Section 437 Cr.P.C., the wife of the accused filed an affidavit to deposit Rs.7,00,000/­. That cannot be a ground to impose the condition to deposit the amount involved, while granting default bail/statutory bail.[Para No.9.1]

While releasing accused on default bail u/s.167(2) of Cr.P.C. the court can not impose any condition of depositing cash amount or to report before police station daily
    The circumstances while considering the regular bail application under Section 437 Cr.P.C. are different, while considering the application for default bail/statutory bail. Under the circumstances, the condition imposed by the High Court to deposit Rs.8,00,000/­, while releasing the appellant on default bail/ statutory bail is unsustainable and deserves to be quashed and set aside.[Para No.9.2]

15 October 2020

Residence Order passed under The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act does not impose any embargo for filing or continuing civil suit seeking permanent injuction against daughter-in-law

From the above discussions, we arrive at following conclusions:-

(i) The pendency of proceedings under Act, 2005 or any order interim or final passed under D.V. Act under Section 19 regarding right of residence is not an embargo for initiating or continuing any civil proceedings, which relate to the subject matter of order interim or final passed in proceedings under D.V. Act, 2005.
Residence Order passed under The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act does not impose any embargo for filing or continuing civil suit seeking permanent injuction against daughter-in-law

(ii) The judgment or order of criminal court granting an interim or final relief under Section 19 of D.V. Act, 2005 are relevant within the meaning of Section 43 of the Evidence Act and can be referred to and looked into by the civil court.

(iii) A civil court is to determine the issues in civil proceedings on the basis of evidence, which has been led by the parties before the civil court.

(iv) In the facts of the present case, suit filed in civil court for mandatory and permanent injunction was fully maintainable and the issues raised by the appellant as well as by the defendant claiming a right under Section 19 were to be addressed and decided on the basis of evidence, which is led by the parties in the suit.[Para No.157]

14 October 2020

Mere recovery of blood stained weapon cannot be construed as proof for the murder

For proving the contents of memorandum prepared u/s.27 of Evidence Act, the Investigating Officer must state the exact narration of facts in such document in his own words while deposing before the Court


    The direct implication of these two mandatory provisions is that a witness who steps into the witness box for proving a fact which he has seen or observed must give oral evidence to prove such fact. Manifestly, a memorandum prepared by the Investigating Officer under Section 27 of the Evidence Act refers to a fact which the Investigating Officer has seen and heard while interrogating the accused. Thus, for proving the contents of memorandum, the Investigating Officer must state the exact narration of facts in such document in his own words while deposing before the Court.

    This Court in the case of Dharma Vs. The State reported in AIR 1966 Raj 74 observed in paras 17 to 21 as under:
17. Now as regards the proving of such information, the matter seems to us to be governed by Sections 60, 159 and 160 of the Evidence Act. It is correct that statements and reports prepared outside the court cannot by themselves be accepted as primary or substantive evidence of the facts stated therein. Section 60 of the Evidence Act lays down that oral evidence must, in all cases whatever, be direct, that is to say, if it refers to a fact which could be seen, it must be the evidence of a witness who says he saw it, and if it refers to a fact which could be heard, it must be the evidence of a witness who says he heard it and so on. Section 159 then permits a witness while under examination to refresh his memory by referring to any writing made by himself at the time of the transaction concerning which he is questioned, or so soon afterwards that the court considers it likely that the transaction was at that time fresh in the memory. Again, with the permission of the court, the witness may refresh, his memory by referring to a copy of such document. And the witness may even refer to any such writing made by any other person but which was read by him at the time the transaction was fresh in his memory and when he read it, he knew it to be correct. Section 160 then provides for cases where the witness has no independent recollection say, from lapse of memory, of the transaction to which he wants to testify by looking at the document and states that although he has no such recollection he is sure that the contents of the document were correctly recorded at the time they were. It seems to us that where a case of this character arises and the document itself has been tendered in evidence, the document becomes primary evidence in the case. See Jagan Nath v. Emperor, AIR 1932 Lah 7.

