Showing posts with label high court. Show all posts
Showing posts with label high court. Show all posts

26 September 2020

Delay in filing written statement can not be condoned if defendant found at laxity or gross negligence in filing the same

The Court below was expected to consider the application at Exhibit-32 on the basis of its contents, in the backdrop of the aforesaid facts indicating deliberate delay on the part of the respondent and by applying the position of law as laid down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court and this Court in the context of Order VIII Rule 1 of the Civil Procedure Code, particularly pertaining to the responsibility on the part of the defendant to act in a diligent manner and in any case to explain before the Court with cogent reasons for delay in filing the written statement. A perusal of the impugned order shows that no such effort was made by the Court below and in a cryptic and casual manner the application at Exhibit- 32 stood allowed.[Para No.13]

Delay in filing written statement can not be condoned if defendant found at laxity or gross negligence in filing the same
    The learned counsel for the petitioners is justified in relying upon the judgment of this Court in the case of Parasmal Daulatram Jain Vs. Rameshwar Rathanlal Karwa (supra), wherein this Court has reiterated the position of law concerning the approach to be adopted by the Courts while considering permission to the defendant to file written statement beyond the stipulated period of time. This Court placed reliance on the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court, wherein it has been categorically stated that even if the relevant provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure in this regard can be said to be directory and not mandatory, the Courts cannot permit laxity or gross negligence on the part of the defendant to be condoned while granting permission to file written statement. In the facts of the present case, this Court is of the opinion that if the impugned order passed by the Court below is upheld, it would amount to giving premium to the respondent, not only for laxity and gross negligence, but to tactics adopted by her to somehow delay the proceedings in the suit for eviction filed by the petitioners. Although, it is expected that Courts decide disputes between parties by giving opportunity to the contesting party to place their respective versions on merits, there are situations where the Courts ought not to show misplaced indulgence to litigants like the respondent herein by adopting a liberal approach.[Para No.14]

25 September 2020

Daughter-in-law has no right of residence in the self-acquired property of mother-in-law or father-in-law

Daughter in law threatening her in laws to dis-possess from their own property - mother in law filed suit against her alongwith an application for interim injunction u/s. 151 and Order 39 Rule 1 & 2 - plaintiff-mother in law contended that she is the owner of the suit property on the strength of registered sale deed - trial court refused to grant interim injunction observing that the house is a shared house under the Domestic Violence Act and the daughter in law cannot be forcibly evicted from the same as her belongings are still lying there - appeal by district court allowed - daughter in law prefered revision against order passed in appeal - revision dismissed.

Daughter-in-law has no right of residence in the self-acquired property of mother-in-law or father-in-law
    In view of Krishan Kumar vs Navneet's case (supra) and Varinder Kaur vs Jitender Kumar's case (supra), the parents-in-law of the self-acquired property are the real owners and the daughter-in-law has no right to claim it as shared house and has no right of residence in the self-acquired property of parents-in-law. The daughter-in-law cannot be allowed to live in the house of parents-in-law against their wishes.

    While relying upon S.R. Batra and another vs Smt. Taruna Batra, 2007(1) RCR (Criminal) 403 in Suman vs Tulsi Ram 2015(1) RCR (Civil) 304, it was held that daughter-in-law does not have any right of protection under Section 17 of the Act for the purpose of living in the house belonging to parents-in-law which is exclusively owned by them.

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]

24 September 2020

If charge sheet is not corroborating with the facts stated in the Motor Vehicle Accident Claim Petition, then the Tribunal should not considered the Claim Petition at all

The entire facts and circumstances raises a doubt in the mind of the Court. As far as the accident claims are concerned, the facts must be unambiguous. Even in case, there is a loss of memory or the claimant due to the injury, unable to provide the correct vehicle number, at least the Police Investigation should reveal the accident occurring time and the place specified as in the Claim Petition. If the charge sheet of the Police is not corroborating with the facts stated in the Claim Petition, then the Tribunal ought not to have considered the Claim Petition at all. In most of the cases, the facts stated in the FIR has been taken for consideration to establish the accident. But, in the present case, even after the investigation and filing of the charge sheet, Police officials deposed that the facts stated in the Claim Petition is mistaken facts. This being the Primafacie case established before the Tribunal, the Tribunal has not appreciated the contradiction in the Claim Petition as well as in the FIR and the Charge sheet filed by the Police. The deposition of Mr.Raja cannot be taken as a valid evidence, in view of the fact that he is an interested witness. However, the FIR and the Charge sheet cannot be neglected and it is to be given due weightage. If the basic facts regarding the accidents are not corroborating with the FIR as well as the charge sheet filed by the Police, then there is every reason to disbelieve the case of the respondent/claimant. This Court is of the considered opinion that many number of false claims are filed, processed and the Tribunals are also awarding compensation in a routine manner. Though the issues were dealt on several occasions by the Hon'ble High Court as well as by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, still such false claims are being noticed. Full Proof System in the matter of accident claims are necessary in order to avoid the bogus and fraudulent claims. This apart, unethical practices in settlement of claims are to be eradicated in order to protect the interest of the genuine accident victims. Undoubtedly, the accident victims are to be provided medical treatment immediately and 'just compensation' is to be granted without any lapse of time. The very purpose and object of the statute is to ensure speedy remedy to the accident victims. However, such things are not happening on account of various corrupt practices in the process of settling the compensation. Courts are also struggling to minimize such irregularities and illegalities. In the process of rectification, Court can make suggestions and issue directions to improve the system, so as to minimize the level of corruption and any other illegal activities in Motor Accident cases. This being the factum and the case of false claims are brought to the notice of the Courts, the Hon'ble High Court and the Hon’ble Supreme Court, on several occasions, issued directions, so as to ensure the genuine claimants receive compensation at the earlier point of time in accordance with law.[Para No.10]

If charge sheet is not corroborating with the facts stated in the Motor Vehicle Accident Claim Petition, then the Tribunal should not considered the Claim Petition at all

    Both the above provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 unambiguously reveals that the Police officer, on receipt of information regarding any accident involving death or bodily injured to any person, has to register the F.I.R and conduct investigation and submit a report and such a report is to be communicated to the Claims Tribunal as well as the insurer and the copy should be made available to the owner of the vehicle also. The above statutory provisions is crystal clear that the duty of the Police officer to prepare the Accident Information Report and the detailed accident report and communicate the report to the Tribunal and Insurance company and thereafter, the Claims Tribunal under Section 166(4) of the Act shall treat the report of Accidents forwarded to the Tribunal as an application under Sub-Section (6) of Section 158 for compensation under the Motor Vehicles Act.[Para No.15]

19 September 2020

Lawyer has inherent authority to enter into a compromise on behalf and benefit of his client, unless there is express instruction by the client of limiting his authority to enter into a compromise

Having regard to the law laid down by the High Courts of this country, it can be clearly deduced that the various High Courts are of the unanimous view that even in cases where there is no express authorization to enter into a compromise under the inherent authority impliedly given to the counsel, he has power to enter into a compromise on behalf of his client for the benefit of the client, especially in absence of any express instruction by the client to his counsel, limiting his authority to enter into a compromise or give reason.[Para No.8]

