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

17 August 2020

Intention of accused can be gathered from the fact whether the weapon was carried by the accused or was picked up from the spot

The conspectus of the decisions can summarised thus:
The offence to fall within Exception 4 of section 300 of The Indian Penal Code 1860 following ingredients must be fulfilled Viz.(i) that the act was committed without premeditation; ( ii) that there was a sudden fight; (iii) the act must be in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel; and (iv) the offender should not have taken undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual manner.[Para No.22]

    The intention to cause death as contemplated by thirdly of Section 300 of The Indian Penal Code 1860 can be gathered from following factors:
(i) nature of the weapon used;

Intention of accused can be gathered from the fact whether the weapon was carried by the accused or was picked up from the spot
(ii) whether the weapon was carried by the accused or was picked up from the spot;
(iii) whether the blow is aimed at a vital part of the body;
(iv) the amount of force employed in causing injury;
(v) whether the act was in the course of sudden quarrel or sudden fight or free for all fight;
(vi) whether the incident occurs by chance or whether there was any premeditation;
(vii) whether there was any prior enmity or whether the deceased was a stranger;
(viii) whether there was any grave and sudden provocation, and if so, the cause for such provocation;
(ix) whether it was in the heat of passion;
(x) whether the person inflicting the injury has taken undue advantage or has acted in a cruel and unusual manner;
(xi) whether the accused dealt a single blow or several blows.[Para No.23]

14 August 2020

Extra judicial confession of absconded co-accused cannot be used to record conviction

The prosecution is also relying on evidence of PW No.9 Tapan Mandal to establish that the other accused Kishor Shelar had made extra-judicial confession to him about killing of women by both accused. His evidence is also relied to establish that motorcycle brought by Kishor Shelar was produced by him. The other accused was apparently juvenile in conflict with law. The Judgment of trial Court mentions that, the other accused Kishor Shelar is Juvenile in conflict with law against whom the proceeding is going on before juvenile justice Board. The outcome of the proceedings is not known. Thus, the said accused was not before Trial Court in this proceeding. PW No.9 is silent about words 'Hari Om' being written on number plate of motorcycle. PW No.9 has stated that accused No.2 is absconding, although the investigating officer is silent in that regard. According to him he was working on Vadapav stall of father of accused No.2. The motorcycle belongs to relative of accused. The said accused went to Pune and confessed to him. The accused was arrested and PW No.9 was told to deposit motorcycle. The recovery is not at the instance of accused. It is difficult to accept that the accused would go to Pune and make confession to PW No.9. The witness have not stated as to why accused visited him and whether he stayed with him and what was the nature of relationship between them to confess about crime. In any case it is a extra-judicial confession of accused who is not tried in this proceeding. The owner of motorcycle was not examined. Appellant cannot be convicted on the basis of such extra-judicial confession.[Para No.30]
Extra judicial confession of absconded co-accused cannot be used to record conviction

    The extra-judicial confession is weak piece of evidence. The extra judicial confession is questionable in the present case. The witness did not allude the information to anyone about the confession made by the appellant. In the case of Sahadevan V/s State of Tamilnadu, (2012), 6 SCC 403 referring to the aspect of evidentiary value of extra judicial confession it was observed :-
"14. It is a settled principle of criminal jurisprudence that extra-judicial confession is a weak piece of evidence. Wherever the court, upon due appreciation of the entire prosecution evidence, intends to base a conviction on an extra-judicial confession, it must ensure that the same inspired confidence and is corroborated by other prosecution evidence. If, however, the extra-judicial confession suffers from material discrepancies or inherent improbabilities an does not appear to be cogent as per the prosecution version, it may be difficult for the court to base a conviction on such a confession. In such circumstance, the court would be fully justified in ruling such evidence out of consideration".[Para No.31]

11 August 2020

Accused can use prosecution's evidence to establish his defence without adducing his evidence

In Periasami and Another v. State of T.N.; 1996 (6) SCC 457, accused, two in number, were alleged to have attacked the deceased. Though the Sessions Judge acquitted the accused, the High Court convicted the two appellants under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC and another accused under Section 324 IPC. This Court found that the injuries were caused by the appellant with lethal weapons. Dealing with the contention that offence would not be above 304 Part I, the Court noted that though the right of private defence was not set up under Section 313 Cr.PC., absence of such a plea would not stand in the way of the defence based on the exception being set up was the contention taken by the appellant. The Court noted as follows:
“17. While dealing with the said alternative contention we have to bear in mind Section 105 of the Evidence Act, 1872. A rule of burden of proof is prescribed therein that the burden is on the accused to prove the existence of circumstances bringing the case within any of the exceptions “and the Court shall presume the absence of such circumstances”. The said rule does not whittle down the axiomatic rule of burden (indicated in Section 101) that the prosecution must prove that the accused has committed the offence charged against. The traditional rule that it is for prosecution to prove the offence beyond reasonable doubt applies in all criminal cases except where any particular statute prescribes otherwise. The legal presumption created in Section 105 with the words “the Court shall presume the absence of such circumstances” is not intended to displace the aforesaid traditional burden of the prosecution. It is only where the prosecution has proved its case with reasonable certainty that the court can rest on the presumption regarding absence of circumstances bringing the case within any of the exceptions. This presumption helps the court to determine on whom is the burden to prove facts necessary to attract the exception and an accused can discharge the burden by “preponderance of probabilities” unlike the prosecution. But there is no presumption that an accused is the aggressor in every case of homicide. If there is any reasonable doubt, even from the prosecution evidence, that the aggressor in the occurrence was not the accused but would have been the deceased party, then benefit of that reasonable doubt has to be extended to the accused, no matter he did not adduce any evidence in that direction.
18. The above legal position has been succinctly stated by Subbarao, J. (as he then was) in a case where an accused pleaded the exception under Section 84 IPC (Dahyabhai Chhaganbhai Thakkar v. State of Gujarat [AIR 1964 SC 1563 : (1964) 2 Cri LJ 472]):
“The prosecution, therefore, in a case of homicide shall prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused caused death with the requisite intention described in Section 299 of the Penal Code, 1860. This general burden never shifts and it always rests on the prosecution. … If the material placed before the court, such as, oral and documentary evidence, presumptions, admissions or even the prosecution evidence, satisfies the test of ‘prudent man’ the accused will have discharged his burden. The evidence so placed may not be sufficient to discharge the burden under Section 105 of the Evidence Act, but it may raise a reasonable doubt in the mind of a Judge as regards one or other of the necessary ingredients of the offence itself.”[Para No.11]

