Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: After noticing common deficiencies which occur in the course of criminal trials and certain practices adopted by trial courts in criminal proceedings as well as in the disposal of criminal cases and causes, the 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhatt, JJ has directed all High Courts to take expeditious steps to incorporate the Draft Rules of Criminal Practice, 2021 as part of the rules governing criminal trials, and ensure that the existing rules, notifications, orders and practice directions are suitably modified, and promulgated (wherever necessary through the Official Gazette) within 6 months.

If the state government’s co-operation is necessary in this regard, the approval of the concerned department or departments, and the formal notification of the said Draft Rules, shall be made within the said period of six months.

Further, the state governments, as well as the Union of India (in relation to investigating agencies in its control) shall carry out consequential amendments to their police and other manuals, within six months from today.

The Draft Rules are to be finalised based on the following observations:

  • The lack of uniform practices in regard to preparation of injury reports, deposition of witnesses, translation of statements, numbering and nomenclature of witnesses, labeling of material objects, etc., often lead to asymmetries and hamper appreciation of evidence, which in turn has a tendency of prolonging proceedings, especially at the appellate stages.
  • While furnishing the list of statements, documents and material objects under Sections 207/208, Cr. PC, the magistrate should also ensure that a list of other materials, (such as statements, or objects/documents seized, but not relied on) should be furnished to the accused. This is to ensure that in case the accused is of the view that such materials are necessary to be produced for a proper and just trial, she or he may seek appropriate orders, under the CrPC for their production during the trial, in the interests of justice.
  • During a trial, in terms of Section 132, every witness is bound to answer the questions she or he is asked; however, that is subject to the caveat that he or she is entitled to claim silence, if the answers incriminate him or her, by virtue of Article 20 (3) of the Constitution. Every judge who presides over a criminal trial, has the authority and duty to decide on the validity or relevance of questions asked of witnesses.
  • Apart from Section 148, there are other provisions of the Evidence Act (Sections 149-154) which define the ground rules for cross examination. During questioning, no doubt, the counsel for the party seeking cross examination has considerable leeway; cross examination is not confined to matters in issue, but extends to all relevant facts. However, if the court is not empowered to rule, during the proceeding, whether a line of questioning is relevant, the danger lies in irrelevant, vague and speculative answers entering the record. Further, based on the answers to what (subsequently turn out to be irrelevant, vague or otherwise impermissible questions) more questions might be asked and answered. If this process were to be repeated in case of most witnesses, the record would be cluttered with a jumble of irrelevant details, which at best can be distracting, and at worst, prejudicial to the accused.

The presiding officer therefore, should decide objections to questions, during the course of the proceeding, or failing it at the end of the deposition of the concerned witness. This will result in decluttering the record, and, what is more, also have a salutary effect of preventing frivolous objections.

In given cases, if the court is of the opinion that repeated objections have been taken, the remedy of costs, depending on the nature of obstruction, and the proclivity of the line of questioning, may be resorted to.

  • The courts in all criminal trials should, at the beginning of the trial, i.e. after summoning of the accused, and framing of charges, hold a preliminary case management hearing. This hearing may take place immediately after the framing of the charge. In this hearing, the court should consider the total number of witnesses, and classify them as eyewitness, material witness, formal witness (who would be asked to produce documents, etc) and experts.

At that stage, the court should consider whether the parties are in a position to admit any document (including report of experts, or any document that may be produced by the accused, or relied on by her or him). If so, the exercise of admission/denial may be carried out under Section 294, Cr. PC, for which a specific date may be fixed. The schedule of recording of witnesses should then be fixed, by giving consecutive dates. Each date so fixed, should be scheduled for a specific number of witnesses.

However, the concerned witnesses may be bound down to appear for 2-3 consecutive dates, in case their depositions are not concluded. Also, in case any witness does not appear, or cannot be examined, the court 8 shall indicate a fixed date for such purpose. The recording of deposition of witnesses shall then be taken up, after the scheduling exercise is complete.


Amici Curiae: Senior Advocates Siddharth Luthra and R. Basanth and Advocate K. Parameshwar, assisted by Advocates A. Karthik, Mehak Jaggi and M.V. Mukunda

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court:  The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, SA Nazeer and Hemant Gupta*, JJ has reiterated that the nomenclature under which the petition is filed is not quite relevant and it does not debar the Court from exercising its jurisdiction which otherwise it possesses.

The Court hearing a where a petition was filed against an order of the Wakf Tribunal before the High Court but was styled as a Writ Petition under Article 226 of the Constitution. The Court explained that when a petition is filed against an order of the Wakf Tribunal before the High Court, the High Court exercises the jurisdiction under Article 227 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, it is wholly immaterial that the petition was titled as a writ petition. In fact, in certain High Courts, petition under Article 227 is titled as writ petition, in certain other High Courts as revision petition and in certain others as a miscellaneous petition.

Further, the proviso to sub-section (9) of Section 83 of the Wakf Act, 1995 confers power on the High Court to call for and examine the records relating to any dispute, question or other matter which has been determined by the Tribunal for the purpose of satisfying itself as to the correctness, legality or propriety of such determination.

“The statutory provision is acceptance of the principle that the jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 or 227 of the Constitution of India cannot be curtailed.”

Relying on the decision in Pepsi Foods Ltd. v. Special Judicial Magistrate, (1998) 5 SCC 749, the Court said that if the Court finds that the appellants could not invoke its jurisdiction under Article 226, the Court can certainly treat the petition as one under Article 227 or Section 482 of the Code.

“Therefore, the petition styled as one under Article 226 would not bar the High Court to exercise jurisdiction under the Act and/or under Article 227 of the Constitution. The jurisdiction of the High Court to examine the correctness, legality and propriety of determination of any dispute by the Tribunal is reserved with the High Court. The nomenclature of the proceedings as a petition under Article 226 or a petition under Article 227 is wholly inconsequential and immaterial.”

[Kiran Devi v. Bihar State Sunni Wakf Board, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 280, decided on 05.04.2021]

*Judgment by Justice Hemant Gupta

Know Thy Judge| Justice Hemant Gupta

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: After the Court noticed that, in a case, where the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) had passed the reasoned order 8 months after the pronouncement of the operative order, the bench of Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi, JJ has asked the President of the NCDRC into the matter, and take necessary steps so that this practice is discontinued, and the reasoned Judgment is passed alongwith the operative order.

The Court also observed that in all matters where reasons are yet to be delivered, it must be ensured that the same are made available to the litigating parties positively within a period of two months.

In the present case, the operative order was pronounced on 26.04.2019 and the the reasoned order was passed on 20.12.2019 by the NCDRC. The Supreme Court then directed the Registrar of the NCDRC to submit a Report stating the number of cases in which reasoned judgments had not been passed, even though the operative order had been pronounced in Court.

By the report dated 27.7.2020, the Court was informed that as on 20.12.2019, there were 85 such cases in which the operative order had been pronounced, but reasoned judgments were not delivered so far.

“The fact which has been brought to our notice by the Registrar of the Commission can, in no manner, be countenanced that between the date of operative portion of the order and the reasons are yet to be provided, or the hiatus period is much more than what has been observed to be   the   maximum time period for even pronouncement of reserved judgments.”

The Court noticed that the rights of the aggrieved parties are being prejudiced if the reasons are not available to them to avail of the legal remedy of approaching the Court where the reasons can be scrutinized.

“It indeed amounts to defeating the rights of the party aggrieved to challenge the impugned judgment on merits and even the succeeding party is unable to obtain the fruits of success of the litigation.”

[Sudipta Chakrobarty v. Ranaghta SD Hospital, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 107, order dated 15.02.2021]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan*, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ has reiterated that an application by a person who is in no way connected with the criminal proceeding or criminal trial under Section 482 Cr.P.C. cannot ordinarily be entertained by the High Court.


The Court was dealing with a case wherein a person (respondent no. 2) who is “a social activist and an advocate” and “a person having an urge to positively contribute to the society in all possible ways” had filed application under Section 482 Cr.P.C in an ongoing case against one Sanjai Tiwari under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, seeking direction to Special Judge to expedite and conclude Special Trial. He, further, stated in his application that although FIR was lodged in 2006 but it got delayed by tactics opted by the accused persons. “The Vigilance Department completed the investigation after about 14 years and still the accused persons are trying to get away from the charges.”

On 09.09.2020, the High Court disposed of the said application directing the Court concerned “to expedite the proceedings of the aforesaid case and conclude the same, at the earliest possible, on day to day basis without granting any unnecessary adjournment to either of the parties, in accordance with law, provided there is no impediment.”


In order to answer the issue relating to locus of a third party to challenge the criminal proceedings or to seek relief in respect of criminal proceedings of accused, the Court referred to the judgment in Janata Dal vs. H.S. Chowdhary and others, (1993) 1 SCC 756, wherein it was held,

“Even if there are million questions of law to be deeply gone into and examined in a criminal case of this nature registered against specified accused persons, it is for them and them alone to raise all such questions and challenge the proceedings initiated against them at the appropriate time before the proper forum and not for third parties under the garb of public interest litigants.”