    A bare perusal of the review petitions, filed by the Department of Mines and Geology, Government of Bihar, Patna, would show that there is no pleading to the effect that the learned Special P.P., Mines was expressly barred from giving his consent to orders being passed by the Hon'ble Patna High Court, keeping in mind the interest of the Department. It is a well settled law that the power to give consent or enter into a compromise in a particular given case is inherent in the position of an advocate in India and such power is deemed to exist because its existence is necessary to effectuate the relations between advocate and client, to make possible the duties imposed upon the advocate by his acceptance of the cause of his client. The advocate is to conduct the cause of his client to the best of his skills & understanding. He must, in the interest of his client, be in the position, hour by hour, almost minute by minute, to advance this argument, to withdraw that; he must make the final decision whether evidence is to be given or not on any question of fact; skill in advocacy is largely the result of discrimination.[Para No.11]

Lawyer has inherent authority to enter into a compromise on behalf of his client for the benefit of the client, unless there is express instruction by the client of limiting his authority to enter into a compromise
    It is equally a well settled law that a compromise settlement made in good faith by a counsel, when sanctioned by the Court in its order, is binding upon the client, as is also deducible from the various Judgments referred to herein above in paragraph No. 7 of this Judgment. Therefore, this Court is of the view that even in cases where there is no express authorization to enter into a compromise under the inherent authority impliedly given to the counsel, he has power to enter into a compromise on behalf of his client for the benefit of the client, especially in absence of any express instruction by the client to his counsel, limiting his authority to enter into a compromise or give reason. Consequently, it is held that the review petitioners-State authorities are bound by the orders passed by the Court on the basis of consent / compromise.[Para No.12]

17 September 2020

It is mandatory for the Court to issue an heirship certificate, if no objector comes forward within one month from the date of citation publication

Proceeding for heirship certificate can not be suspended till the decision of separate suit for partition filed by the objector


    This writ petition challenges the order dated 18.07.2018 passed by the Civil Judge, Junior Division, Ghatanji, whereby an application filed by the petitioner under Section 2 of the Bombay Regulation Act, 1827 for grant of heirship certificate has been kept suspended, till conclusion of civil suit pending between the parties.[Para No.2]

    The petitioner had filed the aforesaid application before the Court below claiming that she was the only wife of deceased Ramniklal Gandecha and that they had no children. On this basis, the petitioner prayed for grant of heirship certificate under the aforesaid provision to be declared the only heir of the said deceased Ramniklal Gandecha.[Para No.3]

    In the said proceeding, the respondent no.1, who was the sister of the said deceased Ramniklal Gandecha, filed an objection. In the said objection, it was pointed out that the said objector had filed a civil suit bearing Regular Civil Suit No. 7 of 2016 before the Civil Judge, Junior Division, Ghatanji, being a suit for partition and separate possession, wherein the petitioner, brother and sister of the said objector were defendants. It was contended by the said objector (respondent no.1) that if heirship certificate was granted to the petitioner, she would approach the competent authority for mutation of her name in the house property in which she was residing. It was contended that, according to the objector -respondent no.1, the said house property belonged to her father, in respect of which the aforesaid suit for partition and separate possession had been filed.[Para No.4]

    By the impugned order, the Court below has come to the conclusion that when the aforesaid suit for partition and separate possession had been already filed by the respondent no.1(objector), the application filed by the petitioner under Section 2 of the aforesaid Act would have to wait final adjudication of rights of parties in the aforesaid suit. On this basis, the proceedings in the application filed by the petitioner were suspended till the conclusion of the civil suit.[Para No.5]

    A perusal of Section 2 of the aforesaid Act and the application filed by the petitioner thereunder shows that the only prayer made by the petitioner is for grant of heirship certificate to declare that she is the only heir of the deceased Ramniklal Gandecha. A perusal of the objection raised on behalf of respondent no.1 shows that the said respondent has admitted the fact that the petitioner was the only wife of the deceased Ramniklal Gandecha and that they had no children. In view of the aforesaid facts, it would be evident that the claim made in the application filed by the petitioner under the provisions of the said Act, even if granted, would not result in recognition of any rights of the petitioner in respect of the said house property and that an application for mutation before the competent authority, if preferred by the petitioner, would be decided as per law after issuance of notice by the competent authority. Grant of heirship certificate would not ipso facto lead to recognition or crystallization of any rights of the petitioner in the house in question. At best, it would assist the petitioner in claiming that she was entitled to the rights that the deceased Ramniklal Gandecha was entitled, as his only heir.[Para No.6]

It is mandatory for the Court to issue an heirship certificate, if no objector comes forward within one month from the date of citation publication
    Therefore, apprehension expressed by the objector before the Court in the present proceedings was misconceived. The Court below also erred in suspending the proceeding in the present case only on the ground that the aforesaid suit filed by the respondent no.1 was pending before the said Court. The issues raised in the said suit, filed for partition and separate possession, would certainly be decided on merits by the Court and mere pendency of the aforesaid suit ought not to result in suspension of proceedings in the present case. This is fortified by a decision referred to by the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner in the case of Ganpati Vinayak Achwal - 2015(2) All MR 285 wherein this Court held as follows:

16 September 2020

Mamalatdar's decision in respect of existence or use of customary way does not operate as res judicata to a suit in civil court on the same issue

However, simultaneously, it is important to note that admittedly, may be during pendency of the proceeding before the lower authorities, the petitioners have initiated a substantive civil suit against the respondent Nos. 1 and 2 in the form of Regular Civil Suit No.57/2018 in respect of the self same dispute touching existence of the disputed way. It is important to note that in view of the scheme of the Act, the decision of Mamlatdar is not conclusive as can be seen from the provisions of Section 22 and particularly the Second Proviso which reads thus:
22. Subject to the provisions of section 23, sub-section (2), the party in favour of whom the Mamlatdar issues an order for removal of an impediment of the party to whom the Mamlatdar gives possession or restores a use, or in whose favour an injunction is granted, shall continue to have the surface water upon his land flow unimpeded on to adjacent land or continue in possession or use, as the case may be, until otherwise decreed or ordered, or until ousted, by a competent Civil Court :
Mamalatar's decision in respect of existence or use of customary way does not operate as res judicata to a suit in civil court on the same issue
Provided, firstly, that nothing in this section shall prevent the party against whom the Mamlatdar's decision is passed from recovering by a suit in a competent Civil Court mesne profits for the time he has been kept out of possession of any property or out of enjoyment of any use:
Provided, secondly, that in any subsequent suit or other proceeding in any Civil Court between the same parties, or other persons claiming under them, the Mamlatdar's decision respecting the possession of any property or the enjoyment of any use or respecting the title to or valuation of any crop dealt with under the proviso to sub-section (1) of section 21, shall not be held to be conclusive.[P
ara No.16]

15 September 2020

Bail cannot be withheld merely as a punishment

When accused surrendered before Sessions court, the court has powers u/s.439 of Cr.P.C. to release accused on personal bond for a short period pending the disposal of a bail application

