Showing posts with label discharge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label discharge. Show all posts

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]

11 July 2020

Mere breach of contract cannot give rise to criminal prosecution for cheating

Further, on careful reading of the charge, it appears that the Court has framed the charges of offences under Sections 409, 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of IPC. On reading of provisions of IPC, of which charges are framed against the petitioners as well as principle laid down in this regard by the Hon'ble Apex Court in its various pronouncements, before applying the Section 409 of IPC, consideration of Section 405 of IPC is necessary. Bare reading of Section 405 IPC shows that the accused is either entrusted with a property or acquires dominion over the property and misappropriates the same dishonestly or converts the same for its own use or dishonestly uses or disposes of that property. In criminal breach of trust, the person comes into possession of a property honestly but he develops dishonest intention subsequent to his acquiring dominion over the property by way of entrustment or otherwise. To constitute the offence of criminal breach of trust following ingredients must be fulfilled:-
(i) There has to be some property.
(ii) The said property must be entrusted to someone with or without any contract.
(iii) The dominion of the property was shifted from complainant to the accused.
(iv) The accused person refuses to return/restore the said property to the rightful owner when demanded.
(v) The accused having misappropriated/converted to its own use/disposed the property refuses to restore the property to the complainant/lawful owner.

15. When offence of criminal breach of trust committed by any public servant or by banker merchant or agent then they shall be punished under Section 409 of IPC.

16. Further in order to apply section 420 IPC, the essential ingredients are:-
(i) cheating;
(ii) dishonestly inducement to deliver property or to make, alter or destroy any valuable security or anything which is sealed or signed or is capable of being converted into a valuable security, and
(iii) mens-rea of the accused at the time of making the inducement."

Mere breach of contract cannot give rise to criminal prosecution for cheating

17. Further, under the IPC, the cheating is defined in Section 415 and on reading of the said provision in the light of legal verdicts passed in this regard, the following ingredients are necessary to constitute the offence of cheating :-
(1) Deception of any person.
(2) (a) Fraudulently or dishonestly inducing that person;
(i) to deliver any property to any person; or
(ii) to consent that any person shall retain any property; or
(b) intentionally inducing that person to do or omit to do anything which he would not do or omit if he were not so deceived, and which act or omission causes or is likely to cause damage or harm to that person in body, mind, reputation or property.

