Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where the Trial Court had held that the offence under Section 63 of the Copyright Act is a cognizable offence but the Delhi High Court took a contrary view, the bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna, JJ has reversed the finding of the Delhi High Court and held that the offence under Section 63 of the Copyright Act is a cognizable offence.

For the offence under Section 63 of the Copyright Act, the punishment provided is imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to three years and with fine. Therefore, the Court explained that the maximum punishment which can be imposed would be three   years. Therefore, the learned Magistrate may sentence the accused for a period of three years also.

Hence, considering Part II of the First Schedule of the Cr.P.C., if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for three years and onwards but not more than seven years the offence is a cognizable offence. Only in a case where the offence is punishable for imprisonment for less than three years or with fine only the offence can be said to be non-cognizable.

The Court, hence, held that the offence under Section 63 of the Copyright Act is a cognizable and non-bailable offence and that,

“Under the circumstances the High Court has committed a grave error in holding that the offence under Section 63 of the Copyright Act is a non-cognizable offence.”

[Knit Pro International v. State of NCT of Delhi, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 668, decided on 20.05.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice MR Shah


Counsels

For appellant: Advocate R.K. Tarun

For respondent: Senior Advocate Siddhartha Dave

Tis-hazari
Case BriefsDistrict Court

Tis Hazari Courts, Delhi: Kamini Lau, PO (MACT) –01, granted bail to an accused Lakhbir Singh in Republic Day Violence, while noting that he had already joined the investigations and produced his mobile phone and disclosed that it was the same mobile phone which was being used by him on 26th January for recording videos and further uploading the same on his Facebook page.

An application under Section 438 CrPC was filed by the applicant/accused Lakhbir Singh of grant of anticipatory bail.

It was submitted that the applicant had been supporting the peaceful agitation of the Farmers for repeal of three farm laws, though he is not a party of any Kisan Union or Organization.

Further, it was pleaded that there was not even an iota of evidence that the applicant either himself indulged into any violence or incited anyone to commit any violence and the present application has been filed since there is a grave and serious apprehension that he might be falsely implicated in the present case and other cases also.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Bench stated that recently the Delhi High Court while dealing with the bail applications of Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Asif Iqbal who were arrested for unlawful activities in relation to East Delhi riots, observed that at a time when the society is polarized and fractured across various lines and ideology reached vanishing point, the Court will do all within their mandate to prevent the misuse of the law and alleviate the anxiety which had come to surround the said individuals.

Court observed that the allegations against the applicant were that he had addressed the mob from the stage of Sanyukt Kisan Morcha and instigated the mob not to follow the route permitted by the Delhi Police.

Bench asked the Investigating Officer if the presence of the accused outside the Red Fort was a very grave offence and was non-bailable. Investigating agency was not sure of the same. Hence, the Court opined, the said offences were bailable.

Further, the Court stated that the main conspirators as per the Delhi Police were Deep Sandhu and Iqbal Singh had already been granted bail.

“…an accused is deemed innocent till proved guilty.”

In view of the above, Bench held that the prima facie there was no material that the applicant/accused was present inside the Red Fort and if that be so, even no prima facie case was made out against him.

As per the report of the Investigating Officer, the applicant/accused was involved in 21 other cases in Punjab and out of that applicant was acquitted in 8 cases.

The IO was unable to respond to why the custodial interrogation of the applicant was further required in investigations.

Bench without making any observations directed that in the eventuality of arrest, the applicant Lakhbir Singh be admitted to bail on his furnishing a personal bond to the tune of Rs 50,000 subject to some conditions.

If the accused was found to be violating any of the conditions, the State shall be at liberty to move an application for cancellation of bail.[State v. Lakhbir Singh, Bail Application No. 2632 of 2021, decided on 29-07-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Rajat Kalra, Ld. Addl. PP for the State (through Video Conferencing).

Jaspreet Rai, Vir Sandhu, Kapil Madan, Jasdeep Dhillon, Gurmukh Singh Arora, Advocates for the applicant accused (through Video Conferencing).

Kerala High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Raja Vijayaraghavan V., J. was allowed a criminal petition filed by persons accused of smuggling gold and foreign currency, by concealing the same in their checked-in baggage at the Cochin International Airport, and set aside onerous conditions for their bail.

Petitioners’ voluntary statement was recorded by the Superintendent of Customs, Air Intelligence Unit, Cochin and they were placed under arrest for offence under Sections 132 and 135 of the Customs Act, 1962 which are non-cognizable and bailable offences. Being bailable offences, the customs officer, exercising his powers under Section 104 (3) of the Customs Act, granted them bail on the following conditions:

  • Two persons to stand surety, on whose behalf the petitioner/accused shall be released on bail.
  • Petitioners shall report to the Superintendent of Customs, Air Intelligence Unit, Nedumbassery on the 10th day of every month between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. until the case was finally decided.
  • Petitioners shall report to the investigating officer as and when required.
  • Petitioners shall not, during the period of bail, get involved in any offence.

