Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Dinesh Kumar Singh, J. dismissed the revision petition on the ground that the impugned order did not suffer from any infirmity.

In the instant case, the Basic Education Officer had opened an account by the name of Akhilesh Singh, the Principal of Maharana Pratap Junior High School in which scholarship amount was withdrawn. It was found in the FIR. that the name of the Principal was forged; rather the photo of Gopal Singh was affixed on the said account. Further, it was found that the school wasn’t in existence. The revisionist was found prima facie liable for the misappropriation of scholarship funds and also for causing loss of records.

The issue was whether the impugned order was rightly dismissed by the Special Judge or does it require any interference by the court in revision jurisdiction.

Saroj Kumar Dubey, arguing on behalf of the revisionist contended that no offence was made out on the basis of documentary evidence. It was required to get a valid prosecution sanction under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act for prosecuting a public servant. It was argued that the revisionist having retired from service, there was no requirement of prosecution sanction under Section 19 of the said act.

Relying on the Judgment of Chittaranjan Das v. State of Orissa, (2011) 7 SCC 167, the Court held that in case a public servant had retired, there was no necessity to seek prior sanction for prosecuting him. The impugned order didn’t suffer from any infirmity.[Shyam Bihari Tiwari v. State of Uttar Pradesh, Criminal Revision No. 3155 of 2019, decided on 11-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of B. Kemal Pasha, J. drew a nexus between the act and the discharge of the official duty of the inspector.

Petitioner who was Sub Inspector of Police was accused under Sections 342, 323, 324, 294(b) and 506(ii) IPC under a private complaint.

The complainant has contended that he was unnecessarily taken into custody by the Police while he along with his friend was in the car which allegedly was being driven in a drunken state. Further, while in custody the complainant attacked another sub-inspector on duty when taken into custody. The petitioner police officer through his counsel Chandrasekharan Nair stated that the complainant pleaded guilty by voluntarily appearing before the Court wherein it clearly states his faulty complaint and thus the version of the petitioner cannot be rebutted.

The Court was of the view that it was evident that it was in discharge of his official duty that the petitioner took the complainant into custody and the offence committed was proved by his acts. Therefore the complaint as such cannot be proceeded with for want of sanction following which the petition stood allowed. [Sajikumar v. V. Sasikumar, 2018 SCC OnLine Ker 6014, decided on 05-02-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Ashok Bhushan, J. discussed the validity of procedure of taking fingerprints under Identification of Prisoners Act 1920, while delivering a separate opinion in a decision along with Indu Malhotra, J. who also delivered the Judgment wherein the appellant-convict was acquitted from the offence under Sections 302 and 392 read with Section 34 IPC.

Bhushan, J., in his opinion interpreted Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Act. Firstly, the Judge observed, looking at the objects and reasons of the Act, the purpose behind enacting it was to remedy the mischief where police officers took fingerprints of convicts and suspects without legal sanction for the same. Looking at the Sections named above the Judge observed, those were separate and independent provisions pertaining to taking of fingerprints. Section 4 (taking fingerprints of a non-convict) does not exclude the cases where punishment for the offence is death or life imprisonment. Neither there is any bar on taking of fingerprints by the police officer in absence of orders taken from the Magistrate. Further, the police officer is not denuded of powers to take fingerprints under Sections 3 and 4, even in absence of rules made by the State under Section 8.

However, in the instant case, the Hon’ble Bench held that even if the chance fingerprint of the appellant was accepted in evidence, it did not complete the chain of events, unerringly pointed towards the guilt of the appellant in commision of the murder. Further Malhotra, J. in the Judgment delivered by her noted that there was no eyewitness to the incident, the conviction was based on circumstantial evidence; however, the prosecution failed to complete the chain of events to prove the guilt of the appellant beyond reasonable doubt. As such, the appeal was allowed and the appellant was acquitted. [Sonvir v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2018 SCC OnLine SC 650, decided on 02-07-2018]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Consumer Disputes Resolution Commission (NCDRC): The appellant applied to the respondent bank for a loan of Rs 9,00,000, but only a loan of Rs. 5,25,000 was sanctioned. The appellant produced as evidence a letter signed by the Respondent-Branch Manager wherein the respondent expressed inability to sanction a loan of Rs. 9,00,000 at the moment due to unavailability of subsidy. The respondent assured to sanction a sum of Rs.5,00,00 and the balance amount after the subsidy amount was received.

