Op EdsOP. ED.

Introduction

The Prevention of Money-Laundering Act, 2002[1] (PMLA) is a pro-active legislation keen on curbing money-laundering and bringing violators to justice. Such a legislation is definitely the need of the hour considering the number of scams this country has seen in its past and a strong law securing the 4 walls of justice for offenders is welcomed by the people at large. However, off-late, criminal law practitioners (defense lawyers) have found it challenging to deal with PMLA for the fact that the 4 ends securing the 4 walls of ‘presumed’ justice is far too airtight even for genuine non-offenders to escape its clutches, if caught by sheer happenstance. This article deals with one such scenario.

PMLA punishes an individual for the offence of money-laundering under Sections 3 and 4 which read as follows:

3. Offence of money-laundering.— Whosoever directly or indirectly attempts to indulge or knowingly assists or knowingly is a party or is actually involved in any process or activity connected with the [proceeds of crime including its concealment, possession, acquisition or use and projecting or claiming] it as untainted property shall be guilty of offence of money-laundering. 

[Explanation. – For the removal of doubts, it is hereby clarified that,

(i) a person shall be guilty of offence of money-laundering if such person is found to have directly or indirectly attempted to indulge or knowingly assisted or knowingly is a party or is actually involved in one or more of the following processes or activities connected with proceeds of crime, namely,

(a) concealment; or

(b) possession; or

(c) acquisition; or

(d) use; or

(e) projecting as untainted property; or

(f) claiming as untainted property, in any manner whatsoever;

 (ii) the process or activity connected with proceeds of crime is a continuing activity and continues till such time a person is directly or indirectly enjoying the proceeds of crime by its concealment or possession or acquisition or use or projecting it as untainted property or claiming it as untainted property in any manner whatsoever].

  1. Punishment for money-laundering.— Whoever commits the offence of money-laundering shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine:

Provided that where the proceeds of crime involved in money-laundering relates to any offence specified under paragraph 2 of Part A of the Schedule, the provisions of this section shall have effect as if for the words which may extend to seven years, the words which may extend to ten years had been substituted.

On a bare reading of these two provisions, any money that is construed to be ‘proceeds of crime’ is liable to be punished under PMLA. ‘Proceeds of crime’ is defined under Section 2(1)(u) as any property derived or obtained, directly or indirectly, by any person as a result of criminal activity relating to a scheduled offence[2]. It is my contention that an offence under the PMLA cannot be a stand-alone offence, as an offence is required to be committed (under the Schedule) for the monies/properties to be deemed ‘proceeds of crime’. Without commission of a crime, there exists no proceeds from crime.

The Karnataka High Court in K. Sowbaghya v. Union of India[3] has observed that:

having regard to the meaning attributed to ‘proceeds of crime’ under PMLA, whereby crime contemplated is the alleged scheduled offence, the ‘proceeds of crime’ contemplated under Sections 3 and 4 are clearly and inextricably linked to the scheduled offence and it is not possible to envision an offence under PMLA as a stand-alone offence without the guilt of the offender in the scheduled offence being established.

Therefore, on a logical reasoning of the said proposition, only if an offence under the Schedule to PMLA is committed, then the question of proceeds of crime arises.

Coming to the thesis or central question for discussion in this article, there are various offences under various statutes that have been adduced as scheduled offences under the PMLA, and for the major part of the Schedule, I have no quarrel with the intention of the legislature. For example, an offence under Section 25 of the Arms Act (which is a scheduled offence under the PMLA) punishes the individual who possesses or sells unlicensed arms and ammunition. The PMLA, rightly so, punishes the individual for the proceeds he/she has made or property acquired through such possession or sale. Taking another example, certain offences under the Penal Code, 1860 such as Sections 364-A (kidnapping for ransom), 384 to 389 (extortion), 392 to 402 (robbery and dacoity) etc are also scheduled offences under the PMLA. Similar to the previous example, IPC punishes the accused for the offences of kidnapping, extortion or robbery/dacoity whereas the PMLA punishes the accused for the money made or property acquired from the commission of such crimes.

The problem arises when considering offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988[4] (the PC Act), particularly Section 13. Offences under Section 13 (criminal misconduct by a public servant), also a scheduled offence under PMLA, punishes a public servant for receiving illegal gratification by using his/her public office, misappropriating property or owning/possessing property worth beyond known sources of income or illicit enrichment of wealth (general overview). Contrary to the argument that the PC Act only punishes a person for being corrupt or misusing his public office and PMLA punishes the monies made or properties acquired from such misconduct, I argue that the PC Act collectively performs the functions of the PMLA as well.

The object of PMLA is to prevent money-laundering and to provide for confiscation of property derived from money-laundering. Therefore, the function of PMLA is to seize/confiscate the properties so enjoyed by individuals who have acquired such property by commission of one or more offences which can be acted upon under the Act, apart from punishment for holding such property. The PC Act on the other hand, not only punishes an individual for being corrupt and holding tainted property, it also takes away any property/money derived from such abuse of power/criminal misconduct for the same reason that such property was acquired through illegal means.

The Supreme Court while dealing with a case under the PC Act in Yogendra Kumar Jaiswal v. State of Bihar[5] held that:

If a person acquires property by means which are not legally approved, the State would be perfectly justified to deprive such person of the enjoyment of such ill-gotten wealth. There is a public interest in ensuring that persons who cannot establish that they have legitimate sources to acquire the assets held by them, do not enjoy such wealth.  Such a deprivation would certainly be consistent with the requirement of Articles 300-A and 14 of the Constitution which prevent the State from arbitrarily depriving a person of his property.

When the PC Act inclusively curbs and confiscates “proceeds of crime”, would prosecution for the same under PMLA not amount to double jeopardy?

Provisions of the PC Act examined

An analysis of Section 13 of the PC Act will shed further light on this theory. Section 13 reads as follows:

13. Criminal Misconduct by a Public Servant. [(1) A public servant is said to commit the offence of criminal misconduct,

(a) if he dishonestly or fraudulently misappropriates or otherwise converts for his own use any property entrusted to him or any property under his control as a public servant or allows any other person so to do; or

(b) if he intentionally enriches himself illicitly during the period of his office.