The Court further noticed that criminal trial where offences involved are under the Prevention of Corruption Act have to be conducted and concluded at the earliest since the offences under Prevention of Corruption Act are offences which affect not only the accused but the entire society and administration. It is also well settled that the High Court in appropriate cases can very well under Section 482 Cr.P.C. or in any other proceeding can always direct trial court to expedite the criminal trial and issue such order as may be necessary.

“A criminal trial of an accused is conducted in accordance with procedure as prescribed by the Criminal Procedure Code. It is the obligation of the State and the prosecution to ensure that all criminal trials are conducted expeditiously so that justice can be delivered to the accused if found guilty.”

However, in the present, the proceeding initiated by respondent No.2 did not appear to be a bona fide proceeding. He is in no way connected with initiation of criminal proceeding against the appellant.

“The present is not a case where prosecution or even the employer of the accused have filed an application either before the trial court or in any other court seeking direction as prayed by respondent No.2 in his application under Section 482 Cr.P.C.”

Hence, noticing that the respondent No.2 has no locus to file the application which was not clearly maintainable, the Court held that the impugned judgment of the Allahabad High Court dated 09.09.2020 cannot be sustained.

The Court, however, observed that it will be open for the trial court to expedite the criminal trial, the offences being the offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, subject to any order passed by the High Court in pending proceedings.

[Sanjai Tiwari v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 1027, decided on 16.12.2020]

*Justice Ashok Bhushan has penned this judgment.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Appreciating the presentation made by State of Chhattisgarh’s Standing Counsel Sumeer Sodhi by filing a Convenience Note, the 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, Vineet Saran and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ has suggested that the said note be taken as the Standard Format by all the counsels appearing for various States.

Here’s the Convenience Note presented by counsel Sumeer Sodhi:


Calling the note extracted above an illustration on how a case can be presented on behalf of the State, the Court has asked the Registry to circulate copies of the Order to all the Standing Counsel for the States.

[Kaushal Verma v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 1012, order dated 08.12.2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where, for the enormous delay of 1697 days in filing, the Government said that there was a public interest involved and that there were certain other matters pending, the bench of SK Kaul amd KM Joseph, JJ said that the Government doesn’t have the right to walk into this Court as and when they want even if other matters are pending.

It said,

“All we can say that if there is public interest involved then the Government has been grossly negligent to look after public interest.”

The application for condonation of delay showed that in the worst case scenario, with all its delays, the matter was ready for filing of the SLP on 18.02.2015 whereafter a certified copy of the order was applied later on and thereafter we straightaway come about 2½ years later on 23.08.2018.

Hence, stating that there was no merit in the application, the Court said that if the Government has suffered any consequences thereof monetarily or otherwise, it can recover financial recompensation from the persons responsible for causing loss to the Government.

The Court, hence, dismissed the SLP as barred by time.

[State of West Bengal v. Soroj Kumar Mondal, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 532 , order dated 19.06.2020]

Op EdsOP. ED.

The matter is called out, you walk into court confidently thinking all your documents will be marked because you have them neatly arranged in a compilation…15–20 minutes later you wonder why the documents are marked for identification and half your documents are not admitted. That senior who appeared just before me got his documents admitted….what happened to me?

Well most of us have faced this at least in our junior days at the bar. Why did that happen?

The answer lies in the realm of sufficiency of proof of the document sought to be marked.

I’m going to discuss how to get over this as best as possible given the documents you have in hand in a given case.

First we need to understand that evidence consists ­­of “documentary evidence” and “oral evidence”

This article restricts itself to proof of documentary evidence.

Documentary evidence under the Evidence Act, 1872 (the Act) is of various types:

Broadly and most often we deal with “private documents”[1]. Documents such as letters, agreements, emails, etc. exchanged between contesting parties to a litigation are private documents.

The next set of documents which one deals with are “public documents”[2] for example documents such as a  birth certificate, marriage certificate, a bill of a public water utility or electric company or an FIR filed before the police station. In these cases the record of the authority or a certified copy[3] or an extract is issued by an officer of a public authority discharging functions delegated to him – these are public documents. A public document is one which is basically a reproduction of an entry contained in some kind of public register, book or record relating to relevant facts or a certified copy issued by the authority as for example a birth certificate providing details such as date of birth, place where the birth took place the name of the mother, etc. Generally speaking, courts do accept public documents more readily than private documents as there is a presumption that the risk of tampering with public documents is far less as it has come from a reliable source such is the public record or register duly maintained in an official capacity. The Courts also consider the entries in such records maintained by public authorities to be relevant facts[4]. Courts generally lean in favor of accepting or admitting the contents of public documents since these documents have as their genesis some reliable source and can be traced back to that reliable source for verification if necessary. However even a public document still doesn’t stand proved by the mere fact of its production. It must be proved in the normal manner of proof as discussed hereafter when an objection to it is taken.

Sometimes you also deal with what are known as ancient documents or documents which are more than 30 years old[5]. Section 90 of the Act provides a presumption with regard to these documents.

There is also a category of documents which we come across which could be public or private documents but they are not documents in original. Proof of such documents poses a further complication when it comes to proving the same. To prove such documents we need to lead what we all know as secondary evidence[6].

We also come across cases where something is said by one person to another and that is not recorded in writing between the two persons. In that case only “oral evidence” would have to be given as opposed to “documentary evidence”.

For all these cases what is needed to be proved is the truth of the  facts stated in the documents be it an original document or a carbon copy or xerox copy or a public document.

The question which really requires to be answered is how is that done and what is the correct mode and manner of doing so.

 Under the Act, the court usually accepts a fact is proved when after considering the document and the evidence before it, it comes to the conclusion that what is stated in the document is believable based on what the document on the face of it states along with what a witness to the document states about the contents and the manner in which the document was prepared/authored. This is the heart of the matter and it is when the court believes not only in the existence but also truth of contents that the document would be exhibited by the court.

At the stage of exhibition of the documents the court looks at two basic aspects, one the existence of the document and secondly the proof of contents being sufficiently deposed to by a witness having requisite knowledge of the contents thereof. On being satisfied of both these criteria the document in question will be exhibited. At the stage of marking or exhibiting documents the truth of what is stated in the document is not considered and is left open to final evaluation at the trial after cross-examination is conducted and the entire testimony of the witness on the document is weighed. It is then that the court concludes the document speaks the truth or not and decides what weightage is to be given to it for arriving at a final decision in the matter.

Objections to exhibition of documents are of two basic types and are indicated in the admission and denial statement exchanged between parties once a compilation is tendered to the opposite party. There can be an objection/denial of the very existence of the document and secondly an objection/denial of the truth of contents of the documents. Depending on the objection taken the mode of proof is required to be tailored.


Where the document is not disputed in terms of its existence or contents but the objection taken is that the document in the compilation is a xerox copy and not the original (since it may be lost or not traceable), the mode of proof would be in the case of a private document to lead secondary evidence which is discussed later. However this is only necessary if the court so insists as once the existence and contents is accepted or not denied even a copy would be exhibited as there is no real objection and what the court has to consider is the truth of contents. Similarly in the case of a public document (if the court so insists) the mode of proving such a public document is to have as required either the actual public document produced by issuing a witness summons through court or alternately having a certified copy or extract of the document[7] produced as proof of the contents of the public document. Here in such a case a witness is asked by way of a witness summons to merely produce a document in position of the public authority. The procedure followed usually by the courts is that the original document is taken possession of from the public authority (who attends court at a time fixed), and exhibited after he/she confirms it forms part of the official records maintained by the authority. It is important that this fact i.e. that the document produced is shown to form part of the official record maintained by the authority which is producing it is clearly stated by the witness summoned for the purpose. The court after being satisfied of this i.e. that the documents are produced from the authentic records of the public authority would then exhibit the documents. This is how a public document can be proved in case there is no contest to the existence of the public document but the objection is about it not being an authenticated document.


In case of a private or public document where there is a denial of the existence and contents then in that case it would be necessary to prove such document by way of the ordinary method of proof of documents and their contents. It matters not that the document is a public document. The Bombay High Court has in Om Prakash Berlia v. Unit Trust of India [8] held that even a public document requires proof in the ordinary course and it is not that a public document is proved by its mere production by a public authority where the contents are disputed. In that case it was held: (SCC Online paras 13, 14 and 26)

13. It will have been noticed that the production of certified copies under the provisions of Section 63 is a means of leading secondary evidence. Secondary evidence can, obviously, be led only of what the document states not as to whether what the document states is true. Under Section 65(e), secondary evidence may be given when the original is a public document within the meaning of Section 74 and only a certified copy of the public document is admissible. Secondary evidence of a public document so led only proves what the document states, no more. In other words, he who seeks to prove a public document is relieved of the obligation to produce the original. He can produce instead a certified copy. All other requirements he must still comply with.

  1. In this context this Court’s judgment in C.H. Shah v. S.S. Malpathak [9] must be noted. The Court was concerned with deciding whether the original of a public document has to be proved in the same manner as any other document. A consideration of the relevant provisions of the Evidence Act clearly showed the Court that the only difference which the Act made between public and private documents was in regard to the form of secondary evidence which is admissible viz. a certified copy, and in regard to the presumption of the genuineness of the certified copy; in all other respects no distinction was drawn by the Act between public and private documents.