    Bail is the antithesis of custody. In the absence of any riders or restrictions under S. 439 CrPC, any person accused of a non-bailable offence, under any penal law, including the violations under the Scheduled Caste & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, can apply under section 439 CrPC, offering to surrender and simultaneously seeking interim bail. On receipt of such application, the Court is to satisfy that the applicant stands arraigned as an accused in a FIR disclosing Non-Bailable offences, if all these parameters are complete, then the Courts are under an obligation to accept surrender. Since custody is a sine qua non for considering a bail application, the Court is under an obligation to consider the prayer for interim bail after this deemed custody. All such pleas fall under the scope of S. 439 CrPC itself, and there is no need to invoke S. 482 CrPC. After that, granting or refusing interim bail is a Judicial function.[Para No.63]

Bail cannot be withheld merely as a punishment
   While granting interim bail, the rights of the victims, their families, the oppressed communities, the existence of reasonable grounds for believing that a person has committed an offence punishable with death or transportation for life, the gravity and heinous nature of the crime, the criminal history of the accused, as well as of the possibility of false implication, should always be gone into. Bail cannot be withheld merely as a punishment. One of the most significant considerations is the accused's conduct, which was not to abscond but voluntarily to surrender and submit herself to the majesty of Justice. Each case will have to be decided on the cumulative effect of all events put before the Court. However, there would be no justification in entering into a roving inquiry on either party's allegations[Para No.64]

    The Court must decide the prayer for interim bail on that day itself when it takes the accused in its custody. Such interim bail can extend till the bail application's final disposal, on the police file's production, or the status report. However, powers to grant interim bail should be exercised in a judicial and not in an arbitrary manner, and if given, then for the purpose of interim bail, personal bonds alone would suffice. If the allegations are serious, keeping in view the object of the SCSTPOA and the purpose for which this stringent provision in SCSTPOA was enacted, then indeed, such interim protection either be rejected or, if granted, can always be withdrawn on the next hearings.[Para no.66]

13 September 2020

A stranger to the suit cannot be impleaded under Order 1 Rule 10 of C.P.C. in a suit for specific performance merely to avoid multiplicity of the suits

Doctrine of lis pendency does not annul the conveyance or the transfer made during the pendency of suit.


    Liquidation proceedings are also fixed before the Company Law Board. For impleading a party in a suit for specific performance, two tests are to be satisfied. Firstly, there must be a right to some relief against the plaintiff in respect of suit property. Secondly, that in the absence of the petitioner/proposed defendant, no effective adjudication can be done by the trial Court.In a suit for specific performance, necessary party is that person in whose absence no decree can be passed. Proper party is that person whose presence before the Court would be necessary in order to enable the Court to decide and adjudicate the lis in an effective manner. A person stranger to the agreement to sell cannot be termed as necessary and appropriate party as collateral matters cannot be adjudicated in a suit for specific performance. By allowing such a course, the suit itself will be converted into a complicated suit for title.[Para No.18]

    The scope of a suit for specific performance cannot permit third party claiming to be joint owner in the property in question. A stranger to the agreement/contract making a claim adverse to the title of the defendant by claiming right of co- sharership in the suit property cannot be termed to be necessary party, nor proper party for adjudication of the case on merits. In this context reference can be made to Kasturi vs. Iyyamperumal & Ors., 2005(2) R.C.R. (Civil) 691; Anil Kumar Singh vs. Shivnath Mishra @ Gadasa Guru, 1995(1) R.R.R. 660; Krishan Lal vs. Tek Chand, 1986(2) PLR 616 and Om Parkash and another vs. Rajni Gupta and another, 2008(1) R.C.R. (Civil) 400.[Para No.19]

     The ratio of Kasturi's case (supra) has been reiterated by the Hon'ble Apex Court in Civil Appeal Nos.5522-5523 of 2019 titled Gurmit Singh Bhatia vs. Kiran Kant Robinson and others decided on 17.07.2019. The plaintiff is a dominus litis and he cannot be compelled to contest the suit against a person with whom, he does not wish to contest. In Kasturi's case (supra), the Court held that the question of jurisdiction of Court to invoke Order 1 Rule 10 CPC to add a party, who is not made a party in the suit by the plaintiff, shall not arise unless a party proposed to be added has direct and legal interest in the controversy involved in the suit. Both the tests which have been discussed in the preceding paras are to be satisfied.[Para No.20]

A stranger to the suit cannot be impleaded under Order 1 Rule 10 of C.P.C. in a suit for specific performance merely to avoid multiplicity of the suits
    The party claiming independent title and possession adverse to the title of the vendor and not on the basis of agreement/contract, is not proper party and if said party is impleaded the scope of the suit for specific performance shall be enlarged and it will become a suit for title and it will involve intricated question of title which is not permissible in law. A stranger to the suit cannot be added/impleaded in a suit for specific performance merely in order to find out, who is in possession of the agreed property or to avoid multiplicity of the suits. A stranger to agreement cannot be impleaded as a party so as to convert a suit of one character into a suit of different character. It is only an assignee by sale in a case of specific performance who can be impleaded as party defendant. Section 19(b) of the Specific Relief Act enables the assignee by sale in a suit for specific performance to be impleaded as party. The aforesaid exception has been carved out in view of nature of suit being a specific performance, wherein the assignee by sale can protect his title and join the proceedings in view of law laid down in Thomson Press (India) Ltd.'s case (supra). It is a settled principle of law that doctrine of lis pendens is a doctrine based on the ground that it is necessary for the administration of justice that the decision of a Court in a suit should be binding not only on the litigating parties, but on those who derive title pendente lite. This provision does not intend to annul the conveyance or the transfer otherwise to render it subservient to the right of a party to a litigation.[Para No.21]

12 September 2020

Neither District Administration nor Police have any powers to seize immovable property for violation of lockdown orders

The present writ petition has been filed for quashing the order as contained in memo no.705/GO dated 26th April, 2020 passed by the Sub Divisional Magistrate, Dhalbhum, Jamshedpur- respondent no.2 with a further direction to the respondents to remove the seal from "The Alcor Hotel", situated at Holding No.4, Ramdas Bhatta, opposite Indian Oil Petrol Pump, Bistupur, Jamshedpur, District East Singhbhum (hereinafter to be referred as 'the said premises')[Para No.2]

    The factual background of the case as stated in the writ petition is that the petitioner owns the Hotel Alcor, which provides facilities such as restaurants, bar, spa etc. On 25th April, 2020, a first information report being Bistupur P.S. Case no.87 of 2020 was registered under Sections 188, 269 & 270 of the Indian Penal Code; Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005; and Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, alleging that during the lockdown period, a raid was conducted on 25th April, 2020 in the Hotel Alcor wherein it was found that the spa was opened and few people including two girls were present in the conference hall, adjoining the spa. Seeing the raiding party, some persons fled away, however, three persons were apprehended on spot. Thereafter, the said premises was sealed on 26th April, 2020 by the Special Officer, Jamshedpur Notified Area Committee and the Executive Magistrate-cum-Incident Commander, East Singhbhum, Jamshedpur in terms with the office order as contained in memo no.705/GO dated 26th April, 2020 passed by the respondent no.2. Another first information report, being Bistupur P.S. Case no.88 of 2020 was registered under Sections 3, 4, 5 & 6 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 against one of the Directors of the petitioner- Company, namely, Rajiv Singh Dugal and other accused persons on 27th April, 2020, alleging therein that one Sharad Poddar had kept a lady, namely, XXXXXXXXXX in the said hotel for last one month and had been establishing physical relationship with her since then. The petitioner vide letter dated 7th May, 2020 requested the Deputy Commissioner, East Singhbhum, Jamshedpur- respondent no.1 to unseal the hotel premises, so that day to day business of the petitioner-Company and firms having their registered offices located at Alcor Hotel Premises could function in a regular manner. The copies of the said letters were also sent to other authorities, however, no action in this regard was taken. The petitioner also served a reminder vide letter dated 15th May, 2020 to the respondent no.1, however, the same was also not responded. Hence the present writ petition.[Para No.3]

