Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab & Haryana High Court: Surinder Gupta, J. dismissed a petition dealing with the question whether accused under Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 should be allowed to give his evidence in affidavit similar to that of a complainant.

The petitioner was facing trial in a complaint filed under the provisions of NI Act and sought permission from the trial court to submit his evidence through affidavit but the trial court refused to grant permission for the same while relying on observations in case of Mandvi Cooperative Bank Limited v. Nimesh B Thakore, (2010) 3 SCC 83.

Counsel for the petitioner, R.S. Rai argued that in the case of India Bank Association v. Union of India, (2014) 5 SCC 590 the accused was granted permission to submit his evidence on affidavit with the guideline that accused may submit his affidavit unless there is a justified ground to deny such permission. Further, the counsel argued that the order of trial court relying on observation of Mandvi Cooperative Bank Limited case was not sustainable.

While denying the petition and holding the order of trial court valid, the High Court stated the observation laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Mandvi Cooperative Bank Limited that there is a basic difference in the nature of evidence of complainant and accused in a case of dishonoured cheque and it is wrong and unjustified to draw analogy between both, the Supreme Court opined that accused may not be able to provide any evidence and if any evidence is provided the nature of it may not be necessarily documentary and the defence will try to lead other kinds of evidences to rebut the presumption that the issuance of cheque was not in the discharge of any debt or liability. The Supreme Court discarded the observation laid down by High Court that Section 145(1) lays down the provision of filing an affidavit by the complainant so it can be assumed that accused can also file a similar affidavit.

Further, the Court opined that in case of Indian Bank Association the Supreme Court was dealing with the issue of setting guidelines/directions to be followed by the courts while trying complaints under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instrument Act that deals with dishonoured cheque and insufficiency in funds.

It was held that the law laid down in the Mandvi Cooperative Bank Limited case had not been dissented. Thus, the decision of the trial court was upheld and the petition was dismissed. [Rajni Dhingra v. Sanjeev Chugh, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 2464, decided on 05-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: K.R. Shriram, J., while dismissing the criminal appeal filed by the State against the order of the trial court acquitting the accused of charge under Section 392 of Penal Code, 1860, reiterated that there is a double presumption of innocence in favour of the accused who has been acquitted from the offence as charged by the trial court.

In the instant case, the accused was charged with committing an offence of robbery punishable under Section 392 IPC. On the conclusion of the trial, he was, however, acquitted by the trial court. Aggrieved by the said order of acquittal, the State preferred the instant appeal.

The High Court, on perusal of the evidence, found that the prosecution was not able to prove its case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt and, therefore, no interference was warranted with the order of the trial court. Pertinently, the Court reiterated the law relating to presumption of innocence that runs in favour of the accused. It was observed:

“There is an acquittal and therefore, there is double presumption in favour of the accused. Firstly, the presumption of innocence available to the accused under the fundamental principle of criminal jurisprudence that every person shall be presumed to be innocent unless he is proved guilty by a competent court of law. Secondly, the accused having secured acquittal, the presumption of their innocence is further reinforced, reaffirmed and strengthened by the trial court. For acquitting the accused, the Trial Court observed that the prosecution had failed to prove its case.”

Also, in relation to the nature of proof to be adduced in a criminal case, the Court restated:

“When the evidence adduced did not conclusively lead to the guilt of the accused and only pointed needle of suspicion towards the accused and nothing more, he cannot be committed because suspicion is no substitute for proof in criminal trial.”

Accordingly, finding no fault with the order passed by the Trial Judge, the High Court held that the instant appeal deserves dismissal. [State of Maharashtra v. Shivaji Haribhau Jirase, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 4130, decided on 11-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A petition was filed before a Division Bench comprising of Ramesh Sinha and Dinesh Kumar Singh, JJ., for quashing an FIR registered under Sections 409, 419, 420, 467, 468, 471, 477A, 201, 218 and 120-B/34 IPC and 13(2) Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

Facts of the case were that an FIR was filed against petitioner in 2006 and the investigation was pending even after 12 years. Petitioner submitted that a similar petition had been filed by accused where an interim order was passed in his favour, therefore, he is also entitled for the same. Petitioner contended that from perusal of FIR it could not be said that any offence was made out against him. Petitioner also stated the fact that investigation of the case was yet not been completed.