    The fundamental distinction between the two sections is that while under Section 159 it is the witness's memory or recollection which is evidence, the document itself not having been tendered in evidence; under Section 160, it is the document which is evidence of the facts contained in it. It has been further held that in order to bring a case under Section 160, though the witness should ordinarily affirm on oath that he does not recollect the facts mentioned in the document, the mere omission to say so will not make the document inadmissible provided the witness swears that he is sure that the facts are correctly recorded in the document itself. Thus in Partab Singh v. Emperor, AIR 1926 Lah 310 it was held that where the surrounding circumstances intervening between the recording of a statement and the trial would as a matter of normal human experience render it impossible for a police officer to recollect and reproduce the words used, his statement should be treated as if he had prefaced it by stating categorically that he could not remember what the deceased in that case had said to him. Putting the whole thing in somewhat different language, what was held was that Section 160 of the Act applies equally when the witness states in so many words that he has no independent recollection of the precise words used, or when it should stand established beyond doubt that that should be so as a matter of natural and necessary conclusion from the surrounding circumstances.
    18. Again, in Krishnama v. Emperor, AIR 1931 Mad 430 a Sub-Assistant Surgeon recorded the statement made by the deceased just before his death, which took place in April, 1930, and the former was called upon to give evidence some time in July, 1930. In the Sessions Court he just put in the recorded statement of the deceased which was admitted in evidence. On appeal it was objected that such statement was wrongly admitted inasmuch as the witness did not use it to refresh his memory nor did he attempt from recollection to reproduce the words used by the accused. It was held that he could not have been expected to reproduce the words of the deceased, and therefore, he was entitled to put in the document as a correct record of what the deponent had said at the time on the theory that the statement should be treated as if the witness had prefaced it by stating categorically that he could not remember what the deceased had said.
   19. Again in Public Prosecutor v. Venkatarama Naidu, AIR 1943 Mad 542, the question arose how the notes of a speech taken by a police officer be admitted in evidence. It was held that it was not necessary that the officer should be made to testify orally after referring to those notes. The police officer should describe his attendance, the making of the relevant speech and give a description of its nature so as to identify his presence there and his attention to what was going on, and that after that it was quite enough it he said "I wrote down that speech and this is what I took down," and if the prosecution had done that, they would be considered to have proved the words. This case refers to a decision of the Lahore High Court in Om Prakash v. Emperor, AIR 1930 Lah 867 wherein the contention was raised that the notes of a speech taken by a police officer were not admissible in evidence as he did not testify orally as to the speech and had not refreshed his memory under Section 159 of the Evidence Act from those notes. It was held that instead of deposing orally as to the speech made by the appellant, the police officer had put in the notes made by him, and that there would be no difference between this procedure and the police officer deposing orally after reference to those notes, and that for all practical purposes, that would be one and the same thing.
   20. The same view appears to us to have been taken in Emperor v. Balaram Das, AIR 1922 Cal 382 (2).
    21. From the discussion that we have made, we think that the correct legal position is somewhat like this. Normally, a police officer (or a Motbir) should reproduce the contents, of the statement made by the accused under Section 27 of the Evidence Act in Court by refreshing his memory under Section 159 of the Evidence Act from the memo earlier prepared thereof by him at the time the statement had been made to him or in his presence and which was recorded at the same time or soon after the making of it and that would be a perfectly unexceptionable way of proving such a statement. We do not think in this connection, however, that it would be correct to say that he can refer to the memo under Section 159 of the Evidence Act only if he establishes a case of lack of recollection and not otherwise. We further think that where the police officer swears that he does not remember the exact words used by the accused from lapse of time or a like cause or even where he does not positively say so but it is reasonably established from the surrounding circumstances (chief of which would be the intervening time between the making of the statement and the recording of the witness's deposition at the trial) that it could hardly be expected in the natural course of human conduct that he could or would have a precise or dependable recollection of the same, then under Section 160 of the Evidence Act, it would be open to the witness to rely on the document itself and swear that the contents thereof are correct where he is sure that they are so and such a case would naturally arise where he happens to have recorded the statement himself or where it has been recorded by some one else but in his own presence, and in such a case the document itself would be acceptable substantive evidence of the facts contained therein. With respect, we should further make it clear that in so far as Chhangani, J.'s holds to the contrary, we are unable to accept it as laying down the correct law. We hold accordingly."

Rejection of a bail application by Sessions Court does not operate as a bar for the High Court in entertaining a similar application under Section 439 Cr. P. C.

In the instant case, learned Principal Sessions Judge, Samba, has rejected the bail petition of both the petitioners. The question that arises for consideration is whether or not successive bail applications will lie before this Court. The law on this issue is very clear that if an earlier application was rejected by an inferior court, the superior court can always entertain the successive bail application. In this behalf, it will be profitable to quote the following observations of the Supreme Court in the case titled Gurcharan Singh & Ors vs State (Delhi Administration), AIR 1978 SC 179:

"It is significant to note that under Section 397, Cr.P.C of the new Code while the High Court and the Sessions Judge have the concurrent powers of revision, it is expressly provided under sub-section (3) of that section that when an application under that section has been made by any person to the High Court or to the Sessions Judge, no further application by the same person shall be entertained by the other of them. This is the position explicitly made clear under the new Code with regard to revision when the authorities have concurrent powers. Similar was the position under Section 435(4), Cr.P.C of the old Code with regard to concurrent revision powers of the Sessions Judge and the District Magistrate. Although, under Section 435(1) Cr.P.C of the old Code the High Court, a Sessions Judge or a District Magistrate had concurrent powers of revision, the High Court's jurisdiction in revision was left untouched. There is no provision in the new Code excluding the jurisdiction of the High Court in dealing with an application under Section 439(2), Cr.P.C to cancel bail after the Sessions Judge had been moved and an order had been passed by him granting bail. The High Court has undoubtedly jurisdiction to entertain the application under Section 439(2), Cr.P.C for cancellation of bail notwithstanding that the Sessions Judge had earlier admitted the appellants to bail. There is, therefore, no force in the submission of Mr Mukherjee to the contrary."[Para No.5]


    Relying upon the aforesaid observations of the Supreme Court, the High Court of Bombay in the case titled Devi Das Raghu Nath Naik v. State, (Crimes Volume 3 1987 363), has observed as under:
Rejection of a bail application by Sessions Court does not operate as a bar for the High Court in entertaining a similar application under Section 439 Cr. P.