                                  *                                    *                                      *

  1. In the result, I hold that the said copy and extract (Exhibits 17 and 18) do not establish, even prima facie, the truth or accuracy or correctness of the contents of their originals. They prove only what the contents of their originals are.”

                                                                                                                (emphasis supplied)

In case of disputed documents the first step is producing the original or primary direct evidence[10] and then leading the evidence of the person who has made the original unless of course that person is no longer available. In such a case the first step is producing the original and annexing it with the compilation of documents and then leading the evidence of the person who has made the document or been party to its formation. In case the document is available in original with the party proposing to prove it as for example an agreement retained in original by him, there appears no difficulty. However, in case the document is lost then the only way is to lead secondary evidence of the same through a copy made in accordance with Sections 63 and 65 of the Act. However in the case for example of a letter which is written by Mr. A to Mr. B which is sought to be proved by Mr. A, first that letter in original will have to be produced. This can be done by Mr. A issuing a notice to produce to Mr. B because obviously having written the letter to Mr. B the letter would not remain with him. In response if Mr. B disputes that the letter was even received by him one would have to prove that the letter was duly received by Mr. B by giving evidence of proof of delivery by registered post AD or evidence of the fact that Mr. B had responded to the letter or had referred to that letter in some other later of correspondence or it was hand delivered. In such a case then appropriate secondary evidence would have to be led while annexing to the compilation instead of an original a copy which conforms with the requirements of Section 63 of the Act. In both the above cases what is achieved is only the first stage of obtaining the requisite document and making it a part of the compilation relied on. In both cases the only thing proved by the above process is the existence of the document.

However for exhibition of the document it is necessary to depose to the truth of contents of the document i.e. what is said in the agreement or what was written in the letter is true and correct.

In both the cases what would be necessary is to prove the contents of the document because what is important is not that something is really stated in the document but whether what is stated in the document is correct. That can only be proved by somebody who knows about the document itself or who was a party to making the document or had verified the document or approved it or signed it with knowledge of its contents. This is because evidence must be direct primary evidence under Sections 60 to 62 of the Act.

The next step after the production of the document in original or as a copy (secondary evidence) in the compilation of documents is to lead appropriate evidence of the truth of the contents of the document sought to be proved. That needs to be done in the aforesaid example by the evidence of a person (who was a party to or had been intricately involved with or drafted/gave instructions to make the agreement or letter) stating so in the witness box or in an affidavit of examination- in- chief about these facts. It is not enough to only depose that the letter or agreement is signed by the witness, he must also depose to some particulars of the letter or agreement showing he is personally aware about what is mentioned therein. As an example if Mr. A only deposes that he signed the letter but that it was written by somebody else and he had not verified its contents then the letter doesn’t stand proved because all that Mr A is able to do and say is that he signed such a letter. This only proves his signature and at best the existence of the same. What is crucial is the contents of the letter and that can only be proved by the person who authored the letter on the basis of knowing the facts stated in the letter. Therefore what is examined by the court and what must be shown if the document is sought to be proved sufficiently for exhibition is to give direct evidence under Section 60 of the Act by the person who is aware of the facts of the case. The person who gives evidence must not only give direct evidence but he must also have the necessary knowledge about what is stated in the document which he is trying to prove. This is because what is necessary is that evidence cannot be hearsay evidence. I will shortly deal with this. To prove the contents of a document what is needed is to prove by direct evidence of the person concerned with the transaction (for public and private documents) the actual facts stated in the document. A reading of the evidence must show that the witness has personal knowledge of what the contents of the letter or agreement talk of and can depose sufficiently thereon. In case the evidence shows the witness attempting to prove the document is not aware of the contents and another person is aware of it the document will not be exhibited till that other person has deposed on the contents of the document. It is only once this is done that the document can be stated to be proved sufficiently for exhibition. Care must be taken to see that someone who can vouchsafe for the contents must depose to the documents.  The Supreme court in Narbada Devi Gupta v. Birendra Kumar Jaiswal[11] has held: (SCC p. 751)

16…. The legal position is not in dispute that mere production and marking of a document as exhibit by the court cannot be held to be a due proof of its contents. Its execution has to be proved by admissible evidence, that is, by the “evidence of those persons who can vouchsafe for the truth of the facts in issue”…”

(emphasis supplied)

One of the best and most instructive cases on proof of documents is that of Madholal Sindhu v.  Asian Assurance Co. Ltd.[12] It is therein held that it is not sufficient to merely prove that somebody signed a document and the witness could prove or identify the signature, what is required is to prove that the person who signed the document was aware of the document and its contents and the transaction. In that case it was held as follows: (SCC Online paras 4-6, 8 & 9)

“4. Mr. Somjee argued that under the provisions of the Evidence Act all facts except the contents of documents could be proved by oral evidence, that so far as the contents of documents are concerned, they could be proved either by primary or secondary evidence, that the primary evidence of the documents meant the documents themselves produced before the court, and that if the documents were alleged to be signed or to have been written wholly or in part by any person, the signature or the handwriting of so much of the document as was in that person’s handwriting need be proved to be in his handwriting. He, therefore, urged that the said various documents which he sought to prove before the court need only be proved to be in the handwriting of the persons making the same and if he succeeded in doing so by calling the evidence of persons acquainted with the handwriting of the persons who signed or wrote out the said several documents, he was entitled to put them in and argued that the contents of the said documents were also proved by him.

  1. This proposition sounded to me a novel one. I had in fact never heard any such argument before. Section 67, Evidence Act only permitted the proof of the signature or handwriting of the person signing or writing the document to be given and considered it to be sufficient in those cases where the issue between the parties was whether a document was signed or written wholly or in part by that person. It did not go so far as to say that even if it was proved that the signature or the handwriting of so much of the document as was alleged to be in the handwriting of the person, was in his handwriting, it would go to prove the contents of that document. No doubt the proof insofar as it was sought to be given in the evidence of Balkrishna Bhagwan Deshmukh of the signature or handwriting of the said various documents could have established that those documents were signed or written in the handwriting of Deshpande, Paranjape or Jamnadas; but the matter could rest there and would carry the plaintiff no further.
  2. It certainly could not prove that the contents of those various documents which were thus proved to have been signed or written by Deshpande, Paranjape or Jamnadas were correct, and unless the plaintiff succeeded in proving the correctness of the contents of those various documents, he would not advance any step towards proving his case. Mr. Taraporewalla for the bank and Jamnadas supported Mr. Somjee in his submission. He submitted that once the signatures were proved the letters as a whole were proved, though the Court might say that the contents thereof were not proved in the sense that they were true. He submitted that the Court could admit those documents in evidence with that reservation, a reservation which to my mind went to the root of the whole matter and deprived the documents of all value whatsoever even if they might be admitted by the Court in evidence.

                         *                                *                                 *

  1. Mr. Setalvad on the strength of this authority urged that the documents which were sought to be tendered by Mr. Somjee through this witness Balkrishna Bhagwan Deshmukh could not be admitted in evidence without calling the signatory or the writer thereof who could be the only persons competent to depose to the truth of contents of the said various documents. Mr. Somjee replied urging that the usual mode of proving documents was by calling the writer or by the testimony of the persons who were acquainted with the handwriting of the persons in question, and he was thus entitled to prove the various documents which he sought to tender in evidence through this witness Balkrishna Bhagwan Deshmukh who was acquainted with the signatures or handwriting of the persons who signed or wrote the said various documents.
  2. As I have already observed it was futile for Mr. Somjee to merely prove the signatures or the handwriting of the persons who signed or wrote the various documents without calling the said persons who were the only persons who could depose to the correctness of the contents of those various documents. Whether Deshpande, Paranjape or Jamnadas signed or wrote the various documents, was not the only issue before me. It that had been the only issue, the proof of the signatures or the handwriting of Deshpande Paranjape or Jamnadas would have been enough. What was in issue, however, before me was apart from Deshpande, Paranjape or Jamnadas having signed or written those documents, whether the contents of those various documents were correct. This certainly could not be proved by Balkrishna Bhagwan Deshmukh who had no personal knowledge whatever about the contents of those various documents. It would have served no purpose whatever to admit those documents in evidence with the reservation as suggested by Mr. Taraporewalla. I was supported in this conclusion of mine by the remarks of the appeal Court in — ‘11 Bom HCR 242 [13] at p. 246 (A)’, and I accordingly declined to admit in evidence the said various documents in spite of Balkrishna Bhagwan Deshmukh deposing before me that the said various documents were signed by or were in the handwriting of Deshpande, Paranjape or Jamnadas. (The rest of the judgment is not material to the report.)”