Explanation 1.- A person shall be presumed to have intentionally enriched himself illicitly if he or any person on his behalf, is in possession of or has, at any time during the period of his office, been in possession of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his known sources of income which the public servant cannot satisfactorily account for.

Explanation 2.- The expression known sources of income means income received from any lawful sources.]

(2) Any public servant who commits criminal misconduct shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall be not less than [four years] but which may extend to [ten years] and shall also be liable to fine.[6]

Most cases pending or newly charged are predominantly under the provisions prior to the 2018 amendment due to the check period and hence, emphasis will also be placed on Sections 13(1)(a) to (e), as they were, prior to the amendment. However, the following explanation would be squarely applicable to Section 13 as it is subsequent to the amendment also.

Provision

(Before Amendment)

Key Word/Phrase
13(1)(a) Gratification other than legal remuneration
13(1)(b) Valuable thing
13(1)(c) Misappropriates property entrusted to him or under his control
13(1)(d) Valuable thing or pecuniary advantage
13(1)(e) Pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to known sources of income
(After amendment) Key Word/Phrase
13(1)(a) Misappropriates property entrusted to him or under his control
13(1)(b) Intentionally enriches himself illicitly

All these provisions have a key word or a phrase within which the alleged actions have to fit into for them to be charged with one of the above offences (all of which are scheduled offences under PMLA). At this point, it is also pertinent to examine the definition of ‘property’ as under Section 2(1)(v) of PMLA:

(v) “property” means any property or asset of every description, whether corporeal or incorporeal, movable or immovable, tangible or intangible and includes deeds and instruments evidencing title to, or interest in, such property or assets, wherever located;

Explanation.– For the removal of doubts, it is hereby clarified that the term “property” includes property of any kind used in the commission of an offence under this Act or any of the scheduled offences;”

A bare reading of this definition would show that all keywords/phrases for making one liable under Section 13 of the PC Act also (on interpretation) fall under the definition of Section 2(1)(v) of PMLA. Apart from jail time, the objective of Sections 3 and 4 of PMLA are to confiscate any property that is construed to be from proceeds of crime as the person holding the said property has not obtained and enjoyed them through legal means. This, in its very essence is what Section 13 is also trying to accomplish. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “pecuniary” as “of or in money”, thereby making construction of the term ‘pecuniary advantage’ to also fall under the definition of property under Section 2(1)(v) of PMLA. This comparison is only to show that cumulatively, Section 13 of the PC Act and Sections 3 and 4 of PMLA are trying to achieve the same goal and have the same objectives. Therefore, initiating action against an individual under both the provisions of law for the same offence or transaction, would amount to double jeopardy.

It is agreed as stated by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in B. Rama Raju v. Union of India[7] that punishment under Sections 3 and 4 of PMLA are distinct proceedings from Section 5 which is attachment of property and subsequent confiscation. However, in a PC Act case, the trial court (CBI Court in most jurisdictions) passes an order of attachment of tainted property or property under presumption that it is through illegal gratifications during the pendency of trial. This is where Section 5 of PMLA comes in conflict with the proceedings already pending before the trial court. Once the properties are already attached and since the PMLA also permits an order of attachment under Section 5, the Enforcement Directorate making an application to transfer all properties from CBI to ED is prima facie posing a direct threat to the investigation conducted by CBI.[8] Both the agencies are looking into the same properties for offences committed and further, only if an offence is established by CBI can it be treated as ‘proceeds of crime’ by ED.

The Supreme Court in Kanhaiyalal v. D.R. Banaji[9] had held that:

 “If a court has exercised its power to appoint a receiver of a certain property, it has done so with a view to preserving the property for the benefit of the rightful owner as judicially determined. If other courts or tribunals of coordinate or exclusive jurisdiction were to permit proceedings to go independently of the court which was placed the custody of the property in the hands of the receiver, there was a likelihood of confusion in the administration of justice and possible conflict of jurisdiction.

Even though the observations made therein were in a civil case, the same principles are to be applied to criminal cases also, as attachment of property in these matters are quasi civil in nature. If the Enforcement Directorate were to interfere with pending proceedings conducted by CBI, then there would arise a conflict of jurisdiction since both are on the basis of the same offence and properties possessed therein.

The most essential ingredient for an offence under Section 3 of PMLA is the existence of property that is deemed to be a proceed of crime and Section 13 of the PC Act, quintessentially performs the twin function by making the accused public servant liable for abusing his/her office, possessing such property as well as confiscating the said property since it is a proceed of a ‘crime’ committed by the public servant. To makes things more convincing, punishment under Section 13(2) of the PC Act is much more severe than Section 4 of PMLA, thereby justifying its twin purpose.

Double Jeopardy explained

The concept of double jeopardy has been known to mankind from time immemorial. Dating back to 355 BC in Athens, Greece, the law forbids the same man to be tried twice on the same issue. Double jeopardy or non bis in idem is a procedural defense that prevents a person from being tried again on the same or similar charges following a valid conviction or acquittal. The principle of double jeopardy in India existed prior to the drafting and enforcement of the Constitution. It was first enacted in Section 403(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1898 which is now Section 300 of the amended Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. A partial protection against double jeopardy is a Fundamental Right guaranteed under Article 20 (2) of the Constitution of India, which states “No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once”.

In Thomas Dana v. State of Punjab[10], a Constitutional Bench of 5 Judges laid down 3 requirements for double jeopardy i.e. prosecution, punishment and same offence. If these 3 are complied with, then the protection under Article 20(2) is guaranteed.

Section 300 of the Code of Criminal Procedure also protects a person from being tried again where he/she has already been tried and acquitted/convicted for the same offence. Section 26 of the General Clauses Act states that:

 “Where an act or omission constitutes an offence under two or more enactments, then the offender shall be liable to be prosecuted and punished under either or any of those enactments, but shall not be liable to be punished twice for the same offence.