    We, therefore, have no hesitation in holding that a statement made by the accused under Section 313 Cr.PC even it contains inculpatory admissions cannot be ignored and the Court may where there is evidence available proceed to enter a verdict of guilt. In the aforesaid case he specifically stated that he murdered his wife with a Kunda and not with Phali. The Court noted further that there was no merit in the defence sought to be set up under Section 84 of the penal code. However, the Court noted as follows:
16. …..However, we have noticed that the accused had adopted another alternative defence which has been suggested during cross-examination of prosecution witnesses i.e. his wife and PW 2 (Ramey) were together on the bed during the early hours of the date of occurrence. If that suggestion deserves consideration we have to turn to the question whether the benefit of Exception I to Section 300 of the IPC should be extended to him?
Accused can use prosecution's evidence to establish his defence without adducing his evidence
17. The law is that burden of proving such an exception is on the accused. But the mere fact that the accused adopted another alternative defence during his examination under Section 313 of the CrPC without referring to Exception I of Section 300 of IPC is not enough to deny him of the benefit of the exception, if the Court can cull out materials from evidence pointing to the existence of circumstances leading to that exception. It is not the law that failure to set up such a defence would foreclose the right to rely on the exception once and for all. It is axiomatic that burden on the accused to prove any fact can be discharged either through defence evidence or even through prosecution evidence by showing a preponderance of probability.
18. In the above context, we deem it useful to ascertain what possibly would have prompted the accused to kill his wife. The prosecution case as noted above, is that the accused was not well- disposed to his wife as she was always speaking against his drinking habits. We are inclined to think that, while considering the manner in which he had suddenly pounced upon his young wife who bore two children to him and smashed her head during the early hours, he would have had some other strong cause which probably would have taken place within a short time prior to the murder. Certain broad features looming large in evidence help us in that line of thinking.”[Para No.14]

07 August 2020

Casual remarks or replies on social media or press note does not amount to defamation if it does not cause serious harm or potential ill effect on reputation of a person

Defamation - Sec. 499 and 500 of IPC -  Whether a particular statement or words are defamatory or not? How it can be decided and what criteria can be applied?



 On the point what constitutes defamation, it is useful to refer to the ratio laid down in S. Khushboo (supra), which is as follows:
In the case of S. Khushboo (supra), the Supreme Court considered whether a particular statement or words are defamatory or not, how it can be decided and what criteria can be applied. In the said case, the appellant made certain statements about the sexual behaviour of people in Tamil Nadu which were published in a magazine, so many organizations filed the complaint against her on Sections 411 and 500 of Indian Penal Code. The Supreme Court held that a morally provocative statement does not make out any offence. So also the general statement made about the sexual habits of the people in Tamil Nadu does not make out any offence. The Supreme Court gave guidelines that any remark which could reasonably amount to the offence of defamation, is to be verified. The defamation though is a factual question and the statutory defences are available to the accused, the imperative question is whether the allegations in the complaint supported a prima facie case of defamation in the first place.[Para No.39]


    Defamation is broadly defined as false statement, damaging one's goodwill or reputation or image. Article 19 of the Constitution of India i.e., right to freedom, speech and expression gives no licence to any person to defame others as the fundamental right is enjoyed with reasonable restrictions. Generally, there is not much difference in goodwill and reputation of the company. It means a credibility and trustworthiness. Even something true may be also defamation in certain circumstances. Thus, lowering down one's estimation in the eyes of a public is defamation. A person may be dishonest, but he may be holding a reputation of high values. Thus, the right is jus in rem. However, the statement must be understood as defamatory by right thinking or reasonable minded persons. Therefore, there are certain yardsticks to decide whether the statement is defamatory or not, which are as follows :

(i) The statement to be read and understood with a context. It is to be read in its entirety.

(ii) Natural and ordinary meaning of the words is to be followed. What meaning the words would convey to the ordinary man is a litmus test.

(iii) Whether the statement brings hatred, stress, contempt and ridicule, will decide whether it is defamatory or not.

(iv) Imputation of fraud, dishonesty and corruption by rendering sub quality services, causing damage, sub quality manufacturing goods, use of abusive language are the glaring examples of defamation.

(v) Every incorrect statement or written statement or every statement which is disapproved or not liked is not necessarily defamatory statement. In such a case, defamation is taken very subjectively, but the Court has to use reasoning of the ordinary man and adopt objective approach.


    There are certain statements involving shades of irony, innuendo and sarcasm where indirectly or impliedly a person is defamed.[Para No.40]


    At the outset, it is made clear that while assessing the legality of the issuance of process in the offence of defamation, the exceptions laid down in section 499 of the Indian Penal Code are not to be taken into account as that is a defence available to the accused. Therefore, whether the order of issuance of process is correct or not is to be judged only after considering the averments made and the alleged statements made in the complaint.[Para No.41]

Casual remarks or replies on social media or press note does not amount to defamation if it does not cause serious harm or potential ill effect on reputation of a person
    Whether innocuous gossip or trivial accusation will be defamation or whether casual remarks or replies on social media is defamation, etc. are the issues that crop up before the Courts. However, a Judge has to see whether serious harm is caused to the person or it has a potential ill effect on his or her reputation. In the present case, the statements and the words do not manifest ill- will to damage the reputation of the complainant-company but it is a denial of the actions taken by Shapoorji Pallonji Group and Mr.Cyrus Mistry. The Judge has to be cautious while looking at the defamatory statements and has to control personification of his views about public feelings and opinion. It should be strictly a reasonable person's opinion. It is also to be kept in mind that a reasonable person is not a lawyer or a Judge but a common man; a right thinking common man. Thus, the test can be objectively applied.[Para No.44]