The principles in Madholal case[14] stand the test of time even today and this judgement has even been referred to in a later judgement of the Bombay High Court Sir Mohammed Yusuf v.  D[15] where it is quoted with approval. The following passages are relevant:

13. Mr. Peerbhoy contended that the entire document (Ext. 28) could not be admitted in evidence inasmuch as D had only proved the signature below the document. The Tribunal gave a ruling stating that in their opinion proof of the signature was not proof of the contents of the document, which bears the signature. They added that “it would be open to Mr. Peerbhoy to contend that despite the admission of the document on record what was proved was that the document bore the signature of Abreo and not that their contents were true”. In their report, the tribunal have stated that proof of the signature does not amount to proof of the contents of Ext. 28. Nor did it mean that even if Abreo had received that copy letter, he showed it to Abdul Rahman at any time. According to the Bar Council Tribunal, the evidentiary value of Ext. 28, even if it is held proved, was almost nil. As pointed out above, the mode of proving Ext. 28 that was initially undertaken by D was to identify the signature of Abreo as a person who was acquainted with Abreo’s handwriting (vide Section 47 of the Evidence Act). The ruling given by the tribunal may hold good so far as the question of the proof of the contents of Ext. 28 is concerned, (we will discuss this question presently at some length), if the only mode of proof adopted by D was to identify the signature of Abreo. It certainly does not apply to the second mode of proof which D sought to adopt, for the first time, in his further examination-in-chief before the Bar Council Tribunal by saying that Abreo put his signature below Ext. 28 in his presence, for this amounts to proof of the execution of the document. We are not, however, disposed to accept the improved version of D, when he tried to say, for the first time before the Tribunal, that he had seen Abreo putting his signature below Ext. 28. The mode of proof that D adopted in the first instance fell within the purview of Section 47 of the Evidence Act, that is to say, it amounted to his opinion about the signature of Abreo on the basis of his acquaintance with the latter’s hand-writing. The Bar Council Tribunal had probably in their mind the decision of Bhagwati, J. (as he then was) in Madholal Sindhu v. Asian Assurance Co.[16] The Advocate General has strongly relied upon this judgment and contended that proof of the signature below the document does not amount to proof of the contents of the document. In that case an attempt was made to prove through the sub-accountant in the head office of the Bank several documents consisting of letters and documents executed by Jamnadas in favour of the bank and also the resolutions of the executive committee of the bank and the letters addressed by the bank to Nissim by proving the handwriting in which all the documents purported to have been written. Bhagwati, J. characterised this attempt “as an attempt to prove the handwriting of these various documents without calling in evidence the persons who had written the same or who were acquainted with the contents thereof so that they might not be subjected to cross-examination at the hands of the counsel for the official Assignee. The witnesses who could have proved those documents and the contents thereof would have been Deshpande, the managing director of the bank. Paranjape the Secretary of the bank, Jamnadas and Nissim”. Bhagwati, J. referred to Section 67 of the Evidence Act and observed:

“Section 67 of the Evidence Act only permits the proof of the signature or handwriting of the person signing or writing the document to be given and considers it to be sufficient in those cases where the issue between the parties is whether a document was signed or written wholly or in part by that person. The section does not go so far as to say that even if it was proved that the signature or the handwriting of so much of the document as was alleged to be in the handwriting of the person, was in his handwriting, it would go to prove the contents of that document. No doubt the proof insofar as it was sought to be given in the evidence of Balkrishna Bhagwan Deshmukh of the signature of handwriting of the said various documents could have established that those documents were signed or writen in the handwriting of Deshpande, Paranjape or Jamnadas; but the matter could rest there and would carry the plaintiff no further.”

  1. From the facts as they appear from the judgment, it appears to us that the evidence given by Deshmukh in that case amounted to proving the handwriting of the persons concerned under Section 47 of the Evidence Act. We are inclined to the view that the proof offered by the evidence of Deshmukh was proof of the handwriting by a person acquainted with that handwriting and, therefore, amounted to opinion evidence under Section 47 of the Evidence Act. What is important to note is that Bhagwati, J. has gone to the length of holding that proof of the signature or the handwriting under Section 67 of the Evidence Act does not amount to proof of the contents of that document.

                                *                         *                                   *

  1. Section 67 does not prescribe any particular mode of proof. It lays down no new rule whatever as to the kind of proof that must be given. The section merely states with reference to the deeds what is the universal rule in all cases viz. that a person who makes an allegation must prove it. The question that arose before the Supreme Court in Mobarik Ali case[17] was, whether the authorship of the document can be proved without adducing evidence in proof of the signature of the person concerned. In that case, the prosecution relied upon a number of letters and these letters fell under two categories; (1) Letters from the appellant (accused) either to Jessawala or to the complainant and (2) Letters to the appellant from Jassawalla or the complainant. Most of the letters from the appellant relied upon bore what purported to be his signatures. A few of them were admitted by the appellant. There were also a few letters without signatures. The complainant and Jassawalla spoke to the signatures on the other letters. The objection raised on behalf of the appellant was that neither of them had actually seen the appellant writing any of the letters nor were they shown to have such intimate acquaintance with his correspondence as to enable them to speak to the genuineness of these signatures. The trial Judges as well as the learned Judges of the High Court had found, that there were sufficient number of admitted or proved letters which might well enable Jassawalla and the complainant to identify the signature of the appellant, in the disputed letters. They also laid stress substantially on the contents of the various letters, in the context of the other letters and telegrams to which they purported to be replies and which formed the chain of correspondence as indicating the genuineness of the disputed letters. The learned counsel objected to this approach on a question of proof. Their Lordships of the Supreme Court observed:

“We are, however, unable to see any objection. The proof of the genuineness of a document is proof of the authorship of the document and is proof of a fact like that of any other fact the evidence relating thereto may be direct, or circumstantial. It may consist of direct evidence of a person who saw the document being written or the signature being affixed. It may be proof of the handwriting of the contents or of the signature by one of the modes provided in Sections 45 and 47 of the Evidence Act. It may also be proved by internal evidence afforded by the contents of the document. This last mode of proof by the contents may be of considerable value where the disputed document purports to be a link in a chain of correspondence, some links in which are proved to the satisfaction of the Court. In such a situation the person who is the recipient of the document, be it either a letter or a telegram would be in a reasonably good position both with reference to his prior knowledge of the writing or the signature of the alleged sender limited though it may be, also his knowledge of the subject-matter of the chain of correspondence, to speak to its authorship. In an appropriate case, the Court may also be in a position to judge whether the document constitutes a genuine link in the chain of correspondence and thus to determine its authorship. We are unable, therefore, to say that the approach adopted by the Courts below in arriving at the conclusion that the letters are genuine is open to any serious legal objection. The question, if any, can only be as to the adequacy of the material on which the conclusion as to the genuineness of the letters is arrived at. That, however, is a matter which we cannot permit to be canvassed before us”.

  1. We are unable to understand how the above observations in any way amount to modification of the view taken by Bhagwati, J. in Madholal case[18]nor do we appreciate how they help Mr. Gupte in the argument that he is advancing. Mr. Gupte in particular, relied upon the following sentences occurring in the above passage:

“The proof of the genuineness of a document is proof of the authorship of the document and is proof of a fact like that of any other fact. The evidence relating thereto may be direct or circumstantial. It may consist of direct evidence of a person who saw the document being written or the signature being affixed. It may be proof of the handwriting of the contents, or of the signature, by one of the modes provided in Sections 45 and 47 of the Evidence Act. It may also be proved by internal evidence afforded by the contents of the document…”

  1. The issue under consideration in that case was whether the internal evidence afforded by the contents of the document amounted to the proof of the authorship of the document and, therefore, their Lordships held that the evidence of the recipient of the document would be material to establish the authorship of the document. This was the real decision that was given by the Supreme Court in Mobarik Ali case[19]. Even the general observations viz. “It (proof) may consist of direct evidence of a person who saw the document being written or the signature being affixed. It may be proof of the handwriting of the contents or of the signature by one of the modes provided in Sections 45 and 47 of the Evidence Act” are not of much help to Mr. Gupte. As pointed out above, at the initial stage D tried to resort to the mode of proving spoken of in Section 47 of the Evidence Act but at a latter stage, shifted the ground and tried to give direct evidence of the execution of the document. It is true that proof of the signature or of the handwriting by one acquainted with the handwriting is a recognised mode of proof under Section 47 of the Evidence Act. Therefore, insofar as D says that he recognised the signature of Abreo, the letter’s signature can be taken to have been proved under Section 47 of the Act. But the proof of the signature on the basis of opinion evidence, however, is not proof of the handwriting of the document. Mr. Gupte pointed out that the body of the document as Ex. 28 is typewritten. Therefore, there is no question of proving the writing of that document. At the same time, it must not be forgotten that the figure and letters ‘1st’ are written in hand and in pencil. D has not attempted to identify the figure and letters. The whole document, therefore, cannot be said to have been even formally proved. Apart from this aspect of the matter, it is clear to us that the decision in Mobarik Ali case[20] does not affect the decision given by Bhagwati, J. viz., that the proof of the document does not amount to proof of the contents thereof. The only question that arose in Mobarik Ali case related to the formal proof of the document and, therefore, Their Lordships of the Supreme Court held that the letters and telegrams could be said to have been formally proved by reason of internal evidence provided by the documents and the positive evidence given by the recipient of those documents. Once the letters and telegrams were held proved, the further question about the proof of the contents did not arise in Mobarik Ali case[21], because the author of the documents was accused himself and the statements contained therein would amount to his admissions. In our view, therefore, the decision of Bhagwati, J. is still good law.
  2. The reason on which the decision of Bhagwati, J. is based is not far to seek. The evidence of the contents contained in the document is hearsay evidence unless the writer thereof is examined before the Court. We, therefore, hold that the attempt to prove the contents of the document by proving the signature or the handwriting of the author thereof is to set at nought the well recognised rule that hearsay evidence cannot be admitted.

