Case BriefsHigh Courts

Andhra Pradesh High Court: Cheekati Manavendranath Roy J. partly allowed the petition by quashing FIR for the offence punishable under Section 306 r/w 116 IPC.

The facts of the case are such that the petitioner is the sole accused in a case under Sections 323, 306 r/w 116 Penal Code, 1860 i.e. IPC was registered against him. The prosecution story is that on 15-05-2020 at about 5.30 A.M., when the de facto complainant was collecting aaseelu at the High School ground from the vegetable vendors, the petitioner questioned the de facto complainant as to why he is collecting excess rate of aaseelu and when the de facto complainant replied that he is collecting the aaseelu at the rate fixed by the concerned authorities, the petitioner beat the de facto complainant in front of the public in the market and insulted him. Therefore, having felt insult, the de facto complainant consumed the ant poison by mixing the same in water with an intention to commit suicide but was rescued and subsequently survived after medical treatment.  A case under Sections 323, 306 r/w 116 IPC was registered. Hence, instant criminal Petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 was filed seeking to quash F.I.R.

Counsel for petitioner Mr. P Rajesh Babu submitted that that the facts of the case do not constitute any offence punishable under Section 306 IPC as there is no allegation that the petitioner has instigated or abetted the de facto complainant to commit any suicide. So, he would submit the prosecution of the petitioner under Section 306 r/w 116 IPC is not maintainable and no such offence is constituted in the facts and circumstances of the case.

The Public Prosecutor submitted that when the de facto complainant has consumed ant poison with an intention to commit suicide on account of the fact the petitioner beat him in front of the public and insulted him and as he survived because of the medical treatment provided to him, an offence punishable under Section 306 r/w 116 IPC is made out from the facts of the case and the petitioner is liable for prosecution for the said offence. Therefore, he would pray for dismissal of the Criminal Petition.

The Court observed that it is a well settled law that in order to constitute an offence punishable under Section 306 IPC, the necessary ingredients contemplated under Section 107 IPC  regarding intentional instigation said to have been given by the petitioner to the de facto complainant to commit suicide or intentional aid said to have been given by the petitioner to him to commit suicide shall be established. There is absolutely no allegation as can be seen from the facts of the prosecution case that the petitioner has either instigated or aided him to commit suicide. Hence, prima facie no offence punishable under Section 306 IPC itself is made out from the facts of the case. Consequently, no offence punishable under Section 306 r/w 116 IPC is also made out from the facts of the case.

The Court further observed that if the de facto complainant feels insulted as he was beaten in front of the public in the market and if he takes any hasty decision to commit suicide, the petitioner cannot be held responsible for any such decision taken by the de facto complainant to commit suicide.

The Court stated that the facts of the case clearly show that the petitioner has beaten the de facto complainant. So, it prima facie constitutes an offence punishable under Section 323 IPC. So, the entire F.I.R cannot be quashed and it can be quashed only in respect of the offence registered under Section 306 r/w 116 IPC.

The Court held “the Criminal Petition is partly allowed quashing the F.I.R for the offence punishable under Section 306 r/w 116 IPC. As regards the offence punishable under Section 323 is concerned, the F.I.R holds good and the law has to take its own course in respect of the said offence.”[Vegulla Leela Krishna v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 2022 SCC OnLine AP 393, decided on 01-02-2022]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case relating to murder versus culpable homicide legal controversy, the Division Bench of M.R. Shah* and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ., held that the Uttaranchal High Court had erred in observing that the case would fall under Fourth exception to Section 300 IPC and had failed to properly appreciate the multiple injuries sustained by the deceased. The Bench expressed,

“…exception Fourth to Section 300 IPC ought not to have been applied by the High Court at all considering the fact that the main second incident had taken place subsequently at 12:00 in the night, much after the first incident of altercation was over in the mehendi ceremony. The impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court is unsustainable both, on facts as well as on law.”

The instant appeal was filed by the State to assail the order of the Uttranchal High Court by which the High Court had held that culpable homicide in the instant case was not murder and consequently converted the sentence from life imprisonment to ten years rigorous imprisonment.

Noticeably, some altercations took place between the deceased Virendra Singh and the accused Sachendra Singh Rawat but due to intervention of the villagers, the matter did not proceed further. Thereafter, at about 12:00 in the night, the accused attacked the deceased by giving him blows by a “Phakadiyat”–a rough piece of wood.  The deceased sustained multiple injuries on the head leading to skull fracture which ultimately caused death of the deceased after a few days.

The trial Court held that the culpable homicide was murder and thereby convicted the accused for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC and imposed the sentence of life imprisonment. However, in appeal the High Court opined that since it was not a cold blooded murder; rather a sudden fight which ensued in the heat of passion between the two; as a result of a sudden quarrel in the marriage ceremony and that the weapon used was “Phakadiyat” which was a rough piece of wood, therefore it could not be said that there was any intention on the part of the accused to kill the deceased. Accordingly, opining that the case would fall under the Fourth exception to Section 300 IPC making it a case of culpable homicide instead of murder, the High Court converted the sentence from life imprisonment to ten years rigorous imprisonment.

Noticeably, the incident took place in two places. The first incident of altercation between the accused and the deceased was at the place of mehendi ceremony, thereafter at about 12:00 in the night, which could be said to be the actual incident which happened when the accused attacked the deceased by “Phakadiyat” and gave several blows to the deceased. The Bench opined,

“The second incident cannot be said to be a result of sudden fight in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel. The accused chased the deceased at about 12:00 in the mid night and even after the deceased reached his house, he was beaten by the accused in front of his house which is witnessed by his wife, PW1.”

Therefore, the Bench held that the High Court had erred in observing that the incident had taken place due to a sudden fight in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel in the mehendi ceremony. The main cause of death was injuries sustained by the deceased on his head since the accused used the “Phakadiyat” with such a force that it resulted in skull fracture at the frontal wound on the left side; stitched wounds with 34 stitches with left side of the skull. The Bench remarked,

“…having caused the grievous injuries with such a force, how can the accused get the benefit of fourth exception to Section 300 IPC. The case would certainly fall under Clauses Thirdly and/or Fourthly to Section 300 IPC.”

Applying the law as laid down in Virsa Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1958 SC 465, that the question is not whether the prisoner intended to inflict a serious injury or a trivial one but whether he intended to inflict the injury that is proved to be present, the Bench held that the High Court had committed a grave error in observing that culpable homicide did not amount to murder, by applying exception Fourth to Section 300 IPC.

In the light of the above, the Bench set aside the impugned order and restored the findings of the Trial Court. The accused was held guilty for the offence under Section 302 IPC and was sentenced to undergo life imprisonment.

[State of Uttarakhand v. Sachendra Singh Rawat, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 146, decided on 04-02-2022]


*Judgment by: Justice M.R. Shah


Appearance by:

For the State: Virendra Rawat, Advocate

For the Respondent: Neha Sharma, Advocate


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together


 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: H.P Sandesh, J. rejected bail as at this stage no offence can be attracted and the same is left to trial.

The factual matrix of the case is that on 20.09.2021, this petitioner assaulted his wife, when she victim was washing clothes. On account of injuries, she succumbed to the injuries. The police have investigated the matter and filed the chargesheet invoking the offences punishable under Sections 302 and 201 read with Section 34 of IPC. This petition is filed under Section 439 of CrPC seeking regular bail of the petitioner/accused No.1 in Crime No.86/2021 of Tavarekere Police Station, Sira Rural Circle, Tumakuru, for the offences punishable under Sections 302 and 201 read with Section 34 of IPC.

Counsel for petitioner submitted that petitioner has not used any weapon and it is the case of the petitioner that she fell down on the stone while washing clothes and sustained injuries. At the most, the incident attracts the offence under Section 302 of IPC and not 304 Part-II of IPC.

Counsel for respondent submitted that PM report is clear that on account of injury sustained to head, she succumbed to the injury and opinion of the doctor is clear that due to hemorrhage and shock on account of severe head injury, she passed away and at this stage, this Court cannot come to a conclusion whether it attracts the offence under Section 302 of IPC or 304 Part-II of IPC.

The Court observed that the Court has granted bail in Crl.P.No.8138 of 2021 in favour of accused 2, wherein observation is made that accused No.2 only facilitated in concealing the offence of murder committed by accused No.1 and hence, granted bail in favour of accused No.2 and the said order will not come to the aid of this petitioner.