This is further enumerated by the Supreme Court in Manipur Administration v. Thokchom Bira Singh[11], that for Article 20(2) and Section 26 of the General Clauses Act to act as a bar for second prosecution and its consequential punishment thereunder, it must be for the same offence that is, an offence whose ingredients are the same. Applying the principles of Section 26 of the General Clauses Act, Article 20(2) and the above decision of the  Supreme Court to the present question at hand, it can be stated that since the offence for which PMLA is invoked is essentially the same offence as under the PC Act, the above provisions will get attracted. Therefore, ingredients, occurrences and circumstances are the same for an offence under Section 13 of the PC Act and Sections 3 and 4 of PMLA (including evidence, both oral and documentary) i.e. money/properties acquired through commission of an offence, it is to be concluded that prosecution under PMLA is a second trial for the same offence when the PC Act proceedings are pending or have attained finality.

Conclusions

I have, in this article, tried to give an outline that prima facie, Section 13 of the PC Act and Sections 3 and 4 of PMLA do not harmoniously gel with each other. On the one hand, only if the primary or scheduled crime is made out can a prosecution under PMLA be maintainable (there are certain lines of thought which state, offence under PMLA is stand-alone and is not dependent on any other offence being proved/committed) and on the other hand, even on the existence of an offence under Section 13 of PC Act, the PC Act is a self-sufficient Act which punishes the accused for both abusing the position of being a public servant, as well as having acquired or being in possession of illegal gratification or property that is either misappropriated or disproportionate to known sources of income. Hence, a subsequent action under  PMLA is nothing but a violation of the constitutionally protected fundamental right against double jeopardy. In concluding remarks, it would be pertinent to note that the Schedule to PMLA is to be revisited and pros and cons are to be considered by the Courts having jurisdiction as to whether the provisions of the PC Act (not restricted to Section 13) are to be considered scheduled offences under PMLA.


*Advocate, Madras High Court

[1] Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002

[2]Indian Bank v. Government of India, 2012 SCC Online Mad 2526  

[3] 2016 SCC Online Kar 282

[4] Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988

[5](2016) 3 SCC 183

[6]Prior to the 2018 amendment, Section 13(1) reads as follows;

  1. Criminal misconduct by a public servant.—(1) A public servant is said to commit the offence of criminal misconduct,—

(a) if he habitually accepts or obtains or agrees to accept or attempts to obtain from any person for himself or for any other person any gratification other than legal remuneration as a motive or reward such as is mentioned in section 7; or

(b) if he habitually accepts or obtains or agrees to accept or attempts to obtain for himself or for any other person, any valuable thing without consideration or for a consideration which he knows to be inadequate from any person whom he knows to have been, or to be, or to be likely to be concerned in any proceeding or business transacted or about to be transacted by him, or having any connection with the official functions of himself or of any public servant to whom he is subordinate, or from any person whom he knows to be interested in or related to the person so concerned; or

(c) if he dishonestly or fraudulently misappropriates or otherwise converts for his own use any property entrusted to him or under his control as a public servant or allows any other person so to do; or

(d) if he,—

(i) by corrupt or illegal means, obtains for himself or for any other person any valuable thing

or pecuniary advantage; or

(ii) by abusing his position as a public servant, obtains for himself or for any other person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage; or

(iii) while holding office as a public servant, obtains for any person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage without any public interest; or

(e) if he or any person on his behalf, is in possession or has, at any time during the period of his office, been in possession for which the public servant cannot satisfactorily account, of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Explanation.—For the purposes of this section, “known sources of income” means income received from any lawful source and such receipt has been intimated in accordance with the provisions of any law, rules or orders for the time being applicable to a public servant.

[7] 2011 SCC OnLine AP 152

[8] I take this stand being fully aware of the fact that Section 18-A of the PC Act, pursuant to the 2018 amendment, has paved way and given priority to provisions of PMLA (with respect to attachment) over the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 1944 under provisions of which attachment and confiscation are usually made under the PC Act. This bereft of the fact that if attachment in PMLA takes precedence over the PC Act, then the whole idea of establishing proceeds of crime would become null as the procedure for trial are different under both Acts and trial under PMLA is much more accelerated due to its narrow scope for the offence of proceeds of crime.

[9] 1959 SCR 333

[10] 1959 Supp (1) SCR 274

[11] (1964) 7 SCR 123 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Saurabh Shyam Shamshery, J., while addressing a criminal appeal observed that “Conviction for “Dacoity” of less than five persons is not sustainable in the absence of finding that five or more persons were involved in the crime”. 

Three appellants filed the criminal appeal under Section 374 of the Criminal Procedure Code against the judgment and order dated 11-03-1983, wherein appellants Balbir and Lalaram were convicted under Section 395 of Penal Code, 1860 and Mohar Pal under Sections 395 read with 397 IPC.

Trial Court held that the appellants committed dacoity in the house of Raj Kumar.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Section 395 IPC | Punishment for Dacoity:

Whoever commits dacoity shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Section 397 | Robbery, or dacoity, with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt:

If, at the time of committing robbery or dacoity, the offender uses any deadly weapon, or causes grievous hurt to any person, or attempts to cause death or grievous hurt to any person, the imprisonment with which such offender shall be punished shall not be less than seven years.

“Dacoity” is defined in Section 391 IPC, which is reproduced as under:

“391. Dacoity.–When five or more persons conjointly commit or attempt to commit a robbery, or where the whole number of persons conjointly committing or attempting to commit a robbery, and persons present and aiding such commission or attempt, amount to five or more, every person so committing, attempting or aiding, is said to commit “dacoity”.

Supreme Court in the decision of Raj Kumar  v. State of Uttaranchal (Now Uttarakhand): (2008) 11 SCC 709, held that 

“…conviction of an offence of robbery, there must be five or more persons. In absence of such finding, an accused cannot be convicted for an offence of dacoity.”