                                                                                                                        (emphasis supplied)

It is therefore necessary in the case of disputed documents to therefore prove the contents of the documents through the evidence of persons/witnesses who have authored the documents or are parties to it or are aware of the facts personally stated therein.

Another reason for following the practice of having a witness with sufficient personal knowledge deposing about the documents sought to be proved is that even if the documents are exhibited the task is not yet done. This is because the person deposing will also be subject to cross-examination and in case it is found during the cross-examination that the person giving evidence about the document knows nothing about how it was made, where the details provided in the document are obtained from, what are the back up or supporting documents etc. then in that case the weightage to be given to such document even though exhibited in the first instance would be severely diminished.


 Here the first thing which needs to be established is that the document is lost and despite diligent search the same is not available. This will have to be proved and specifically averred in evidence. Secondary evidence cannot be allowed in absence of this proof of loss of the document. The Supreme Court in Benga Behera v. Braja Kishore Nanda[22] held that: (SCC pp. 737-38)

29. Another vital aspect of the matter cannot also be ignored. Respondent 1 in his evidence accepted that he had obtained the registered will from the office of the Sub-Registrar upon presenting “the ticket” on 30-1-1982. After receipt of the will, he had shown it to Sarajumani Dasi. He did not say how the will was lost, particularly when he had not only shown the original will to the testatrix but also had consulted a lawyer in relation thereto. No information was lodged about the missing of the document before any authority. Even the approximate point of time the will was lost, was not stated. In his cross-examination, he stated, “I cannot say where and how the original will was lost.”

  1. Loss of the original will was, thus, not satisfactorily proved.
  2. A document upon which a title is based is required to be proved by primary evidence, and secondary evidence may be given under Section 65(c) of the Evidence Act. The said clause of Section 65 provides as under:

“65. (c) when the original has been destroyed or lost, or when the party offering evidence of its contents cannot, for any other reason not arising from his own default or neglect, produce it in reasonable time;”

Loss of the original, therefore, was required to be proved.

  1. In a case of this nature, it was obligatory on the part of the first respondent to establish the loss of the original will beyond all reasonable doubt. His testimony in that behalf remained uncorroborated.”

In case a document is in possession of the opposing party the proper practice to be followed will be to give a notice to produce the document to such party in possession of the document and only after the party refuses to provide/produce the document can secondary evidence be resorted to[23].

Thereafter the mode of proof will be the same as for other disputed documents. Additionally appropriate evidence about how the copy which is secondary evidence was obtained and made from the original will also have to be led. In other words evidence of the manner in which the copy is made will have to be led in accordance with the manner set out in Section 63 of the Act. As an example if a letter sought to be proved is lost evidence would have to be given first of the efforts made to locate the same unsuccessfully and then of the manner in which the copy now relied upon in the compilation was obtained or made and the process by which it was made e.g. photocopy. The necessary averment of the witness apart from the factum of his failure despite diligent search to locate the original will have to be to the effect that at the relevant time the original document was available and a copy was made from the original and the copy in the compilation was compared by him with the original and found to be an accurate reproduction of the original document.

The next stage is for the witness deposing to be able to withstand cross-examination by answering relevant questions relating to document. Take the following example (in a dispute on electricity consumption) and assume there is an electric bill, a disputed document exhibited since the public authority has produced it from its record maintained by it in the normal course of business. Since there is a dispute about consumption of units even though the bill itself in original is produced all that is proved by production is that such a bill was made by the public authority and such and such number of units were consumed as stated therein. However what needs to be seen is whether there is a correct recording of the consumption of units in the public document that is the bill. Mere production of the document is not enough what is needed in such a case further is for some person to give evidence of the public document to the extent that the document is substantiated with supporting documents such as meter reading cards and supporting data maintained in the office of the authority. In such a case if the witnesses states that the bill was prepared by him on the basis of data cards maintained showing the consumption from month to month and he had verified the consumption from month to month then in that case if the data cards showing the consumption are also produced the contents of the bill will stand proved, of course subject to cross-examination not dislodging the correctness of the consumption shown in the document. Therefore what is needed apart from successful exhibition of the document is for a witness to stand the test of stringent cross-examination. It is not merely somebody stepping into the box and saying the contents are true and correct that person must withstand cross-examination. It is only after that person has withstood the test of cross-examination that the document will be deemed to be accepted by the court sufficient to sign a judgement in favour of the party claiming under the document. Mere exhibition of a document does not dispense with the proof of the truth of its contents. The Supreme Court in Narbada Devi Gupta v. Birendra Kumar Jaiswal[24]held: (SCC p. 751)

16. Reliance is heavily placed on behalf of the appellant on Ramji Dayawala & Sons (P) Ltd.[25] The legal position is not in dispute that mere production and marking of a document as exhibit by the court cannot be held to be a due proof of its contents. Its execution has to be proved by admissible evidence, that is, by the “evidence of those persons who can vouchsafe for the truth of the facts in issue”. The situation is, however, different where the documents are produced, they are admitted by the opposite party, signatures on them are also admitted and they are marked thereafter as exhibits by the court.”


 There are also documents which are of such old vintage that it is very difficult and sometimes impossible to produce the maker of the document and in this case the provisions of Section 90 of the Act come to the rescue when the document is more than 30 years’ old. However, this rule considering the fact that most cases coming up for trial are 30 years after the transactions cannot be the sole basis for admitting documents and in such cases the court would look at the surrounding circumstances before exhibiting the document. This means the court would look as if there, is for example, any correspondence contemporaneously that supports what is stated in the document sought to be proved. If the document is a letter, has there been any response to it disputing the contents of the letter, the court may also take into consideration what is stated about the letter in the plaint or in a written statement. Exhibition of such documents which do not have persons who can depose to them is extremely difficult and even if they are exhibited (rarely) the evidentiary value is limited unless its contents are admitted in some other parallel documents. The section does not dispense with proof of the contents. The judgement of the Supreme Court in Gangamma v. Shivalingaiah[26] elucidates the position: (SCC p. 360)

6. We agree with the learned counsel. The purported substantial question of law was formulated by the High Court on a wrong premise. Section 90 of the Evidence Act has been misconstrued and misinterpreted by the High Court. Section 90 of the Evidence Act reads as under:

“90. Presumption as to documents thirty years old.—Where any document, purporting or proved to be thirty years old, is produced from any custody which the court in the particular case considers proper, the court may presume that the signature and every other part of such document, which purports to be in the handwriting of any particular person, is in that person’s handwriting, and, in the case of a document executed or attested, that it was duly executed and attested by the persons by whom it purports to be executed and attested.”

  1. A bare perusal of the aforementioned provision would clearly go to show that in terms thereof merely a presumption is raised to the effect that signature and every other part of such document, which purports to be in the handwriting of any particular person, is in that person’s handwriting and in case a document is executed or attested, the same was executed and attested by the persons by whom it purports to be executed and attested.
  2. Section 90 of the Evidence Act nowhere provides that in terms thereof the authenticity of the recitals contained in any document is presumed to be correct. The High Court, therefore, committed a manifest error of law in interpreting the provision of Section 90 of the Evidence Act and, thus, fell into an error in formulating the substantial question of law. As the purported substantial question of law was formulated on a wrong reading of Section 90 of the Evidence Act, the impugned judgment cannot be sustained. We may furthermore notice that even if a formal execution of a document is proved, the same by itself cannot lead to a presumption that the recitals contained therein are also correct. The mere execution of a document, in other words, does not lead to the conclusion that the recitals made therein are correct, and subject to the statutory provisions contained in Sections 91 and 92 of the Evidence Act, it is open to the parties to raise a plea contra thereto.”

 It is also to be noted that the presumption of Section 90 of the Act does not apply to copies of documents as held in Tilak Chand Kureel v. Bhim Raj[27]. The relevant passage is as under:

“4. On behalf of the appellant it was contended that Exts. 2, 18 and 19 were not admissible in evidence and the High Court was wrong in relying upon these documents. It was said that the presumption under Section 90 of the Evidence Act was not applicable as copies were produced and not the original documents. In our opinion this argument is well-founded. In Basant v. Brijraj[28] it was held by the Privy Council that the presumption enacted in Section 90 of the Evidence Act can be applied only with regard to original documents and not copies thereof. The same view was taken by this Court in Harihar Prasad Singh v. Mst of Munshi Nath Prasada[29] In view of the legal position it is manifest that the High Court ought not to have taken into consideration Exts. 2, 18 and 19.”


 The last issue which needs to be addressed to prove documents contents through a witness pertains to the witness having direct knowledge and giving direct evidence rather than a witness relying upon something which he claims he heard. The rule of inadmissibility of hearsay evidence kicks in. Evidence needs to be evidence of the person who is involved in and familiar with the transaction. In this behalf a recent judgement considering the law on the issue was delivered by the  Bombay High Court (G. S. Patel, J.) in Harish Loyalka v. Dileep Nevatia[30]. It is inter alia held therein that the provisions of Order 18 Rule 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (“CPC”) require that the “examination-in-chief” shall be on affidavit. This means that the affidavit in lieu of examination-in-chief can contain, and contain only, such material as is properly admissible in examination-in-chief, in a manner no different than if the witness was in the witness box and his direct evidence was being taken by his advocate. An affidavit that contains arguments and submissions is neither an affidavit within the meaning of Order 19 Rule 3 CPC, nor an affidavit in lieu of examination-in-chief within the meaning of CPC Order 18 Rule 4.