"The above view of the learned Single Judge of the Kerala High Court appears to me to be correct. In fact, it is now well-settled that there is no bar whatsoever for a party to approach either the High Court or the Sessions Court with an application for an ordinary bail made under Section 439 Cr.P.C. The power given by Section 439 to the High Court or to the Sessions Court is an independent power and thus, when the High Court acts in the exercise of such power it does not exercise any revisional jurisdiction, but its original special jurisdiction to grant bail. This being so, it becomes obvious that although under section 439 Cr.P.C. concurrent jurisdiction is given to the High Court and Sessions Court, the fact, that the Sessions Court has refused a bail under Section 439 does not operate as a bar for the High Court entertaining a similar application under Section 439 on the same facts and for the same offence. However, if the choice was made by the party to move first the High Court and the High Court has dismissed the application, then the decorum and the hierarchy of the Courts require that if the Sessions Court is moved with a similar application on the same fact, the said application be dismissed. This can be inferred also from the decision of the Supreme Court in Gurcharan Singh's case (above)."[Para No.6]

10 October 2020

Mere registration of FIR regarding ragging of a student is not the ground for suspending the accused-student from educational institute

Before suspending accused-student, the educational institute must get satisfied itself about the truth of allegations of ragging


    Another issue raised is about the Order of Suspension passed against the Appellants. The facts on record indicate that the report of the Anti-Ragging Committee and the Order of Suspension were issued on the same date i.e. on 27.05.2019. The submission of Mr. Sidharth Luthra, learned Senior Advocate, that the Order of Suspension was not based on the report of the Anti-Ragging Committee merits acceptance because of following features viz. (a) the outward number for the Order of Suspension is NDN/172 while that of the report of Anti-Ragging Committee is NDN/183, which means the Order of Suspension was issued earlier to the report of the Anti-Ragging Committee; (b) both the communications are under the signature of the Dean of the College and the Hospital and yet, the Order of Suspension does not make any reference to the report of the Anti-Ragging Committee; (c) the Order of Suspension is based purely on the registration of FIR registered against the Appellants which is why “taking cognizance of this” the Order of Suspension was passed; and (d) when a request for revocation of suspension was made, it was rejected on 25.10.2019 because of order Criminal Appeal Nos. 660-662 of 2020 (@ SLP (Crl.)Nos. 3083-3085 of 2020) Ankita Kailash Khandelwal & Ors. vs State of Maharashtra & Ors. dated 09.08.2019 of the High court and not because of the report of the Anti-Ragging Committee.[Para No.25]

    The relevant provisions of 1999 Act show that if any student is found guilty of ragging or abetment of ragging, he can, on conviction be punished with imprisonment which may extend to two years and by virtue of Section 5, any student convicted of such offence shall be dismissed from the educational institution and cannot be admitted in any other educational institution for a period of five years. We are not concerned with any eventuality arising or occurring by virtue of Sections 4 and 5 of 1999 Act.

    To take appropriate action under Section 6(1) of 1999 Act, the concerned head of the educational institution must prima facie be satisfied that the allegations against the student have been found to be true, whereafter, an order of suspension can be passed.

Mere registration of FIR regarding ragging of a student is not the ground for suspending the accused-student from educational institute
  As stated hereinabove, the Order of Suspension does not even record any such finding or prima facie view. As a matter of fact, the Order of Suspension was not passed by virtue of power entrusted under Section 6(1) of 1999 Act but was based on the grounds that the Appellants were creating hurdles in the enquiry by the police and that there was an FIR against them. We, thus, conclude that the Order of Suspension is not referable to Section 6(1) of 1999 Act.

    Apart from Section 6(1) as aforesaid, no other statutory provision has been referred to or relied upon.[para No.26]

09 October 2020

Court of Sessions can permit u/s. 301, 24(8) of CrPC to the advocate of victim to make oral argument too apart from submission of the written argument

Advocate is treated to be officer of the court and supposed to assist the court in arriving the truth, so, right to address the court to an Advocate cannot be curtailed while representing his client


    In proviso added to Section 24(8) Cr.P.C., the word used are "assist the prosecution" and not to assist the public Prosecutor as mentioned in Section 301 Cr.P.C. There is difference in the scheme of two sections. From perusal of Sub-section 2 of section 301 Cr.P.C., made it clear that if in any case private person instruct a pleader to prosecute any person in any court even though the Public Prosecutor in charge of case shall conduct the prosecution and the pleader instructed shall act therein under the directions of the Public Prosecutor. Up to this stage no permission of court is needed for appointment of pleader by a private person. The permission is only required to the pleader if he want to file written argument in the case. However after insertion of proviso to Section 24(8) Cr.P.C., the court can permits a victims advocate to assist the prosecution. The status and position of Advocate engaged by the victim would be changed because in that situation the court at the very inception may permit the Advocate of the choice of the victim to participate in the proceeding and to assist the prosecution and not to the public prosecutor. Prosecution include investigation, enquiry, trial and appeal within the meaning of Section 24 Cr.P.C. Section 301 Cr.P.C., deals with only inquiry, trial or appeal. Inquiry has been defined in Section 2(g) Cr.P.C., means every inquiry, other than a trial, conducted under this Code by a Magistrate or Court. As such inquiry is different from investigation as defined in section 2(h) Cr.P.C.[Para No.39]

    Neither word prosecution nor trial has been defined in the Cr.P.C. Trial has been defined by the Apex Court in Union of India v. Major General Madan Lal Yadav [(1996) 4 SCC 127]. It means an act of proving or judicial examination or determination of the issues including its own jurisdiction or authority in accordance with law or adjudging guilt or innocence of the accused including all steps necessary thereto. Meaning of trial changes in view of specific provision of the code. The expression trial used in Section 306 Cr.P.C., includes both an inquiry as well as trial as held by the Apex Court in A. Devendran v. State of Tamilnadu (1997) 11 SCC 720.[Para No.40]

    The prosecution has not been defined specifically in the light of proviso to Section 24(8) Cr.P.C. The meaning of word prosecution as defined in Webster Dictionary, 3rd Edition is as follow;
"the carrying out of a plan, project, or course of action to or toward a specific end."[Para No.41]
..........

