Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has held that the power of a police officer under Section 102 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 to seize any property, which may be found under circumstances that create suspicion of the commission of any offence, would not include the power to attach, seize and seal an immovable property. Khanna, J, writing the judgment for the bench, however, clarified,

“This, however, would not bar or prohibit the police officer from seizing documents/ papers of title relating to immovable property, as it is distinct and different from seizure of immovable property.”

The verdict came in a reference made by a Division Bench of Jagdish Singh Khehar and Arun Mishra, JJ vide order dated November 18, 2014, noticing that the issues that arise have far reaching and serious consequences.

Interpreting Section 102, the bench said that the language of Section 102 of the Code does not support the interpretation that the police officer has the power to dispossess a person in occupation and take possession of an immovable property in order to seize it. Section 102 is not, per se, an enabling provision by which the police officer acts to seize the property to do justice and to hand over the property to a person whom the police officer feels is the rightful and true owner.

It further explained that the expression ‘circumstances which create suspicion of the commission of any offence’ in Section 102 does not refer to a firm opinion or an adjudication/finding by a police officer to ascertain whether or not ‘any property’ is required to be seized. The word ‘suspicion’ is a weaker and a broader expression than ‘reasonable belief’ or ‘satisfaction’. The police officer is an investigator and not an adjudicator or a decision maker. This is the reason why the Ordinance was enacted to deal with attachment of money and immovable properties in cases of scheduled offences.

“In case and if we allow the police officer to ‘seize’ immovable property on a mere ‘suspicion of the commission of any offence’, it would mean and imply giving a drastic and extreme power to dispossess etc. to the police officer on a mere conjecture and surmise, that is, on suspicion, which has hitherto not been exercised.”

It was further held that the disputes relating to title, possession, etc., of immovable property are civil disputes which have to be decided and adjudicated in Civil Courts. The Court said,

“We must discourage and stall any attempt to convert civil disputes into criminal cases to put pressure on the other side.”

Gupta, J wrote a separate concurring verdict where he highlighted that the Code of Criminal Procedure itself the Legislature has in various provisions specifically used the words ‘movable’ and ‘immovable’ property as opposed to the words ‘any property’ under in Section 102, hence, the phrase ‘any property’ in Section 102 will only cover moveable property and not immovable property.

[Nevada Properties Pvt. Ltd. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1247, decided on 24.09.2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: A Division Bench of Sandeep Mehta and Abhay Chaturvedi, JJ. accepted a writ petition for parole and directed the convict-petitioner for parole of twenty days.

In the present case, the convict petitioner was serving life imprisonment term at the Open Air Camp at Bikaner wherein his first parole writ petition was accepted and was granted the same by the present Court vide order dated 14-02-2019. However, due to financial constraints, owing to poor family condition, the convict could not avail the facility of parole as there was no person who could be entrusted as a surety for the same.

Additional Advocate General representing the State, Farzand Ali, submitted a family status report of the convict which did not indicate that any of the family members has any immovable property in their name.

The High Court upon perusal of pieces of evidence, facts and circumstances placed on record, accepted the writ petition and directed the convict-petitioner to be released on first parole for twenty days.[Sonu v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 1404, decided on 10-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: S.K. Awasthi, J.  dismissed the petition on the ground that trial court and not Special Court are competent to take cognizance when offences were made under the Penal Code, 1860.

A petition was made under Section 397 read with Section 401 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 against the order passed by Additional Sessions Judge.

Facts of the case were that Mukesh and Radheyshyam Mandwani and applicant Sunil were the directors of the company, having an immovable property at Indore. The applicant tried to grab the property without calling any meeting of the company and had also forged the resignation of the complainant and indicted his real brother as director of the company. An FIR was lodged against the applicant for offences under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the Penal Code, 1860 and charge sheet was filed. A discharge application on the ground that the trial court was not competent to take the cognizance and Special Court should take the cognizance was rejected by the trial court. Hence, the revision petition was made.

Vijay Asudani, counsel for the applicant argued that a special court can try offence other than offence under the provisions of Companies Act with which the accused may under the CrPC be charged. It was further submitted that the trial court failed to appreciate that the Complainant was the ex-director and shareholder of the company and the fact that the non calling of the meeting, preparation of forged resignation are offences under the Companies Act, 2013 and thus only special court were competent to take cognizance of the offence and thus impugned order should be set aside and applicant should be discharged from the charges made under the Penal Code.