In that judgment it was also held:

“13. As Mr. Joshi points out, under Section 5 of the Evidence Act, evidence may be given in a suit of every fact in issue or of a relevant fact, and of no other. That section is specific and unambiguous. Material that is ex facie entirely irrelevant, hearsay, and certainly material that is in the nature of submissions and arguments must be excluded.”

To sum up the aforesaid are some of the important principles and aspects of law to bear in mind when preparing for a hearing for exhibiting and proving documents.

*Advocate, High Court, Bombay. Assisted by Sheetal Parkash, Arjun Prabhu and Mayur Agarwal

[1] Sections 74 & 75, Evidence Act

[2] Defined in Section 74 of Evidence Act

[3] Sections 76 & 77, Evidence Act

[4] Section 35, Evidence Act

[5] Section 90, Evidence Act

[6] Section 63, Evidence Act

[7] Under Section 77 of the Evidence Act

[8] 1982 SCC OnLine Bom 148

[9] 1971 SCC OnLine Bom 104

[10] Sections 60 to 62 Evidence Act

[11](2003) 8 SCC 745

[12] 1945 SCC OnLine Bom 44

[13] Reg v. Jora Hasji

[14] Madholal Sindhu v.  Asian Assurance Co. Ltd., 1945 SCC OnLine Bom 44

[15] 1961 SCC OnLine Bom 5

[16] 1945 SCC OnLine Bom 44

[17] Mobarik Ali Ahmed v. State of Bombay, 1958 SCR 328

[18] 1945 SCC OnLine Bom 44

[19] 1958 SCR 328

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22]  (2007) 9 SCC 728

[23] Sections 65 and 66, Evidence Act

[24] (2003) 8 SCC 745

[25] Ramji Dayawala & Sons (P) Ltd. v. Invest Import, (1981) 1 SCC 80

[26] (2005) 9 SCC 359 

[27] (1969) 3 SCC 367

[28] 1935 SCC OnLine PC 21

[29] 1956 SCR I at p. 9

[30] 2014 SCC OnLine Bom 1640

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: On the question relating to the power of the court to grant leave to defend in case of sham or moonshine defence in a commercial dispute, the bench of Ashok Bhushan and Navin Sinha, JJ said,

“if the court is satisfied of a plausible or probable defence and which defence is not considered a sham or moonshine, but yet leaving certain doubts in the mind of the court, it may grant conditional leave to defend.”

The Court also explained that in a summary suit, if the defendant discloses such facts of a prima facie fair and reasonable defence, the court may grant unconditional leave to defend. This naturally   concerns the subjective satisfaction of the court on basis of the materials that may be placed before it.

Explaining the distinction between both the above mentioned subjective satisfactions of the court, the bench said,

“in the latter case there is an element of discretion vested in the court. Such discretion is not absolute but has to be judiciously exercised tempered with what is just and proper in the facts of a particular case.”

The court said that the ultimate object of a summary suit is expeditious disposal of a commercial dispute. The discretion vested in the court therefore requires it to maintain the delicate balance between the respective rights and contentions by not passing an order which may ultimately end up impeding the speedy resolution of the dispute.

The Court also relied upon the decision in IDBI Trusteeship Services Limited vs. Hubtown Limited,  (2017) 1 SCC 568, wherein it was held,

“17.3 Even if the defendant raises triable issues, if a doubt is left with the trial Judge about the defendant’s good faith, or the genuineness of the triable issues, the trial Judge may impose conditions both as to time or mode of trial, as  well as payment into court or furnishing security. Care must be taken to see that the object of the provisions to assist expeditious disposal of commercial causes is not defeated. Care must also be taken to see that such triable issues are not shut out by unduly severe orders as to deposit or security.

17.4. If the defendant raises a defence which is plausible but improbable, the trial Judge may impose conditions as to time or mode of trial, as well as payment into court, or furnishing security. As such a defence does not raise triable issues, conditions as to deposit or security or both can extend to the entire principal sum together with such interest as the court feels the justice of the case requires.”

[Sudin Dilip Talaulikar v. Polycap Wires Pvt. Ltd, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 857, decided on 15.07.2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Orissa High Court: While deciding the issue that whether it would be proper to quash the criminal proceedings against the petitioner in an offence of abduction and gang rape especially when prima facie materials on record concerning his complicity in the crime have been collected during course of investigation, but the co-accused persons have been acquitted of all the charges on the ground that the victim and other independent witnesses have not supported the prosecution case, the Bench of S.K. Sahoo, J., dismissing the petition, held that a Court cannot quash the criminal proceedings against the petitioner forming an assumption on the ground that the co-accused persons have been acquitted as the victim did not support the prosecution case.

As per the facts, the petitioner and other co- accused persons was charged under Sections 363/366/376(2) (g) read with Section 34 IPC and Section 3 of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, for abducting and gang raping a married woman. The victim however turned a hostile witness, as a result of which the co- accused persons were acquitted. Arupananda Das, Addl. Government Advocate for the State put forth before the Court that during course of investigation and from the statements of the victim, prima facie case was found against the petitioner and accordingly, charge sheet was submitted. Thus merely because the victim did not support the prosecution case during trial in respect of the co-accused persons, the same cannot be a ground to quash the criminal proceeding against the petitioner.

Perusing the facts of the case, the Court observed that it is a case of abduction and gang rape of a married lady, and even though the victim turned hostile during the trial of the co- accused persons, it cannot be said that she will do the same during the trial of the petitioner. The Court noted that if the accused against whom accusation of abduction and gang rape is there remains absconding, and watches the criminal proceeding in respect of the co-accused persons and after such proceeding ended in acquittal, he comes out of his shell feeling that in view of the acquittal of the co-accused persons, the prosecution case against him will become weak and if the Court accepts his plea on the basis of the evidence adduced in the trial of the co-accused persons and quashes the proceeding against him, then it would be a travesty of justice. Thus it cannot be said that the continuance of the criminal proceeding against the petitioner would be an abuse of process. The Court thereby refused to invoke the inherent power under Section 482 of CrPC. [Ajay Kumar Sethi v. State of Orissa, 2018 SCC OnLine Ori 275, decided on 09-04-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: While deciding upon the present writ petition wherein the petitioner’s appointment in Group- D post was cancelled by the respondents (High Court of Tripura) on the ground of an FIR registered against him, the Division Bench of Ajay Rastogi, C.J., and S. Talapatra,J., held that the FIR once registered has been quashed by the Court under Section 482 of Cr.PC, no inference can be drawn to impute any adverse antecedents which in any manner may deprive an individual from seeking public employment.

As per the facts, the petitioner was duly selected in Group D post. However the petitioner’s selection was cancelled owing to the fact that an FIR was registered against him under Sections 3,4,5,6(2)(4) & 7 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956. Th petitioner challenged the FIR and it was subsequently quashed by this Court in exercise of its powers under Section 482 of CrPC. Yet even after the quashment, the respondents refused to consider the petitioner’s appointment on the ground that his conduct does not generate confidence for employment in the service of the High Court. The petitioner argued that there was no misrepresentation on his part and the FIR against him was a result of false implication; and once this Court has quashed the FIR, the petitioner had a clean record again. Therefore there was no ground upon which he could be denied employment. The petitioner via his counsel Raju Datta, contended that the act of the respondents in rejecting the petitioner’s employment, was arbitrary, therefore it demands judicial interference. Counsel for the respondents contended that mere selection and offer of appointment does not confer any vested right and the decision of the authority cannot be said to be per se arbitrary.

Upon perusal of the issue and facts, the Court observed that Rule 9 of High Court of Tripura Services (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Conduct) Rules, 2014 prescribe certain disqualifications for appointment and sub-rule (c) of Rule 9 clearly envisages that if one has been convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude could be a reason for disqualification for appointment. However in the present case, the FIR was found to be fabricated, hence quashed. Other than the quashed FIR, there is no criminal history of the petitioner which could render him disqualified for public employment. The Court thus directed the respondents to not to draw any adverse inference to implicate the petitioner, and consider his candidature for appointment in Group D post. [Tapas Chakraborty v. High Court of Tripura, 2018 SCC OnLine Tri 57, decided on 10-04-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts


Hyderabad High Court: In the instant appeal, the question arose that whether a counter-claim can be rejected in terms of Order VII, Rule 11 of CPC, to which the Bench of V. Ramasubramanian, J., held that in addition to the parameters provided in Order VII, Rule 11 of CPC, the Court must examine while dealing with a prayer for rejection of the counter-claim, as to whether the rejection of the counter-claim would have the effect of striking off the defence and rendering the defendant defenceless. It was also observed that at the stage of invoking Order VII, Rule 11 CPC, the Court is not concerned with the merits of the claim. But while dealing with a written statement, the Court will certainly consider the merits of the claim

As per facts of the present case, an eviction suit was filed by the respondents against the appellants. The respondents claimed that a shop was taken on lease by the father of the appellant/defendant in December, 2003 and subsequently took over the shop; and that the appellant/defendant committed default in payment of rent from April, 2015 and therefore after issuing an eviction notice dated 23-12-2015, the respondents/plaintiffs were forced to file the suit for eviction. The appellant contended that the lease was for 25 years and that therefore he was not liable to be evicted. In addition the appellant/defendant also made a counter-claim by seeking a decree for the relief of specific performance of the registration of the lease deed. The respondents/plaintiffs however made a request to the trial court to reject the counter-claim in terms of Order VII, Rule 11 of CPC which was accepted by the trial court, thereby resulting in the present second appeal.