Court of Sessions can permit u/s. 301, 24(8) of CrPC to the advocate of victim to make oral argument too apart from submission of the written argument
    The whole scheme if taken into consideration for prosecution and trial of an accused the dominant role is played by the public prosecutor but by insertion of proviso to Section 24(8) Cr.P.C., the Court is now authorised to permit the victim to engage a lawyer of his choice to assist the prosecution. The prosecution of an offender is virtually carried out in the court of law constituted under some statute presided over by a judge and not by any party to the proceedings. The public prosecutors, the advocate of the accused or special counsel appointed by the aggrieved person or the Advocate engaged by a victim, all are officers of the court. They all assist the court to arrive at truth during prosecution of an accused. Therefore in section 24 or in section 301 phrase with the permission of court is used. So, once the permission is accorded to the Advocate of the victim to assist the prosecution his assistance could not be restricted to the terminology of Section 301, i.e., only to assist the prosecutor. The court in view of the same can permit to advance the oral argument too to the Advocate engaged by the victim apart from submission of the written argument. The importance of oral argument cannot be out weight by saying that right to written argument has been given in Section 301 Cr.P.C.[Para No.43]

04 October 2020

It amounts defamation u/s.499 of IPC if defamatory contents of pleading filed in a matrimonial case are revealed to relatives and friends of complainant

Learned Amicus Curiae for the respondent/complainant in Criminal Revision Petition Crl.R.P.No.152/2014, in her argument stating that the pleadings filed in a Court and the deposition given in a Court of Law are not privileged one and further stating that a pleading filed in the Court also amounts to publication, has relied upon few judgments in her support as follows.
    In the case of Smt. Madhuri Mukund Chitnis Vs. Mukund Martand Chitnis and another reported in 1990 CRL.L.J. 2084, the Bombay High Court was pleased to observe that, the imputations made in a proceeding which is filed in a Court is clearly a publication. It further observed that even a publication to an authority over the person against whom the imputations are made must be held to be sufficient publication which falls within the purview of the said Section 499 of IPC.

It amounts defamation u/s.499 of IPC if defamatory contents of pleading filed in a matrimonial case are revealed to relatives and friends of complainant

    In the case of M.K. Prabhakaran and another Vs.T.E. Gangadharan and another reported in 2006 CRI.L.J. 1872, the Kerala High Court, in a matter where it is alleged that defamatory statements against complainant were made in a written statement filed before the Court held that, once a statement has been filed in a Court of Law, that statement can be taken as published. If such a statement amounts to per se defamatory, then it is the duty of the accused to establish that, they are justified in making such a statement under any of the exceptions to Section 499 of IPC. 

    In the case of Sanjay Mishra Vs. Government of NCT of Delhi & another, the Delhi High Court in paragraphs 11 and 12 of its judgment was pleased to observe as below:-
"11. In Sandyal V.Bhaba Sundari Debi 7 Ind.Cas.803:15 C.W.N. 995:14 C.L.J.31 the learned Judges, following the case of Augada Ram Shaha V. Nemai Chand Shaha 23 C.867;12 Ind.Dec.(n.s.)576, held that defamatory statements made in the written statement of a party in a judicial proceedings are not absolutely privileged in this country, and that a qualified privilege in this regard cannot be claimed in respect of such statements, unless they fall within the Exceptions to Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code. Undisputedly, the case of the petitioner was not in any of these Exceptions.
    12. For criminal purposes "publication" has a wider meaning than it has in civil law, since it includes a communication to the person defamed alone. The prosecution for defamation in criminal cases can be brought although the only publication is to the person defamed as it is very likely to provoke a breach between the persons involved...."
    
    In the case of Thangavelu Chettiar Vs. Ponnammal reported in AIR 1966 Mad 363, the Madras High Court was pleased to observe that, there can be no doubt that the defamation contained in the plaint was published by the plaint being filed in the Court.[Para No.15]

02 October 2020

Husband is duty bound to maintain his dependants, regardless of his job and income

Insofar as the plea of the petitioner that he has no means to pay maintenance is concerned, it would be relevant to refer to the decision of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Sumitra Devi vs Bhikan Choudhary, reported in [1985] 1 SCC 637, wherein, it has been held as follows:
“4.Now that the matter is going back to the original Court we think it appropriate to bring it to the notice of the learned Magistrate that under Section 125 of the CrPC even an illegitimate minor child is entitled to maintenance.
Husband is duty bound to maintain his dependants, regardless of his job and income

    Even if the fact of marriage is discarded, the minor child being found to be an illegitimate daughter of the respondent would be entitled to maintenance.”[Para no.13]


    The Hon'ble Supreme Court in Bakulbhai and another vs Gangaram & another, reported in 1988 SCC (1) 537 has held that even an illegitimate child is entitled for maintenance and the relevant portion of the judgment reads as follows:
“The other findings of the Magistrate on the disputed question of fact were recorded after a full consideration of the evidence an should have been left undisturbed in revision. No error of law appears to have been discovered in his judgment and so the revisional courts were not justified in making a reassessment of the evidence and substitute their own views for those of the Magistrate. (See Pathumma and another v. Mahammad, [1986] 2 SCC 585). Besides holding that the respondent had married the appellant, the Magistrate categorically said that the appellant and the respondent lived together as husband and wife for a number of years and the appellant No. 2 Maroti was their child. If, as a matter of fact, a marriage although ineffective in the eye of law, took place between the appellant No. 1 and the respondent No. 1, the status of the boy must be held to be of a legitimate son on account of s. 16(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, which reads as follows:
"16(1). Notwithstanding that a marriage is null and void under Section 11, any child of such marriage who would have been legitimate if the marriage had been valid, shall be legitimate, whether such child is born before or after the commencement of the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act, 1976 (68 of 1976), and whether or not a decree of nullity is granted in respect of that marriage under this Act and whether or not the marriage is held to be void otherwise than on a petition under this Act."