06 August 2020

Notice under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act should not be issued unless the Magistrate gets convinced that the presence of the respondents is necessary for further adjudication of the matter

When admittedly, the present petitioners were not residing with the husband of the second respondent, they could not be considered are the persons belonging shared household as is defined under Section 2(s) of the Act. As such, they are not necessary parties for the adjudication of the dispute in question.[Para No.18]

    In this regard, this court gainfully relies on the judgment of the Hon'ble Apex Court in the case of Shyamlal Devda and others V/s. Parimala, reported in (2020) 3 SCC 14, wherein it is held as under :
8. Section 18 of the Domestic Violence Act relates to protection order. In terms of Section 18 of the Act, intention of the legislature is to provide more protection to woman. Section 20 of the Act empowers the court to order for monetary relief to the "aggrieved party". When acts of domestic violence is alleged, before issuing notice, the court has to be prima facie satisfied that there have been instances of domestic violence.
9. In the present case, the respondent has made allegations of domestic violence against fourteen appellants. Appellant No.14 is the husband and appellants No.1 and 2 are the parents-in-law of the respondent. Appellants No.3, 5, 9, 11 and 12 are the brothers of father-in-law of the respondent. Appellants No.4, 6 and 10 are the wives of appellants No.3, 5 and 9 respectively. Appellants No.7 and 8 are the parents of appellant No.1. Appellants No.1 to 6 and 14 are residents of Chennai. Appellants No.7 to 10 are the residents of State of Rajasthan and appellants No.11 to 13 are the residents of State of Gujarat. Admittedly, the matrimonial house of the respondent and appellant No.1 has been at Chennai. Insofar as appellant No.14-husband of the respondent and appellants No.1 and 2-Parents-in-law, there are averments of alleging domestic violence alleging that they have taken away the jewellery of the respondent gifted to her by her father during marriage and the alleged acts of harassment to the respondent. There are no specific allegations as to how other relatives of appellant No.14 have caused the acts of domestic violence. It is also not known as to how other relatives who are residents of Gujarat and Rajasthan can be held responsible for award of monetary relief to the respondent. The High Court was not right in saying that there was prima facie case against the other appellants No.3 to 13. Since there are no specific allegations against appellants No.3 to 13, the criminal case of domestic violence against them cannot be continued and is liable to be quashed."[Para No.19]

    Applying the legal principles enunciated in the above decision to the case on hand, it is seen in the present case also except making bald statements without there being any specific details as to alleged domestic violence, present petitioners who are the relatives of husband of the second respondent and not residing with the husband of the second respondent, have been arraigned as party respondents only with an intention to harass them.[Para No.20]

    The learned Magistrate before issuing the notice, should have applied his mind as to the existence of prima- facie case as against the present petitioners are concerned.[Para No.21]

    In the impugned order, the learned Magistrate has not even noted that there exists a prima facie case against the present petitioners are concerned. The order dated 26.10.2016 whereby he issued notices to the present petitioners reads as under:
"Date: 26-10-2016 Register as Crl.misc. & put up.
Sd/-
Prl. JMFC., GVT.
Issue notices to respondents through CDPO, Gangavati returnable on 14.11 Sd/-
Prl. JMFC., GVT.
"[Para No.22]

Notice under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act should not be issued unless the Magistrate gets convinced that the presence of the respondents is necessary for further adjudication of the matter
    On perusal of the above order, it is crystal clear that the order is passed in a mechanical manner. Order does not indicate as to what prompted the learned Magistrate to proceed against the present petitioners also. It is needless to emphasize that issuance of process to a litigant in a matter of this nature should be only after the Magistrate gets convinced that the presence of the respondents/accused is necessary for further adjudication of the matter. The same must be indicated in the order issuing the process, if not in so many words.[Para No.23]

05 August 2020

Debt in cash above ₹20,000 in contravention of Sec.269ss of Income Tax Act does not render the transaction unenforceable under N.I.Act

Next, he submitted that the payment of more than ₹20,000/- in cash violates the provisions of Section 269 SS of the Income Tax Act, 1961 which prohibits grant of any loan or advance over a sum of ₹20,000/- in cash. He submitted that since the said loan was in violation to the provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961 the same was not an enforceable debt. He relied upon by the decision of the Bombay High Court in Sanjay Mishra v. Kanishka Kapoor @ Nikkin and Anr.: 2009 (4) Mah.L.J.155 in support of his contention.[Para No.11]

    The contention that the debt owed by the petitioner was rendered unenforceable by virtue of the provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961 is also unmerited.[Para No.13]

Debt in cash above ₹20,000 in contravention of Sec.269ss of Income Tax Act does not render the transaction unenforceable under N.I.Act
    Section 269SS of the Income Tax Act, 1961 prohibits making of any payment in cash above a sum of ₹20,000/-. Thus, any person violating the same would attract imposition of penalties under the said Act. However, the same does not render the said debt un-enforceable or precludes the lender from recovering the same.[Para No.14]

04 August 2020

Accused is entitled for benefit of doubt when there is unexplained delay in forwarding seized article to the court

The alleged occurrence was on 15.11.2011. Ext.P8 property list shows that the seized substances were produced in the court only on 19.11.2011. The prosecution has not explained the reason for the delay in producing the seized substances, including the samples, before the court. It is not explained what prevented the detecting officer or the investigating officer to produce the seized articles in the court immediately after the seizure. In view of the unexplained delay in producing the seized articles before the court, tampering with such articles at the police station cannot be ruled out.[Para No.39]
   
    There is also no reliable evidence as to who was having the custody of the seized articles till they were produced in the court and in what condition they were kept in the police station. PW3 has given evidence that the properties might have been kept in the police station during the period between 16.11.2011 to 18.11.2011 and they would have been in the custody of the Station Writer. But, the evidence of PW6 Circle Inspector, who conducted the investigation of the case on the date of occurrence, is that the properties were in the custody of PW3 Sub Inspector till they were produced in the court. He has stated that he had received the properties but he entrusted them with the Sub Inspector himself for producing them before the court.[Para No.40]

