Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: Rashid Ali Dar, J. allowed a habeas corpus petition and quashed detention order of a person who had been under Section 3 of the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1988. (hereinafter “the Act”).

Petitioner herein (detenue) was supplying 50 bottles of fenoerox to retailers as per the order placed with his employer. He was stopped by the police and booked under Section 8 read with Section 22 of Act; and was taken into preventive detention under Section 3 of the Act. He filed the instant petition challenging the detention order on the ground that detaining authority had not applied its mind to the provisions of the Act and particularly Article 22(5) of the Constitution of India. Further, the allegations mentioned in the grounds of detention were vague. Lastly, the detaining authority had not recorded its satisfaction to the effect that ordinary law is not sufficient to prohibit the detenue to repeat the offence. Thus, the order was bad in law and liable to be set aside.

Z.A. Qureshi, learned counsel for the  petitioner contended that the impugned order of detention or the grounds of detention formulated by the detaining authority did not indicate any compelling reason necessitating preventive detention of the petitioner after he had already been taken in custody by police for alleged commission of offence under Sections 8 and 22 of the NDPS Act. Thus, his preventive detention was illegal for the same having been passed at a time when petitioner was in the custody of the authorities of the State. It was also contended that the ground for detention was vaguely stated as “exploiting the young generation making them dependent on drugs and to make them habitual addicts”, which incapacitated the petitioner to make an effective representation in terms of Article 22(5) of the Constitution of India.

Javaid Iqbal, learned counsel for the respondent submitted that the detention order was proper as activities of the petitioner were prejudicial to the State. In this regard, he placed reliance on Sections 6, 9, 10 and 11 of the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Illicit Traffic Substance Act, 1988.

The Court opined that normally preventive detention of a person, who is already in custody of the State agencies in connection with the commission of offence under substantive law allegedly committed, must not be ordered. Preventive detention of such a person can be ordered only if the detaining authority has “compelling reasons” to believe that he is likely to be released in the substantive offence either on bail or due to his acquittal or discharge. Reliance in this regard was placed on Dharmendra Suganchand Chelawat v. Union of India, (1990) 1 SCC 746.

It was noted that at the time of passing the detention order, the petitioner was already in custody in connection with offence under Sections 8 and 22 of NDPS Act, which is a non-bailable offence. The detaining authority had not recorded any reason to believe that there was any possibility of immediate release of the petitioner from custody. Normal law, could properly deal with the matter in hand. Further, relying on Chaju Ram v. State of Jammu and Kashmir, (1970) 1 SCC 536 it was opined that the allegations levelled against the petitioner were vague and the same invalidated his detention order.

In view of the above, the petition was allowed.[Manzoor Ahmad Khawaja  v. State of Jammu and Kashmir, 2019 SCC OnLine J&K 579, decided on 01-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: Dr A.P. Thaker, J. passed an order to grant anticipatory bail for the offences punishable under Section 3(1)(r)(s) and 3(2)(v-a) of the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

An appeal was made to the court after an application for anticipatory bail was rejected by the Special Judge (Atrocity), City Session Court, Ahmedabad.

The fact of the case was that the complainant had a fight with the appellant and during the fight, the appellant assaulted the complainant who suffered some injuries. Thereafter, the complainant lodged an FIR against the appellant under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and Atrocity Act.  

The learned Counsel for the Appellant, Mahesh Bariya and Pooja Baswal, prayed for the grant of an anticipatory bail which was vehemently opposed by the respondent’s counsel, Monali Bhatt on the ground that the offence was made out under Atrocity Act and thus was a grave offence. 

The court placed reliance on the law laid down by the apex court in Gorige Pentaiah v. State of A.P., (2008) 12 SCC 531 which laid down that the preliminary inquiry shall be conducted by Deputy Superintendent of Police to find out whether allegation made out under the said act before registering an FIR relating to the commission of an offence and approval of appropriate authority shall be obtained before arrest of any person in connection with such offence.

The Court thus held that in the present case, it is doubtful as to commission of offence under Atrocity Act. Further, it appears from the affidavit of the complainant that the matter has been amicably settled between the parties and complainant has also tendered the affidavit for quashing the same FIR.  Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, without discussing the evidence in details, prima facie, this court is of the considered opinion that the discretion under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is required to be exercised. 

The anticipatory bail was thus granted with the condition that appellant shall remain present before the Magistrate on the first day of hearing of the application and after all the subsequent occasions as may be directed by the Magistrate. It was also clarified that the appellant, even if, remanded to police custody, upon completion of such period of police remand, shall be set free immediately, subject to other conditions of the anticipatory bail order.[Vipul Maganbhai Patel v. State of Gujarat, 2019 SCC OnLine Guj 832, decided on 10-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Sunil Gaur, J., reduced the sentence of imprisonment awarded to the appellant for the offences under Section 7 and Section 13(1)(d) read with 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

The appellant was held guilty by the trial court of receiving a bribe of Rs 25,000 while he was working as Assistant General Manager (Administration), East Zone, Delhi in MTNL. He was found guilty of taking the bribe for releasing a security deposit of around Rs 7 lakhs in favour of the complainant Company. The trial court sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment of 3 years and a fine of Rs 25,000 for the offence under Section 7. He was awarded another sentence of rigorous imprisonment of 3 years and a fine of Rs 25,000 for the offence under Section 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2).