    To appreciate the rival submissions of learned counsel for the parties, it would be relevant to refer the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court rendered in the case of Nevada Properties Private Limited through its Directors vs. state of Maharashtra & Anr., reported in 2019 SCC Online SC 1247. The relevant paragraphs of the said judgment are quoted as under:-
"20. Section 102 postulates seizure of the property. Immovable property cannot, in its strict sense, be seized, though documents of title, etc. relating to immovable property can be seized, taken into custody and produced. Immovable property can be attached and also locked/sealed. It could be argued that the word 'seize' would include such action of attachment and sealing. Seizure of immovable property in this sense and manner would in law require dispossession of the person in occupation/possession of the immovable property, unless there are no claimants, which would be rare. Language of Section 102 of the Code does not support the interpretation that the police officer has the power to dispossess a person in occupation and take possession of an immovable property in order to seize it. In the absence of the Legislature conferring this express or implied power under Section 102 of the Code to the police officer, we would hesitate and not hold that this power should be inferred and is implicit in the power to effect seizure. Equally important, for the purpose of interpretation is the scope and object of Section 102 of the Code, which is to help and assist investigation and to enable the police officer to collect and collate evidence to be produced to prove the charge complained of and set up in the charge sheet. The Section is a part of the provisions concerning investigation undertaken by the police officer. After the charge sheet is filed, the prosecution leads and produces evidence to secure conviction. Section 102 is not, per se, an enabling provision by which the police officer acts to seize the property to do justice and to hand over the property to a person whom the police officer feels is the rightful and true owner. This is clear from the objective behind Section 102, use of the words in the Section and the scope and ambit of the power conferred on the Criminal Court vide Sections 451 to 459 of the Code. The expression 'circumstances which create suspicion of the commission of any offence' in Section 102 does not refer to a firm opinion or an adjudication/finding by a police officer to ascertain whether or not 'any property' is required to be seized. The word 'suspicion' is a weaker and a broader expression than 'reasonable belief' or 'satisfaction'. The police officer is an investigator and not an adjudicator or a decision maker.This is the reason why the Ordinance was enacted to deal with attachment of money and immovable properties in cases of scheduled offences. In case and if we allow the police officer to 'seize' immovable property on a mere 'suspicion of the commission of any offence', it would mean and imply giving a drastic and extreme power to dispossess etc. to the police officer on a mere conjecture and surmise, that is, on suspicion, which has hitherto not been exercised. We have hardly come across any case where immovable property was seized vide an attachment order that was treated as a seizure order by police officer under Section 102 of the Code. The reason is obvious. Disputes relating to title, possession, etc., of immovable property are civil disputes which have to be decided and adjudicated in Civil Courts. We must discourage and stall any attempt to convert civil disputes into criminal cases to put pressure on the other side (See Binod Kumar v. State of Bihar (2014)10SCC663). Thus, it will not be proper to hold that Section 102 of the Code empowers a police officer to seize immovable property, land, plots, residential houses, streets or similar properties. Given the nature of criminal litigation, such seizure of an immovable property by the police officer in the form of an attachment and dispossession would not facilitate investigation to collect evidence/material to be produced during inquiry and trial. As far as possession of the immovable property is concerned, specific provisions in the form of Sections 145 and 146 of the Code can be invoked as per and in accordance with law. Section 102 of the Code is not a general provision which enables and authorises the police officer to seize immovable property for being able to be produced in the Criminal Court during trial. This, however, would not bar or prohibit the police officer from seizing documents/papers of title relating to immovable property, as it is distinct and different from seizure of immovable property. Disputes and matters relating to the physical and legal possession and title of the property must be adjudicated upon by a Civil Court.
21. In view of the aforesaid discussion, the Reference is answered by holding that the power of a police officer under Section 102 of the Code to seize any property, which may be found under circumstances that create suspicion of the commission of any offence, would not include the power to attach, seize and seal an immovable property."[Para No.12]

    The Hon'ble Supreme court in the aforesaid judgment has held that Section 102 Cr.P.C. postulates seizure of the property. However, an immovable property cannot, in its direct sense, be seized, though documents of title etc. relating to immovable properties can be seized, taken into custody and produced. Language of Section 102 Cr.P.C. does not support the interpretation that the police officer has the power to dispossess a person who is in occupation, to take possession of an immovable property in order to seize it.[Para No.13]

Neither District Administration nor Police have any powers to seize immovable property for violation of lockdown orders
    It is, thus, well settled that the power of sealing of property carries civil consequences. A person can be deprived of the property only by following due procedure in accordance with law. No person shall be deprived of the right of property, except by the procedure prescribed under law.[Para No.16]

11 September 2020

When an offence is committed in secrecy inside a house, then a corresponding burden will be on the inmates of the house to give a cogent explanation as to how the crime was committed

In the instant case, the appellant does not deny her presence at the scene of crime (the house where deceased and accused lived). Except the appellant and her child, no other persons were present at the scene of crime and she was the inmate of the house where the offence is committed in secrecy inside the house. The initial burden to establish the case would undoubtedly be upon the prosecution, but the nature and amount of evidence to be led by prosecution to establish the charge cannot be of the same degree as is required in other cases of circumstantial evidence. The burden would be comparatively lighter in character. In view of Section 106 of Evidence Act, there will be corresponding burden on the inmates of the house to give cogent explanation as to how crime was committed.[Para No.26]

When an offence is committed in secrecy inside a house, then a corresponding burden will be on the inmates of the house to give a cogent explanation as to how the crime was committed
    As observed herein above, appellant being the only inmate of the house, did not offer any explanation as to how the incident took place. Further she has not explained in her statement recorded under Section 313 of Cr.P.C the circumstances in which deceased had sustained injuries except denying every question by answering 'do not know' or 'false'. It is the duty of the accused to furnish an explanation in her statement recorded under Section 313 Cr.P.C. regarding incriminating material that has been produced against her. Accused has been given freedom to remain silent during the investigation, as well as before the Court, then, the appellant/accused may choose to maintain silence or even deny entire prosecution case. In the present case, as observed above, the appellant in her statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C except saying 'false' and 'do not know', has not explained how the incident took place or who had committed the offence (if known) or the reason for her husband sustaining head injury and lying in a pool of blood. In such circumstances, we will have to draw an adverse inference against the appellant for not furnishing the explanation in her statement recorded under Section 313 of Cr.P.C.[Para no.27]

   Where an accused is alleged to have committed the murder of her husband and the prosecution succeeded in leading the evidence to show that shortly before the commission of crime, they were seen together and the offence had taken place in the house where husband and wife normally resides, then, it is for the accused to explain. For this proposition, we place reliance on the judgment of the Apex Court in TRIMUKH MAROTI KIRKAN V. STATE OF MAHARASHTRA reported in (2006) 10 SCC 681 wherein it came to be held:

10 September 2020

Divorce can be granted if the ground of cruelty or desertion is partly proved where sentiments and emotions between spouse have dried up

In the present case the petitioner husband, aged 52 years, is admittedly a small businessman and his 41 years old respondent wife is a house wife. The petitioner has proved his case that his wife abandoned him along with their daughter when he lost his vision and was in dire need of their company and the support of his wife. His illness is not denied by the respondent wife. Such conduct of the wife must have hurt the sentiment of the petitioner husband and affected their relationship. After abandoning her husband, she lebelled allegations of harassment for dowry against her husband in a proceeding under Section 498A IPC followed by a proceeding under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act. She not only prosecuted her husband, the elder sister of her husband was also implicated in the case instituted by her under Section 498A IPC though both of them were ultimately acquitted in appeal. [Para No.40]

    It is true that the wife is not expected to endure the harassment meted out to her by her husband or in-laws without raising protest or filing appropriate proceeding against them, but in the given case the cumulative effect of the facts and circumstances emerging from the evidence on record lead us to a fair inference that her unprovoked humiliating treatment caused serious mental pain and suffering to her husband which no doubt constitutes cruelty.[Para No.41]

Divorce can be granted if the ground of cruelty or desertion is partly proved where sentiments and emotions between spouse have dried up
    Admittedly the present appellant wife and her respondent husband are staying apart from 12.01.2007. They are thus living separately for more than 13 years. During this period they never stayed together even for a single day which indicates that their sentiments and emotions have dried up and there is hardly any chance of restoration of their conjugal life.[Para No.42]

    In this regard, the Apex Court in Naveen Kohli vs. Neelu Kohli reported in (2006) 4 SCC 558 held as follows:
"74. We have been principally impressed by the consideration that once the marriage has broken down beyond repair, it would be unrealistic for the law not to take notice of that fact, and it would be harmful to society and injurious to the interests of the parties. Where there has been a long period of continuous separation, it may fairly be surmised that the matrimonial bond is beyond repair. The marriage becomes a fiction, though supported by a legal tie. By refusing to sever that tie the law in such cases does not serve the sanctity of marriage; on the contrary, it shows scant regard for the feelings and emotions of the parties."[Para No.43]

06 September 2020

Writ petition of Habeas Corpus in High Court is maintainable in respect of illegal custody of a minor child by one parent

The first issue before this Court is whether a Habeas Corpus petition is maintainable or not in respect of custody of a minor child, who is in the custody of the father and grandparents at Gwalior. [Para No.11]

Writ petition of Habeas Corpus in High Court  is maintainable in respect of illegal custody of a minor child by one parent
    The apex Court in the case of Capt. Dushyant Somal Vs. Sushma Somal and another reported in (1981) 2 SCC 277 has dealt with the jurisdictional aspect with regard to issuance of Habeas Corpus writ in respect of illegal custody of Child. Paragraphs 3, 5 and 7 of the aforesaid judgment reads as under :-
"3. There can be no question that a Writ of Habeas Corpus is not to be issued as a matter of course, particularly when the writ is sought against a parent for the custody of a child. Clear grounds must be made out.
    Nor is a person to be punished for contempt of Court for disobeying an order of Court except when the disobedience is established beyond reasonable doubt, the standard of proof being similar, even if not the same, as in a criminal proceeding. Where the person alleged to be in contempt is able to place before the Court sufficient material to conclude that it is impossible to obey the order, the Court will not be justified in punishing the alleged contemner. But all this does not mean that a Writ of Habeas Corpus cannot or will not be issued against a parent who with impunity snatches away a child from the lawful custody of the other parent, to whom a Court has given such custody. Nor does it mean that despite the contumacious conduct of such a parent in not producing the child even after a direction to do so has been given to him, he can still plead justification for the disobedience of the order by merely persisting that he has not taken away the child and contending that it is therefore, impossible to obey the order. In the case before us, the evidence of the mother and the grand- mother of the child was not subjected to any cross- examination; the appellant-petitioner did not choose to go into the witness box; he did not choose to examine any witness on his behalf. The evidence of the grand- mother, corroborated by the evidence of the mother, stood unchallenged that the appellant-petitioner snatched away Sandeep when he was waiting for a bus in the company of his grand-mother. The High Court was quite right in coming to the conclusion that he appellant-petitioner had taken away the child unlawfully from the custody of the child's mother. The Writ, of Habeas Corpus was, therefore, rightly issued. In the circumstances, on the finding, impossibility of obeying the order was not an excuse which could be properly put forward.
5. It was submitted that the appellant-petitioner did not give evidence, he did not examine any witness on his behalf and he did not cross-examine his wife and mother-in-law because, he would be disclosing his defence in the criminal case, if he so did. He could not be compelled to disclose his defence in the criminal case in that manner as that would offend against the fundamental right guaranteed by Article 20(3) of the Constitution. It was suggested that the entire question whether the appellant-petitioner had unlawfully removed the child from the custody of the mother could be exhaustively enquired into in the criminal case where he was facing the charge of kidnapping. It was argued that on that ground alone the writ petition should have been dismissed, the submission is entirely misconceived. In answer to the rule nisi, all that he was required to do was to produce the child in Courts if the child was in his custody. If after producing the child, he wanted to retain the custody of the child, he would have to satisfy the Court that the child was lawfully in his custody. There was no question at all of compelling the appellant-petitioner to be a witness against himself. He was free to examine himself as a witness or not. If he examined himself he could still refuse to answer questions, answers to which might incriminate him in pending prosecutions. He was also free to examine or not other witnesses on his behalf and to cross examine or not, witnesses examined by the opposite party. Protection against testimonial compulsion" did not convert the position of a the position of a person accused of an offence into a position of privilege, with, immunity from any other action contemplated by law. A. criminal prosecution was not a fortress against all other actions in law. To accept the position that the pendency of a prosecution was a valid answer to a rule for Habeas Corpus would be to subvert the judicial process and to mock at the Criminal Justice system. All that Article 20(3) guaranteed was that a person accused of an offence Shall not be compelled to be a witness against himself, nothing less and, certain nothing more. Immunity against testimonial compulsion did not extend to refusal to examine and cross-examine witnesses and it was not open to a party proceeding to refuse to examine himself or anyone else as a witness on his side and to cross examine the witnesses for the opposite party on the ground of testimonial compulsion and then to contend that no relief should be given to. the opposite party on the basis of the evidence adduced by the other party. We are unable to see how Article 20(3) comes into the picture at all.
7. It was argued that the wife had alternate remedies under the Guardian and Wards Act and the CrPC and so a Writ should not have been issued. True, alternate remedy ordinarily inhibits a prerogative writ. But it is not an impassable hurdle. Where what is complained of is an impudent disregard of an order of a Court, the fact certainly cries out that a prerogative writ shall issue,. In regard to the sentence, instead of the sentence imposed by the High Court, we substitute a sentence of three months, simple imprisonment and a fine of Rupees Five hundred. The sentence of imprisonment or such part of it as may not have been served will stand remitted on the appellant-petitioner producing the child in the High Court. With this modification in the matter of sentence, the appeal and the Special Leave Petition are dismissed. Criminal Miscellaneous Petition No. 677/81 is dismissed as we are not satisfied that it is a fit case for laying a complaint."[Para No.12]

03 September 2020

Once a Magistrate takes cognizance of the offence, he is, thereafter, precluded from ordering an investigation under Section 156(3) of CrPC

After calling report u/s.202 of CrPC, Magistrate can not order investigation u/s.156(3) of CrPC.