10 June 2020

While framing charge court cannot act as a mouthpiece of the prosecution

Now, let us examine the decisions which have a bearing on the point in issue.
   11. In State of Bihar v. Ramesh Singh MANU/SC/0139/1977 : (1977) 4 SCC 39 : 1977 SCC (Cri) 533 considering the scope of Sections 227 and 228 of the Code, it was held that at the stage of framing of charge it is not obligatory for the judge to consider in any detail and weigh in a sensitive balance whether the facts, if proved, would be incompatible with the innocence of the accused or not. At that stage, the court is not to see whether there is sufficient ground for conviction of the accused or whether the trial is sure to end in his conviction. Strong suspicion, at the initial stage of framing of charge, is sufficient to frame the charge and in that event it is not open to say that there is no sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused.
While framing charge court cannot act as a mouthpiece of the prosecution
12. In Supdt. and Remembrancer of Legal Affairs, W.B. v. Anil Kumar Bhunja MANU/SC/0266/1979 : (1979) 4 SCC 274 : 1979 SCC (Cri) 1038 : (1980) 1 SCR 323 a three-Judge Bench held that the Magistrate at the stage of framing charges had to see whether the facts alleged and sought to be proved by the prosecution prima facie disclose the commission of offence on general consideration of the materials placed before him by the investigating police officer. (emphasis supplied) Though in this case the specific question whether an accused at the stage of framing of charge has a right to produce any material was not considered as such, but that seems implicit when it was held that the Magistrate had to consider material placed before it by the investigating police officer.
   13. In State of Delhi v. Gyan Devi MANU/SC/0649/2000 : (2000) 8 SCC 239 : 2000 SCC (Cri) 1486 this Court reiterated that at the stage of framing of charge the trial court is not to examine and assess in detail the materials placed on record by the prosecution nor is it for the court to consider the sufficiency of the materials to establish the offence alleged against the accused persons.
   14. In State of M.P. v. S.B. Johari MANU/SC/0025/2000 : (2000) 2 SCC 57 : 2000 SCC (Cri) 311 it was held that the charge can be quashed if the evidence which the prosecutor proposes to adduce to prove the guilt of the accused, even if fully accepted, cannot show that the accused committed the particular offence. In that case, there would be no sufficient ground for proceeding with the trial.
   15. In State of Maharashtra v. Priya Sharan Maharaj MANU/SC/ 1146/1997 : (1997) 4 SCC 393 : 1997 SCC (Cri) 584 it was held that at Sections 227 and 228 stage the court is required to evaluate the material and documents on record with a view to finding out if the facts emerging therefrom taken at their face value disclose the existence of all the ingredients constituting the alleged offence. The court may, for this limited purpose, sift the evidence as it cannot be expected even at that initial stage to accept all that the prosecution states as gospel truth even if it is opposed to common sense or the broad probabilities of the case.
   16. All the decisions, when they hold that there can only be limited evaluation of materials and documents on record and sifting of evidence to prima facie find out whether sufficient ground exists or not for the purpose of proceeding further with the trial, have so held with reference to materials and documents produced by the prosecution and not the accused. The decisions proceed on the basis of settled legal position that the material as produced by the prosecution alone is to be considered and not the one produced by the accused. The latter aspect relating to the accused though has not been specifically stated, yet it is implicit in the decisions. It seems to have not been specifically so stated as it was taken to be a well-settled proposition. This aspect, however, has been adverted to in State Anti-Corruption Bureau v. P. Suryaprakasam 1999 SCC (Cri) 373 where considering the scope of Sections 239 and 240 of the Code it was held that at the time of framing of charge, what the trial court is required to, and can consider are only the police report referred to under Section 173 of the Code and the documents sent with it. The only right the accused has at that stage is of being heard and nothing beyond that.[Para No.10]
   11. Thus it is settled position of law that at the time of framing of charge, the Court is not supposed to look into the evidence of the case in detail and is only to consider whether there is a strong suspicion against the accused on the basis of the material that comes before it. The court has the power to sift the evidence for the limited purpose of finding out, whether or not a prima facie case is made out against the accused. However, the Court is not supposed to delve deeply into the merits of the matter and start a roving expedition into the evidence that is brought forth it, as if conducting a trial. Further there is no one fixed definition that may be ascribed to the term prima facie' nor can the term strong suspicion have a singular meaning. While coming to the conclusion of a strong prima facie case or strong suspicion, the Court shall have to decide each case on the basis of its own independent facts and circumstances.[Para No.11]
   26. It is trite law that at the stage of framing of charge, the Court is not to delve deeply with the evidence brought forth, but the same does not mean that the Court should ignore gaping holes apparent on the face of the record, in the case of the prosecution, and the court cannot act as a mouthpiece of the prosecution.[Para No.26]
Delhi High Court
State Of Nct Of Delhi 
Decided on 08/06/2020

29 May 2020

Discharge of accussed: if no grave suspicion exist

  • When discharge of accused can be granted ?
  • What has to be considered while deciding framing of charge against accessed?

   It is a settled principle of law that at the stage of framing of charge, Magistrate can sift the evidence for limited purpose. Detailed scrutiny is not to be done. Prosecution story need not be accepted as gospel truth. If the charge is found to be groundless, then the Magistrate on consideration of the police report and the documents and making such examination as deemed appropriate, may discharge the accused, but if there is ground to presume that accused has committed an offence, the charge can be framed. The basic concept is that the Court has to see the prima facie nature of the case at the time of framing of charge. Broad probability of the case can be considered. Following principles are to be kept in mind at the time of framing of charge:-
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