“In a given case, however, it may happen that there may be five or more persons and the factum of five or more persons is either not disputed or is clearly established, but the court may not be able to record a finding as to the identity of all the persons said to have committed dacoity and may not be able to convict them and order their acquittal observing that their identity is not established. In such case, conviction of less than five persons–or even one–can stand. But in absence of such finding, less than five persons cannot be convicted for an offence of dacoity.”

Hence, in view of the above decisions, Court stated it clear that in case there is a conviction of less than five persons under Sections 395/397 IPC, trial court must arrive at a finding that there was the involvement of five or more persons.

In absence of the above-stated finding, no conviction could be made out under the aforestated Sections.

Prosecution completely failed in the present case, either to prove the participation of five or more persons in the commission of the offence or establish their identity.

Hence, Court held that the appellant’s conviction and the sentence are repugnant to the letter and spirit of Sections 391 and 396 IPC, therefore it cannot be sustained and trial court’s decision was set aside in the view of the said reasoning.[Balbir v. State of U.P., 2020 SCC OnLine All 845, decided on 09-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Vinay Joshi, J., altered the conviction for rape and penetrative sexual assault to an act of aggravated form of sexual assault punishable under Section 10 of the POCSO Act in light of touching the breast of the child.

Appellant aged 67 years was convicted under Sections 376 and 450 of the Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 4 and 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO).

Accused was acquitted from the charge of committing offence punishable under Section 377 IPC.  Accused challenged the conviction in the instant appeal.

Informant was residing along with his family members, including his daughter/victim girl aged 8 years. Two sons of the informant had been to their school and the minor victim was alone at the house as she was ill. In the afternoon the informant returned to his house for lunch and found that the house was locked from within, therefore, he peeped from the window and saw that appellant by lifting frock of the victim was moving his hand on her neck, cheek and chest.

Later, the informant shouted to open the door and hurriedly left the place. Victim disclosed that the accused moved his hand on her body, kissed her as well as put his finger in his anal part.

In regard to the above reference, informant lodged a report against the said incident.

Special Judge framed charge under relevant provisions of IPC and POCSO Act further on the appreciation of evidence held that the prosecution succeeded in proving the offence punishable under Sections 376 and 450 IPC, Sections 4 and 6 of the POCSO Act.

The prosecution case, in short, is about rape and aggravated penetrative sexual assault by the accused on a minor victim aged 8 years.

Analysis and Decision

Bench stated that the act of accused of touching the breast of the victim with sexual intent amounts to an aggravated form of sexual assault, which is punishable under Section 10 of the POCSO Act.

Since the medical evidence nowhere supported that there was insertion or penetration of finger into the anal region, it is doubtful whether the accused penetrated his finger into the anal region of the victim.

If two view emerges from the situation, the view favourable to the accused would take precedence. On mere assumption or possibility, the accused cannot be convicted.

 All the sexual assaults on children below 12 years amount to an aggravated form of sexual assault.

With regard to the age of the accused, which is near about 70 years, the imprisonment of 5 years would meet the ends of justice. From the set of circumstances laid down, it is clear that the house-trespass was merely in order to commit an offence punishable with imprisonment, which is punishable under Section 451 of the Penal Code, 1860.

In view of the above, criminal appeal as partly allowed.

Conviction under Section 376 of IPC and Sections 4 and 6 of the POCSO Act, is hereby quashed and set aside, instead the accused was convicted for the offence punishable under Section 10 of the POCSO Act and.

Further, instead of conviction under Section 450 IPC, the appellant is convicted for the offence punishable under Section 451 of the IPC.

Hence appellant will be entitled to set off under Section 428 of the CrPC. [Tukaram Ashruji Khandare v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 2802, decided on 22-10-2020]


Advocate for the appellant, R.V. Gahilot and H.R. Dhumale, A.P.P. for the respondent.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: Narayan Singh Dhanik, J., allowed a Criminal Jail Appeal which was filed from the jail against the judgment whereby the appellant had been convicted for the offences under Section 376/511 Penal Code, 1860 and Section 6 of the POCSO Act and was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for ten years and to pay a fine of Rs 25,000 for the offence under Section 6 of the POCSO Act.

The complainant had filed an FIR against the appellant alleging that he had attempted to commit rape on the two and half year’s old daughter of the complainant and had committed sexual assault on her. He further alleged that when he went looking for his daughter along with a companion he found the appellant while he was indulged in committing the alleged offence and took him to the police station. On conclusion of the trial, appellant was convicted and sentenced. Thus, the instant appeal was filed by the Amicus Curiae, Raman Kumar Sah on behalf of the appellant submitting that the prosecution had failed to prove the case against the appellant. He further contended that the victim had not identified the appellant nor the victim in her testimony had named the appellant and that the facts elicited during the cross-examination of the complainant and the companion along with him were totally contrary to the prosecution story. It was further contended that the mother of the victim did not support the prosecution story and was declared hostile. Per contra, the AGA for the State, Manisha Rana Singh submitted that prosecution had produced sufficient and credible evidence and the trial court had rightly convicted and sentenced the appellant.

The Court while allowing the appeal set aside the judgment and order of the Trial Court. The Court assessed the medical examination report of the victim which disclosed that the urethral meatus & vestibule, labia major and labia minor of the victim were found normal and no tear or swelling in the private parts was found and Hymen perineum of the victim was also found intact but the doctor had further stated that a little redness was present in the outer surface of the hymen of the victim and the presence of dried blood stains was also detected on her private parts and these conditions led to opine her that the attempt of sexual intercourse with the victim was made. It accepted all the contentions given by the Amicus Curiae and opined that the opinion of the doctor alone was not enough to connect the accused-appellant with the alleged crime in view of the material on record and in the absence of any credible evidence. The Court while quashing the conviction and sentence stated that,

            “In criminal cases, conviction cannot be based upon morality and there must be admissible and credible evidence to base conviction and moreover it is well-settled canon of criminal jurisprudence that ‘fouler the crime higher the proof’ and mandate of law is that the prosecution has to prove the charges beyond all reasonable doubt. A few bits here and a few bits thereon which prosecution relies cannot be held to be adequate or connecting the accused with the crime in question.”[Akash Kumar v. State of Uttarakhand, 2020 SCC OnLine Utt 562, decided on 28-09-2020]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Bharati Dangre, J., while addressing a petition with regard to the rape of a minor girl, made an observation that:

“Rape” is just not a forcible intercourse, it means to inhabit and destroy everything.