   I may first deal with the question as to whether the Magistrate ought to have proceeded under Section 156(3), after receipt of enquiry report from Senior Superintendent of Police, Srinagar, sought on taking cognizance of complaint and after deferment of process or was required to proceed under Section 202(1) and what are the parameters for exercise of power under the two provisions.[Para No.12]

     The two provisions are in two different chapters of the Code, though common expression 'investigation' is used in both the provisions. Normal rule is to understand the same expression in two provisions of an enactment in same sense unless the context otherwise requires. Heading of Chapter XII is "Information to the Police and their Powers to Investigate" and that of Chapter XV is "Complaints to Magistrate". Heading of Chapter XIV is "Conditions Requisite for Initiation of Proceedings". The two provisions i.e. Sections 156 and 202 in Chapters XII and XV respectively are as follows :
"156. Police officer's power to investigate cognizable case.
(1) Any officer in charge of a police station may, without the order of a Magistrate, investigate any cognizable case which a Court having jurisdiction over the local area within the limits of such station would have power to inquire into or try under the provisions of Chapter XIII.
(2) No proceeding of a police officer in any such case shall at any stage be called in question on the ground that the case was one which such officer was not empowered under this section to investigate.
(3) Any Magistrate empowered under section 190 may order such an investigation as above- mentioned.
202. Postponement of issue of process.-
(1) Any Magistrate , on receipt of a complaint of an offence of which he is authorized to take cognizance or which has been made over to him under section 192, may, if he thinks fit, [and shall in a case where the accused is residing at a place beyond the area in which he exercises his jurisdiction] postpone the issue of process against the accused, and either inquire into the case himself or direct an investigation to be made by a police officer or by such other person as he thinks fit, for the purpose of deciding whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding:
Provided that no such direction for investigation shall be made, -
(a) where it appears to the Magistrate that the offence complained of is triable exclusively by the Court of Sessions; or
(b) where the complaint has not been made by a Court, unless the complainant and the witnesses present (if any) have been examined on oath under section 200.
(2) In an inquiry under sub-section (1), the Magistrate may, if he thinks fit, take evidence of witnesses on oath:
Provided that if it appears to the Magistrate that the offence complained of is triable exclusively by the Court of Session, he shall call upon the complainant to produce all his witnesses and examine them on oath.
(3) If an investigation under sub-section (1) is made by a person not being a police officer, he shall have for that investigation all the powers conferred by this Code on an officer in charge of a police station except the power to arrest without warrant."[Para No.13]

   Cognizance is taken by a Magistrate under Section 190 (in Chapter XIV) either on "receiving a complaint", on "a police report" or "information received" from any person other than a police officer or upon his own knowledge.
    Chapter XV deals exclusively with complaints to Magistrates. Reference to Sections, 202, in the said Chapter, shows that it provides for "postponement of issue of process" which is mandatory if accused resides beyond the Magistrate's jurisdiction (with which situation this case does not concern) and discretionary in other cases in which event an enquiry can be conducted by the Magistrate or investigation can be directed to be made by a police officer or such other person as may be thought fit "for the purpose of deciding whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding". I am skipping the proviso as it does not concern the question under discussion. Clause (3) provides that if investigation is by a person other than a police officer, he shall have all the powers of an officer incharge of a police station except the power to arrest.[Para No.14]

   Chapter XII, dealing with the information to the police and their powers to investigate, provides for entering information relating to a 'cognizable offence' in a book to be kept by the officer incharge of a police station (Section 154) and such entry is called "FIR". If from the information, the officer incharge of the police station has reason to suspect commission of an offence which he is empowered to investigate subject to compliance of other requirements, he shall proceed, to the spot, to investigate the facts and circumstances and, if necessary, to take measure, for the discovery and arrest of the offender (Section 157(1).[Para No.15]

    Power under Section 202 is of different nature. Report sought under the said provision has limited purpose of deciding "whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding". If this be the object, the procedure under Chapter XV of the Code of Criminal Procedure are required to be adhered to in letter and spirit.[Para No.19]

    Admittedly the Magistrate has taken cognizance and find it necessary to postpone issuance of process, therefore, directed for enquiry by the Police and on receipt of the report from SSP, Srinagar, the Magistrate was required to proceed in terms of the provisions contained in Chapter XV of the Criminal Procedure Code. Thus, I answer the first question by holding that the direction under Section 156(3) is to be issued, only after application of mind by the Magistrate. When the Magistrate does not take cognizance and does not find it necessary to postpone instance of process and finds a case made out to proceed forthwith, direction under the said provision is issued, when Magistrate takes cognizance and postpones issuance of process, the Magistrate has yet to determine "existence of sufficient ground to proceed" and these cases fall under Section 202. Subject to these broad guidelines available from the scheme of the Code, exercise of discretion by the Magistrate is guided by interest of justice from case to case.[Para No.20]

    To reiterate for the guidance of all the Magistrates in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh, it has become necessary to refer the Judgment reported in (2010) 4 Supreme Court Cases 185 titled Rameshbhai Pandurao Hedau Vs. State of Gujrat, which postulates that while the power to direct a police investigation under Section 156(3) is exercisable at the pre-cognizance stage, the power to direct an investigation or an enquiry under Section 202(1) is exercisable at the post-cognizance stage, when the Magistrate is in seisin of the case.[Para No.21]

Once a Magistrate takes cognizance of the offence, he is, thereafter, precluded from ordering an investigation under Section 156(3) of CrPC
    The settled legal position has been enunciated by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in several decisions and has observed that the Courts are ad idem on the question that the powers under Section 156(3) can be invoked by the Magistrate at a pre-cognizance stage, whereas powers under Section 202 of the Code are to be invoked after cognizance is taken on a complaint, but before issuance of process. Such a view has been expressed in Suresh Chand Jain case reported in (2001) 2 SCC 628: 2001 SCC (Cri) 377 as well as in Dharmeshbhai Vasudevbhai case, reported in (2009) 6 SCC 576: (2009) 3 SCC (Cri) 76 and in Devarapalli Lakshminarayana Reddy case, reported in (1976) 3 SCC 252: 1976 SCC (Cri) 380.[Para No.22]

Discarding a case law of other high court is against judicial discipline and propriety and amounts to disrespect

Before departing, it is inevitable to make mention that, the learned A.P.P. while making the arguments before the learned Trial Judge cited the Ruling of Kerala High Court in the case of Food Inspector vs James, (reported in Prevention of Food Adulteration Cases) at 1998 (1) P.320, and while discussing the observations made in the said Ruling, the learned Trial Judge has observed in para no.31 of the impugned judgment that :
"With great respect, I do not agree with the 'view taken' and observations made by Their Lordships in the above case law. Moreover, the said case law is admittedly of Kerala High Court and the same is not binding on this court."[Para No.42]