Accused is entitled for benefit of doubt when there is unexplained delay in forwarding seized article to the court
    To put it in a nutshell, the unexplained delay in producing the seized substances before the court and absence of evidence as to how and in what condition the seized substances, including the samples, were kept in the police station till the date of their production in the court alongwith the circumstance that there is absence of evidence regarding the nature of the seal used by the detecting officer for sealing the sample packets, create doubt as to whether seizure of the substances was effected from the accused in the manner alleged by the prosecution. The benefit of that doubt shall be given to the accused.[Para No.45]

03 August 2020

Notice returned with endorsement 'house locked', 'shop closed', "addressee not available' is presumed to be dully served

It is clear from Section 27 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 and Section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1972, that once notice is sent by registered post by correctly addressing to the drawer of the cheque, the service of notice is deemed to have been effected. The requirements under proviso (b) of Section 138 stands complied, if notice is sent in the prescribed manner. However, the drawer is at liberty to rebut this presumption.[Para No.13]

    It is well settled that interpretation of a Statute should be based on the object which the intended legislation sought to achieve.
“It is a recognized rule of interpretation of statutes that expressions used therein should ordinarily be understood in a sense in which they best harmonize with the object of the statute, and which effectuate the object of the Legislature. If an expression is susceptible of a narrow or technical meaning, as well as a popular meaning, the Court would be justifed in assuming that the Legislature used the expression in the sense which would carry out its object and reject that which renders the exercise of its power invalid"[Para No.14]
Notice returned with endorsement 'house locked', 'shop closed', "addressee not available' is presumed to be dully served
    This Court in catena of cases has held that when a notice is sent by registered post and is returned with postal endorsement “refused” or “not available in the house” or “house locked” or “shop closed” or “addressee not in station”, due service has to be presumed. Though in process of interpretation right of an honest lender cannot be defeated as has happened in this case. From the perusal of relevant sections it is clear that generally there is no bar under the N.I. Act to send a reminder notice to the drawer of the cheque and usually such notice cannot be construed as an admission of non-service of the first notice by the appellant as has happened in this case.[Para No.15]

02 August 2020

School certificate or matriculation certificate be given the highest preference in determining age of accused or victim

Date of birth controversy - different date of birth mentioned in different documents i.e. school register, aadhar card, anganwadi kendra report, affidavit, voter list/ID etc. - which document has to be relied in determining the age of victim or accused?


    Since the central issue, at this stage, in the present case revolves around the question of determination of age of the victim based on divergent ages as indicated by three documents. Such a determination will naturally have a bearing on the culpability of the Petitioner herein in respect of the offences as outlined in the FIR. It is also noticed that such an issue, indicating conflicting date of birth recurringly comes up before this Court. It may not be out of place here to mention that the role of the State in such legislations at hand is like parens patriae. There seems to be a lot of divergence as to the age of a minor person or child which spread across 11 legislations from 14 years of age to 25 years depending on the purpose of the legislation. However, in so far as the Juvenile Justice Act and the POCSO Act are concerned, the age of majority is fixed at above 18 years. Therefore, an exercise must be undertaken to bring a quietus to such an issue in light of some leading precedents of the Supreme Court of India.[Para No.9]

    In Brij Mohan Singh v. Priya Brat Narain Sinha the Hon'ble Supreme Court held that the reason why an entry made by a public servant in a public or other official book, register, or record stating a fact in issue or a relevant fact has been made relevant is that when a public servant makes it in the discharge of his official duty, the probability of its being truly and correctly recorded is high. On the other hand, it was held that the same probability is reduced to a minimum when the public servant himself is illiterate and has to depend on somebody else to make the entry. In such case the evidentiary value of the document in question under Section 35 of the Evidence Act varies according to the maker thereof. In the case of Umesh Chandra v. State of Rajasthan it was held that oral evidence in respect of age has no value which could necessarily be proved only through documentary evidence. The court herein disbelieved a horoscope and relied upon the records maintained by the school. In Dayachand v. Sahib Singh the Hon'ble Court held that although the tendency of many to have lesser age recorded in school is well known and can be easily appreciated but cannot be accepted as the same was clearly in conflict with the medical evidence. Thus, in the said case medical evidence which observes the physical developments especially with regard to the bone structure formation opine a certain age which trumped the records in the school register. In the case of Vishnu v. State of Maharashtra the Hon'ble Apex Court has chosen to believe the date of birth as indicated in the birth register maintained by the Municipal Corporation and disregarded the date of birth as recorded by the school register. The reasoning to do so has been that the best evidence with regard to the age of the child is that of the parents of the child. It has further held that credence-worthy documentary evidence will prevail over expert witness of a doctor and even ossification test. In the case of Birad Mal Singhvi v. Anand Purohit it was has held that the entries regarding the date of birth contained in the school's register or Secondary School Examination have no probative value and that a person such as the parents of the child who have special knowledge in terms of Section 35 of the Evidence Act, with regard to the age of the child need to give evidence to that effect, in order to prove those documents which reflect the age. In the absence thereof such documents would be of no evidentiary value. In the case of Pradeep Kumar v. State of U.P. the court has relied upon the School certificate as well as the age indicated by medical examination as both of them were consistent and indicated the same age. In the case of Bhoop Ram v. State of U.P. the court disbelieved the medical opinion and instead chose to rely on the date of birth as occurring in the School certificate since the said document had not been disproved by any party and gave the accused the benefit of doubt. In the case of Bhola Bhagat v. State of Bihar the court held that since the object of such laws being socially oriented legislation and intended to be beneficial in nature. An obligation is cast on the court in such cases where a plea is raised with regard to the juvenility of the age of the accused to direct an enquiry to be held and seek a report in that regard. It further suggested that subordinate courts must be issued an administrative direction that whenever such a plea with regard to juvenility is raised. There being a doubt on the said question, it is incumbent upon the court to conduct an enquiry by giving the parties an opportunity to establish the respective claims in order to return a concrete finding with regard to the age. In Ramdeo Chauhan v. State of Assam it was held that in case the school register was not maintained by a public servant in discharge of his official duty, then such an entry would not have a binding evidentiary value. It also held that although medical opinion could not be said to be definitive but in cases where the court was grouping in the dark some amount of guidance could be sought from such an opinion and it could not be discarded altogether. In Ravinder Singh Gorkhi v. State of U.P. it was held that when a particular statute requires the age to be determined in a particular manner, no artificial division could be made between civil and criminal cases and a uniform standard of proof must be followed. The court must endeavor to strike a balance keeping in mind that a benevolent approach needs to be taken. In Babloo Pasi v. State of Jharkhand the court disbelieved the age reflecting in the voters list as no evidence was produced as to the materials based on which such an age had been entered into the said list. In Jitendra Ram v. State of Jharkhand dealing with the issue of juvenility under the Juvenile Justice Act it was held that in the absence of any concrete documentary evidence, it was incumbent upon the court to follow the procedure prescribed under the statute and obtain a medical opinion with regard to the age. In Jyoti Prakash Rai v. State of Bihar the court held that since the School certificate and the horoscope were found to be forged, the court had no other option but to rely on the medical opinion. However, while doing so, the court observed that medical opinion could not be taken to be conclusive but a margin of two years on either side had to be taken and that a better approach would be to take the average of the medical opinion issued by different medical opinions. In Pawan v. State of Uttaranchal the court was disinclined to believe the school leaving certificate which had been obtained after the conviction. In Hari Ram v. State of Rajasthan the court took note of the various provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act and opined that in case of any ambiguity with regard to the age, Rule 12 framed under the Act had to be taken recourse to in order to arrive at the age. In Raju v. State of Haryana the court directed that the age determination be done as per the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and the rules framed thereunder. In Shah Nawaz v. State of U.P. the court held that Rule 12 categorically provides that the medical opinion from the medical board should only be sought only when the matriculation certificate or school certificate or a certificate issued by a corporation are not available. That being the provision under the rules the court ought not to have overlooked the same especially when such a document was available on record and was credence worthy. In Om Prakash v. State of Rajasthan in an exception the Hon'ble Apex Court found the school certificate to be unreliable and went by the medical opinion as the same was based on scientific medical tests like ossification and radiological examination in order to determine the age of the juvenile. In Ashwani Kumar Saxena v. State of M.P. the court relied on the admission register of the school as clinching evidence. The reasoning that the parents would have given a wrong date of birth was taken to be a specious plea and disbelieved. It was also held that the issue of the juvenility could be raised at any point in time or at any stage of the proceedings. A similar view was taken in the case of Kulai Ibrahim v. State.[Para No.10]