A minor victim girl registered a complaint based on which offences for Sections 376, 354-D, 506 of Penal Code, 1860 were invoked against the applicant.

Since the complaint was registered by a minor, provisions of Sections 3, 4, 11 and 12 of the Protection of Children from the Sexual Offences Act, 2012 were also invoked.

Victim who was acquainted with the applicant who was a business partner of the victim’s father.

She alleged that from the month of October, 2019, the applicant started texting her on her Whatsapp and expressed his liking towards her and also sought sexual favours from her, which was turned down by the victim girl.

Applicant sent a message to the victim stating that he wanted to discuss an important family matter with her and asked her to meet the next day. Next day, when she was waiting for a bus to arrive the applicant approached her on a two-wheeler and she was asked to accompany him.

She was then taken to a nearby farmhouse and by making an emotional appeal and threatening that she if did not agree, he will commit suicide, she was forced to commit sexual intercourse with him. She was also threatened that she should not disclose the incident to her parents and if she does so, it would adversely affect the partnership business.

Again after the above incident, the applicant forced the victim in a similar manner and indulged with her physically.

After a few days of the second incident, the victim disclosed it to her parents and after due deliberation, the report was lodged.

Bench on perusal of the above stated that it is not very unlikely that a young girl aged 17 years became disquieted after the act of ravage and did not gather the courage to speak to her parents about the said incident.

The victim girl was also conscious of the fact that the applicant was a business partner of her father.

The whole episode of the applicant indulging with a minor girl, a daughter of his business partner itself speak of his intention.

FIDUCIARY RELATIONSHIP

Court further observed that the applicant took advantage of the fiduciary relationship, which he shared with the victim girl and put her in a vulnerable situation.

CONSENT

Assuming but not accepting that the victim girl consented for maintaining the physical relationship, her consent is not free consent.

Further, adding to the above, penal code does not recognise the consent by a minor girl to be consent in the eyes of law and in the present case, in the backdrop of narration by the victim, her consent can naturally be said to be induced by a fiduciary relationship which she shared and on that count also, it is not free consent.

“Offence of rape as defined in Section 375 of the IPC, made punishable under Section 376, is attracted when a man commits an act of rape without the consent of the girl or when such consent is obtained by putting her in fear of death or of hurt. The hurt may be physical or mental.”

The consent of the victim girl under 18 years of age is also of no legal consequences when it comes to an offence of rape punishable under Section 376 IPC.

In view of the above observations, High Court did not release the applicant on bail and rejected the bail application. [Amit Raosao Patil v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 917, decided on 09-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: While deliberating over a matter concerning quashing of a non-bailable order issued by a subordinate court, Rahul Chaturvedi, J., issued directions for speedy completion of the trial and set a timeline for disposal of bail application in the present matter.

The applicant has prayed for the quashing of the impugned order dated 04-12-2019 and 29-01-2020 passed by the subordinate court of Addl. Civil Judge, Meerut in connection with the FIR registered for offences committed under Sections 457, 380 and 311 of the Penal Code, 1860. Counsel for the applicant, Sanjay Kr. Srivastava has contended that the applicant had obtained bail earlier but post the submission of charge-sheet, the applicant remained oblivious to the same. Consequently, a non-bailable warrant has been issued against the applicant via the aforementioned orders. Further, the applicant has expressed his willingness to appear before the Court.

The Court after perusal of the facts, circumstances and the arguments advanced observed that considering what has transpired in the present matter, it would only be appropriate for the subordinate court to extend the benefit of interim bail if it deems fit in accordance with the merits. As it is a well-settled position in law, if the applicant surrenders within 45 (forty-five) days before the court and subsequently if his bail application is filed then the same would be adjudicated and decided by the court with a speaking and reasoned order. The Court relied heavily on the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Hussain v. Union of India, (2017) 5 SCC 702, the relevant paragraphs of which have been quoted below for reference-

“Judicial service as well as legal service are not like any other services. They are missions for serving the society. The mission is not achieved if the litigant who is waiting in the queue does not get his turn for a long time”……. “Decision of cases of under-trials in custody is one of the priority areas. There are obstructions at every level in enforcement of right of speedy trial; vested interests or unscrupulous elements try to delay the proceedings”……. “In spite of all odds, determined efforts are required at every level for success of the mission”….. “The Presiding Officer of a court cannot rest in a state of helplessness. This is the constitutional responsibility of the State to provide necessary infrastructure and of the High Courts to monitor the functioning of subordinate courts to ensure timely disposal of cases.”

 In light of the above, the Court has issued the following instructions in the present matter-

(i) Bail applications be disposed of normally within one week,

(ii) Magisterial trials, where accused are in custody, be normally concluded within six months and sessions trials where accused are in custody be normally concluded within two years.

The Court also directed that no coercive action be taken against the applicant for a period of 45 days starting from the date of this order. Considering Supreme Court’s judgment in the case of Brahm Singh v. State of U.P., (1972) 3 SCC 388, the Court ruled that the concerned subordinate court(s) has to necessarily abide by the guidelines laid down in the aforementioned cases of Brahm Singh and Hussain.

With the following instructions, the present application has been disposed of by the Court.[Bittu v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2020 SCC OnLine All 975, decided on 01-09-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that a 13-year-old girl belonging to Scheduled Caste was gang-raped and killed when she had gone to relieve herself on the farmland owned by one of the accused on 15-08-2020. Reportedly the victim was tortured before strangled to death. It is mentioned in the news report that there is a toilet in the victim’s house but it’s not functional.

The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and DGP, Government of Uttar Pradesh calling for detailed reports in the matter within 06 weeks including disbursement of the statutory relief as per rules framed under provisions of the SC/ST (POA) Act to the family of the victim, action taken against the guilty and the status of the FIRs registered in the matter. The Chief Secretary is also expected to sensitize the district authorities in the State to create awareness that the toilets should not be constructed for mere fulfillment of the government records, they are to be actually made functional.