    Moreover, while making submissions before the learned trial Judge, learned A.P.P. also cited Ruling in the case of Rambhai vs State of Madhya Pradesh (Reported in Prevention of Food Adulteration Cases) at 1991 (1) P. 6, as stated in para 34 of the impugned judgment, but the learned Trial Judge, after considering the said ratio laid down in the said Ruling, observed in para no.35 of the impugned judgment that :
"After going through the observations made by Their Lordships in the above case law, I am of the opinion that though the Ruling is applicable to the present case, however, according to me, with great respect the view taken in the observations of the Ruling is not correct."[Para No.43]

Discarding a case law of other high court is against judicial discipline and propriety
    It manifestly appears from the text and tenor of the observations made by the learned Trial Judge in para nos. 31 and 35 of the impugned judgment that same do not conform with the judicial discipline and propriety, and apparently amount to disrespect, and therefore, the Registrar General is directed to take suitable action against the concerned Judge, if he is in Judicial Service.[Para No.44]

01 September 2020

After dismissal of petition for quashing of offence under STSC Atrocity Act, application u/s. 438 for anticipatory bail can not be considered

The appellants upon such filing of the complaint, raised an issue that the ingredients of the offences are prima facie not established and thereby initially, preferred a petition for quashing before the High Court, being Criminal Misc. Application No.6223 of 2017 and by raising multiple contentions about non-applicability of the provisions of the Act, a request was made to quash the complaint. But, after hearing both the sides at length, the said petition for quashing came to be withdrawn vide order dated 11.12.2019 and the interim order which was granted earlier on 6.3.2017 was vacated. Of-course for a period of one week, the said protection was extended.[Para No.3]

    It appears from the record that after disposal of the petition for quashing, the present appellants appeared to have rushed down for anticipatory bail under Section 438 of the Criminal Procedure Code ('the Code' for short) before learned District and Sessions Judge, (Special Atrocity Court) at Surat, which application came up for consideration before learned 7th Additional Sessions Judge, Surat, who by order dated 24.12.2019 was pleased to dismiss the same, which has given rise to present Criminal Appeal before this court [Para No.4]

    At this stage, even if the Court may consider that after disposal of the petition for quashing, application under Section 438 of the Code can be considered, but, in view of the fact that after exhausting meritorious contentions, the petition for quashing came to be disposed of and hence very little scope is left for the Court to consider Section 438 request of the appellants, since prima facie, it cannot be said that no offence is made out and further, it is not open for the bail Court to jump to a conclusion of this elementary stage that this complaint is nothing but abuse of process of law, particularly when the quashing petition is already disposed of. Therefore, with full effect, embargo created by the Statute by way of Section 18 and 18A of the Atrocity Act, the request for anticipatory bail cannot be considered.The intention of the legislature is not to be brushed aside as has been held by the Apex Court. Large number of decisions which are pressed into service, in the considered opinion of this Court, are of no avail to the appellants, particularly when in recent pronouncement of the judgment in the case of Prathvi Raj Chauhan (supra), the Court has expressly made it clear that liberal use of power to grant pre- arrest bail would defeat the intention of the Parliament. So, the Court would not like to exercise the discretion in view of this peculiar set of circumstance and having gone through the overall material on record, the appeal is found to be merit-less since facts are altogether different.[Para No.12]

Non-finding of injury upon the victim of rape does not necessarily mean that there is no rape

So far as regards the non-finding of injury upon the victim, as per the medical evidence, it is to be noted that injury is not a sine qua non for deciding whether rape has been committed or not. It has to be decided on the factual matrix of each case. The Hon'ble Apex Court in (2013) 11 SCC 688, Radhakrishna Nagesh - Vs- State of Andhra Pradesh, it has been held that penetration itself proves offence of rape, but contrary is not true, i.e.,even if there is no penetration, it does not necessarily mean that there is no rape. The Hon'ble Apex Court further held that absence of injuries would justify any adverse inference against prosecution. In (2014) 13 SCC 574; Krishan - Vs- State of Haryana, it was also held by the Hon'ble Apex Court that it is not expected that every rape victim should have injuries on her body to prove her case.[Para No.31]

Non-finding of injury upon the victim of rape does not necessarily mean that there is no rape
    The chastity of a woman ruined as soon as such offence is committed, while in a civilized society, respect or reputation is a basic right. No member of society can afford to conceive the idea that he can create a hollow in the honour of a woman. Such thinking is not only lamentable but also deplorable. Youthful excitement and an attempt for momentary pleasure on the part of a person upon a woman, had a devastating effect in the entire body and mind of the victim. It is to be kept in mind that such offence lowers the dignity of a woman and mars her reputation. The Courts are sensitized that rape is a violation of victim's fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution and rape victim is placed on a higher pedestal than an injured witness. Being the most hatred crime, rape tantamount to a serious blow to the supreme honour of a woman and is a crime against the entire society as well.[Para No.33]

31 August 2020

Where a party to the suit does not appear in the witness-box and does not offer himself to be cross-examined by the other side, a presumption would arise that the case set up by him is not correct

The fact remains that there is no evidence on record to hold that defendant No.1 Dashmat Bai admittedly, firstly married Kunjilal, but there is no evidence on record to hold that whether he or she divorced each other and marriage between Kunjilal and Dashmat Bai had ever been validly dissolved. Similarly, it is the further admitted position on record that Dashmat Bai entered into marriage with Latel, but there is no evidence that divorce ever took place between them and thirdly, the alleged third marriage of Dashmat Bai with Sukhdev i.e. she has lastly married Sukhdev in Chudi form. Father of defendant No.1 Dashmat Bai namely, Jaitram (DW-1) has categorically stated that he was not present at the time when Dashmat Bai allegedly entered into marriage in Chudi form with Sukhdev. It is quite unnatural that father will not remain present at the time of such an important ceremony i.e. marriage of his daughter with a person namely Sukhdev. Similarly, Dashmat Bai herself could have entered into the witness-box and offered herself for cross-examination in absence of which adverse inference could be drawn against her.[Para No.20]

Where a party to the suit does not appear in the witness-box and does not offer himself to be cross-examined by the other side, a presumption would arise that the case set up by him is not correct
   The Supreme Court in Vidhyadhar (supra) has clearly held that where a party to the suit does not appear in the witness-box and states his own case on oath and does not offer himself to be cross-examined by the other side, a presumption would arise that the case set up by him is not correct. This decision has further been followed by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Man Kaur (supra).[Para No.21]

Benefit of bail u/s.436A of Cr.P.C. is available only to under-trial prisoners and not to convicted who has filed an appeal

Upon the closer examination of the language used in Section 436-A of the Code, it can be seen without any difficulty or doubt that the benefit intended to be given is for a person who has, during the period of investigation, inquiry or trial under the Code of an offence, not being an offence for which capital punishment has been prescribed as one of the punishments, undergone detention for a period extending up to one half of the maximum period of imprisonment specified for that offence under that law. In such a case, the person is required to be released on his personal bond with or without sureties in normal course of circumstances. But, there could be some special circumstances justifying his further detention, for reasons to be recorded, which makes the right of the person limited and not absolute. This is evident from the first proviso which lays down that the Court may, after hearing the Public Prosecutor and for reasons to be recorded in writing, order continued detention of the person for a period longer than one half of the period mentioned in the Section or release him on bail instead of the personal bond with or without sureties. However, this limited right has the potential of becoming absolute when the condition prescribed in second proviso is fulfilled. The condition is that if the person has been detained during the period of investigation, inquiry or trial for more than maximum period of imprisonment provided for an offence under that law, the person has to be released. There is also an explanation appended to the section. It lays down that in computing the period of detention for granting bail, the period of detention passed due to delay in proceeding caused by the accused shall be excluded.[Para No.18]