01 October 2020

Investigating Officer cannot withheld relevant evidence that would favour the accused and in such cases adverse inference can be drawn against prosecution

If it appears impossible to convict accused inspite of witnesses are presumed to be true without any cross examination, the accused deserves to be discharge



    The Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Manjeet Singh Khera Vs. State of Maharashtra: 2013 (9) SCC 276 held as under:
Investigating Officer cannot withheld relevant evidence that would favour the accused and in such cases adverse inference cam be drawn against prosecution

"........8. The Court also noticed that seizure of large number of documents in the course of investigation of a criminal case is a common feature. After completion of the process of investigation and before submission of the report to the Court under Section 173 Cr.P.C, a fair amount of application of mind on the part of the investigating agency is inbuilt in the process. These documents would fall in two categories: one, which supports the prosecution case and other which supports the accused. At this stage, duty is cast on the investigating officer to evaluate the two sets of documents and materials collected and, if required, to exonerate the accused at that stage itself. However, many times it so happens that the investigating officer ignores the part of seized documents which favour the accused and forwards to the Court only those documents which supports the prosecution. If such a situation is pointed out by the accused and those documents which were supporting the accused and have not been forwarded and are not on the record of the Court, whether the prosecution would have to supply those documents when the accused person demands them? The Court did not answer this question specifically stating that the said question did not arise in the said case. In that case, the documents were forwarded to the Court under Section 173(5) Cr.P.C. but were not relied upon by the prosecution and the accused wanted copies/inspection of those documents. This Court held that it was incumbent upon the trial court to supply the copies of these documents to the accused as that entitlement was a facet of just, fair and transparent investigation/trial and constituted an inalienable attribute of the process of a fair trial which Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees to every accused. We would like to reproduce the following portion of the said judgment discussing this aspect:
"21.The issue that has emerged before us is, therefore, somewhat larger than what has been projected by the State and what has been dealt with by the High Court. The question arising would no longer be one of compliance or non- compliance with the provisions of Section 207 Cr.P.C. and would travel beyond the confines of the strict language of the provisions of Cr.P.C. and touch upon the larger doctrine of a free and fair trial that has been painstakingly built up by the courts on a purposive interpretation of Article 21 of the Constitution. It is not the stage of making of the request; the efflux of time that has occurred or the prior conduct of the accused that is material. What is of significance is if in a given situation the accused comes to the court contending that some papers forwarded to the court by the investigating agency have not been exhibited by the prosecution as the same favours the accused the court must concede a right to the accused to have an access to the said documents, if so claimed. This, according to us, is the core issue in the case which must be answered affirmatively. In this regard, we would like to be specific in saying that we find it difficult to agree with the view taken by the High Court that the accused must be made to await the conclusion of the trial to test the plea of prejudice that he may have raised. Such a plea must be answered at the earliest and certainly before the conclusion of the trial, even though it may be raised by the accused belatedly. This is how the scales of justice in our criminal jurisprudence have to be balanced."[Para No.63]

30 September 2020

Chairman/Managing Director of a news channel/house can be held liable for publication of the offending news item only if he has any role in selecting the news and publishing the same with active knowledge and intent

Chairman/Managing Director of a news channel can be held liable for publication of the offending news item only if it can be shown that he was somehow concerned with publication of the defamatory news item and that he had active knowledge thereof. As held in S Nihal Singh & Ors. v. Arjan Das; 1983 Cri. L.J. 777, an individual cannot be asked to answer the charge of defamation merely because he happened to be the Chairman of a company which owns a newspaper, without there being any further evidence as regards his participation in the actual management and administration of the affairs of the company.[Para No.13]

    So, the whole concept of fastening liability hinges on knowledge. As held in Kalanithi Maran v. A Rathinaraj; 2017 SCC Online Mad 9723 and G K Mani v. New Generation Media Corporation (P.) Ltd; 2019 SCC Online Mad 8332, for fastening liability, what is of paramount importance is that knowledge has to be attributed to the accused person. In Kalanithi (supra), the petitioner is the Chairman-cum- MD of Sun TV Network Ltd. and the complaint was filed against him for telecasting an interview between the complainant and one person, on the allegation of falsity of the statement given in the news and consequently, the MD is equally responsible for telecasting such defamatory statement. The Hon'ble High Court held as below:-

Chairman/Managing Director of a news channel/house can be held liable for publication of the offending news item only if he has any role in selecting the news and publishing the same with active knowledge and intent
"Vicarious liability under Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867, is not applicable to electronic media. Therefore, only general rule is applicable in the present case. To attract the offence of defamation, the imputation must have been made with the knowledge or intention or at least with reason to believe that it will harm the person concerned."[Para No.14]

When applicant is arrayed as accused because he is the owner of vehicle involved in sand theft crime then without swaying into the controversy of manipulation/mismatching of engine/chassis number, vehicle can be returned u/s.457 to him

It is indeed a matter having unpleasant history. The vehicle was seized for allegedly carrying stolen sand and was intercepted and seized and admittedly since its seizure it is laying in the premises of the police station concerned. Admittedly, the applicant is being implicated being the owner of the tractor. If such is the state of affairs, in the normal course, there would not have been any difficulty in straight away handing over the vehicle to him subject to usual conditions. It is trite that the Supreme Court time and again has expressed futility in allowing detention of vehicles during the course of the trial. One can fruitfully referred to the decisions in the case of Smt. Basava and Sunderbhai (supra).[Para No.12]

When applicant is arrayed as accused because he is the owner of vehicle involved in sand theft crime then without swaying into the controversy of manipulation/mismatching of engine/chassis number, vehicle can be returned u/s.457 to him