    In Sunil v. State of Haryana in the absence of school leaving certificate and the basis on which the age was recorded in the school register not having been produced the court went by the age as opined by the report of the dentist who had conducted the examination. In State of M.P. v. Munna the court held that the X-ray report of the ossification test could not be believed as the doctor who conducted the examination and opined on the age was never examined and also noticing that in the absence of any other documentary evidence the age was not successfully established by the prosecution.[Para No.11]

    In Jarnail Singh v. State of Haryana, the court for the first time took a view that although Rule 12 deals with a child in conflict with law but by using the judicial tool of reading is held that the same could be extended to determine the age of the victim also. It is a landmark decision in the sense that for the first time the court took note that although there was the legislation in place to determine the age of the accused there was a vacuum with regard to the mode of determination of the age of the victim. Thus by necessary judicial construction it has been held authoritative leave that the same rule, i.e., Rule 12, would be applicable to determine the age of the victim as well. In State of M.P. v. Anoop Singh the court held that minor discrepancies existing amongst two documents is irrelevant as long as the other evidences on record point in a certain direction. In Mahadeo v. State of Maharashtra the court relied on a series of documents which indicated that the age was in a certain range based on the documents which were on record and credence worthy[Para No.12]

01 August 2020

Gravity of offence alone cannot be a decisive ground to deny bail

It is improper to refuse bail to an unconvicted person for the propose of giving him a taste of imprisonment as a lesson


    Recently, the Hon'ble Apex Court in Criminal Appeal No. 227/2018, Dataram Singh vs. State of Uttar Pradesh & Anr decided on 6.2.2018 has held that freedom of an individual can not be curtailed for indefinite period, especially when his/her guilt is yet to be proved. It has further held by the Hon'ble Apex Court in the aforesaid judgment that a person is believed to be innocent until found guilty. The Hon'ble Apex Court has held as under:
"2. A fundamental postulate of criminal jurisprudence is the presumption of innocence, meaning thereby that a person is believed to be innocent until found guilty. However, there are instances in our criminal law where a reverse onus has been placed on an accused with regard to some specific offences but that is another matter and does not detract from the fundamental postulate in respect of other offences. Yet another important facet of our criminal jurisprudence is that the grant of bail is the general rule and putting a person in jail or in a prison or in a correction home (whichever expression one may wish to use) is an exception.
    Unfortunately, some of these basic principles appear to have been lost sight of with the result that more and more persons are being incarcerated and for longer periods. This does not do any good to our criminal jurisprudence or to our society.
3. There is no doubt that the grant or denial of bail is entirely the discretion of the judge considering a case but even so, the exercise of judicial discretion has been circumscribed by a large number of decisions rendered by this Court and by every High Court in the country. Yet, occasionally there is a necessity to introspect whether denying bail to an accused person is the right thing to do on the facts and in the circumstances of a case.
4. While so introspecting, among the factors that need to be considered is whether the accused was arrested during investigations when that person perhaps has the best opportunity to tamper with the evidence or influence witnesses. If the investigating officer does not find it necessary to arrest an accused person during investigations, a strong case should be made out for placing that person in judicial custody after a charge sheet is filed. Similarly, it is important to ascertain whether the accused was participating in the investigations to the satisfaction of the investigating officer and was not absconding or not appearing when required by the investigating officer. Surely, if an accused is not hiding from the investigating officer or is hiding due to some genuine and expressed fear of being victimised, it would be a factor that a judge would need to consider in an appropriate case. It is also necessary for the judge to consider whether the accused is a first­time offender or has been accused of other offences and if so, the nature of such offences and his or her general conduct. The poverty or the deemed indigent status of an accused is also an extremely important factor
and even Parliament has taken notice of it by incorporating an Explanation to Section 436 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. An equally soft approach to incarceration has been taken by Parliament by inserting Section 436A in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
Gravity of offence alone cannot be a decisive ground to deny bail
5. To put it shortly, a humane attitude is required to be adopted by a judge, while dealing with an application for remanding a suspect or an accused person to police custody or judicial custody. There are several reasons for this including maintaining the dignity of an accused person, howsoever poor that person might be, the requirements of Article 21 of the Constitution and the fact that there is enormous overcrowding in prisons, leading to social and other problems as noticed by this Court in In Re­Inhuman Conditions in 1382 Prisons."[Para No.8]