The court observed that based on the factual aspect the Court cannot decide whether it attracts the offence under Section 302 of IPC or 304 Part-II of IPC and the same is a matter of trial.

The Court thus rejected bail. [Dinesh T v. State of Karnataka, Criminal Petition No. 611 of 2022, decided on 01-02-2022]


Appearances:

For petitioners: Mr. Manjunath B R

For respondents: Mr. Vinayaka VS


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Experts CornerSanjay Vashishtha

The jurisprudence on the rape on the pretext of marriage is being shaped by judicial precedents across the India. Marriage is considered as sacred union between two individuals – transcending beyond physical, emotional and spiritual bounds. In ancient Hindu laws, marriage and its rituals are performed to pursue dharma (duty), artha (possessions) and kama (physical desires). With such sanctity, marriage is more than a ritual, and accordingly the present criminal jurisprudence invokes Section 90 of the Penal Code, 1860 when the consent for a sexual intercourse is sought on the false promise of marriage.

 

On the other hand, “men’s rights activists” claims that these charges framed against the accused should be equitable to “false rape cases” for various reasons. It is argued that these allegations are paradoxical and rather counterproductive insofar as rampant acquittals and discharge in such cases dilute the seriousness surrounding the penal provision relating to rape.

 

Therefore, the term “consent” becomes the subject-matter of a legal deliberation and debate. In terms of Section 90 IPC, consent given by a victim under a misconception of fact would amount to rape within the meaning of Section 375 IPC. However, what is the degree and the nature of this misconception? Is there a legal litmus test to decipher this misconception? Anthropologists and experts can vouch for the fact that wear and tear is an integral part of any relationship, marital or otherwise. In fact, quite recently, Sikkim High Court had in fact extended the benefit of doubt to the accused on the ground of “relationship going sour”1. Therefore, an endeavour is made in this article to sum up the recent developments on the jurisprudence surrounding rape on the pretext of marriage and identify legal parameters which could potentially decipher the key difference between actual inducement leading to rape on the pretext of marriage or not.

 

To start with, the Supreme Court in Sonu v. State of U.P.2 quashed an FIR under Section 376 IPC between former lovers inter alia on the ground that “there is no allegation that the promise to marry given to the second respondent (prosecutrix) was false at the inception”. The decision, authored by HMJ Dr D. Y. Chandrachud cited Pramod Suryabhan Pawar v. State of Maharashtra3 wherein the following was laid down by the Supreme Court as a litmus test to govern such matters:

 

  1. 16. Where the promise to marry is false and the intention of the maker at the time of making the promise itself was not to abide by it but to deceive the woman to convince her to engage in sexual relations, there is a “misconception of fact” that vitiates the woman’s “consent”. On the other hand, a breach of a promise cannot be said to be a false promise. To establish a false promise, the maker of the promise should have had no intention of upholding his word at the time of giving it.

*                                  *                                  *

  1. 18. To summarise the legal position that emerges from the above cases, the “consent” of a woman with respect to Section 375 must involve an active and reasoned deliberation towards the proposed act. To establish whether the “consent” was vitiated by a “misconception of fact” arising out of a promise to marry, two propositions must be established. The promise of marriage must have been a false promise, given in bad faith and with no intention of being adhered to at the time it was given. The false promise itself must be of immediate relevance, or bear a direct nexus to the woman’s decision to engage in the sexual act.

 

In Sonu v. State of U.P.4 the prosecutrix in her Section 164 CrPC statement admittedly claimed that the physical relations were consensual and were an outcome of a “love affair” between the two, however, on account of the accused promising to marry her. Subsequently, the family of the accused refused to have their marriage solemnised and so did the accused.

 

The fundamental issue that crops up from the Sonu judgment5 and those alike in genesis in terms of facts and circumstances is the presence of a intimate/love affair between the complainant and the accused. It is seldom the case that the accused has either married someone during the period of alleged inducement or was already in an active relationship with someone else or has married someone else either during or immediately following the refusal to marry which prompts law enforcement agencies to register an FIR under Section 376 IPC.

 

In this regard, the Full Bench of the Supreme Court headed by HMJ Rohinton Nariman had recently in Maheshwar Tigga v. State of Jharkhand6 arising out of SLP (Crl.) No. 393 of 2020 observed:

 

  1. 10. They were both smitten by each other and passions of youth ruled over their minds and emotions. The physical relations that followed was not isolated or sporadic in nature, but regular over the years. The prosecutrix had even gone and resided in the house of the appellant. In our opinion, the delay of four years in lodgement of the FIR, at an opportune time of seven days prior to the appellant solemnising his marriage with another girl, on the pretext of a promise to the prosecutrix raises serious doubts about the truth and veracity of the allegations levelled by the prosecutrix. The entire genesis of the case is in serious doubt in view of the admission of the prosecutrix in cross-examination that no incident had occurred on 9-4-1999.

 

The Court further observed in Maheshwar Tigga case7 :

  1. 14. Under Section 90 IPC, a consent given under a misconception of fact is no consent in the eye of the law. But the misconception of fact has to be in proximity of time to the occurrence and cannot be spread over a period of four years. It hardly needs any elaboration that the consent by the appellant was a conscious and informed choice made by her after due deliberation, it being spread over a long period of time coupled with a conscious positive action not to protest. (Emphasis added) The prosecutrix in her letters to the appellant also mentions that there would often be quarrels at her home with her family members with regard to the relationship, and beatings given to her.

 

The Supreme Court has, especially in the last decade, passed several landmark decisions in an endeavour to frame policy related jurisprudence on this subject matter. From holding that the victim was not a “gullible woman of feeble intellect” in Vinod Kumar v. State of Kerala8 to reiterating the distinction between a promise which is unfulfilled and a promise which is false from the very beginning in Anurag Soni v. State of Chhattisgarh9 in the Supreme Court has made it unambiguous and coherent that in order to establish whether the “consent” was vitiated by a “misconception of fact” arising out of a promise to marry, two propositions must be established10:

 

  1. 18. … The promise of marriage must have been a false promise, given in bad faith and with no intention of being adhered to at the time it was given. The false promise itself must be of immediate relevance, or bear a direct nexus to the woman’s decision to engage in the sexual act.

 

Therefore, in other words, while the Supreme Court has identified a fine distinction between matters where there is an intention to deceit at the outset, it is paramount that concept of regular wear and tear of relations as otherwise evident from matrimonial matters is required to be infused in this jurisprudence, literally or otherwise.

 

In the recent past, my professional experience as a defence counsel in various such matters spanning from trial courts to the Supreme Court and as a consultant to a law enforcement agency, has enabled me to identify the following parameters which could further enable the investigating officers from identifying a case which merits a final report in the form of a charge-sheet in contrast to a final report under Section 173 CrPC in the form of a closure report: –

 

  1. In some matters, the FIR under Section 376 IPC is in fact an outcome of a regular wear and tear of relationship spanning over several years, including live-in relationships, which as per the Supreme Court in Velusamy v. D. Patchaiammal11, following certain conditions has the sanctity of presumption of marriage. The facts highlighting gradual wear and tear of relations leading to a break-up/refusal to marry could be a relevant identifier with regards to the primary litmus test laid down by the Supreme Court in this regard.
  1. In most of the matters, the accused (as I would only know their narrative – as a defence counsel) has neither married anyone else nor had any other relationship during the subsistence of their relationship with now complainant. They were neither actively pursuing matrimonial alliances through other online/offline modes.
  1. In a case, the complainant herself did not sought marriage till a particular timeline after which the accused sought time – and the same resulted in an FIR under Section 376 IPC.
  1. In one matter, one of my clients who had cleared one of the toughest examinations in the country was prevented from joining and rendering his services on account of the said FIR under Section 376 IPC. In this matter the complainant in statement recorded under Section 164 CrPC had stated that the accused had promised to marry her after clearing his examination and programmes. One could say this was a premature FIR, but be as it may, it is the prerogative of the complainant to choose the time and place of recording of such first information report.

 

However, an important caveat may be highlighted at the outset. The idea is not to promote closures or highlight one-sided anecdotal experience – but to highlight that the growing number of such acquittals/quashing’s and overshadow matters which would otherwise merit trials and convictions. This also tends to diminish the sensitivity and seriousness with which investigation is to be conducted in such matters, in my personal view and experience.