High Court after considering the facts and circumstances of the case and submissions of petitioner directed the investigating officer to complete the investigation and submit police report before the Court. Further, the direction was issued to not arrest the petitioner before the completion of investigation and submission of the report under Section 173(2) Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. [Bharti Singh v. State of U.P., 2018 SCC OnLine All 1933, order dated 11-10-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Dipak Misra, C.J. and A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, JJ. upheld the bail granted to a rape offender by the Hon’ble Hyderabad High Court.

In the present petition, the learned bench of the Supreme Court Judges by emphasising on the essence of “consent” in a sexual relationship heard the contentions of the parties and arrived on a decision. The accused was charged under Sections 376, 342, 493, 506 and 354 (C) of the Indian Penal Code for which he was granted anticipatory bail by the sessions judge which was further cancelled on the ground that the accused had hidden the fact of his involvement in the 2G Spectrum case and the stated order was affirmed by the High Court.

The High Court on receipt of the bail application filed by the accused had granted bail with a bond of Rs. 50,000.  For the granted bail, the learned counsel of the appellant submitted that the allegations on the accused were of grave nature involving rape of an aspiring actress and on filing a complaint in that regard, she came across a large number of threats at her end in order to withdraw the filed complaint.

On considering the submissions of the parties, Supreme Court agreed and found “no fault” on the part of  the High Court in granting anticipatory bail to the accused as the ground of the complainant in the issue was of rape, though it had been noted that the complainant had visited the accused on her own will which lead the Court towards the “consensual” relationship between the complainant and the accused. Therefore, the Supreme Court without making any further delay in the present case stated that bail once granted should not be cancelled unless or a cogent case based on a supervening event is being made out. Further, bail granted was not cancelled, though the bond was modified to Rs. 10 lakhs. [X v. State of Telangana,2018 SCC OnLine SC 549, decided on 17-05-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A  Division Bench comprising of Joymalya Bagchi and Ravi Krishan Kapur, JJ.  disposed of the criminal appeal filed by the appellant by ordering his further examination under Section 313 CrPC.

In the case at hand, most of the prosecution witnesses turned hostile. However, the trial judge relied on the dying declaration of the victim, who, according to PW 15- the doctor who treated the victim, had suffered burn injuries due to the pouring of hot mustard oil. Learned counsel for the appellant was before the High Court assailing the said dying declaration on various grounds including that such circumstance was not placed before the appellant during his examination under Section 313 CrPC.

The High Court perused the record and found that in fact such circumstance was not put to the appellant during his examination. The Court held it to be settled law that any circumstance which may be used against an accused must be placed to him during his examination under Section 313. Such an exercise is not an empty formality but a facet of natural justice. While deciding the appeal, the Court was not unmindful of the fact that every infraction of the aforesaid requirement would not vitiate the trial. However, if such infraction is of a grave nature, and prejudices the accused or occasions failure of justice, it shall result in a mistrial. In the instant case, the Court noted, most of the PWs turned hostile, and as such, the dying declaration if believed by the court, would be the most vital circumstance pointing towards guilt of the appellant. In such circumstances, the Court ordered the further examination of the appellant under Section 313 by putting questions before him in relation to the dying declaration. The Sessions Judge was directed to complete the exercise within four weeks. [Sk. Anowar v. Moinak Bakshi, 2018 SCC OnLine Cal 3896, dated 22-6-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Vijay Bishnoi J., while allowing to take the voice sample of the accused pronounced that “when the criminals are using the modern technologies to commit the crime, it is not justified to restrain the police or investigating agency to counter it”.

The accused in the present case had indiscriminately fired gunshots at the residence of two persons and for the same reason, an FIR was registered by the victims. It was also noted that immediately after the filing of the FIR victims had received phone calls pertaining to life threats. In the course of the investigation, police had arrested two persons and for that purpose, an identification test was called for, but the victim again received calls from Italy through Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP).