Premjith Menon, learned counsel appearing for the petitioners, submitted that the offences being bailable, petitioners could claim to be released on bail as of right. He submitted that under Section 104 of the Customs Act, for the purpose of releasing an arrested person on bail, a customs officer is subject to the same provisions as the officer-in-charge of a police station and thus except the requirement of surety, the imposition of other conditions for bail was illegal.

The Court opined that grant of bail is a matter of course in respect of bailable offences. It may be given either by the police officer in charge of a police station having the accused in his custody or by the Court. The customs officer exercising his powers under Section 104 of the Act, acts akin to officer-in-charge of a police station as provided under Section 436 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. A police officer or even the Court has no discretion in releasing the accused on bail under Section 436 CrPC, and any condition except the demand for security with sureties cannot be imposed on the accused. Reliance in this regard was placed on Talab Haji Hussain v. Madhukar Purshottam Mondkar, AIR 1958 SC 376.

In view of the above, petitioners were enlarged on bail and it was held that the customs officer was bereft of jurisdiction to impose onerous conditions for the same. The three conditions for bail except that of surety were set aside.[Joseph Santhosh Kottarathil Alexander v. Superintendent of Customs (AIU), 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1321, decided on 09-04-2019]

Chhattisgarh High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: Recently, the High Court had to deal with the bail application of accused charged under S. 143(2) of the Railways Act that that the applicant was engaged in illegal sale and purchase of railway e-tickets and a raid was conducted in the shop of applicant. After notice under S. 91 CrPC to produce satisfactory documents was not complied with, the accused was arrested and all the documents and machines in his shop were seized.

The counsel for the applicant tried to convince the Court that accused was innocent and the documents and tickets seized were all original and not fake as alleged. He further went on to convince the Court by trying to make clear the intention of Legislature behind enactment of the provisions that applicant was charged under. He contended that S. 143(2) of the Railways Act constitutes a bailable offence and thus, the applicant must be granted the bail as a matter of right. He stated that it prescribes the punishment of imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years or with fine or with both, therefore, the entire object of the Legislature is not meant to merely impose imprisonment but in the alternative by way of fine, certain recovery can be made. He elucidated his point contending that different sections of IPC like Sections 218, 222, 293, 317 and 489-C which are enumerated in First Schedule to CrPC, and submits that though certain offences are punishable for 3 years or more and cognizable yet they are bailable and cited Munna Kumar v. State through NCT of Delhi2005 SCC OnLine Del 502 to support the same.

He highlighted before the Court the fact that the entire proceedings were carried out by the Railway Protection Force and that the cognizance cannot be taken unless a complaint is filed and the provisions of Railways Act would show that after arrest the Railway Officer has power to release the person arrested on bail.

Learned counsel for the respondent on the other hand argued that for the offence u/S. 143 of the Act, the punishment prescribed is imprisonment of a term which may extend to 3 years or with fine or with both. Therefore, it would fall in Part II of the First Schedule to Cr.P.C., which prescribed that if the offence is punishable with imprisonment of 3 years then it would be cognizable and non-bailable further referring to Om Prakash v. Union of India, (2011) 14 SCC 1. He submitted that if the punishment is not less than 3 years for an offence, then only it can be termed as bailable but if the offence is punishable with imprisonment of 3 years and upwards, then it would be non-bailable.

The Court after hearing both the parties and going through the provisions discussed in the contentions, observed that the scheme of the Code of Criminal Procedure is indicative of the legislature intention which is to be examined by putting the Railways Act at parallel by looking into eye to eye with each other. The Bench of Goutam Bhaduri, J. held that the offence in the nature of S. 143(2) wherein fine is also contemplated shows the legislative intent as the officer is also given power to grant bail and eventually, the offence under Section 143(2) of Railways Act cannot be isolated to hold that since the punishment of imprisonment as prescribed may extend to 3 years, it would be non-bailable and would fall in category II of Part II of the First Schedule to CrPC.

The Court relied on the judgment of Delhi High Court cited by the applicant observing that if we refer to S.436 of CrPC, it mandates that a person when is arrested for other than non-bailable offence and the officer is prepared to grant bail while in custody, such person shall be released on bail. Consequently, the applicant was released on bail. [Aditya Singh v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine Chh 918, decided on 18.08.2017]