30 July 2020

Call details marked with objection can not be considered in evidence if its issuing authority is not examined

Though the call details Ex.P.36 marked with objection, the admissibility of the said document cannot be questioned at the belated stage, but the authority, who issued the said document, has not been examined. Therefore, the same cannot be considered in the absence of any material produced to prove that there were conversations between P.W.8 and P.W.1 and P.W.8 and the deceased in view of the dictum of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Malay Kumar Ganguly v. Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee reported in AIR 2010 SC 1162 wherein at paragraphs 48 and 49 it has been held as under:

Call details marked with objection can not be considered in evidence if its issuing authority is not examine
"48. It is true that ordinarily if a party to an action does not object to a document being taken on record and the same is marked as an exhibit, he is estopped and precluded from questioning the admissibility thereof at a later stage. It is, however, trite that a document becomes inadmissible in evidence unless the author thereof is examined; the contents thereof cannot be held to have been proved unless he is examined and subjected to cross- examination in a court of law.
49. The document which is otherwise inadmissible cannot be taken in evidence only because no objection to the admissibility thereof was taken. In a criminal case, subject of course, to the shifting of burden depending upon the statutes and/or the decisions of the superiors courts, the right of an accused is protected in terms of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The procedure laid in that behalf, therefore, must be strictly complied with. Exts. 4, 5 and 6, in our opinion, are not admissible in evidence in the criminal trial." [Para No.87]

28 July 2020

Police authorities are not the adjudicators of guilt or innocence of any person

A person cannot be denuded of his or her dignity merely because he/she is an accused or is under trial.


A media campaign to pronounce a person guilty would certainly destroy the presumption of innocence.


    It is also necessary to bear in mind that human dignity is recognized as a constitutional value and a right to maintain one's reputation is a facet of human dignity. A person cannot be denuded of his or her dignity merely because he/she is an accused or is under trial.
[Para No.24]

Police authorities are not the adjudicators of guilt or innocence of any person
   The police or any other agency cannot use media to influence public opinion to accept that the accused is guilty of an alleged offence while the matter is still being investigated. The same is not only likely to subvert the fairness of the investigation but would also have the propensity to destroy or weaken the presumption of innocence, which must be maintained in favour of the accused till he/she is found guilty after a fair trial.
[Para No45.]

   It is also well settled that the right to receive information is one of the essential the facets of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. The right to freedom of speech and expression also encompasses the right to information. However, this right is not absolute and may be curtailed if it interferes with the administration of justice and the right of an accused to a fair trial.[Para No.46]

23 July 2020

Writ petition u/A 226 is not maintainable against inaction of police in registration of FIR

Investigation is the function of the police and writ court cannot be converted as an investigation agency.


   Indeed that Section 39 of the Cr.P.C enables the public to set the criminal law in motion, but if the officer in-charge, fails to register an FIR, the Hon'ble Supreme Court as well as this Court, in the above decisions have considered whether the only remedy open to the complainant or the first informant or the member of public to approach the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and that there is no other remedy provided under any other law, and answered that writ is not the remedy.[Para No.103]

   It is clear from the above provisions in the Cr.P.C., that if the police did not register a case on the basis of a complaint filed by the complainant, then he has got a remedy in the Code of Criminal Procedure, by approaching the jurisdictional Magistrate under Section 156(3) of the Code or even file a private complaint under Section 190 read with Section 200 of the Code, and when a complaint is filed, then the Magistrate has to conduct enquiry under Sections 200 and 202 of the Code, and if the Magistrate is satisfied on the basis of the materials produced before that court that commission of an offence has been prima facie made out, then the Magistrate can take cognizance of the case and issue process to the accused under Section 204 of the Code. If the Magistrate is not satisfied with the materials produced and if he is satisfied that no offence has been made out, then the Magistrate can dismiss the complaint under Section 203 of the Code.[Para No.104]

Writ petition u/A 226 is not maintainable against inaction of police in registration of FIR
   Even if the Station House Officer commits a mistake in arriving at the conclusion that the allegations are not sufficient to attract the ingredients of commission of a cognizable offence, even this Court cannot invoke the power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, go into the question as to whether non satisfaction by the Station House Officer is proper or not, to issue a writ of mandamus or other writs directing the Station House Officer to register a crime as it is a matter to be considered by the Magistrate under Section 190 read with Section 200 of the Code on a complaint filed by the aggrieved party on account of the inaction on the part of the police in not registering case in such cases. If an enquiry has to be conducted for satisfaction regarding the commission of offence, then it is not proper on the part of the High Court to invoke the power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and parties must be relegated to resort to their statutory remedy available under the Code in such cases. After lodging the complaint before the concerned police and if the police is not registering the case, the aggrieved person/complainant can approach the Superintendent of Police with written application under Section 154(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and even in a case the Superintendent of Police also does not register an FIR or no proper investigation is done, the aggrieved person can approach the Magistrate concern under Section 156 (3) of Cr.P.C. Without resorting to the procedure as contemplated in the Cr.P.C, the petitioner has approached this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.[Para No.105]

22 July 2020

Possibility of improvisation should be considered by Special Judge while deciding anticipatory bail in SC & ST Atrocity offences

When facts constituting atrocity are not mentioned in FIR but added in supplementary statement the it does not rule out possibility of improvisation.