Aditya V. Singh, Advocate for the appellant did not challenge his conviction. He, however, prayed for reduction of sentence. It was submitted that the appellant was aged 64 years and he had to look after his ailing wife aged 63 years along with his mid-aged widowed sister who was living with him.

Upon perusal of the matter, the High Court reduced the sentence awarded to appellant to the period already undergone by him while enhancing the fine imposed from Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 on both counts. Considering the minimum sentence as provided under the relevant sections at the time when the offence was committed, the Court stated, under the relevant sections at the time when the offence was committed, the court stated, “sentence of more than one year already undergone by appellant will meet the ends of justice, as the minimum sentence of one year was provided by law, when the offence in question was committed by appellant.” The appeal was disposed of in the manner stated above. [Mangal Singh Arya v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 7456, Order dated 28-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Division Bench comprising of A.M. Shaffique and P. Somarajan, JJ., dismissed a criminal appeal wherein, it refused interference with the order passed by the National Investigation Agency Court of refusal to grant bail to the appellant.

In the present case, the Special Court for Trial of NIA Cases rejected the bail application of appellant, i.e., the fifth accused. The appellant is accused to have participated in the criminal conspiracy. It was also alleged that the appellant had helped the other accused persons in absconding from the crime scene by providing a vehicle and was involved in two other crimes. The NIA Court, on consideration, dismissed the bail application against which the present was preferred.

The High Court observed that the appellant was on a different footing than other accused persons to whom bail was granted, as the allegation was that he had provided a vehicle to the assailants to escape from the place of occurrence. The Court also found that the appellant took the assailants to a safe place and provided them with medical treatment in connection with the injury alleged to have been sustained by them during the course of commission of offence. All these would prima facie show that he had played a prominent role in the commission of offence. The Court held that it saw no ground for interference with the order passed by the NIA Court. The appeal was accordingly dismissed. [K. A. Najeeb v. National Investigation Agency,2018 SCC OnLine Ker 2946, dated 01-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: An appeal was filed under Section 14-A of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 before a Single Judge Bench comprising of J.P. Gupta, J., wherein the appellant was granted anticipatory bail in a case registered under various provisions of IPC and the SC/ST Act, 1989.

The complainant belonged to the Scheduled Tribe community and worked as a driver of the bus owned by the appellant. It was alleged by the complainant that the appellant assaulted him and abused him by addressing his caste. The appellant was consequently booked under various provisions of SC/ST Act and was apprehending arrest in connection with the same. He applied for anticipatory bail before the Special Judge which was dismissed. Hence, this appeal under Section 14-A of the SC/ST Act.

While considering the instant appeal, the High Court referred to various decisions of the Supreme Court to observe that it is expected from a police officer, who intends to arrest a person, not being a government servant and is accused of the offence punishable under the Act of 1989, to arrest only with prior approval of the SSP concerned, and after recording the reasons of arrest in writing. No arrest can be made because it is lawful for the police officer to do so. The existence of the power to arrest is one thing. The justification for the exercise of it is quite another. Arrest and detention in police lock-up of a person can cause irreparable harm to the reputation and self-esteem of a person. Hence, arrest cannot be made in routine manner on a mere allegation of commission of an offence. It is expected from a police officer to act as a prudent man in the interest of protection of the constitutional rights of a citizen not to arrest a person without a reasonable satisfaction arrived after some investigation as to the genuineness and bonafides of a complaint and need of arrest and thereafter record genuine reasons showing that such arrest is necessary and justified. Except in heinous offences, an arrest must be avoided.

In the background of the aforesaid discussions, considering the facts and circumstances of the present case and the material available in the case diary, the Court was of the view that the nature of the offence was not very severe and prima facie, the appellant’s arrest was not warranted for the purpose of investigation. Hence, the appeal was allowed. [Ajeet Jain v. State of MP, Cr. A. No. 1757 of 2018, dated 04-04-2018]

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Pinaki Chandra Ghose and R.K. Agarawal, JJ reaffirmed that once the declaration of juvenility on the date of the commission of offence is established before Court of competent jurisdiction, then the accused must get the benefit under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000.

In present case which was filed to release the applicant from the prison on the ground that the applicant who was sentenced for life imprisonment for commission of offence under Section 302 of  IPC, has already served the sentence for more than 10 yrs and still is in jail. Although, the Juvenile Justice Board had declared through its order that the applicant on the date of incident was below 18 years. Further, declared him as a juvenile offender. The plea before the court was that the applicant should be given exemption under the provisions of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000.

The Court relying on its previous decisions said that the maximum period for which a juvenile could be kept in a special home is for three years prescribed under Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, and therefore, allowing the appeal and setting aside the impugned judgment and order passed by the Trial Court and the High Court, the applicant was directed to be released forthwith, getting the benefit of the  Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 since he was a juvenile on the date of commission of offence. Ram Narain v. State of U.P.,2015 SCC OnLine SC 696, decided on 7-8-2015