 

Its about time that parameters be laid down, withstanding the fact that every criminal case/FIR is unique and peculiar directing the investigating officers to consider, atleast some of the aforesaid while choosing to file a closure, as final reports in the form of charge-sheets, at times are mechanically filed in this regard.


† Sanjay Vashishtha is a practicing counsel at the Supreme Court of India, LLM in Comparative Criminal Law from McGill University, Canada and MSc, Criminology and Criminal Justice from University of Oxford. He is serving as a counsel/special counsel and consultant for several law enforcement and public sector institutions.

1 Makraj Limboo v. State of Sikkim, 2021 SCC OnLine Sikk 1.

2 2021 SCC OnLine SC 181.

3 (2019) 9 SCC 608, 618, 620.

4 2021 SCC OnLine SC 181.

5 2021 SCC OnLine SC 181.

6 (2020) 10 SCC 108, 114.

7 (2020) 10 SCC 108, 115.

8 (2014) 5 SCC 678.

9 (2019) 13 SCC 1.

10 Pramod Suryabhan Pawar v. State of Maharashtra, (2019) 9 SCC 608, 620.

11 (2010) 10 SCC 469.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: Sreenivas Harish Kumar J. dismissed the petition being devoid of merits.

The facts of the case are such that the 1st petitioner is the husband of 2nd respondent. On certain allegations that the petitioners subjected the 2nd respondent to harassment in connection with demand for dowry, FIR was registered in relation to offences punishable under sections 323, 504, 506 and 498-A of IPC and sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act r/w section 34 of IPC. Investigation was taken up and charge sheet was been filed. This instant petition was filed under Section 482 of CrPC for quashing the charge sheet.

Counsel for the petitioner Mr. Arjun Rego submitted that if the entire charge sheet which is based on statements of witnesses is considered, it can be said that no offence against the petitioners is made out.

The Court observed that though under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. charge sheet can be quashed, the said jurisdiction cannot be invoked for quashing the charge sheet by appreciating the evidence. It is a settled principle that while deciding the petition under Section 482 of Cr.P.C., evidence cannot be appreciated as it lies within the domain of the Trial Court.

The Court held “I do not find any ground to entertain this petition. Accordingly, the petition is dismissed.” [Pradeep Moparthy v. State of Karnataka, Criminal Petition No. 2860 of 2021, decided on 15-12-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearances

For respondent: Mr. Rohith BJ

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Orissa High Court: Sashikant Mishra J. allowed the criminal petition and quashed the FIR and the criminal proceeding due to inordinate delay on the part of investigating authorities.

The facts of the case are such that an FIR was lodged against the present petitioner on by the then Tahasildar, Chhendipada before the Officer-in- Charge, Chhendipada Police Station leading to registration of case for the alleged commission of offence under Sections 447/379/188/294/535/506 of Penal Code, 1860 i.e. IPC. The said case is presently pending in the Court of J.M.F.C., Chhendipada. Final Report was submitted in the case after more than 15 years. The inaction of the investigating agency complied with inordinate delay was cited as a ground by the petitioner for quashment of the FIR and the consequential criminal proceedings in the present application filed under Section 482 Cr.P.C.

Counsel for the petitioner M/s. Anirudha Das, A Das,S.C. Mishra, A. Das and A. Sahoo submitted that that continuance of the case without Final Form being submitted for as long as 15 years by itself is an abuse of the process of Court. It is further argued that the petitioner is presently aged about 72 years and has been going through tremendous mental strain and anxiety because of pendency of the criminal case and the uncertainty attached to it. Since right to speedy trial is also a part of fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, it was contended that inaction of the investigating agency for an inordinately long period of time directly violates such right, for which the proceedings need to be quashed.

Counsel for respondents Mr. P. K. Maharaj admitting that the Final Form was not filed for as long as 15 years, however, contends that no time limit being prescribed for conclusion of a criminal proceeding, mere delay in submission of Final Form or Final Report, as the case may be, cannot be a ground to quash the Proceedings.

The Court observed that this is a case of a man against whom an FIR was lodged and investigation continued for as long as 15 years to ultimately end in a Final Report being filed. One can only imagine the stress that the petitioner would have undergone during all these years with the “Sword of Damocles” hanging over his head.

The Court further observed that pendency of a criminal proceeding, irrespective of the nature of the offence alleged, are sufficient to cause concern, anxiety and apprehension in the mind of the accused not to speak of the expenses that he may have to incur in defending himself. What is a matter of greater concern to note is that there is no explanation whatsoever from the side of the investigating agency as to the reasons for non-completion of investigation for all these years.

The Court also took note of the fact that save and except the offence under Section 506, all the other offences alleged to have been committed by the accused namely, Sections 447/379/188/294/353 of IPC, are punishable with imprisonment for terms ranging from one year to three years at the most. So even if a Final Form had been submitted, the concerned Magistrate would have been hard put to take cognizance keeping in view the provisions under Section 468 of Cr.P.C. However, that is besides the point. The crux of the matter is inordinate delay in completion of the investigation.

The Court held that the inaction of the investigating agency to conclude the investigation for as long as 15 years, that too, without offering even a semblance of explanation is a direct affront to the cherished principle of right to speedy trial ingrained in the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The Court held this is a fit case to exercise its inherent powers under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. to put an end to the fiasco, once for all, moreso, as the investigation has ended in Final Report True being submitted.

The Court also observed that the higher police authorities should take note of such inaction on the part of the investigating officer (s) and pass appropriate orders to be followed by all concerned so as to prevent the same from recurring in future.[Binod Bihari Shetty v. State of Orissa, CrlMC No. 112 of 2020, decided on 03-01-2022]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Upholding the concurrent findings of High Court as well as Sessions Court and Juvenile Justice Board, the Division Bench comprising of Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and B.V. Nagarathna*, JJ., passed a detailed verdict to guide determination of juvenility. Rejecting the contention of the appellant that the signatures of respondent on the admission forms of class 1 and class 8 (on the basis of which DoB was recorded for admission in matriculation) were identical and it could not be so on the admission form of class 1 as the respondent was only four and half years old when he was admitted to class 1, the Bench stated,

“Even if the documents seeking admission to class 1 and class 8 were discredited or eschewed, the fact remained that the mark-sheet pertaining to the matriculation supported the presumption that the respondent was less than 16 years of age on the date of incident.”

The respondent, one Nishant Solanki along with other accused was alleged to have attacked upon the appellant and his family causing serious injuries as well as death of appellant’s father and uncle. It had been stated that the accused were carrying a Farsa (battle-axe), lathi and balkaties (caneknives) and attacked the complainant/appellant and the members of his family. The respondent prayed before the Juvenile Justice Board, Baghpat to be declared as a juvenile delinquent, which was allowed by the Board.

The grievance of the appellant was that the respondent had been accused of committing grave offences under sections 147, 148, 149, 323, 307, 302 and 34 of the IPC along with other co-accused, but his claim of juvenility was erroneously allowed by the Board which was later on sustained by the appellate court as well as the Allahabad High Court.

Presumption for determining Juvenility

An application claiming juvenility could be made either before the Court or the JJ Board. When the issue of juvenility arises before a Court, it would be under sub-section (2) and (3) of section 9 of the JJ Act, 2015 but when a person is brought before a Committee or JJ Board, section 94 of the JJ Act, 2015 applies. Under Section 94 of JJ Act, if the JJ Board has reasonable grounds for doubt regarding whether the person brought before it is a child or not, the Board shall undertake the process of age determination by seeking evidence and the age recorded by the JJ Board to be the age of the person so brought before it shall, for the purpose of the JJ Act, 2015, be deemed to be true age of that person. Hence

“The degree of proof required in such a proceeding before the JJ Board, when an application is filed seeking a claim of juvenility when the trial is before the concerned criminal court, is higher than when an inquiry is made by a court before which the case regarding the commission of the offence is pending (vide section 9 of the JJ Act, 2015).”