   The important point that the learned Special Judge failed to consider is that, there is absolutely no mention in First Information Report of those facts which would attract offence under Atrocities Act. Those facts came to be mentioned in the supplementary statement. The possibility of improvisation should have been considered by the Special Judge. Definitely the ratio laid down in Prithviraj Chavan's case (Supra) is required to be considered and in the said case it has been observed thus, "10. Concerning the applicability of provisions of section 438 of Cr.P.C., it shall not apply tot he cases under Act of 1989. However, if the complaint does not make out a prima facie case for applicability of the provisions of the Act of 1989, the bar created by section 18 and 18A (I) shall not apply. We have clarified this aspect while deciding the review petitions "

Possibility of improvisation should be considered Special Judge while deciding anticipatory bail in SC & ST Atrocity offences
  Therefore, if we brush aside those allegations under the Atrocities Act, what remains is only the offences under Indian Penal Code and Information Technology Act. Those remaining allegations do not require physical custody of the appellant for the purpose of investigation. Time and again this Court is observing the approach of the Special Judges under the Atrocities Act, who are dealing with the bail applications. They are not considering the facts of the case in proper manner and only on the apparent allegations and especially without considering the ratio laid down in Prithviraj Chavan's case (Supra), just dismissing the bail applications, especially the pre-arrest bail applications holding that, there is bar under Section 18 of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atocities) Act, 1989. Time has again come to remind the Special Judges under the Atrocities Act that, they should consider the ratio laid down in Prithviraj Chavan's case (Supra) and other Judgments of Hon'ble Supreme Court and this Court in proper manner while dealing with the bail applications.[Para No.9]

21 July 2020

Single incidence of assault is not cruelty u/s.498A; torture must be continuous and persistent

It goes without saying that matrimonial cruelty occurs within the precincts of the matrimonial home of the wife and she hardly shares her ordeals with someone other than her parents and her near relatives. As a result overwhelming evidence may not be available before the court in a case under Section 498A IPC. But that does not absolve the prosecution from the burden of proving the charge by cogent, coherent and persuasive evidence.[Para No.19]

    In the case in hand, the matter was reported to police by the father of the victim after he brought back his daughter from her matrimonial home. It is apparent on the face of the record that the victim lived with her husband in her matrimonial home only for about 6 months after their marriage. Except the omnibus statement of the victim and her parents that the appellant demanded cash from the parents of the victim and tortured her for fulfillment of his demand, no particular incident of any kind of physical or mental torture meted out to the victim or any other instance of abuse in her matrimonial house has been proved against the appellant. In this regard, the Apex Court, while dwelling on similar issue in Manju Ram Kalita vs. State of Assam reported (2009) 13 SCC 330 held as under:
"21. Cruelty" for the purpose of section 498A, IPC is to be established in the context of section 498A, IPC as it may be a different from other statutory provisions. It is to be determined / inferred by considering the conduct of the man, weighing the gravity or seriousness of his acts and to find out as to whether it is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide etc. It is to be established that the woman has been subjected to cruelty continuously / persistently or at least in close proximity of time of loading the complaint. Petty quarrels cannot be termed as 'cruelty' to attract the provisions of section 498A, IPC. Causing mental torture to the extent that it becomes unbearable may be treated as cruelty."[Para No.26]

Single incidence of assault is not cruelty u/s.498A; torture must be continuous  and persistent
    In the case of Prwitish Datta and ors vs. State of Tripura reported in (2014) 1 TLR 848 this High Court held that every case of harassment of the wife either by the husband or his family members cannot be termed as cruelty within the meaning of Section 498A unless the conduct of the husband or his family members, as the case may be, is willful and of such a grave nature which is likely to drive the wife to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to her life, limb or health whether mental or physical. Similarly, in Gautam Nama vs. State of Tripura reported in (2013) 2 TLR 134, this High Court observed that

on the basis of mere omnibus statement without specific evidence regarding the particulars of the instances of such torture or cruelty, the accused cannot be held guilty under Section 498A IPC.In the case of Dhananjoy Shil vs. State of Tripura reported in (2013) 2 TLR 1060 also it was held by this Court that a single incident of assault may not amount to an offence under Section 498A IPC because cruelty for the purpose of Section 498A is different from other statutory provisions and it is to be established against the appellant that he subjected his wife to cruelty continuously and persistently. It was also held that petty quarrels cannot be termed as cruelty to attract the provisions of Section 498A IPC.[Para No.27]

20 July 2020

Criminal proceedings are not a short cut of other remedies available in law

Growing tendency in business circles and family disputes to convert purely civil disputes into criminal cases and apply pressure though criminal prosecution should be deprecated and discouraged.


   While on this issue, it is necessary to take notice of a growing tendency in business circles to convert purely civil disputes into criminal cases. This is obviously on account of a prevalent impression that civil law remedies are time consuming and do not adequately protect the interests of lenders/creditors. Such a tendency is seen in several family disputes also, leading to irretrievable break down of marriages/families. There is also an impression that if a person could somehow be entangled in a criminal prosecution, there is a likelihood of imminent settlement. Any effort to settle civil disputes and claims, which do not involve any criminal offence, by applying pressure though criminal prosecution should be deprecated and discouraged. In G. Sagar Suri vs. State of UP  [2000 (2) SCC 636], this Court observed :
"It is to be seen if a matter, which is essentially of civil nature, has been given a cloak of criminal offence. Criminal proceedings are not a short cut of other remedies available in law. Before issuing process a criminal court has to exercise a great deal of caution. For the accused it is a serious matter. This Court has laid certain principles on the basis of which High Court is to exercise its jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code. Jurisdiction under this Section has to be exercised to prevent abuse of the process of any court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice."