    However as can be discerned, the matter has become complicated because of changes in the chassis and engine numbers appearing on the tractor. The panchnama under which the tractor was seized mentions that at the time of such seizure the chassis number was appearing as "0065110367V1DH" and the engine number was appearing as "CO6014709VIDK013B". Apparently no photograph of such number as they were appearing on the chassis and engine were taken. The petitioner had applied for release of the tractor earlier to the present attempt by filing Criminal M.A. No.569/2017 but it was rejected since the numbers obviously did not tally. He preferred Criminal Revision No.220/2017. It was dismissed but a direction was given to the RTO to inspect and to register the vehicle. Pursuant to such a direction the Magistrate called upon the RTO concerned to undertake the inspection and to register the tractor since it was not registered till then with the RTO. It is apparent that the RTO thereafter undertook the inspection on 26.12.2018 (page 40) and submitted a report on the same date to the Superintendent of the Civil Court at Sillod. In addition he sent another letter dated 08.01.2019 (page 43). It was mentioned that the tractor was having chassis number and engine number which tally with the original numbers mentioned by the dealer on the Tax Invoice (Exhibit B). However, he also notice that the tractor was not in a road worthy condition and therefore for the reasons mentioned therein he was unable to register it because of various provisions contained in the Motor Vehicles Act and the Rules framed thereunder. It is in the backdrop of such state of affairs that now we are faced with the situation.[Para No.13]

29 September 2020

Accused can be released on interim bail on the ground of snail speed of the trial

Successive application for bail is permissible under substantial change of circumstances which has direct impact on the earlier decision and not merely cosmetic changes


    This bail application of the petitioner being the sixth one before this Court, it is to be kept in mind the settled principle of law that successive application for grant of bail to an accused is permissible under the changed circumstances which must be substantial one and which has got a direct impact on the earlier decision and not merely cosmetic changes which are of little or no consequence inasmuch as without the change in the circumstances, the subsequent bail application would be deemed to be seeking review of the earlier rejection order which is not permissible under criminal law. Of Course, the principle of res judicata is not applicable while considering the successive bail application but the issues and grounds which have been canvassed earlier would not be ordinarily permitted to be re- agitated. If some important aspects of the case could not be placed earlier inadvertently and the Court feels that such aspects have a direct bearing on the result of the case, in the interest of justice, the Court can consider the same in the subsequent application.[Para No.5]

    ......... While rejecting the last bail application of the petitioner in BLAPL No.1053 of 2019, it has already been held that the detention of the petitioner has virtually become pre-trial punishment to him as the trial has not progressed much in spite of the earlier direction of this Court due to lack of sincere effort of the prosecution and moreover, the petitioner has not contributed to the delay. Though direction was given to the learned trial Court to expedite the trial keeping in view the provision under section 309 of Cr.P.C. and to take effective step to ensure the attendance of witnesses but it seems that even after the said order was received by the learned trial Court, the learned trial Court has neither followed the provision under section 309 of Cr.P.C. nor kept in view the observation made by this Court while disposing of the earlier bail application. No special reason has been assigned by the learned trial Court in adjoining the case to long dates. Not a single witness has been examined after 04.01.2020 and the status report makes it clear how difficult it has become to proceed with the trial of the case at present.

    Mr. Panigrahi, leanred Senior Advocate placed the observation made by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Ranjan Dwibedi -Vrs.- C.B.I. reported in A.I.R. 2012 S.C. 3217, wherein it is held as follows:-
"19.....However, unintentional and unavoidable delays or administrative factors over which prosecution has no control, such as, over- crowded court dockets, absence of the presiding officers, strike by the lawyers, delay by the superior forum in notifying the designated Judge, (in the present case only), the matter pending before the other forums, including High Courts and Supreme Courts and adjournment of the criminal trial at the instance of the accused, may be a good cause for the failure to complete the trial within a reasonable time. This is only illustrative and not exhaustive. Such delay or delays cannot be violative of accused's right to a speedy trial and needs to be excluded while deciding whether there is unreasonable and unexplained delay..."

    Keeping in view the observation made by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the aforesaid case, if the order sheet of the learned trial Court is perused from 05.09.2019 onwards till the end of December 2019, it cannot be said that the delay which was caused was unavoidable or on account of any administrative factors over which the prosecution has no control. During the said period, the trial court was functioning normally and no adjournment was sought for from the side of the petitioner and therefore, the delay which has been caused by the trial Court even after the receipt of the order this Court on 22.08.2019 passed in BLAPL No.1053 of 2019, in my humble view, is unreasonable and unexplained. Of course after the last two witnesses i.e. P.W.24 and 25 were examined on 4.01.2020, the Presiding Officer was transferred on 10.01.2020 and the new Presiding Officer joined on 23.03.2020 and then the lock-down was imposed in the State since 23.03.2020 which was extended from time to time and during the said period, there was restricted functioning of the Subordinate Courts in the State as per the direction of this Court and no summons were issued to witnesses during the said period and now the letter dated 10.09.2020 of the learned trial Court makes it clear that the normal functioning of the Court has not been restored. Since the learned trial Judge has made it clear in the said letter that he shall make all endeavor to resume the trial by procuring the attendance of the witnesses in the Court, it is expected that the observation made by this Court while disposing of BLAPL No.1053 of 2019 to expedite the trial keeping in view the provision under section 309 of Cr.P.C. and to take effective step to ensure the attendance of the witnesses shall also be kept in mind. All possible steps shall be taken to proceed with the trial on day-to-day basis. Since the learned trial Court is also dealing with other cases, a particular time slot should be fixed on each date and the mandate of section 309 of Cr.P.C. shall be adhered to. The trial Court shall take all possible steps to stop the dilly- dallying or shilly-shallying attitude adopted either from the side of the prosecution or accused and ensure that the constitutional right of speedy trial of the accused as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India is not flouted causing mockery of the trial. It seems unnecessary lengthy cross examination has been made by different set of defence counsel to the witnesses to make it a gallery show, which needs to be regulated by the learned trial Court keeping in view the provisions under sections 146, 148, 150, 151, 152 and 165 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.[Para No.7]