The respondent produced the letter of arrangement, entered into4 days after the assurance received by the appellant, which clearly showed that the sanctioned amount was only Rs. 5,25,000, of which Rs. 1,94, 750 was as premium loan, Rs. 3,04,000 as working capital and Rs. 26,250 to be arranged by the appellant himself. This breakdown was according to the application cum receipt issued by the Khadi and Village Industries Commission which stated the cost of the project as Rs. 5,25,000.

The District Forum and State Commission both rejected the appellant’s stand, hence he approached NCDRC. The NCDRC was of the view that a mere assurance by the bank manager that a greater sum shall be sanctioned cannot be treated as a binding condition on the actual sanction of the loan. Since the letter of arrangement, which was issued on 30.06.2009, 4 days after the letter produced by the appellant, mentions the sanctioned amount as Rs. 5,25,000, the same has to be treated as final.

The counsel for the appellant drew the NCDRC’s attention to a nomination letter dated 31.03.2009 which stated the loan amount to be Rs. 9,50,000 and was duly attested by the respondent. However, more documentary evidence from July 2009, which admitted the actual amount to be Rs. 5,25,000 by the appellant himself was produced and hence the NCDRC held that a bank has to sanction loan by way of issuing a proper sanction letter and only the amount mentioned in the sanction letter can be said to be a loan amount sanctioned by the bank.

Having found no reason for interference with the decision of the lower authorities, the revision petition was dismissed. [Nisar Ahmed v. Branch Manager, State Bank of India, Revision Petition No. 2562/2017, decided on 24.05.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: The 3-judge bench of I. A. Ansari ACJ, Chakradhari Sharan Singh and Navaniti Prasad Singh, JJ upheld the validity of Invoking the provisions as contained in Sub-section (3) of Section 197 , the Notification dated 16.05.1980 issued by Bihar Government, invoking the provisions as contained in Sub-section (3) of Section 197 CrPC, which direct which declared that the provisions of sub-section (2) shall apply to no court can take cognizance of the offence committed by “Officers and men” wherever they may serving the State of Bihar or the Bihar Police Force, such class or category of the members of the Forces charged with the maintenance of public order of the Code of Criminal Procedure, while performing his official duty, except by the prior sanction of the State Government. , a notification of Bihar Government, issued in 1980. The bench of three judges I. A. Ansari ACJ, Chakradhari Sharan Singh and Navaniti Prasad Singh, J J upheld the order of Chief Judicial Magistrate.

The petitioner who was posted as Officer-in-charge of Government Rail Road Station, in Muzaffarpur was charged under offences punishable under Sections 147, 323, 353, 342 and 379 of the Penal Code, 1860 by and the Chief Judicial Magistrate took the cognizance of the matter without prior sanction. The petitioner, relying on the impugned Notification, under section 482 of the Cr.PC moved to Patna High Court where the Single Judge referred the matter to the Division Bench which was later transferred to a larger bench. The Court took reliance with of the case of ruling in of Om Prakash and others v. State of Jharkhand, (2012) 12 SCC 72 and held that The notification, dated 16.05.1980, cannot be held to be beyond the scope and/or powers conferred on the State Government under Sub-section (3) of Section 197 CrPC of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the same having been applied by Supreme Court in case of Om Prakash vs. State of Jharkhand (supra) and criminal prosecution having been quashed against police personnel on that ground. We are mindful of the fact that the question of jurisdiction of the State Government to issue notification, granting protection to police personnel in exercise of power under section 197(3) of the CrPC., was neither raised nor decided. The Court further said that in view of the said notification, the previous sanction of the offences alleged to have been committed by the Police Officers, while acting or purporting to act in discharge of his official duty, is a condition precedent.
Hence, the Court held that the Chief Judicial Magistrate erred by taking cognizance of the matter without the prior sanction of the State Government and hence, quashed the impugned order. the Court held that under Section 197 (2) of CrPC that any member of the Armed Forces of the Union while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official duty, except with the previous sanction of the Central Government uphold the Bihar Notification and quashed the order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate. [Ram Rekha Pandey vs. State of Bihar, 2016 SCC OnLine Pat 2130, dated on 26th June,26.06. 2016]