On the basis of the documents mentioned section 94 of JJ Act, 2015 a presumption of juvenility may be raised.  The said presumption is however not conclusive proof of the age of juvenility and the same may be rebutted by contra evidence let in by the opposite side, and if two views are possible on the same evidence, the court should lean in favour of holding the accused to be a juvenile in borderline cases. This is in order to ensure that the benefit of the JJ Act, 2015 is made applicable to the juvenile in conflict with law. At the same time, the Court should ensure that the JJ Act, 2015 is not misused by persons to escape punishment after having committed serious offences. The Bench added,

“Ossification Test cannot be the sole criterion for age determination and a mechanical view regarding the age of a person cannot be adopted solely on the basis of medical opinion by radiological examination. Such evidence is not conclusive evidence but only a very useful guiding factor to be considered in the absence of documents mentioned in Section 94(2) of the JJ Act, 2015.”

Further, when the determination of age is on the basis of evidence such as school records, it is necessary that the same would have to be considered as per Section 35 of the Evidence Act, 1882 inasmuch as any public or official document maintained in the discharge of official duty would have greater credibility than private documents.

Determination of Age by the JJ Board

The Certificate-cum-Marks Sheet of the High School issued by the Board of High School and Intermediate Examination U.P., was produced stating that the date of birth of respondent as 25-09-2004. Noticeably, when the respondent sought admission in class 1 no document in respect of birth was given and the date of birth was mentioned orally. The respondent continued his education there till class 8th and the transfer certificate recorded his date of birth as 25-09-2004 and the same was entered in the school records of class 9th. The Principal of the school first attended by the respondent stated that the respondent was a little above four years of age at the time of admission in class 1.

According to the JJ Board, it is only in the absence of the matriculation certificate that determination of age had to be by ossification test or any other latest medical age determination test. The date of the incident was 05-05-2020. Hence, as per the date of birth recorded in matriculation certificate, the respondent was 15 years and 8 months of age as on the date of the incident.

Observations and Findings

Rejecting the contention raised by the appellant that the signatures of respondent on the admission forms of class 1 and class 8 were identical and it could not be so on the admission form of class 1 as the respondent  was only four and half years old when he was admitted to class 1, the Bench stated that in the absence of any rebuttal evidence, even if the documents seeking admission to class 1 and class 8 were discredited or eschewed, the fact remained that the mark-sheet pertaining to the matriculation supported the presumption that the respondent was less than 16 years of age on the date of incident.

Differentiating the instant case from the case of Sanjeev Kumar Gupta v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (2019) 12 SCC 370, wherein it was observed that that the date of birth reflected in the matriculation certificate could not be accepted as authentic or credible, the Bench observed that in the Sanjeev Kumar’s case the records maintained by the CBSE were purely on the basis of the final list of the students forwarded by the Senior Secondary School where the second respondent therein had studied from class 5 to 10, while there was clear and unimpeachable evidence of date of birth recorded by the school attended by the respondent till class 4 and which was supported by voluntary disclosure made by the accused therein while obtaining both, Aadhaar Card and driving license. Therefore, the Bench stated that in Sanjeev Kumar’s case, there was clear and unimpeachable evidence of date of birth which had been recorded in the records of the school which the respondent therein had attended till class 4, however, in the instant case in the absence of there being any evidence to negate the date of birth recorded in matriculation certificate same, the criminal revision deserved to be dismissed.

Conclusion

Considering the absence of any other document indicating the date of birth of the respondent contrary to what had been indicated in the matriculation certificate, therefore the Bench denied to differ from the order of the High court which sustained the judgment of the District & Sessions Court as well as of the JJ Board.

[Rishipal Singh Solanki v. State Of Uttar Pradesh, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1079, decided on 18-11-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together


Appearance by:

For the Appellant: Anupam Dwivedi, counsel

For the State of U.P.: Sharan Thakur, Additional Advocate General

For the Respondents: Saurabh Trivedi, counsel

*Judgment by: Justice B.V. Nagarathna

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: Narendra Kumar Vyas, J., quashed the FIR registered against the petitioner by Respondent 4 at Women Police Station, Bilaspur (C.G.) for commission of offence punishable under Section 354(A) IPC and Section 3 (1)(xii) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

The facts of the prosecution are such that the petitioner is working as an Assistant Professor in D.P. Vipra College, Bilaspur, filed present writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for quashing FIR registered against him on the basis of complaint made by respondent 4 at Women Police Station, Bilaspur (C.G.) for commission of offence punishable under Section 354 (A) of Penal Code, 1860 i.e. IPC & Section 3(1)(xii) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act i.e. “the Act, 1989”. The petitioner also highlighted that a criminal case was registered the petitioner against respondent 4 along with other 33 teaching staff having committed offence of unlawful assembly, criminal intimidation for which Judicial Magistrate 1st  class convicted the accused persons including respondent 4 and imposed fine s well.

Counsel for the petitioner Mr. B P Sharma submitted that being aggrieved by the conviction order, respondent 4 lodged FIR as a counterblast to the criminal proceedings. It was further submitted that the remarks made by petitioner was “Madam yadi aap chutti chahti hain toh mujhe akele mein aakar milein” which cannot be termed as sexually coloured remarks. Hence, no ingredient of offence under Section 354 (A) IPC is made out and the offence under the Act of 1989 was also prima facie not made out.

Counsel for the respondent 4 Mr. Manoj Paranjape submitted that the alleged statement made by the complainant/respondent 4 feel humiliated and caused grievance as such statement felt as an attack to the dignity and modesty of the complainant. It was submitted that it is the feeling perceived by the victim that is of paramount consideration and not what the accused states.

The Court observed that from bare perusal of Section 3(1) (xii) of the Act of 1989, statement of the complainant and other witnesses, it cannot be prima facie established the offence has been committed with racial prejudice and that the petitioner was ever in a position to exploit respondent 4 sexually as petitioner and respondent 4 are working as Assistant Professors in the same college, therefore, it cannot be presumed that the petitioner was in a position to dominate the respondent 4 or to command or control her.

The Court observed that the contents of the complaint cannot be inferred as a sexual coloured remark against respondent 4. The remarks do not fall within the ambit of sexual harassment in order to prosecute the petitioner for commission of offence under Section 354 (A) (iv) IPC.

The Court held

“since the criminal case is going on, therefore it is counter blast on the part of respondent no. 4, as such; adjudication of the proceeding against the petitioner for commission of offence under Section 354 (A) of IPC will be nothing but an abuse.”

The Court held “FIR No. 0036 dated 25.06.2018 registered against the petitioner by Respondent No. 4 at Women Police Station, Bilaspur (C.G.) for commission of offence punishable under Section 354(A) IPC and Section 3 (1)(xii) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, deserves to be and is hereby quashed.” [Manish Tiwari v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2021 SCC OnLine Chh 3799, decided on 01-11-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: H P Sandesh J. allowed the petition and quashed the proceedings initiated against the petitioners.

This petition is filed under Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code i.e. Cr.P.C., praying this Court to quash the order of the Civil Judge and JMFC, Muddebihal, dated 13.07.2018 passed in C.C.No.167/2018 (Crime No.107/2018 of Muddebihal Police Station) taking cognizance against the petitioners   for the offences punishable under Section 171H of Penal Code, 1860 i.e. IPC and Section 3 of the Karnataka Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1981.

Counsel for the petitioner Mr. Rajesh G Doddamani submitted that the Act invoked i.e., the Karnataka Open Places (Prevention  of Disfigurement) Act, 1981 is not applicable to  Muddebihal and the said Act is applicable only in respect  of particular places. Unless the same is notified in respect of particular place of Muddebihal, the police ought not to have initiated proceedings against the petitioners under Section 3 of the Act. It was also submitted that the respondents have also invoked Section 171H of IPC. The complaint is not filed under Section 195 of Cr.P.C., but the case has been registered against the petitioners and based on the police report, cognizance was taken. Therefore, when non-cognizable offence is invoked, it requires permission from the Magistrate under Section 155(2) of Cr.P.C., and hence, it requires interference of this Court.

Counsel for respondents Mr. Gururaj V Hasilkar submitted that the election was declared in respect of Muddebihal assembly constituency in 2018. When the election notification was issued by the State, the order was passed by the District Election Officer and District Magistrate, Vijayapura dated 31.03.2018 appointing flying squads and the same includes Muddebihal  Constituency. The learned counsel also relied upon the  order of the State Government dated 10.04.2018 and so also the revised order dated 31.03.2018 appointing officers consisting of flying squads. The learned counsel also relied upon the Notification of Election Commission of India dated 02.05.2018 wherein it is clarified that as per Section 126(1)(b) of the Representative of People Act, 1951, there shall not be displaying of any stickers and flags of any particularly party and the said act is in  violation of the same and there is no specific notification  for applying the above Act but election notification is  issued. It is not in dispute that the petitioners herein came to the Tahsildar’s office in vehicles displaying stickers and flags of a particular party. Hence, the proceedings initiated against the petitioners cannot be quashed.Issue: Whether Karnataka Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1991 is applicable to Muddebihal or not?