Perusing the facts of the case and the provisions of CPC, the Bench observed that Order VIII, Rule 6-A(4) CPC clearly states that a counter-claim shall be treated as a plaint and governed by the rules applicable to plaints, therefore, the applicability of Order VII, Rule 11 CPC to counter-claims cannot be ruled out. Generally a counter-claim which consists of the defence to the plaintiffs claim and another comprising of the counter-claim and the survival of one does not depend upon the other; it may be possible to apply Order VII, Rule 11, however in cases where defence to a suit and the counter- claim are joined in such a manner as “Siamese twins”, with an inherent danger to the survival of the defence to the suit, upon the rejection of the counter-claim, the Court must do something more than what Order VII, Rule 11 generally mandates. Noting the provisions laid down under Order VIII, Rule 6-A(1) sub-rule (2), Order VIII, Rule 6-A, Order VIII Rule 6-A sub-rule (4) and Order VIII, Rule 6-C of CPC, the Court observed that a counter-claim is not exactly the same as a plaint, despite having the traits of a plaint and the scheme of Order VIII, Rules 6-A to 6-G of CPC itself recognises the fact that there could be two different scenarios, one where the counter-claim could be intertwined with the defence and another where it is capable of being prosecuted as an independent suit. [Jinendra Jewellers v. B.Venkateswara Rao, 2017 SCC OnLine Hyd 442,  decided on 15.12.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and AM Khanwilkar and Dr. DY Chandrachud, JJ, explaining the principles governing the inherent powers of the High Court under Section 482 CrPC, said that while the inherent power of the High Court has a wide ambit and plenitude it has to be exercised to secure the ends of justice or to prevent an abuse of the process of any court.

The Court summarised the elaborate principles laid down by the Supreme Court in various cases. Below is the summary of the principles:

  • The invocation of the jurisdiction of the High Court to quash a First Information Report or a criminal proceeding on the ground that a settlement has been arrived at between the offender and the victim is not the same as the invocation of jurisdiction for the purpose of compounding an offence. While compounding an offence, the power of the court is governed by the provisions of Section 320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Also, the power to quash under Section 482 is attracted even if the offence is non-compoundable.
  • In the exercise of the power under Section 482 and while dealing with a plea that the dispute has been settled, the High Court must have due regard to the nature and gravity of the offence. Heinous and serious offences involving mental depravity or offences such as murder, rape and dacoity cannot appropriately be quashed though the victim or the family of the victim have settled the dispute. Such offences are, truly speaking, not private in nature but have a serious impact upon society. The decision to continue with the trial in such cases is founded on the overriding element of public interest in punishing persons for serious offences.
  • As distinguished from serious offences, there may be criminal cases which have an overwhelming or predominant element of a civil dispute. They stand on a distinct footing in so far as the exercise of the inherent power to quash is concerned.
  • Criminal cases involving offences which arise from commercial, financial, mercantile, partnership or similar transactions with an essentially civil flavour may in appropriate situations fall for quashing where parties have settled the dispute. In such a case, the High Court may quash the criminal proceeding if in view of the compromise between the disputants, the possibility of a conviction is remote and the continuation of a criminal proceeding would cause oppression and prejudice.
  • Economic offences involving the financial and economic well-being of the state have implications which lie beyond the domain of a mere dispute between private disputants. The High Court would be justified in declining to quash where the offender is involved in an activity akin to a financial or economic fraud or misdemeanour. The consequences of the act complained of upon the financial or economic system will weigh in the balance.

The Court, however, said that the decision as to whether a complaint or First Information Report should be quashed on the ground that the offender and victim have settled the dispute, revolves ultimately on the facts and circumstances of each case and no exhaustive elaboration of principles can be formulated. [Parbatbhai Aahir v. State of Gujarat, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1189, decided on 04.10.2017]


Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Taking Suo Motu cognizance in respect of inadequacies and deficiencies in criminal trials, the bench of S.A. Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ issued notices to the Registrars General of all the High Courts, and the Chief Secretaries/the Administrators and the Advocates-General/Senior Standing Counsel of all the States/Union Territories, so that general consensus can be arrived at on the need to amend the relevant Rules of Practice/ Criminal Manuals to bring about uniform best practices across the country.

The Court also specified the below mentioned areas to be considered to achieve the said goal:

  • Discouragement of the practice of the Trial Judge leaving the recording of deposition to the clerk concerned and recording of evidence going on in more than one case in the same Court room, at the same time.
  • Recording the depositions of witnesses in typed format, using computers, in Court, to the dictation of the presiding officers, in English wherever possible, so that readable true copies are available straightaway and can be issued to both sides on the date of examination itself. Also, the deposition of each witness must be recorded dividing it into separate paragraphs assigning para numbers to facilitate easy reference to specific portions.
  • Witnesses/documents/material objects be assigned specific nomenclature and numbers.
  • Every judgment must mandatorily have a preface showing the name of the parties and an appendix showing the list of Prosecutions Witnesses, Prosecution Exhibits, Defence Witnesses, Defence Exhibits, Court witnesses, Court Exhibits and Material Objects.
  • The practice of referring to the names of the accused/witnesses and documents descriptively in the proceedings paper and judgments creates a lot of confusion. Whenever there is need to refer to them by name their rank as Accused/Witness must be shown in brackets.
  • Repetition of pleadings, evidence, and arguments in the judgments and orders of the Trial Court, Appellate and Revisional Courts must be avoided.
  • In every case file, a judgment folder to be maintained, and the first para in the appellate/revisional judgment to be numbered as the next paragraph after the last para in the impugned judgment.
  • In order to help the judges to have a clearer and surer understanding of the situs of the injuries, the Investigating Officer should obtain or procure the wound certificate/ post mortem certificate showing the front and rear sketch of the human torso showing the injuries listed in the medical documents specifically.
  • The contradictions/omissions must be properly marked.
  • The Trial Courts must be mandatorily obliged to specify in the Judgment the period of set off under Section 428 Cr.P.C specifying date and not leave it to be resolved later by jail authorities or successor presiding officers.



Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: In the instant case filed for the quashment of criminal proceedings initiated against the applicants under Sections 498-A and 323 of IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, the Bench of G.S. Ahluwalia, J. held that in cases related to demand of dowry, general and vague allegations cannot be treated as sufficient material to prosecute the other relatives of the husband who otherwise, do not have anything to do with the family affairs of the complainant. It was observed that in order to prosecute the other relatives in a dowry case there must be some specific allegations against them.

The second respondent filed a case of harassment for dowry against her husband and her in- laws. however she also implicated her husband’s near relatives i.e. elder brother-in-law and his wife etc. The present application was filed by the relatives of husband of second respondent claiming that they were falsely implicated merely because they are the near relatives of the accused husband. It was further submitted that no specific allegations have been made against them and only vague and omnibus allegations have been made in order to pressurize the accused husband. As these relatives of husband stand on different footing, therefore they should not be compelled to face the trial of Court unless any specific allegations have been made against them.

Considering the precedents laid down by the Supreme Court in the cases of Kans Raj v. State of Punjab, (2000) 5 SCC 207 and Monju Roy v. State of West Bengal, (2015) 13 SCC 693, the Court observed that it would not be correct to compel the applicants who are the near relatives of accused husband to face the agony of criminal prosecution on vague allegations under. The Court also stated that all general allegations leveled by the second respondent on the applicants appear to be indistinct with her only intention being to somehow prosecute and defame them. Therefore it is a clear case of over-implication on near relatives of the husband. Thus, charge-sheet and criminal prosecution of the applicants was quashed. [Sandeep Singh Bais v. State of M.P., 2017 SCC OnLine MP 394, decided on 9-03-2017]


Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the review petition preferred in 2012, was kept pending for almost four years and, thereafter, the High Court had dismissed the same by observing that an effort has been made to seek review of the main judgment as if the High Court was expected to exercise appellate jurisdiction while dealing with an application for review, the Court said that such situation is not acceptable. A reasonable period can be spent for disposal of the review, but definitely not four years.

The bench of Dipak Misra and M.M. Shantanagoudar, JJ said that an application for review, regard being had to its limited scope, has to be disposed of as expeditiously as possible. Without fixing any time limit, the Court said that it has to be the duty of the Registry of every High Court to place the matter before the concerned Judge/Bench so that the review application can be dealt with in quite promptitude. If a notice is required to be issued to the opposite party in the application for review, a specific date can be given on which day the matter can be dealt with in accordance with law.