28 September 2020

In cheque dishonor case; failure of complainant to give satisfactory reply about his financial capacity to pay/give the amount; is a probable defence on behalf of the accused

We having noticed the ratio laid down by this Court in above cases on Sections 118(a) and 139, we now summarise the principles enumerated by this Court in following manner:-
(i) Once the execution of cheque is admitted Section 139 of the Act mandates a presumption that the cheque was for the discharge of any debt or other liability.
(ii) The presumption under Section 139 is a rebuttable presumption and the onus is on the accused to raise the probable defence. The standard of proof for rebutting the presumption is that of preponderance of probabilities.
(iii) To rebut the presumption, it is open for the accused to rely on evidence led by him or accused can also rely on the materials submitted by the complainant in order to raise a probable defence. Inference of preponderance of probabilities can be drawn not only from the materials brought on record by the parties but also by reference to the circumstances upon which they rely.
(iv) That it is not necessary for the accused to come in the witness box in support of his defence, Section 139 imposed an evidentiary burden and not a persuasive burden.
(v) It is not necessary for the accused to come in the witness box to support his defence.[Para No.23]

In cheque dishonor case; failure of complainant to give satisfactory reply about his financial capacity to pay/give the amount; is a probable defence on behalf of the accused
 Applying the preposition of law as noted above, in facts of the present case, it is clear that signature on cheque having been admitted, a presumption shall be raised under Section 139 that cheque was issued in discharge of debt or liability. The question to be looked into is as to whether any probable defence was raised by the accused. In cross-examination of the PW1, when the specific question was put that cheque was issued in relation to loan of Rs.25,000/- taken by the accused, the PW1 said that he does not remember. PW1 in his evidence admitted that he retired in 1997 on which date he received monetary benefit of Rs. 8 lakhs, which was encashed by the complainant. It was also brought in the evidence that in the year 2010, the complainant entered into a sale agreement for which he paid an amount of Rs.4,50,000/- to Balana Gouda towards sale consideration. Payment of Rs.4,50,000/- being admitted in the year 2010 and further payment of loan of Rs.50,000/- with regard to which complaint No.119 of 2012 was filed by the complainant, copy of which complaint was also filed as Ex.D2, there was burden on the complainant to prove his financial capacity. In the year 2010-2011, as per own case of the complainant, he made payment of Rs.18 lakhs. During his cross-examination, when fina>ncial capacity to pay Rs.6 lakhs to the accused was questioned, there was no satisfactory reply given by the complainant. The evidence on record, thus, is a probable defence on behalf of the accused, which shifted the burden on the complainant to prove his financial capacity and other facts.[Para No.24]

25 September 2020

While deciding bail application, it cannot be presumed that petitioner will flee justice or will influence the investigation/witnesses

Grant of bail cannot be thwarted merely by asserting that offence is grave.


Consequences of pre-trial detention are grave.

    In AIR 2019 SC 5272, titled P. Chidambaram v. Central Bureau of Investigation, CBI had opposed the bail plea on the grounds of:- (i) flight risk; (ii) tampering with evidence; and (iii) influencing witnesses. The first two contentions were rejected by the High Court. But bail was declined on the ground that possibility of influencing the witnesses in the ongoing investigation cannot be ruled out. Hon'ble Apex Court after considering (2001) 4 SCC 280, titled Prahlad Singh Bhati v. NCT, Delhi and another;( 2004) 7 SCC 528, titled Kalyan Chandra sarkar v.R ajesh Ranjan and another; (2005) 2 SCC 13, titled Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal v. State of Tamil Nadu and (2005) 8 SCC 21, titled State of U.P. through CBI v.Amarmani Tripathi, observed as under:-

"26. As discussed earlier, insofar as the "flight risk" and "tampering with evidence" are concerned, the High Court held in favour of the appellant by holding that the appellant is not a "flight risk" i.e. "no possibility of his abscondence". The High Court rightly held that by issuing certain directions like "surrender of passport", "issuance of look out notice", "flight risk" can be secured. So far as "tampering with evidence" is concerned, the High Court rightly held that the documents relating to the case are in the custody of the prosecuting agency, Government of India and the Court and there is no chance of the appellant tampering with evidence.

28. So far as the allegation of possibility of influencing the witnesses, the High Court referred to the arguments of the learned Solicitor General which is said to have been a part of a "sealed cover" that two material witnesses are alleged to have been approached not to disclose any information regarding the appellant and his son and the High Court observed that the possibility of influencing the witnesses by the appellant cannot be ruled out. The relevant portion of the impugned judgment of the High Court in para (72) reads as under:

"72. As argued by learned Solicitor General, (which is part of 'Sealed Cover', two material witnesses (accused) have been approached for not to disclose any information regarding the petitioner and his son (co-accused). This court cannot dispute the fact that petitioner has been a strong Finance Minister and Home Minister and presently, Member of Indian Parliament. He is respectable member of the Bar Association of Supreme Court of India. He has long standing in BAR as a Senior Advocate. He has deep root in the Indian Society and may be some connection in abroad. But, the fact that he will not influence the witnesses directly or indirectly, cannot be ruled out in view of above facts. Moreover, the investigation is at advance stage, therefore, this Court is not inclined to grant bail."