Benefit of bail u/s.436A of Cr.P.C. is available only to under-trial prisoners and not to convicted who has filed an appeal
    Reading the Section as a whole, we find that the benefit under the section has been intended to be given only to the under-trial prisoners. The words "during the period of investigation, inquiry or trial" and the words "maximum period of imprisonment specified for that offence" are significant. They indicate that only that person who has undergone detention for a period of one half or more of the maximum prescribed punishment during investigation, inquiry or trial under the Code who is eligible for his release on personal bond with or without sureties or bail, as the case may be. The Section does not say that a person who has been detained for one half period of imprisonment imposed would be eligible. Mentioning of "the maximum period of imprisonment specified for that offence under that law" and omission of the words "punishment imposed" shows that the legislature was aware of the difference in the status of an undertrial prisoner and a convict, and with it of the consequences of detaining a person who enjoys presumption of innocence till found guilty for unduly long time. Such presumption of innocence being absent in case of a convict, the legislature refrained, and consciously, from mentioning the words "punishment imposed". This clearly shows the intention of the legislature to confer the benefit on the under- trials and not the convicts. This being the position, we do not think that rule of liberal construction would have any application here.[Para No.19]

    There are further indications about the clarity of intention of the legislature. The provision refers to "investigation, inquiry and trial under  the Code". There can be no doubt about what "investigation or inquiry" means as they have been defined in Section 2(h) and Section 2(g) of the Code respectively. The doubt, however, could be about meaning of the word "trial" as it has not been defined in the Code. It has not been defined in the General Clauses Act either. So, we have to turn to its dictionary meaning, if it helps. In Black's Law Dictionary (9th Edition page 1644) "trial" has been defined to be a formal judicial examination of evidence and determination of legal claims in a advisory proceeding. This definition is too general an explanation of "trial" and, therefore, it would not help us in understanding its meaning here. So, we must again revert to the Code, in an attempt to understand the sense in which the word "trial" has been used in Section 436-A of the Code or to be precise, to know, as to whether or not the trial of an accused goes beyond his conviction and continues, if appeal is filed under 374 of the Code, till it is finally decided, or it culminates upon acquittal or conviction for the purpose of Section 436-A of the Code.[Para No.20]

    As these provisions create a step-wise mechanism to procedurally deal with crimes and so the word, "trial" used in Section 436-A would get it's meaning in the context of this scheme of the Code, at least for the purpose which is sought to be achieved by the provision of Section 436-A. Under this scheme of the Code, "trial" of a person accused of an offence is contemplated only by a Court having original criminal jurisdiction or assuming original criminal jurisdiction after committal of a Sessions case and appeal as a remedy against the judgment of conviction and/or sentence or even acquittal has been made available before the Court exercising Appellate jurisdiction. In this sense, so far as the Section 436- A benefit is concerned, the word "trial" has to be understood in contra-distinction to an "appeal proceeding". Our conclusion is further bolstered up by the provisions contained in Section 353. Provisions contained in Section 389 also help us in drawing of such an inference. It would be, therefore, convenient for us to quote relevant portions of these sections here. They are as under :
"353. Judgment - (1) The judgment in every trial in any Criminal Court of original jurisdiction shall be pronounced in open Court by the presiding officer immediately after the termination of the trial or at some subsequent time of which notice shall be given to the parties or their pleaders,
(a) by delivering the whole of the judgment; or
(b) by reading out the whole of the judgment; or
(c)  by reading out the operative part of thej udgment and explaining the substance of the judgment in a language which is understood by the accused or his pleader."
   "389. Suspension of sentence pending the appeal; release of appellant on bail. - (1) Pending any appeal by a convicted person, the Appellate Court may, for reasons to be recorded by it in writing, order that the execution of the sentence or order appealed against be suspended and, also, if he is in confinement, that he be released on bail, or on his own bond:
Provided that the Appellate Court shall, before releasing on bail or on his own bond a convicted person who is convicted of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years, shall give opportunity to the Public Prosecutor for showing cause in writing against such release:"
    It is clear from Section 353 that it requires a criminal Court to pronounce judgment in every trial in open Court immediately "after the termination of the trial or at some subsequent time". It is indicative of the fact that upon pronouncement of the judgment, in the contemplation of the scheme of the Code, there occurs termination of the trial. If we examine Section 389 of the Code, on the backdrop of Section 353, we would find that under the scheme of the Code, appeal has been considered to be a stage separate from trial, which comes into being after pronouncement of the judgment upon termination of the trial. In other words, unless there is termination of trial, there is no question of stage of appeal being born. That means the words "trial" and "appeal" have been used in distinctive sense thereby signaling that no one makes a mistake in understanding that "trial" is not synonymous with "appeal", when it comes to extending benefit available to an under trial prisoner to a convict undergoing sentence of imprisonment.
Of course, in general sense, appeal could be said to be an extension of trial on the parameters of rights available to a convict, principles to be followed by Appellate Court in appreciation of evidence and power of Appellate Court. But, this is not so for the purposes of Section 436-A of the Code. This is the reason why in Section 389 of the Code, the words "trial of the person", "are not used and instead the words, "pending any appeal by a convicted person" are employed for considering suspension of sentence of the convict and grant of bail to him.[Para No.23]

27 August 2020

Magistrate has powers u/s.451 and 457 of Cr.P.C. to order de-freezing of bank account seized by police

Questions may often arise as to the legal remedy which a person can resort to, upon being aggrieved by the seizure of his bank account which reveals no nexus with the alleged offence.

Magistrate has powers u/s.451 and 457 of Cr.P.C. to order de-freezing of bank account seized by police
In case the seizure is illegal and the account freezed lacked direct link with the offences alleged, the legal remedy open to the aggrieved is to approach the concerned Magistrate under Section 451 or 457 of the CrPC as the case may be, and seek to get the account de-freezed. But if the freezing is per se contrary to the provisions of law and could be assailed as illegal without reference to factual disputes involved in the matter, nothing precludes the affected person from approaching this Court for appropriate relief.[Para No.23]

    If a Police Officer wants to depart from the normal procedure of getting a warrant or such permission from the concerned Magistrate, he must then have to draw a search memorandum in writing containing sufficient grounds for his belief as to how the assets in the account are associated with the alleged offences and also as to how an emergent freezing of account would be justified in the circumstances of the case on hand. He must forward the same to the nearest Magistrate forthwith as required under Section 165(5). If there is breach in this respect, it is to be considered as being irregular than illegal. All that the Magistrate has to decide on the motion made for defreezing of the account is whether the seizure complained of is illegal and the account did have any direct/close nexus or link with the offences in question. In other words, despite there could be complaint of irregularity in the matter of seizure also, once the Magistrate is satisfied that the account seized nevertheless has got direct or close link with the offences in question, then it is not a case where the account could be ordered to be de-freezed at the request of the aggrieved. This will not, however, preclude the Magistrate from reporting the violation if any, committed by the erring Police Officer, to his departmental head for initiating necessary disciplinary action.[Para No.24]

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