The Commission found it appropriate to forward a copy of the news item to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Jal Shakti, which is the Nodal Ministry for the ‘Swachchh Bharat Abhiyan.’ It is expected from the Ministry to issue guidelines to all the States and Union Territories to ensure that the toilets are not only constructed but also used to make the country clean and save the women from the heinous crimes committed by anti-social elements when they go out to relieve themselves. He is also expected to respond within 6 weeks.

According to the media reports, both the accused have been arrested by the police. The Senior Superintendent of Police, Kheri has reportedly stated that the FIR has been registered under relevant sections of IPC and POCSO Act. He has further added that the National Security Act will be slapped against the accused who were arrested by the police within few hours after the incident.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 17-08-2020]

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Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. modified the order of sentence imposed on petitioner and directed that the sentences shall run concurrently and not consecutively.

Petitioner was alleged to have snatched a chain from a lade and threatening her with a weapon while fleeing. He was convicted under Section 382 read with Section 34 IPC and sentences to undergo 4 years rigorous imprisonment. He was also convicted under Section 25(1-B)(a) of the Arms Act and sentenced to undergo 1-year rigorous imprisonment. By the order on sentence, trial court directed both sentences to run one after the other, i.e. consecutively. This order was challenged in the present petition.

Archit Upadhyay, Advocate for the petitioner contended that the impugned order was erroneous and contrary to the settled position of law. He relied on Manoj v. State of Haryana, (2014) 2 SCC 153, wherein the Supreme Court interpreted Section 31 CrPC which relates ‘sentences in cases of conviction of several offences at one trial.’

The High Court noted that the offences committed by petitioner were part of the same transaction. The Court discussed the Manoj case while referring to Nagaraja Rao v. CBI, (2015) 4 SCC 302V.K. Bansal v. State of Haryana, (2013)  7 SCC 211Sharad Hiru Kolambe v. State of Maharashtra, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1581. It was observed by the High Court that “if the accused convicted of separate offences under IPC as also the Arms Act but they are part of the same transactions, the sentences shall run concurrently and not consecutively.” As such, the impugned order of the sentence was modified to run concurrently. Furthermore, it was found that the petitioner had already undergone the substantive sentence and was therefore directed to be released forthwith. [Irfan v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 6908, decided on 05-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Narayan Singh Dhanik, J. partly allowed a petition as a prima facie case was made out against the accused.

The applicant has prayed for quashing the Criminal Case filed under Sections 147, 148, 149, 452, 504, 323, 427 IPC and one under Section 3(1)x of the SC/ST Act.

The respondent through his counsel Pratiropp Pandey has filed an FIR by alleging that the applicant armed with a sword, pistol and lathi entered into his house and hurled abuses and caste indicating words “Neech” and “Chamar” and also assaulted him as well as his brother along with looting articles from his house. The applicant through his counsel Amit Kapri has contended that the provisions of the SC/ST Act were not attracted in this case as the FIR nowhere states that that the applicant does not belong Scheduled Caste or the Scheduled Tribe and that they intentionally insulted or intimidated the complainant and his brother with intent to humiliate them in a place within public view.

The Court here was of the view that the basic element needed to prosecute the applicant was missing here and thus the offence under the SC/ST Act cannot be sustained nonetheless the rest of the claim stood allowed.[Mahendra Bhatt v. State of Uttarakhand,2018 SCC OnLine Utt 1022, decided on 14-12-2018]

Hot Off The PressNews

As reported by media, a PIL has been filed in the Delhi High Court seeking regulation of content on online platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, etc.

The PIL has been filed by an NGO named Justice for Rights Foundation for the purpose of removal of the content which is “uncertified, sexually explicit and vulgar” from the above-stated platforms as the content being streamed is in violation of the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Information Technology Act.

Further, it has been stated by the petitioners that these online platforms offered vulgar, sexually explicit, pornographic, profane, virulent, religiously forbidden and morally unethical contents to attract more subscribers and generate profit.

The matter is listed for 14-11-2018.

[Source: The Pioneer]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: A.M. Sapre, J. speaking for himself and Uday U. Lalit, J. allowed an appeal filed by the State of U.P. against the judgment of a Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court whereby the  appellant’s application under Section 378(3) CrPC was rejected and the judgment of Additional Sessions Judge acquitting the accused (respondents herein) was affirmed.

The respondents were prosecuted and tried for commission of offences punishable under Sections 363, 366, 376 and 120-B IPC. The Additional Sessions Judge, on appreciating the evidence adduced by the prosecution, acquitted the respondents of all the charges. Aggrieved by the acquittal, the appellant filed an application for leave to appeal under Section 378(3) before the High Court which was rejected vide the order impugned. Against this order of the High Court, the appellant preferred the instant appeal.

The Supreme Court referred to State of Maharashtra v. Sujay Mangesh Poyarekar (2008) 9 SCC 475 for looking at the parameters to be kept in mind by the High Court while deciding an application for leave to appeal. The Court perused the order impugned and felt constrained to observe that the High Court grossly erred in passing the same without assigning any reason. It was a clear case of non-application of mind, held the Supreme Court. The order impugned neither sets out the facts nor the submissions of the parties nor the findings nor the reasons as to why the leave to appeal was declined. In such circumstances, the order impugned was set aside and the matter was remanded back to the High Court for deciding the application afresh. The appeal was, thus, allowed. [State of U.P. v. Anil Kumar,2018 SCC OnLine SC 1223, dated 29-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of B.R. Gavai and Sarang V. Kotwal JJ., addressed a Criminal Appeal by setting aside the order of conviction and sentence in view of considering the matter in the purview of ‘benefit of doubt’.

In the present matter, the Appellant was convicted under Sections 376 (f) and 302 IPC for committing the rape of a 6-year-old child and murder thereafter. In accordance to the FIR lodged by the victim’s father. The appellant was found to be sleeping beside the deceased. The deceased was found with blood and injuries to her private parts.