The Court also said that it is the duty and obligation of a litigant to file a review and not to keep it defective and of the counsel filing an application for review to cure or remove the defects at the earliest. The prescription of limitation for filing an application for review has its own sanctity. The Registry of the High Courts has a duty to place the matter before the Judge/Bench with defects so that there can be pre-emptory orders for removal of defects. An adroit method cannot be adopted to file an application for review and wait till its rejection and, thereafter, challenge the orders in the special leave petition and take specious and mercurial plea asserting that delay had occurred because the petitioner was prosecuting the application for review.

Taking note of the fact that the petitioner had submitted that there is a delay of 1700 days in preferring the special leave petition against the principal order as he was prosecuting the remedy of review before the High Court, the Court requested the High Courts not to keep the applications for review pending as that is likely to delay the matter in every court and also embolden the likes of the petitioner to take a stand intelligently depicting the same in the application for condonation of delay. The Court said that there may be absence of diligence on the part of the litigant, but the Registry of the High Courts is required to be vigilant. Procrastination of litigation in this manner is nothing but a subterfuge taken recourse to in a manner that can epitomize “cleverness” in its conventional sense. [Sasi v. Aravindakshan Nair, SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) NO. OF 2017, decided on 03.03.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Taking note of the problem of delay in disposal of trials, the bench of A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit, JJ said that ways and means have to be found out by constant thinking and monitoring. It 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. Presiding Officer of a court cannot rest in the state of helplessness.

The Court said that an appropriate action plan should be prepared at the level of the High Court and thereafter at the level of each and every individual judicial officer. Hence, the below mentioned directions should be issued by the High Courts to the subordinate courts in order to resolve the menace of pending trails causing hardships to the undertrial prisoners:

  • Bail applications be disposed of normally within one week;
  • 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;
  • Efforts be made to dispose of all cases which are five years old by the end of the year;
  • As a supplement to Section 436A CrPC, but consistent with the spirit thereof, if an undertrial has completed period of custody in excess of the sentence likely to be awarded if conviction is recorded such undertrial must be released on personal bond. Such an assessment must be made by the concerned trial courts from time to time;
  • The above timelines may be the touchstone for assessment of judicial performance in annual confidential reports.

The Court also requested the High Courts to ensure that bail applications filed before them are decided as far as possible within one month and criminal appeals where accused are in custody for more than five years are concluded at the earliest. Apart from that the High Courts may prepare, issue and monitor appropriate action plans for the subordinate courts and monitor steps for speedy investigation and trials on administrative and judicial side from time to time.

The High Courts may take stringent measures in the light of judgment of this Court in Ex. Captain Harish Uppal v. Union of India, (2003) 2 SCC 45, if found necessary in case of obstruction of Court proceedings by uncalled for strikes/abstaining of work by lawyers or frequent suspension of court work.

The Bench noticed that there are obstructions at every level in enforcement of right of speedy trial – vested interests or unscrupulous elements try to delay the proceedings, lack of infrastructure, etc. Inspite of all odds, determined efforts are required at every level for success of the mission. [Hussain v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 235, decided on 09.03.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: With a view to provide an alternative to seeking transfer of proceedings on account of inability of a party to contest proceedings at a place away from their ordinary residence on the ground that if proceedings are not transferred it will result in denial of justice, the bench of A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit, Jj held that in matrimonial or custody matters or in proceedings between parties to a marriage or arising out of disputes between parties to a marriage, wherever the defendants/respondents are located outside the jurisdiction of the court, the court where proceedings are instituted, may examine whether it is in the interest of justice to incorporate any safeguards for ensuring that summoning of defendant/respondent does not result in denial of justice.

Availability of video conferencing facility; availability of legal aid service; deposit of cost for travel, lodging and boarding in terms of Order XXV CPC; E-mail address/phone number, if any, at which litigant from out station may communicate, were some of the safeguards suggested by the Court.

The Bench noticed that transfer is not always a solution acceptable to both the parties. It may be appropriate that available technology of video conferencing is used where both the parties have equal difficulty and there is no place which is convenient to both the parties. The Court said that wherever the facility of video conferencing is available, it ought to be fully utilized and all the High Courts should issue appropriate administrative instructions to regulate the use of video conferencing for certain category of cases.

The Bench further added that to combat the issue of ignorance about availability of suitable legal services, Legal Aid Committee of every district should make available selected panel of advocates whose discipline and quality can be suitably regulated and who are ready to provide legal aid at a specified fee. Such panels should be notified on the websites of the District Legal Services Authorities/State Legal Services Authorities/National Legal Services Authority. This may enhance access to justice consistent with Article 39A of the Constitution.

It was also said that every district court must have at least one e-mail ID. Administrative instructions for directions can be issued to permit the litigants to access the court, especially when litigant is located outside the local jurisdiction of the Court. A designated officer/manager of a district court may suitably respond to such e-mail in the manner permitted as per the administrative instructions. Similarly, a manager/ information officer in every district court may be accessible on a notified telephone during notified hours as per the instructions. [Krishna Veni Nagam v. Harish Nagam, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 236, decided on 09.03.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Court dealt with an important question of law in criminal proceedings in a case, where the process under Sections 82 and 83 CrPC was issued against the accused. While the statement of process server under Section 82 CrPC was recorded by the CMM, the process couldn’t be completed under Section 83 for want of any property in the name of petitioner. Section 82 deals with proclaiming a person as proclaimed offender if he/she is absconding while Section 83 provides for attachment of the property of the person.

In the meanwhile before the petitioner could be declared as proclaimed offender, Investigation Officer filed a supplementary charge-sheet dated 31.08.2013 under Sections 384/387/419/420/467/468/471/474/174A/506/120B/34 IPC. Thereafter, his anticipatory bail application was accepted by Add. Sessions Judge, New Delhi. The grievance of the petitioner is that the Investigating Officer had no power to add Section 174-A IPC in the supplementary charge-sheet prior to declaring the petitioner a proclaimed offender by the trial court. The petitioner was declared as proclaimed offender after the supplementary charge-sheet was filed against him including the charge of Section 174-A IPC which provides for imprisonment of a person for non-appearance in response to a proclamation under Section 82  CrPC.

So, in the present petition the vital question before the Court was whether Section 174-A IPC could be added by the Investigating Officer before declaring the petitioner to be a proclaimed offender. To this question, the Court responded in negation. The Court held that the IO had added the charge of Section 174-A IPC much before the date when the order of his proclamation as proclaimed offender had been issued and said that he had no power to do so. Justice I.S. Mehta observed that the bare reading of the section was making it amply clear that proceeding under Section 174-A could only be started only after the person is declared as proclaimed offender and thus, allowed the petition. [Deepak Kumar@ Deepak Saha v. State, 2017 SCC OnLine Del 6920, decided on 07.02.2017]


Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Divisional Bench of Badar Durez and Ashutosh Kumar, JJ. while disposing of an appeal gave relief to party whose suit was dismissed at the admission stage  by invoking the provisions of Order XIII-A of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. It was held by the Court that appeal was dismissed at its admission stage without issuing summons and without any application for summary judgement in the absence of which the Judge himself cannot invoke Order XIII-A  CPC.

In the present case the appellants had filled an appeal  against the defendants for permanent injunction restraining them from infringement of trademarks and also claiming damages of up to Rs 1 Crore . The appeal was dismissed by the  court by invoking Rule 3 of Order XIII-A of CPC, Which according to the learned Single Judge could be invoked by the court if it thinks there is no real prospect of the plaintiff succeeding on the claim or no prospect of the defendant successfully defending the claim, in such cases the court in order to not  take upon itself the burden of new cases without following any procedure for issuing summary judgement, can dismiss an appeal.

The Divisional Bench differed in view and held that this power can be exercised by the court only after summons have been issued and thereafter application is filed for summary judgement. The Court also found that the Single Judge had based his conclusion of denying the appeal on facts which he had observed personally, the Divisional Bench disregarded this method and observed that the Judge could not become witness in a case before him that too without giving opportunity of rebuttal to the appellants. [Bright Enterprises Private Ltd. v. MJ Bizcraft LLP, 2017 SCC OnLine Del 6394 , decided on 4.01.2016]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: While hearing bail petition of an accused who was demanding bail on ground of lack of evidence, the Single-Judge Bench of L. Narayana Swamy, J. denied the bail to the accused. The said person was being tried for his act of facilitating a bomb blast by transporting explosives and providing his home for a conspiracy meeting for the blast. The Court held that the accused person should not be given bail only on basis of lack of evidence, as filing of charge-sheet against the person who is being prosecuted for such serious charges as in under Sections 121-A, 123, 307 of IPC is enough to show that the accused is involved in a serious offence related to causing disharmony within the public.

It was contended by the counsel for the petitioner that he was being framed only because he was named by one of the accused of the bomb blast and no other evidence has been found against him. The public prosecutor argued that explosive material was found on instance of this accused person and also the petitioner has a history of being a habitual offender.

The Court observed that charges against the petitioner are grave in nature, which is accentuated by filing of the charge-sheet against the petitioner, and the fact that the group with which the accused persons in the present case are associated, is a banned group by the Central authorities and the United Nations Organisation for their sole aim to disrupt public peace. Therefore the charges are such, which if proven will result in life imprisonment or death penalty. Considering the anti-national character of the alleged offences against the petitioner, the Court refused to grant bail to the petitioner.  [Zulfikar Ali v. State of Karnataka, 2017 SCC OnLine Kar 2, decided on 5/01/2017]