Showing posts with label prima facie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label prima facie. Show all posts

07 November 2020

Order of process issue u/s.204 of Cr.P.C.; passed summarily and without discussing facts, evidence, law and exact overt act, is not proper legal judicial order

As held by the Courts as above, the passing of order of summoning any person as accused is a very important matter, which initiates criminal proceeding against him. Such orders cannot be passed summarily or without applying judicial mind.[Para No.13]

    In light of this legal position I have gone through the impugned order. A perusal of this order indicates that neither any discussion of evidence was made by learned Magistrate, nor was it considered as to which accused had allegedly committed what overt act. The five accused persons of complaint were summoned for offences mentioned in it. Impugned order clearly lacks the reflection of application of judicial discretion or mind.
Order of process issue u/s.204 of Cr.P.C.; passed summarily and without discussing facts, evidence, law and exact overt act, is not proper legal judicial order
Nothing is there which may show that learned Magistrate, before passing of the order under challenge had considered the facts and circumstances of the case and the evidence or the law. Therefore it appears that, in fact, no judicial mind was applied before the passing of impugned order of summoning. Such order cannot be accepted as a proper legal judicial order passed after following due procedure of law.
Therefore it is liable to be quashed.[Para No.14]

07 August 2020

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


10 July 2020

Order of process issue u/s.204 of Cr.P.C. can not be passed summarily and without applying judicial mind

A  perusal of this impugned summoning order indicates that learned Magistrate had noted in the impugned order the contents of complaint and evidences u/s 200 and 202 Cr.P.C. but had neither any discussion of evidence was made, nor was it considered as to what overt act had allegedly been committed by accused. This contention of learned counsel for the applicants cannot be ruled out that leaned counsel have noted the contents of complaint and statements without considering its probability or prima facie case, and whether he had actually considered statements u/s 200, 202 Cr.P.C. or the documents of the original. At stage of summoning, the Magistrate is not required to meticulously examine or evaluate the evidence. He is not required to record detailed reasons. A brief order which indicate the application of mind is all that is expected of him at the stage. [Para No.7]

Order of process issue u/s.204 of Cr.P.C. can not be passed summarily and without applying judicial mind

8. But in impugned order there is nothing which may indicate that learned Magistrate had even considered facts of the case in hand before passing the summoning order. Impugned order clearly lacks the reflection of application of judicial discretion or mind. Nothing is there which may show that learned Magistrate, before passing of the order under challenge had considered facts of the case and evidence or law. Therefore it appears that, in fact, no judicial mind was applied before the passing of impugned order of summoning. Such order cannot be accepted as a proper legal judicial order passed after following due procedure of law. [Para no.8]

9. In ruling "M/s. Pepsi Food Ltd. & another vs. Special Judicial Magistrate & others, 1998 UPCrR 118" Hon'ble Supreme Court held :-

"Summoning of an accused in a criminal case is a serious matter. Criminal law cannot be set into motion as a matter of course. It is not that the complainant has to bring only two witnesses to support his allegations in the complaint to have the criminal law set into motion. The order of the Magistrate summoning the accused must reflect that he has applied his mind to the facts of the case and the law applicable thereto. He has to examine the nature of allegations made in the complaint and the evidence both oral and documentary in support thereof and would that be sufficient for the complainant to succeed in bringing charge home to the accused. It is not that the Magistrate is a silent spectator at the time of recording of preliminary evidence before summoning the accused. Magistrate had to carefully scrutinize the evidence brought on record and may even himself put questions to the complainant and his witnesses to elicit answers to find out the truthfulness of the allegations or otherwise and then examine if any offence is prima facie committed by all or any of the accused."

Question of title of the property is not germane for decision of the eviction suit

It may be pointed out that it is well settled law that the question of title of the property is not germane for decision of the eviction suit. In a case where a plaintiff institutes a suit for eviction of his tenant based on the relationship of the landlord and tenant, the scope of the suit is very much limited in which a question of title cannot be gone into because the suit of the plaintiff would be dismissed even if he succeeds in proving his title but fails to establish the privity of contract of tenancy.