29. FIR was registered by the CBI on 15.05.2017. The appellant was granted interim protection on 31.05.2018 till 20.08.2019. Till the date, there has been no allegation regarding influencing of any witness by the appellant or his men directly or indirectly. In the number of remand applications, there was no whisper that any material witness has been approached not to disclose information about the appellant and his son. It appears that only at the time of opposing the bail and in the counter affidavit filed by the CBI before the High Court, the averments were made that "....the appellant is trying to influence the witnesses and if enlarged on bail, would further pressurize the witnesses....". CBI has no direct evidence against the appellant regarding the allegation of appellant directly or indirectly influencing the witnesses. As rightly contended by the learned Senior counsel for the appellant, no material particulars were produced before the High Court as to when and how those two material witnesses were approached. There are no details as to the form of approach of those two witnesses either SMS, email, letter or telephonic calls and the persons who have approached the material witnesses. Details are also not available as to when, where and how those witnesses were approached.

31. It is to be pointed out that the respondent - CBI has filed remand applications seeking remand of the appellant on various dates viz. 22.08.2019, 26.08.2019, 30.08.2019, 02.09.2019, 05.09.2019 and 19.09.2019 etc. In these applications, there were no allegations that the appellant was trying to influence the witnesses and that any material witnesses (accused) have been approached not to disclose information about the appellant and his son. In the absence of any contemporaneous materials, no weight could be attached to the allegation that the appellant has been influencing the witnesses by approaching the witnesses. The conclusion of the learned Single Judge "...that it cannot be ruled out that the petitioner will not influence the witnesses directly or indirectly....." is not substantiated by any materials and is only a generalised apprehension and appears to be speculative. Mere averments that the appellant approached the witnesses and the assertion that the appellant would further pressurize the witnesses, without any material basis cannot be the reason to deny regular bail to the appellant; more so, when the appellant has been in custody for nearly two months, co-operated with the investigating agency and the charge sheet is also filed.

32. The appellant is not a "flight risk" and in view of the conditions imposed, there is no possibility of his abscondence from the trial. Statement of the prosecution that the appellant has influenced the witnesses and there is likelihood of his further influencing the witnesses cannot be the ground to deny bail to the appellant particularly, when there is no such whisper in the six remand applications filed by the prosecution. The charge sheet has been filed against the appellant and other co-accused on 18.10.2019. The appellant is in custody from 21.08.2019 for about two months. The co-accused were already granted bail. The appellant is said to be aged 74 years and is also said to be suffering from age related health problems. Considering the above factors and the facts and circumstances of the case, we are of the view that the appellant is entitled to be granted bail."[Para No.5.v.6]

16 September 2020

Oral prayer of default bail u/s.167(2) can be allowed in hearing of Regular Bail Application u/s.439 of Cr.P.C. if chargesheet is not filed within prescribed period

In the present case, it was also argued by learned counsel for the State that the petitioner did not apply for ‘default bail’ on or after 4th January, 2017 till 24th January, 2017 on which date his indefeasible right got extinguished on the filing of the charge sheet. Strictly speaking this is correct since the petitioner applied for regular bail on 11th January, 2017 in the Gauhati High Court – he made no specific application for grant of ‘default bail’. However, the application for regular bail filed by the accused on 11th January, 2017 did advert to the statutory period for filing a charge sheet having expired and that perhaps no charge sheet had in fact being filed. In any event, this issue was argued by learned counsel for the petitioner in the High Court and it was considered but not accepted by the High Court. The High Court did not reject the submission on the ground of maintainability but on merits. Therefore it is not as if the petitioner did not make any application for default bail – such an application was definitely made (if not in writing) then at least orally before the High Court. In our opinion, in matters of personal liberty, we cannot and should not be too technical and must lean in favour of personal liberty. Consequently, whether the accused makes a written application for ‘default bail’ or an oral application for ‘default bail’ is of no consequence. The concerned court must deal with such an application by considering the statutory requirements namely, whether the statutory period for filing a charge sheet or challan has expired, whether the charge sheet or challan has been filed and whether the accused is prepared to and does furnish bail.[Para No.40]

Oral prayer of default bail u/s.167(2) can be allowed in hearing of Regular Bail Application u/s.439 of Cr.P.C. if chargesheet is not filed within prescribed period
    We take this view keeping in mind that in matters of personal liberty and Article 21 of the Constitution, it is not always advisable to be formalistic or technical. The history of the personal liberty jurisprudence of this Court and other constitutional courts includes petitions for a writ of habeas corpus and for other writs being entertained even on the basis of a letter addressed to the Chief Justice or the Court.[Para No.41]

    Strong words indeed. That being so we are of the clear opinion that adapting this principle, it would equally be the duty and responsibility of a court on coming to know that the accused person before it is entitled to ‘default bail’, to at least apprise him or her of the indefeasible right. A contrary view would diminish the respect for personal liberty, on which so much emphasis has been laid by this Court as is evidenced by the decisions mentioned above, and also adverted to in Nirala Yadav.[Para No.44]

    On 11th January, 2017 when the High Court dismissed the application for bail filed by the petitioner, he had an indefeasible right to the grant of ‘default bail’ since the statutory period of 60 days for filing a charge sheet had expired, no charge sheet or challan had been filed against him (it was filed only on 24 th January, 2017) and the petitioner had orally applied for ‘default bail’. Under these circumstances, the only course open to the High Court on 11 th January, 2017 was to enquire from the petitioner whether he was prepared to furnish bail and if so then to grant him ‘default bail’ on reasonable conditions. Unfortunately, this was completely overlooked by the High Court.[Para No.45]

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