The Court observed that on perusal of Section 1(2)(i) of the Act makes it clear that the Act is applicable for the cities viz., Bangalore,  Mysore, Hubli-Dharwar, Mangalore and Belgaum constituted or continued under the Karnataka Municipal  Corporation Act, 1976 or under any other law, on the fifth day of May, 1981 and Section (1)(2)(ii) of the Act says that the same come into force in the municipalities, notified areas, sanitary boards, constituted or continued under the Karnataka Municipalities Act, 1964 or under any other law, or in any other local area, on such date, as the State Government may by notification appoint and different dates may be appointed in respect of different areas.

But, no such Notification was issued in respect of Muddebihal. Hence, unless the Act is applicable to particular city and municipal area, the initiation of proceedings under the said Act is unsustainable under law.

The Court further observed that Section 171H of IPC deals with illegal payments in connection with an election. But, in the  case on hand, the allegation against the petitioners is  that they came in vehicles with flag of political party and no allegations with regard to illegal payments in  connection with election are found in the complaint.  Under the circumstances, very initiation of proceedings against the petitioners is nothing but an abuse of process of law. Hence, it is appropriate to exercise power under Section 482 of Cr.P.C., or otherwise it leads to miscarriage of justice.

The Court having considered the allegation made in the complaint as well as in the charge sheet observed that it does not attract offence under Section 171H of IPC and so also Section 3 of the Act as there is no notification. “….complaint averments and charge sheet averments do not attract the offences invoked and apart from that, the above Act is not applicable to Muddebihal and without any notification for application of the Act, proceedings have been initiated.”

The Court held “….very initiation of  proceedings against the petitioners is not sustainable in the eye of law, as there was no notification for applicability of the above Act to Muddebihal and also no ingredients of offence under Section 171H of IPC.”

[Hanmagouda v. State of Karnataka, Criminal petition No. 200377 of 2019, decided on 26-11-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where the Trial Court and Punjab and Haryana High Court had shifted the burden of proof on the accused merely for the reason that there has been a rise in the incidents of dacoity, the 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, CJ and Surya Kant* and Hima Kohli, JJ has held that the Trial Court and the High Court have erroneously drawn adverse inference against the accused, in spite of the Prosecution having lamentably failed to adequately dispense with its burden of proof to depict culpability of the accused.

“It may not be wise or prudent to convict a person only because there is rampant increase in heinous crimes and victims are oftenly reluctant to speak truth due to fear or other extraneous reasons.”

Law on recovery of inculpatory material vis-à-vis burden of proof

It may be true that at times the Court can convict an accused exclusively on the basis of his disclosure statement and the resultant recovery of inculpatory material. However, in order to sustain the guilt of such accused, the recovery should be unimpeachable and not be shrouded with elements of doubt.

Circumstances such as,

  • the period of interval between the malfeasance and the disclosure;
  • commonality of the recovered object and its availability in the market;
  • nature of the object and its relevance to the crime;
  • ease of transferability of the object;
  • the testimony and trustworthiness of the attesting witness before the Court and/or other like factors,

are weighty considerations that aid in gauging the intrinsic evidentiary value and credibility of the recovery.

Where the prosecution fails to inspire confidence in the manner and/or contents of the recovery with regard to its nexus to the alleged offence, the Court ought to stretch the benefit of doubt to the accused.

“Its nearly three centuries old cardinal principle of criminal jurisprudence that “it is better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer”. The doctrine of extending benefit of doubt to an accused, notwithstanding the proof of a strong suspicion, holds its fort on the premise that “the acquittal of a guilty person constitutes a miscarriage of justice just as much as the conviction of the innocent”.

Further, the burden to prove the guilt beyond doubt does not shift on the suspect save where the law casts duty on the accused to prove his/her innocence. It is the bounden duty of the prosecution in cases where material witnesses are likely to be slippery, either to get their statements recorded at the earliest under Section 164 Cr.P.C. or collect such other cogent evidence that its case does not entirely depend upon oral testimonies.

Factual Background

  • In the year 2009, four accused persons, including the Appellant were arrested on the basis of secret information received by the police and they were charged under Sections 392, 397 and 120¬B IPC and Section 25 of the Arms Act. The 5th co-accused could not be arrested and was declared a proclaimed offender under Section 82 Cr.P.C.
  • In the eventual trial, 14 witnesses were examined by the Prosecution. No evidence was led by the Defence. The Prosecution argued that the accused conspired together to loot the Complainant, who, they were aware was carrying money for the purchase of a plot in Delhi.
  • The Trial Court noticed that the Accused had failed to provide any explanation as to how they came into possession of the articles, especially the ‘red cloth’ that belonged to the wife of the Complainant and the passbook, which were recovered from the custody of the Appellant.
  • Upon re-appraisal of evidence, the High Court concurred with the findings of the Trial Court and further noted that due to enormous rise in instances of dacoity, the non-identification of the accused in the Court could not be construed as a material consideration where other evidence points towards the commission of the crime to withstand his conviction under Sections 392 and 397 IPC.

Ruling on facts

The Court noticed that,

  • the High Court and the Trial Court failed to take into consideration that the testimony of ASI exhibited no substantial effort made by the police for conducting the search of the residence of the Appellant in the presence of local witnesses. The only independent witness to the recovery was Raldu who was admittedly a companion of the Complainant.
  • the Complainant as well as Raldu, have unambiguously refuted that neither the passbook, nor the ‘red cloth’ was recovered from the possession of the Appellant, as claimed in his disclosure statement.
  • while the Complainant negated his signatures on the recovery memo, on the other hand, Raldu also neither enumerated the recovery memo in the catalogue of exhibited documents, nor did that he affirm to having his endorsement.
  • the recovered articles are common place objects such as money which can be easily transferred from one hand to another and the ‘red cloth’ with ‘Kamla’ embossed on it which can also be easily available in market.
  • the recovery took place nearly a month after the commission of the alleged offence. We find it incredulous, that the Appellant during the entire time period kept both the red cloth and the passbook in his custody, along with the money he allegedly robbed off the Complainant.
  • there is no other evidence on record which even remotely points towards the iniquity of the Appellant.

It was, hence, found that the Prosecution had miserably failed to bring home the guilt of the Appellant and Courts below have been unwittingly swayed by irrelevant considerations, such as the rise in the incidents of dacoity.

“In its desire to hold a heavy hand over such derelictions, the Trial Court and the High Court have hastened to shift the burden on the Appellant to elucidate how he bechanced to be in possession of the incriminating articles, without primarily scrutinizing the credibility and admissibility of the recovery as well as its linkage to the misconduct.”

Noticing that the Courts below have arrived at recording the guilt of the Appellant in absence of any cogent rationale, justifying his conviction, the Court acquitted the appellant of all charges.

[Bijendar v. State of Haryana, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 1028, decided on 08.11.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice Surya Kant

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where the accused had lured minor girls aged 8 and 9, took them inside the room, closed the doors and rubbed his genitals against those of the victims, the bench of Surya Kant* and Hima Kohli, JJ has held that these acts were deliberately done with manifest intention to commit the offence of rape and were reasonably proximate to the consummation of the offence.

The Court held that since the acts of the respondent exceeded the stage beyond preparation and preceded the actual penetration, he was guilty of attempting to commit rape as punishable within the ambit and scope of Section 511 read with Section 375 IPC as it stood in force at the time of occurrence. The incident dates back to the year 2005.

Distinction between ‘Preparation’ and ‘Attempt’ to commit rape

The Court took the opportunity to lay down the distinction between ‘Preparation’ and ‘Attempt’ to commit rape and explained the three stages of commission of a crime.

  1. Mens Rea (intentio
  2. n to commit),
  3. preparation to commit it, and
  4. attempt to commit it.

If the third stage, that is, ‘attempt’ is successful, then the crime is complete. If the attempt fails, the crime is not complete, but law still punishes the person for attempting the said act.