Question of title of the property is not germane for decision of the eviction suit
In a suit for eviction based on such relationship the Court has only to decide whether the defendant is the tenant of the plaintiff or not, though the question of title is disputed, may incidentally be gone into, in connection with the primary question for determining the main question about the India Automobiles & Co. [1990 (4) SCC 286 at para 21] this Court had an occasion to deal with similar controversy. In the said decision this Court observed that in a suit for eviction between the landlord and tenant, the Court will take only a prime facie decision on the collateral issue as to whether the applicant was landlord. If the Court finds existence of relationship of landlord and tenant between the parties it will have to pass a decree in accordance with law. It has been further observed that all that the Court has to do is to satisfy itself that the person seeking eviction is a landlord, who has prima facie right to receive the rent of the property in question. In order to decide whether denial of landlord's title by the tenant is bonafide the Court may have to go into tenant contention on the issue out the Court is not to decide the question of title finally as the Court has to see whether the tenant's denial of title of the landlord is bonafide in the circumstances of the case.[Para No.9]

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
Reena
Vs.
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:-

17 May 2020

When sanction u/s.197 of Cr.P.C. is not needed to prosecute a public servant?

If the act or omission for which the accused is charged, had prima-facie reasonable connection with discharge of his duty, then it must be held to be official attracting applicability of Section 197 of Cr.P.C.


No-sanction-under-section-197-of-Cr.P.C.-is-needed-to-prosecute-public-servant- if-offence-has-no-nexus-with -his-official-duties
In the case of Baijnath vs. State of M.P., reported in AIR 1966 S.C. 220, it was held that it is the quality of the act that is important, and if it falls within the scope and range of his official duties the protection contemplated by Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure will be attracted. In the case at hand, the alleged act of the accused-public servant of forging and fabricating documents, creating fake notifications to defraud the State Government and different public authorities for wrongful gain of his official duties cannot be said to have any nexus with discharge of his official duties. Hence, sanction under Section 197 of Cr.P.C. for launching the prosecution against him is held to be immaterial.

16 May 2020

Only allegations disclosing ingredients of offence and not the correctness of allegations is to be considered while issuing process u/s.204 of Cr.P.C.


What has to be considered at the time of issuing process u/s.204 of Cr.P.C.


  • Allegations disclosing ingredients of offence? or
  • the correctness of allegations? or
  • sufficiency of material for conviction?

12 May 2020

Directions u/s.156 of Cr.P.C. to investigate not to be issued if allegations do not prima facie make out offence

Application filed by the petitioner under Section 156 (3) of the Code has been rejected and the petitioner has been directed to examine his witnesses as per the provision of Section 200 and 202 of the Code.

Directions-u-s-156-of-Cr.P.C.    It is settled legal position that once the Magistrate has come to the conclusion that allegations made in the complaint do not prima facie make out offence then the Magistrate was right in rejecting the application under Section 156 (3) of the Code and he is also right in fixing the case for recording the statement of the complainant and his witnesses under Sections 200 and 202 of the Code. It is also well established principle of law that order under Section 156 (3) of the Code could not be passed in a mechanical manner. There has to be due application of mind. Once the Magistrate has applied his mind and if he comes to the conclusion that prima facie the applicant has failed to make out a case for cognizable offence warranting issuance of an order under Section 156 (3) of the Code then the Magistrate is right in rejecting the application, if otherwise does not obligatory on the Magistrate to issue an order under Section 156 (3) of the Code only on the basis of averments made in the complaint.

02 May 2020

What has to be considered while deciding an application seeking action for perjury?

All that is required to be assessed is whether a prima facie case is made out that there is a reasonable likelihood that the offence specified in Section 340 read with Section 195(1)(b) of the CrPC has been committed, and it is expedient in the interest of justice to take action. [Para No.5]


perjury

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