While noting the facts of the case, the High Court found that the post-mortem report states the final cause of death as ‘death due to shock due to vaginal and anal tear with multiple injuries over body’. Also, the fact to be noted that was found on during the medical examination of the Appellant was that he had no injuries on his person with no blood or semen on any of the clothing of the appellant. There was no evidence of semen or vaginal fluid been taken off by washing from the private parts of the appellant.

Therefore, the case of prosecution lied only in the arena of ‘suspicion’ and the chain of circumstances against the appellant seemed to be incomplete, which awarded the appellant ‘benefit of doubt’ by acquitting the appellant in the present matter. [Sandip Ramesh Gaikwad v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 2067, dated 06-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Ravi Krishan Kapur and Joymalya Bagchi JJ., issued directions in a case involving commercial sexual exploitation of women and children that are to be followed as a standard operating procedure in the investigation and prosecution of such crimes.

The present case deals with the application for cancellation of bail for the offences under Sections 363/366/370/370 A/373/120 B/34 IPC, r/w Sections 3/4/5/6/7/9 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, Sections 4/6/17 of the POCSO Act and Section 81 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. It has been alleged by the petitioner that after the disclosure of the opposite-party being involved in such grave offences with evidence on record, the order of anticipatory bail granted needs to be set aside as the order indeed seems to be given without any application of mind and in absolute mechanical manner.

While noting the facts and circumstances along with the submission of parties, the Court stated that ‘We are pained by the laconic and casual manner in which the learned Judge chose to allow an application for pre-arrest bail in a case relating to the commercial sexual exploitation of underage girls by an organised crime racket’.

Therefore, the High Court giving due weightage to the fact that menace of trafficking of women and minors have been observed in alarming proportions and the lackadaisical manner in which these cases are investigated, the following directions need to be adhered to:

  • FIR registered under I.T (P) Act or under Section 370/372/373 IPC or the provisions of the POCSO Act, needs to be investigated by specialized agency like Anti-Human Trafficking Unit.
  • FIR’s as stated in the above cases must be transferred within 24 hours to the specialized agency.
  • State Government to set up Anti-human Trafficking units in every district manned by police personnel, not below the rank of inspector, preferably women.
  • Section 164 CrPC: Statements of victims recovered under raid or any such circumstance to be recorded under the said Section.
  • Medical Assistance to victims under Section 357 CrPC.
  • Compensation under ‘Victim Compensation Scheme’ to be granted
  • Jurisdictional Magistrates/Special Courts shall seek reports from the investigating agency as well as Secretary, District Legal Services Authority.
  • Trial Court shall provide appropriate protection to the victims and its family members.
  • Depositions to be recorded within a month from the commencement of trial.

The High Court disposed of the application for cancellation of bail in accordance to the issued directions. [State of W.B v. Sangita Sahu, 2018 SCC OnLine Cal 4853, order dated 05-07-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Every attempt should be made by all the courts not to disclose the identity of the rape victim in terms of Section 228-A IPC

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Abhay Manohar Sapre and Uday Umesh Lalit JJ. while addressing the petition of a convict under Sections 376 and Section 342 IPC and affirming the sentence granted to him by the High Court, took notice of a very essential point of concern, that the name of the ‘rape’ victim has been stated in both the judgments of the Trial Court as well as that of the High Court.

The present order dealt with, the appeal of a rape convict under Sections 376 and 342 IPC with a sentence of 7 and 1 year respectively. The Supreme Court found no merits in intervening with the High Court’s conviction and sentence, therefore, the appeal was dismissed.

The point to be addressed was that of victim’s name being mentioned in the judgments of the Trial Court and High Court, which was inconsistent with Section 228-A of IPC. The Supreme Court while stating that the courts should make every attempt in not disclosing the identity of the victim, relied on the case State of Punjab v. Ramdev Singh (2004) 1 SCC 421.

Therefore, while dismissing the present appeal, the bench focussed on the point regarding the mentioning of rape victim’s name and further directed the Registry of the High Court to place the record of the appeal in the High Court for making appropriate changes in the record and passing of appropriate directions so that the trial courts comply and understand the essence of Section 228-A IPC. [Lalit Yadav v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 680, order dated 05-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of B.R. Gavai and Sarang V. Kotwal, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed against the judgment passed by the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted under Section 302 IPC.

The allegation against the convict was that he had murdered his wife. On a fateful day, the appellant himself came to the Police Station and informed about the death of the deceased. The investigation was completed and charge-sheet was filed. The Sessions Judge framed the charge against the appellant under Section 302 to which he pleaded not guilty. The appellant was tried and convicted under the said section. The appellant challenged the decision of Sessions Judge while submitting that the deceased had committed suicide.

The High Court perused the material available on record including the post-mortem report and evidence of the medical expert. It was noted that motive behind the commission of the crime could be gathered from the FIR; the deceased was not doing the work as told by the appellant, they had a regular quarrel, and the appellant was angry with her. The Court was of the view that the nature of injuries and the deposition of the medical expert proved beyond reasonable doubt that the death was homicidal. Death of the deceased occurred in suspicious circumstances. The appellant gave an explanation that the deceased committed suicide, which was wholly falsified by the medical evidence. Relying on the Supreme Court decision in Sharad Birdichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra, (1984) 4 SCC 116: 1984 SCC (Cri) 487, the High Court held that a non-explanation or a false explanation given by the accused can be used to fortify the finding of guilt already recorded; the false explanation by the appellant was an additional circumstance in fortifying his guilt.  Thus, the appeal was dismissed. [Nazim Rashid Tamboli v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 1423, dated 28-06-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: The Division Bench comprising of Rakesh Kumar & Arvind Srivastava JJ., while setting aside the order of death sentence, held that the appellant was not provided with the appropriate legal aid which he was entitled to.