“‘Attempt’ is punishable because even an unsuccessful commission of offence is preceded by mens rea, moral guilt, and its depraving impact on the societal values is no less than  the actual commission.”

It was further explained that the stage of ‘preparation’ consists of deliberation, devising or arranging the means or measures, which would be necessary for the commission of the offence. Whereas, an ‘attempt’ to commit the offence, starts immediately after the completion of preparation. ‘Attempt’ is the execution of mens rea after preparation. `Attempt’ starts where ‘preparation’ comes to an end, though it falls short of actual commission of the crime.

However, if the attributes are unambiguously beyond the stage of preparation, then the misdemeanours shall qualify to be termed as an ‘attempt’ to commit the principal offence and such ‘attempt’ in itself is a punishable offence in view of Section 511 IPC.

“The ‘preparation’ or ‘attempt’ to commit the offence will   be predominantly determined on evaluation of the act and conduct of an accused; and as to whether or not the incident tantamounts to transgressing the thin space between `preparation’ and ‘attempt’.”

If no overt act is attributed to the accused to commit the offence and only elementary exercise was undertaken and if such preparatory acts cause a strong inference of the likelihood of commission of the actual offence, the accused will be guilty of preparation to commit the crime, which may or may not be punishable, depending upon the intent and import of the penal laws

What amounts to rape?

A plain reading of the offence of ‘Rape’ under Section 375 IPC as it stood at the time of commission of offence in the present case shows that sexual intercourse with a woman below sixteen years, with or without her consent, amounted to ‘Rape’ and mere penetration was sufficient to prove such offence.  The expression ‘penetration’ denotes ingress of male organ into the female parts, however slight it may be.

Rulings explaining the meaning of ‘penetration’ under the unamended Penal Code which was in force at the relevant time

Aman Kumar v. State of   Haryana, (2004) 4 SCC 379

Penetration is the sine qua non for an offence of rape.  In order to constitute penetration, there must be evidence clear and cogent to prove that some part of the virile member of the accused was within the labia of the pudendum of the woman, no matter how little.

Koppula Venkat Rao vs. State of A.P, (2004) 3 SCC 602

In order to find an accused guilty of an attempt with intent to commit   rape, court has to be satisfied that the accused, when he laid hold of the   prosecutrix, not only desired to gratify his passions upon her person, but that he intended to do so at all events, and notwithstanding any resistance on her part. Indecent assaults are often magnified into attempts at rape. In order to come to a conclusion that the conduct of the accused was indicative of a determination to gratify his passion at all events, and in spite of all resistance, materials must exist. Surrounding circumstances many times throw beacon light on that aspect.

Madan Lal vs. State of J&K, (1997) 7 SCC 677

The difference between preparation and an attempt to commit an offence consists chiefly in the greater degree of determination and what is necessary to prove for an offence of an attempt to commit rape has been committed is that the accused has gone beyond the stage of preparation. If an accused strips a girl naked and then making her lie flat on the ground undresses himself and then forcibly rubs his erected penis on the private parts of the girl but fails to penetrate the same into the vagina and on such rubbing ejaculates himself then it is difficult for us to hold that it was a case of merely    assault under Section 354 IPC and not an attempt to commit rape under Section 376 read with Section 511 IPC. In the facts and circumstances of the present case the offence of an attempt to commit rape by the accused has   been clearly established and the High Court rightly convicted him under Section 376 read with Section 511 IPC.

Why was the case at hand a fit case of “attempt” to rape?

There was overwhelming evidence on record to prove the respondent’s deliberate overt steps to take the minor girls inside his house; closing the door(s); undressing the victims and rubbing his genitals on those of the prosecutrices. As the victims started crying, the respondent could not succeed in his penultimate act and there was a sheer providential escape from actual penetration.

“Had the respondent succeeded in penetration, even partially, his act would have fallen within the contours of `Rape’ as it stood conservatively defined under Section 375 IPC at that time.”

[State of Madhya Pradesh v. Mahendra, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 965, decided on 25.10.2021]


Counsels:

For State: Advocate Mukul Singh

For Respondent: Advocate Praveen Chaturvedi


*Judgment by: Justice Surya Kant

Know Thy Judge | Justice Surya Kant

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: Ananda Sen, J.,  dismissed and held that the amount which has been awarded by the Tribunal with the interest thereupon is just and fair compensation.

The facts of the case are such that the deceased Shashi Kumar Mahato was dashed by an unnumbered maruti omni van which was driven rashly and negligently by Lakshman Nayak, thereafter on the way to taking him to the hospital, the deceased died. The case was registered for offences under Sections 279, 304A of the Penal Code, 1860. The deceased, as per the claim application, was aged about 13 years. According to the claimants they were entitled to a compensation amount of Rs.3, 50,000/- along with interest. Therefore, the claimant-appellant has preferred this appeal for enhancement of the awarded amount passed by the District Judge-III-cum-Presiding Officer, Motor Accident Claim Tribunal, Bermo at Tenughat, Bokaro in Motor Accident Claim Case No.51 of 2011.

Counsel for the claimants submitted that the deceased was 13 years and was having bright future, as such, the Tribunal could not have denied future prospect to the claimants. Counsel appearing for the claimants further submits that the Tribunal has erred in allowing only a meager sum of Rs.10, 000/- on account of funeral expenses and a sum of Rs.15, 000/- towards the loss of love and affection.

Counsel for the Insurance Company submitted that as the deceased was 13 years, his income cannot be assessed nor the claimants can get any amount towards future prospect.

The Court relied on New India Assurance Co. Ltd. v. Satender, (2006) 13 SCC 60 wherein it was observed,

“12. In cases of young children of tender age, in view of uncertainties abound, neither their income at the time of death for the prospects of the future increase in their income nor chances of advancement of their career are capable of proper determination on estimated basis. The reason is that at such an early age, the uncertainties in regard to their academic pursuits, achievements in career and thereafter in life are so many that nothing can be assumed with reasonable certainty. Therefore, neither the income of the deceased child is capable of assessment on estimated basis nor the financial loss suffered by the parents is capable of mathematical computation.”

 The Court thus held “Considering the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, I feel that there is no need of any interference with the impugned award dated 26.03.2015 passed by the District Judge-III-cum-Presiding Officer, Motor Accident Claim Tribunal, Bermo at Tenughat, Bokaro in Motor Accident Claim Case No.51 of 2011.”

[Tukeshwari Devi v. Royal Sundaram Alliance Insurance Company Limited, 2021 SCC OnLine Jhar 705, decided on 25-08-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


 Appearances

For the Appellants: Mr Arvind Kumar Lall

For the Respondents: Mr Ashutosh Anand and Mr Satish Kumar

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: Sanjay K Agrawal, J. dismissed the petition being devoid of merits.

Facts

The facts of the case are such that the Chhattisgarh State Economic Crime Bureau and Anti Corruption Bureau registered an offence against the petitioner and other persons for offence under Section 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of Prevention of Corruption Act i.e. PC Act and Sections 120B & 420 of the Penal Code, 1860 i.e. IPC and sought sanction from respondent 1 for prosecution against the petitioner herein and other persons under Section 19(1)(b) of the PC Act and Section 197 of Criminal Procedure Code i.e. CrPC. The petitioner herein calls in question legality, validity and correctness of the impugned order dated 15-5-2019 passed by respondent No.1 in exercise of power conferred under Section 19(1)(b) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (for short, ‘the PC Act’) read with Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for short, ‘the CrPC’) granting sanction for prosecution against him for offence under Section 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of the PC Act and Sections 120B & 420 of the IPC.

Issue

The sanction for prosecution ought to have been placed before the Sub- Committee of the Cabinet, as the Administrative Department has not accorded sanction for prosecution of the petitioner modified by subsequent circular. Since that procedure was not followed by respondent 1, the order granting sanction is illegal and liable to be set-aside

Counsel for the petitioners submitted that the order granting sanction is illegal, contrary to law and deserves to be set-aside because if there is difference of opinion between two Departments of the State i.e. parent Department, here Water Resources Department and the Law Department, then the procedure laid down in the circular and its clarification issued by the State Government is required to be followed. It was further submitted that sanction can only be obtained in coordination with the Minister of Council of Political Affairs or with its concurrence and no such procedure has been followed in the present case.