On arrest of the accused person, police felt that the information given on the part of the respondent may not be admissible and for that reason the police authorities had filed an application before the Additional Chief Magistrate to give directions to the respondent for submission of his voice sample which was rejected on the basis of ‘no consent” of the respondent. Courts below had rejected the application of the respondent for the collection of the voice sample.

The Hon’ble High Court, on analysing the contentions  placed in reference to the issue for recording of the voice sample of the accused, explained its stance by relying on the Supreme Court judgment of  Ritesh Sinha v. State of U.P., (2013) 2 SCC 357, in which it was well settled that if an accused person is compelled to give his voice sample it is no violation of his rights under Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India and the law is silent on the same. Therefore, the Court by explaining the various aspects of this issue and allowing the criminal misc. petition stated that the police cannot be restrained from taking voice sample of respondent for establishing his involvement in the crime. [State of Rajasthan v. Vikramjeet Singh, 2018 SCC OnLine Raj 1343, dated 23-05-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Orissa High Court: While deciding the issue that whether it would be proper to quash the criminal proceedings against the petitioner in an offence of abduction and gang rape especially when prima facie materials on record concerning his complicity in the crime have been collected during course of investigation, but the co-accused persons have been acquitted of all the charges on the ground that the victim and other independent witnesses have not supported the prosecution case, the Bench of S.K. Sahoo, J., dismissing the petition, held that a Court cannot quash the criminal proceedings against the petitioner forming an assumption on the ground that the co-accused persons have been acquitted as the victim did not support the prosecution case.

As per the facts, the petitioner and other co- accused persons was charged under Sections 363/366/376(2) (g) read with Section 34 IPC and Section 3 of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, for abducting and gang raping a married woman. The victim however turned a hostile witness, as a result of which the co- accused persons were acquitted. Arupananda Das, Addl. Government Advocate for the State put forth before the Court that during course of investigation and from the statements of the victim, prima facie case was found against the petitioner and accordingly, charge sheet was submitted. Thus merely because the victim did not support the prosecution case during trial in respect of the co-accused persons, the same cannot be a ground to quash the criminal proceeding against the petitioner.

Perusing the facts of the case, the Court observed that it is a case of abduction and gang rape of a married lady, and even though the victim turned hostile during the trial of the co- accused persons, it cannot be said that she will do the same during the trial of the petitioner. The Court noted that if the accused against whom accusation of abduction and gang rape is there remains absconding, and watches the criminal proceeding in respect of the co-accused persons and after such proceeding ended in acquittal, he comes out of his shell feeling that in view of the acquittal of the co-accused persons, the prosecution case against him will become weak and if the Court accepts his plea on the basis of the evidence adduced in the trial of the co-accused persons and quashes the proceeding against him, then it would be a travesty of justice. Thus it cannot be said that the continuance of the criminal proceeding against the petitioner would be an abuse of process. The Court thereby refused to invoke the inherent power under Section 482 of CrPC. [Ajay Kumar Sethi v. State of Orissa, 2018 SCC OnLine Ori 275, decided on 09-04-2018]

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the Court was called upon to decide as to whether no remand in police custody can be given to the investigating agency in respect of the absconding accused who is arrested only after filing of the charge sheet, the Court, relying upon State v. Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, (2000) 10 SCC 438, held that police remand can be sought under Section 167(2) CrPC in respect of an accused arrested at the stage of further investigation, if the interrogation is needed by the investigating agency.

Considering the relevant provisions of law under Proviso to sub-section (2) of Section 167 CrPC, which empowers a Magistrate to authorize detention of an accused in the custody of police, Sub-section (8) of Section 173, under which investigating agency has power to further investigate the matter in which the report/charge sheet has already been filed and sub-section (2) of Section 309 CrPC which empowers remand of an accused, the bench of Dipak Misra and P.C. Pant, JJ further clarified that that expression ‘accused if in custody’ in Section 309(2) CrPC does not include the accused who is arrested on further investigation before supplementary charge sheet is filed.

In the present case which relates to killing of nine persons and injuring large number of villagers in a village of West Bengal, the High Court had refused the police remand. The Court, hence, set aside the impugned order and held that the said refusal was against the settled principle of law. Central Bureau of Investigation v. Rathin Dandapat2015 SCC OnLine SC 743 decided on 21.08.2015