According to the brief facts of the case, the appellant was convicted under Section 302 of IPC for the offence of murder of two children. For the stated offence he was convicted by relying on the 5 witnesses out of the 16 mentioned witnesses. It has been stated that the cross-examination of all the witnesses could not be held due to appellant’s financial condition being poor and not being able to afford legal assistance in that regard.

The Hon’ble High Court, observes that the trial court should have taken steps for providing legal aid at the expense of the government as the case of appellant went weak due to the failure of cross-examination of all the witnesses and thereby  Section 304 of CrPC has also not been complied in that regard. The court also observed that the primary witnesses were not examined by the prosecution which compels it to set aside the decision of the trial court and requires the High Court to remit back the matter.

The trial court has also been directed to take up the matter twice a week without any unnecessary delay as it holds a grave issue of the murder of two children, only then a logical end to this case would be attained. [State of Bihar v. Ram Prit Mandal,2018 SCC OnLine Pat 1080, order decided on  04-04-2018]

 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Hitesh Kumar Sarma, J., convicted the accused-appellant under Section 376(1) of the IPC, and made a correction by removing Section 8 of the POCSO Act as it was discovered by this Court that the victim was a major when the act of rape was committed upon the victim.

The brief facts of the case are that the accused/appellant had committed the offence of rape for which he was convicted by the learned Special Judge under Section 376 of the IPC combined with Section 8 of the POCSO Act. For the stated fact, an FIR was lodged and on receipt of the FIR, a case was registered under Section 376 of the IPC read with Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. The learned Sessions Judge framed the charges against accused-appellant under Section 376 and 511 of the IPC as well as Section 8 of the POCSO Act.

The fact that the accused-appellant had committed the offence of rape on the victim who was intellectually disabled was allegedly proved from the fact that when he was asked to appear for a village meeting in which on being asked about the incident, he kept mum and therefore he was sent to jail.

However, on perusal of the records, the High Court stated that if any meeting of such manner as mentioned above was even held, the extra-judicial statements that were recorded at the meeting were all without strong corroboration and cannot be relied upon.

Therefore, the Hon’ble High Court on noting the fact that the victim was a major when the incident happened, acquitted the accused of the offence under Section 8 of POCSO Act, and upheld his conviction under Section 376 IPC on finding him guilty on the basis of the testimony of the victim. However, since the incident happened before the enforcement of Criminal (Amendment) Act, 2013, the accused was sentenced under Section 376(1) and his sentence was reduced from 10 years to 7 years. [Lila Duwarah v. State of Assam, 2018 SCC OnLine Gau 551, dated 18-05-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: A petition under Section 482 CrPC was filed by the petitioner  to conduct proper investigation in FIR registered by him in October, 2014 under Section 364/34 IPC registered at Police Station Malout, District Sri Muktsar Sahib. The petitioner also apprehended death threat from four police officials who are also the respondents in the case.

On hearing both the parties, Court examines the allegations by the petitioner on the respondents. The petitioner has alleged that in October, 2014, his son was kidnapped from Malout under the railway over bridge Malout by some police officials of Abohar while one official was in uniform and others were in civil clothes and accordingly, FIR was registered by the petitioner the very next day of kidnapping. However, later on, Abohar Police registered another FIR under Sections 399 and 402 IPC and Sections 25/54/59 of the Arms Act showing the arrest of petitioner’s son on 15.10.2014 at about 9.00 p.m. from a factory area in Abohar recording that they had received a secret information that five persons are making preparation to commit dacoity. Further, the offences under Sections 399 and 402 IPC were deleted and Amrik Singh was challaned only under Section 25 of the Arms Act and challan is since pending before Illaqa Magistrate for trial and the police also moved a cancellation report of FIR filed by the petitioner.

Conclusively, the Court observed that the allegations put by the petitioner were quite serious as he had alleged that son of the petitioner was falsely implicated after being kidnapped from Malout and Police Station Sadar Abohar registered the FIR for dacoity only after the registration of FIR by the petitioner under Sections 364/34 IPC registered at Police Station Malout regarding kidnapping of his son.

The Court noted the fact that the matter involved was regarding life and liberty of the petitioner and was thus, very serious. The Court concluded with its findings stating that that police officials have committed the crime, necessary departmental and criminal action shall be taken against them and police may also take further action in the FIR lodged by the petitioner and follow up action for quashing the FIR alleged to be falsely implicating the petitioner’s son. It ordered the authorities concerned  to conduct the inquiry and submit the report within 3 months. Accordingly, it allowed the petitioner’s appeal along with an additional order that the petitioner and his son would not be called to the police station without prior permission of the Court. [Balkar Singh v. State of Punjab, 2017 SCC OnLine P&H 1725, decided on 18th July, 2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: The Court in this case dealt with a revision petition under S. 401 CrPC challenging the judgment of the trial court, Chandigarh convicting and sentencing him rigorous imprisonment for 2 years for substantive offences under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 IPC.

Learned counsel for the petitioner argued that a few material witnesses were not examined in the case. The Court noted that the counsel for the revisionist-petitioner has raised various other arguments like material discrepancies in the statements of PWs, non-joining of independent witnesses etc. However, H. S. Madaan, J. mentioned clearly in the judgment that such type of contentions do not cut much ice and were not of much concern. The Court observed after hearing the arguments by the petitioner as well as on examining the records of the lower court that the trial court has by giving proper reasoning, has arrived at the conclusion that his non-examination does not make much difference, when the case is otherwise established on the file and it agreed to it.

The Court went on to explain the scope of revision petition before the High Court stating that revisional jurisdiction is somewhat limited in nature and while exercising the same it is to be seen whether the order passed is manifestly illegal or would result in gross miscarriage of justice and therefore, the instant case would not fall within four corners of S. 401 CrPC.

However, the Court considered that the petitioner was 65 years old and had already spent 8 months in jail and in lieu of this, directed that the petitioner be treated leniently. Also keeping in mind that there was no previous conviction against the petitioner, it held that the ends of justice would still be met if the sentence is reduced from two years to one-and-a-half years. [Rajinder Singh v. Union Territory, Chandigarh, 2017 SCC OnLine P&H 1717, decided on 18.07.2017]