Counsel for the complainant submitted that in order to gain the control over assets of the company and to deceive, betray and cheat the complainant made the complaint under the Penal Code. It was further submitted that the jurisdiction of the Special Court is limited to the offences punishable under the Companies Act, 2013 and not under the Penal Code or any offences committed under any other law. Thus, prayed for the dismissal of the revision petition.

The Court opined that provision of Section 436 (2) of the Companies Act, 2013 also provide that while trying an offence under the Companies Act, a Special Court may also try an offence other than an offence under this Act with which the accused may, under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 be charged at the same trial. In this case, the police registered the offence punishable under the Penal Code and not under Companies Act, 2013. It was held that no criminal trial has been initiated against the applicants for any of the offence which is punishable under the provision of Companies Act, therefore, in absence of any offence punishable under the Companies Act, Special Court is not having jurisdiction to try the case which is punishable under the Penal Code and court of Indore has territorial jurisdiction to try the case for the commission of offence punishable under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of IPC. Thus, the revision petition was dismissed. [Sunil Mandwani v. State of M.P., 2019 SCC OnLine MP 1248, decided on 27-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: A Single Judge Bench of Sanjeev Kumar, J., dismissed this writ petition, claiming relief by private parties, in respect to the possession and title of the immovable property.

The facts of the case were that the petitioner had a dispute over possession with the respondents, her stepsons, with regard to some property.  She approached the Tehsildar Khansahib for redressal and the matter reached to the Dy. Commissioner. The Dy. Commissioner ordered in her favor but the respondents did not oblige to this order. The petitioner thus approached this court to seek relief.

The Court reiterated the settled law and relied on the Supreme Court decision in Roshina T v. Abdul Azeez K.T.,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2654, where the Court cautioned against the entertainment of the writ petitions involving adjudication of disputed questions of facts relating to possession and title of immovable property between the private parties.

Thus, the writ petition was dismissed. [Khati v. State of J&K,2018 SCC OnLine J&K 979, decided on 14-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of G. Narendar, J. hearing a civil writ petition set aside the order of revenue authority passed after 30 years, ruling that the said power was exercised after a lapse of a long time and hence was unreasonable.

The present matter pertained to mutation of revenue entries for a property by revenue authorities, suit in relation to which was pending in the court of Civil Judge, Nelamangala. Despite pendency of the suit in a lower court, the Assistant Commissioner, Bangalore rural district directed mutation of names of respondents 4 to 10 in the revenue records pursuant to registration of sale deed in 1977. The said order was confirmed by Deputy Commissioner, Bangalore district. The instant petition was filed for quashing of the order of Deputy Commissioner.

The Court noted that admittedly, the suit pending in lower court was instituted prior to the passing of orders by the Assistant Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner. Relying on its judgment in S. Shivanna v. Tehsildar, Bangalore North Taluk, 2005 SCC OnLine Kar 604 the  High Court allowed the petition holding that the impugned orders were vitiated on the ground that the said power had been exercised after an extraordinary and unexplained delay of around 30 years.

Further, revenue courts ought not to adjudicate rights with regard to the immovable property once the dispute is seized of by a civil court. The impugned order of revenue authorities was set aside and they were directed to enter details of pending suit in the records which would be deleted after disposal of the suit. [Prakash v. Dy. Commr. Bangalore Rural District,2018 SCC OnLine Kar 2282, decided on 15-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Biswajit Basu, J. dismissed a civil revision pertaining to grant of relief under Section 6 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963.

The suit under the said section was filed by the petitioner alleging that he was the tenant in the suit property. That he was dispossessed from the same without his consent and without due process of law. The suit was filed for the relief of reclaiming the possession. The trial court, vide the order impugned, dismissed the suit of the petitioner herein. Aggrieved thereby, the instant revision was filed.

The High Court perused the record. It was observed that Section 6 provides a special and speedy remedy for a particular kind of grievance to place back in possession a person who had been evicted from the immovable property of which he had been in a possession, otherwise than by process of law. Therefore, possession of the plaintiff over the immovable property on the date of dispossession is the condition precedent to invoke jurisdiction of Section 6. Investigation into the title favouring such possession is irrelevant in the proceeding of such nature. In the facts of the present case, it was clear that the petitioner was not in possession of the suit property on the date on which the unlawful dispossession was alleged. Therefore, the Court held that no interference was called for in the order impugned passed by the trial court. The revision petition was accordingly dismissed. [Ramesh Chand Koiri v. Chandan Koiri,2018 SCC OnLine Cal 6471, dated 19-09-2018]