The Court perused section 19 of PC Act and stated that previous sanction for prosecution is required in respect of a public servant who is employed and is not removable from his office save by or with the sanction of the State Government. The Court observed that the communication of alleged disagreement with respect to grant of sanction qua the petitioner has been made by the Chief Engineer, Water Resources Department, Raipur to the Secretary, Government of Chhattisgarh, Water Resources Department dated after the order granting sanction for prosecution under Section 19 of the PC Act and Section 197 of the CrPC was passed, whereas the disagreement was required to be expressed and to be sent by the Administrative Department before the question of sanction is considered by Respondent 1 herein.

The Court relied on judgment Subramanian Swamy v. Manmohan Singh, (2012) 3 SCC 64 and observed despite memo and reminder received by the Administrative Department – respondent 2, no response was served to respondent 1 who is the competent authority to consider the issue of grant of sanction and therefore in absence of any disagreement, the competent authority to grant sanction being the Department of Law & Legislative Affairs has proceeded to consider the matter and issued order granting sanction for prosecution against the petitioner and others. It was further established that despite memo dated 22-3-2019 reiterated by reminder dated 25-4- 2019, the Administrative Department kept pin-drop silence over the matter.

The Court further relied on judgment State of Madhya Pradesh v. Virender Kumar Tripathi, (2009) 15 SCC 533 and observed that interdicting a criminal proceeding midcourse on ground of invalidity of the sanction order will not be appropriate unless failure of justice has occasioned by any such error, omission or irregularity in the sanction and such failure of justice can be established not at the stage of framing of charge but only after the trial has commenced and the evidence is led.

The Court held “ultimately, finding no opinion of the Administrative Department (respondent 2) either way, the Department of Law & Legislative Affairs being the authority competent to grant sanction has rightly considered the issue and granted sanction for prosecution against the petitioner”.

[KK Vashishta v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2021 SCC OnLine Chh 621, decided on 15-03-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


 Appearances:

For Petitioner: Mr. B.P. Sharma and Mr. M.L. Sakat

For Respondents / State: – Mr. Jitendra Pali and Mr. Ravi Kumar Bhagat

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where a man was convicted for killing his wife on the suspicion of her infidelity and was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life, the bench of L. Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai, JJ has refused to go into the question of propriety of specifying rigorous imprisonment while imposing life sentence and has held that imprisonment for life is equivalent to rigorous imprisonment for life.

While there are several judicial precedents where the Supreme Court has held that imprisonment for life has been regarded as equivalent to rigorous imprisonment for life, the verdict in Naib Singh v. State of Punjab, (1983) 2 SCC 454 makes this position amply clear.

In the aforesaid case, the Petitioner was originally sentenced to death for committing an offence of murder under Section 302 IPC. Later, the death sentence was commuted to imprisonment for life by the Government of Punjab. After having undergone sentence of 22 years, Naib Singh filed a Writ Petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India challenging his continued detention. One of the points argued by the Petitioner relates to sentence of imprisonment for life not to be equated to rigorous imprisonment for life.

The Court, in the said judgment, held,

“… in view of the authoritative pronouncements made by the Privy Council and this Court in Kishori Lal case [Kishori Lal v. Emperor, AIR 1945 PC 64 : 72 IA 1 : 219 IC 350] and Gopal Godse case [Gopal Vinayak Godse v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1961 SC 600 : (1961) 3 SCR 440 : (1962) 1 SCJ 423 : (1961) 1 Cri LJ 736] respectively, it will have to be held that the position in law as regards the nature of punishment involved in a sentence of imprisonment for life is well settled and the sentence of imprisonment for life has to be equated to rigorous imprisonment for life.”

[Md. Alfaz Ali v. State of Assam, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 719, order dated 14.09.2021]


For Petitioner: Advocate Ajay Marwah

For State: Advocate Debojit Borkakati

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of V.K. Jadhav and Shrikant D. Kulkarni, JJ., observed that,

“…in the case of cheating, the intention of cheating right from the inception is important.”

Instant matter was directed towards quashing the FIR registered for the offence punishable under Sections 420, 323, 504, 506 of Penal Code, 1860.

Respondent 2 dealt used to sell onion collected from small farmers in the wholesale market on commission. Allegedly the applicants had purchased a huge quantity of onion. Respondent 2 submitted that the amount to the tune of Rs. 30,77,431/- towards the price of purchased onion remained unpaid.

Even after repeated demands for the said amount, applicant did not pay the said amount.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court expressed that the power of quashing the criminal proceeding should be exercised very sparingly and with circumspection and that too in a rarest of rare cases.

Court is not justified in embarking upon the inquiry as to the reliability or genuineness or otherwise of the allegations made in the F.I.R. or the complaint and that extraordinary or inherent powers do not confer an arbitrary jurisdiction on the Court to act according to its whim and caprice. 

Court noted that respondent 2 did not dispute about the filing of the complaints against the deceased for having committed the offence punishable under Section 138 NI Act.

Bench was surprised to note that the allegations were made against the deceased alone with the specific contention that he was the proprietor and in that capacity, he had issued the cheques for the balance amount.

Adding to the above, Court observed that it was not stated in those complaints that deceased Selvakumar, being a power of attorney, had issued the cheques in favour of respondent 2 for the balance amount on behalf of the firm and therefore, since he being the signatory of the cheques, the complaints under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 came to be filed against him.

After the death of the deceased, respondent 2 changed his stand and instituted the suit wherein the applicants have been implicated as defendants.

In Court’s opinion, respondent 2 had filed the complaint with some ulterior motive and mala fide intention.

“…lodging of the complaint in the police station with some mala fide intention is nothing but an attempt to convert a civil dispute into a criminal dispute.” 

In Supreme Court’s decision of Anand Kumar Mohatta v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2019) 11 SCC 706, it was ruled that where a civil dispute is converted into a criminal case to harass the accused, the exercise of power to quash criminal proceedings warranted.

Dispute in the present matter was purely of civil nature and it did not constitute a criminal offence.

Hence, Court opined that the F.I.R. lodged by respondent 2 is nothing but an abuse of the process of the court and the same is necessary to be quashed and set aside in the interest of justice.

In view of the above discussion, criminal application was disposed off. [Thirumalai Prabhu R v. State of Maharashtra, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 874, decided on 18-06-2021]


Advocates who appeared in this case:

Advocate for Applicants: Mrs. Sonawane Sunita G.

APP for Respondent No. 1-State: Mr. G.O. Wattamwar

Advocate for Respondent No. 2: Mr. Rahul R. Karpe

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Ashok Bhushan* and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ has laid down the essential ingredients required to be proved by prosecution to convict an accused under Section 364A IPC, i.e. kidnapping for ransom.

The essential ingredients are:

(i) Kidnapping or abduction of any person or keeping a person in detention after such kidnapping or abduction; and

(ii) threatens to cause death or hurt to such person, or by his conduct gives rise to a reasonable apprehension that such person may be put to death or hurt, or;

(iii) causes hurt or death to such person in order to compel the Government or any foreign State or any Governmental organization or any other person to do or abstain from doing any act or to pay a ransom.

The Court explained that after establishing first condition, one more condition has to be fulfilled since after first condition, word used is “and”. Thus, in addition to first condition either condition (ii) or (iii) has to be proved, failing which conviction under Section 364A cannot be sustained.

The Court was dealing with a case wherein a 13-year-old was kidnapped for ransom by a driver of an auto that the child had hired to go home from his school.

On 03.02.2011, the child went to a picnic organised by the school and returned to school at around 3:00 pm. Usually, he would wait for a regular (fixed) auto to drop him home from school but unfortunately on the said date, the same did not turn up. He then took another auto, after being advised the same by his father.

The accused, who was driving the said auto, took the child to the house of his sister and demanded a ransom of Rs.2 lakhs from the child’s father.

After receiving the phone call, the child’s father went to the police station and lodged report. The accused was apprehended by the Police while the child’s father was trying to handover the ransom to the accused. The Child was found in an auto a short distance away.

It is important to note that as per the statement of the child, he had himself stated he was treated in a good manner. He had also not alleged that any threat was extended to cause death or hurt to the victim.

In such circumstances, the second condition highlighted above, which is “and threatens to cause a death or hurt to such person, or by his conduct gives rise to a reasonable apprehension that such person may be put to death or hurt”, stood unfulfilled.

The Court, hence, set aside the conviction of the appellant under Section 364A.