Criminal proceedings are not a short cut of other remedies available in law
 While no one with a legitimate cause or grievance should be prevented from seeking remedies available in criminal law, a complainant who initiates or persists with a prosecution, being fully aware that the criminal proceedings are unwarranted and his remedy lies only in civil law, should himself be made accountable, at the end of such misconceived criminal proceedings, in accordance with law. One positive step that can be taken by the courts, to curb unnecessary prosecutions and harassment of innocent parties, is to exercise their power under section 250 Cr.P.C. more frequently, where they discern malice or frivolousness or ulterior motives on the part of the complainant. Be that as it may.[Para No.10]

19 July 2020

Criminal proceeding for sec. 498A can be quash even after judgment and while pending appeal

Accused convicted for the offences punishable u/s.498 A, 504, 506 r/w 34 of IPC - matrimonial dispute - during the pendency of appeal against conviction accused and informant arrived at settlement and decided to end the dispute - sought quashing of proceeding u/s.482 - judgment of conviction quashed.

Criminal proceeding can be quash even after judgment and while pending appeal
It is undisputed that during the pendency of the appeal challenging the judgment of conviction, the matrimonial dispute between the applicant no.1 and the applicant no.7 stands settled. As observed in Saloni Rupam Bhartiya { 2015 (4) RCR (Criminal) 172} and Ramesh s/ o Shaligram Dode & Ors. {2014 ALL MR (Cri) 282.}, if during the pendency of the proceedings the matrimonial dispute between the parties stands settled, the Court can quash the criminal proceedings in their entirety by invoking powers under Section 482 of the Code. We find the present case to be a fit one to exercise such jurisdiction.[Para No.5]

“account closed”, “payment stopped”, “referred to the drawer”, “signatures do not match”, “image is not found” attracts sec. 138 of N.I. Act

The above line of decisions leaves no room for holding that the two contingencies envisaged under Section 138 of the Act must be interpreted strictly or literally. We find ourselves in respectful agreement with the decision in NEPC Micon Ltd. (supra) that the expression “amount of money …………. is insufficient” appearing in Section 138 of the Act is a genus and dishonour for reasons such “as account closed”, “payment stopped”, “referred to the drawer” are only species of that genus. Just as dishonour of a cheque on the ground that the account has been closed is a dishonour falling in the first contingency referred to in Section 138, so also dishonour on the ground that the “signatures do not match” or that the “image is not found”, which too implies that the specimen signatures do not match the signatures on the cheque would constitute a dishonour within the meaning of Section 138 of the Act. This Court has in the decisions referred to above taken note of situations and contingencies arising out of deliberate acts of omission or commission on the part of the drawers of the cheques which would inevitably result in the dishonour of the cheque issued by them. For instance this Court has held that if after issue of the cheque the drawer closes the account it must be presumed that the amount in the account was nil hence insufficient to meet the demand of the cheque. A similar result can be brought about by the drawer changing his specimen signature given to the bank or in the case of a company by the company changing the mandate of those authorised to sign the cheques on its behalf.

18 July 2020

Prison is primarily for punishing convicts ; not for detaining undertrials in order to send any 'message' to society

While in the additional status report the State says that 
“.... Granting of bail at this early stage may send an adverse message in the society and such crimes should not
be allowed to happen in the national capital. ....”. 
(Emphasis supplied) 

Prison is primarily for punishing convicts ; not for detaining undertrials in order to send any 'message' to society
this court is of the view that that cannot be basis for denying bail, if the court is otherwise convinced that no purpose in aid of investigation and prosecution will be served by keeping the accused in judicial custody. Prison is primarily for punishing convicts ; not for detaining undertrials in order to send any ‘message’ to society. The remit of the court is to dispense justice in accordance with law, not to send messages to society. It is this sentiment, whereby the State demands that undertrials be kept in prison inordinately without any purpose, that leads to overcrowding of jails ; and leaves undertrials with the inevitable impression that they are being punished even before trial and therefore being treated unfairly by the system. If at the end of a protracted trial,  the prosecution is unable to bring home guilt, the State cannot give back to the accused the years of valuable life lost in prison. On the other hand, an accused would of course be made to undergo his sentence after it has been awarded, after trial. [Para No.16]


12 July 2020

Petty quarrels arising in conjugal life does not amount to cruelty u/s. 498A IPC

With regard to the charge of Section 498A IPC against the appellant, the learned trial Judge did not assign any reason in his judgment as to why he found the appellant guilty of offence punishable under Section 498A IPC. It is apparent on the face of the record that the appellant as well as his in laws belonged to the poor strata of society. It was, therefore, not unlikely that there would be discord and differences in the domestic life of the appellant. Petty quarrels arising out of such discord and differences in conjugal life would not amount to cruelty within the meaning of clause (a) of Section 498A IPC unless it is proved that the cruelty meted out to the wife was a willful conduct of the appellant which was likely to affect her normal mental frame and drive her to commit suicide out of depression or to cause grave injury or danger to her life, limb or her mental or physical health. For establishing the commission of offence under clause (b) of Section 498A IPC, it has to be proved that the appellant or his relatives subjected his deceased wife to harassment with a view to coercing her or her relatives to meet his demands for dowry or such harassment was made due to the failure of her or her relatives to meet such demand. Now, we have to ascertain from the evidence recorded by the trial court as to whether prosecution has been able to bring home the charge under Section 498A IPC to the accused. [Para No.47]

Petty quarrels arising  in conjugal life does not amount to cruelty u/s. 498A IPC
  In the case of Prwitish Datta and Ors.(supra) this High Court held that every case of harassment either by the husband or his family members to the wife cannot be termed as cruelty within the meaning of Section 498A unless the conduct of the husband or his family members, as the case may be, is wilful and of such a grave nature which is likely to drive the wife to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to her life, limb or health whether mental or physical. Similarly, in Gautam Nama (supra) which has also been relied upon by learned counsel of the appellant, this High Court observed that on the basis of mere omnibus statement without specific evidence regarding the particulars of the instances of such torture or cruelty, the accused cannot be held guilty under Section 498A IPC. In the case of Dhananjoy Shil (supra) also it was held by this Court that a single incident of assault may not amount to an offence under Section 498A IPC because cruelty for the purpose of Section 498A is different from other statutory provisions and it is to be established against the appellant that he subjected his wife to cruelty continuously and persistently. It was also held that petty quarrels cannot be termed as cruelty to attract the provisions of Section 498A IPC.[Para No.48]

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