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench comprising of T.S. Thakur and A.K. Goel, dealing with a petition challenging the constitutionality of Section 19 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 which mandates prior sanction for prosecution in cases relating to corruption, held that requirement of sanction has salutary object of protecting an innocent public servant against unwarranted and mala fide prosecution.  Having said that there can be no tolerance to corruption which undermines core constitutional values of justice, equality, liberty and fraternity, the Court, however, noted that need to prosecute and punish the corrupt cannot be a ground to deny protection to the honest.

In the present case, where petitioners and respondents were represented by D. K. Garg and V.G. Pragasam, respectively, it was argued by the petitioner, who happens to be a practicing advocate in the State of Jammu & Kashmir, that the provision for sanction as a condition precedent for prosecution is being used by the Government of India and the State Governments to protect dishonest and corrupt politicians and Government officials and that the discretion to grant sanction has been misused.

The Court, taking note of various judgments of this Court, held that a fine balance has to be maintained between need to protect a public servant against mala fide prosecution on the one hand and the object of upholding the probity in public life in prosecuting the public servant against whom prima facie material in support of allegation of corruption exists, on the other hand. It was held that mere possibility of abuse cannot be a ground to declare a provision, otherwise valid, to be unconstitutional and that the exercise of power has to be regulated to effectuate the purpose of law. Manzoor Ali Khan v. Union of India, Writ Petition (C) No. 305 of 2007, decided on 06.08.2014

To read the full judgment, refer to SCCOnLine

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Holding that the Fatwas issued by the Shariat Courts, established in the names of Dar-ul-Qaza and Nizam-e-Qaza, with the intent of providing justice specifically to the Muslims who fail to get justice in the prevalent justice delivery system owing to the expensive and protracted litigation, have no legal status and hence, cannot be enforced by any process using coercive method, a bench comprising of C.K. Prasad and P.C. Ghose, JJ. said that a Fatwa is an opinion, only an expert is expected to give and is not binding on the Courts, the State or the individuals. Stating that the Shariat Court is an informal justice delivery system with the objective of bringing about amicable settlement between Muslim individuals, the existence of Shariat Courts and the practice of issuing Fatwas is not illegal although it has no legal and Constitutional scheme.

Advocate V.L. Madan, appearing in person, brought before the Court the shocking incident of Deoband, Uttar Pradesh where a Fatwa dissolved the marriage of a Muslim woman upon being raped by her father-in-law stating that the woman with whom father has copulated legally or had sexual intercourse illegally, in both ways, the son can’t keep physical relationship with her. Two more Fatwas were brought into the notice of the Court where in one, a young Muslim woman was asked to divorce her husband and to accept her rapist father-in-law as her husband and in another one, it was said that no one will file an FIR against a rapist father-in-law. Taking note of the fact that in none of the cases, the concerned person approached the Shariat Courts, the Court held that Fatwas touching upon the rights of an individual at the instance of rank strangers may cause irreparable damage and therefore, would be absolutely uncalled for as no religion, including Islam, can be allowed to be merciless to the victim and faith cannot be used as dehumanising force. Vishwa Lochan Madan v. Union Of India, W.P. (Civil) No. 386 of 2005, decided on 7.7.2014

To read the full judgment, refer to the SCC OnLine