However, from the evidence on record regarding kidnapping, it is proved that accused had kidnapped the victim for ransom, demand of ransom was also proved.

“The offence of kidnapping having been proved, the appellant deserves to be convicted under Section 363. Section 363 provides for punishment which is imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine.”

The Court, hence, sentenced the accused to imprisonment of seven years and fine of Rs.5,000/- and directed that after completion of imprisonment of seven years (if not completed already) the appellant shall be released.

[Shaik Ahmed v. State of Telangana,  2021 SCC OnLine SC 436, decided on 28.06.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice Ashok Bhushan

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Upholding the citizens’ right to criticise the government, the bench of UU Lalit* and Vineet Saran, JJ, has quashed the FIR lodged against Journalist Vinod Dua over his YouTube show on communal riots in Delhi earlier this year.

The Court held,

“… a citizen has a right to criticize or comment upon the measures undertaken by the Government and its functionaries, so long as he does not incite people to violence against the Government established by law or with the intention of creating public disorder; and that it is only when the words or expressions have pernicious tendency or intention of creating public disorder or disturbance of law and order that Sections 124A and 505 of the IPC must step in.”

What was the controversy?

According to the complaint, Dua had accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of using “deaths and terror attacks” to get votes.

The FIR read,

“On 30th March, 2020, Mr. Vinod Dua, in his show namely The Vinod Dua Show on YouTube, has made unfounded and bizarre allegations (details of particular moments are provided below) by stating following facts at 5 minutes and 9 seconds of the video, he has stated that Narendra Modi has used deaths and terror attacks to garner votes. At 5 minutes and 45 seconds of the video, he claims that the government does not have enough testing facilities and has made false statements about the availability of the Personal Protective Kits (PPE) and has stated that there is no sufficient information on those. Further, he also went on to state that ventilators and sanitizer exports were stopped only on 24th March 2020.”

According to the F.I.R. “…by making such false statements, Mr.Vinod Dua spread fear amongst the people. This video will only create a situation of unrest amongst the public which will result in panic and people not obeying the lockdown to come out and hoard essentials which is absolutely unnecessary.…. The rumours were spread with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public or to any section of the public, whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquillity.”

Why no case of sedition was made out against Dua?

Deaths and terror attacks

The statements attributed to Dua that the Prime Minister had used deaths and terror attacks to garner votes or that the Prime Minister had garnered votes through acts of terrorism, were not made in the Talk Show. No such assertions find place in the true translation nor were any objections raised that the translated version was in any way incorrect. The petitioner did say that the air strikes by India on Balakot and attacks on Pathankot and Pulwama were used as political events to garner votes but no allegations were made against the Prime Minister as was stated in the F.I.R.

COVID-19 Testing facilities

Considering the size of the population of this country, the testing facilities to gauge and check the spread and effect of the Pandemic, at least in the initial stages of the surge, were not exactly adequate. If in that light, the petitioner made any comments about testing facilities or PPE Suits, N-95 masks and masks of ply, those comments in first two statements, cannot be anything other than appraisal of the situation then obtaining.

Migrant workers

As on 30.03.2020, migrant workers in huge numbers were moving towards their hometowns/villages. In the circumstances, there would naturally be some apprehension about the shelter and food to be provided to them en-route. The former Chief Statistician had expressed a possibility with the intent to invite the attention of the authorities.

If Dua, in his talk show uploaded on 30.03.2020, that is even before the matter was taken up by the Supreme Court, made certain assertions, he would be within his rights to say that as a Journalist he was touching upon issues of great concern so that adequate attention could be bestowed to the prevailing problems.

It cannot be said that the petitioner was spreading any false information or rumours.

“It is not the case of the respondents that the migrant workers started moving towards their hometowns/villages purely as a result of the statements made by the petitioner. Such movement of migrant workers had begun long before.”

In the circumstances, these statements can neither be taken to be an attempt to incite migrant workers to start moving towards their hometowns or villages nor can it be taken to be an incitement for causing any food riots. The situation was definitely alarming around 30.03.2020 and as a journalist if the petitioner showed some concern, could it be said that he committed offences as alleged.

Conclusion

According to the Court, only such activities which would be intended or have a tendency to create disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence – are rendered penal.

Based on the aforementioned analysis of the statements, the Court said that the said statements,

“can at best be termed as expression of disapprobation of actions of the Government and its functionaries so that prevailing situation could be addressed quickly and efficiently. They were certainly not made with the intent to incite people or showed tendency to create disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence.”

Hence, the prosecution of Dua for the offences punishable under Sections 124A and 505 (1) (b) of the IPC3 would be unjust. Those offences, going by the allegations in the FIR and other attending circumstances, are not made out at all and any prosecution in respect thereof would be violative of the rights of the petitioner guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

[Vinod Dua v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 414, decided on 03.06.2021]


Judgment by: Justice UU Lalit

For Petitioner: Vikas Singh, Senior Advocate

For Respondents: Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju, Senior Advocates Mahesh Jethamalani and Vinay Navre

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI): The Court of Shivank Singh, Special Judicial Magistrate (CBI) while convicting the accused of the offences under Sections 120B, 420 of Penal Code, 1860 acquitted the accused of the offences under Sections 467, 468, 471 of Penal Code, 1860.

In the present matter, Alishan Khan with Asad Ali (accused in the present matter) were accused of criminal conspiracy with each other for dishonestly and fraudulently availing the benefit of wrongful gains to themselves and subsequently causing wrongful loss to the Department of Customs. In that process, evasion of the payment of customs duty, act of falsely claiming themselves as Manufacturer Exports with the support of forged documentation was carried out. Further the facilities otherwise available to firms were availed, again with forged documents, to waive off the condition to deposit bank guarantee. Subsequently, they again approached the office of Jt. Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) for issue of an advance import licence for a Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) value of Rs. 2.02 Crores which was almost 20 times the value of the earlier licence. It was during investigation, that the exports claims so made were also found to be false. Interestingly, the firm or the unit from where they supposedly functioned was also found to be non-existent.

Therefore, the substantial question was of the role of the accused in the entire criminal transaction and involvement in the affairs of the non-existent firm.

The prosecution examined 25 witnesses, and intriguingly, the defence had no witness in support.

The Court while taking note of the testimonies of the witnesses so put forth, arguments advanced and charges levied, considered it appropriate to deal with the provisions of all substantive offences one by one.

While acquitting under Section 467 of IPC, the Court referred to, Sheila Sebastian v. R. Jawaharaj, (2018) 7 SCC 3, wherein it was held that the charge of forgery cannot be imposed on a person who is not the maker of the same. For Section 468 of IPC, the court was firm that use of the forged shipping bills, rent receipts, etc. were not proved beyond reasonable doubt. And further for Section 471 read with 467 of IPC, was of the opinion that, the evidence on record revealed that the accused was the beneficiary of the forged documents “…but it is not established by the prosecution that accused had used the very ‘forged documents’ in question as genuine. Law is settled on this point, that however strong the suspicion maybe, it cannot take place of proof…”.

For conviction under Section 420 of IPC, after a conjoint reading of the testimonies of the witnesses and the corroborating evidences, the Court very firmly stated that, “the prosecution has very clearly manifested Asad Ali’s role in the entire chain of transaction and has proved that it was Asad Ali who had acted upon, manoeuvered and operated the affairs of M/s United Exports sub rosa…”. For Section 120-B, the Court mightily opined that, “…it is settled law that in the case of conspiracy there cannot be any direct evidence. Privacy and secrecy are more characteristics of a conspiracy, than of a loud discussion in an elevated place open to public view…”. “…the circumstances proved before, during and after the concurrence have to be considered to decide about the complicity of the accused…”. “…It would have been difficult for any of the accused, to execute alone such conspiracy or cheating. But with the combined efforts they were able to do the same…”.

Therefore, the Court after considering the entire facts and circumstances, convicted the accused for the offence under Section 120-B of IPC, to undergo rigorous imprisonment of 3 years and pay fine of Rs. 10,000/- and for the offence under Section 420 of IPC, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 03 years and pay fine of Rs. 10,000/- which shall run concurrently. Also, the accused was entitled to set off under Section 428 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 for the period already undergone in judicial custody, if any.[CBI v. Asad Ali, 5103092/2005 decided on 01-04-2021]

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: 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]