Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Division Bench comprising of Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah*, JJ., recently held in an interesting case that evaluation of evidence on merits is not permissible at the stage of considering the application for discharge and the same is beyond the scope of revisional jurisdiction of the High Courts. The Bench explained,

“At the stage of framing of the charge and/or considering the discharge application, the mini trial is not permissible.”

The High Court of Rajsthan, in exercise of its revisional jurisdiction had quashed the order passed by the Special Judge, Prevention of Corruption Act. The High Court had set aside the charges framed by the Special Judge against the respondent-accused for the offence under Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act  and consequently had discharged the accused of the alleged offence.

Factual Matrix of the Case

The respondent-accused was serving as a Patwari, when it was alleged by the complainant that  that for the purpose of issuing Domicile Certificate and OBC Certificate of his son, but the Patwari in lieu of endorsing his report demanded a bribe of Rs.2,800. Prsuant to the said complaint an investigation was conducted and the accused was chargesheeted on reaching to the findings that there was a prima facie case made out under Section 7 of the PC Act.

Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied the accused preferred revision application before the High Court whereby the High Court had discharged the accused.

It was submitted by the state that the High Court had committed a grave error in evaluating the transcript/evidence on merits which at the stage of considering the application for discharge is not permissible and is beyond the scope of the exercise of the revisional jurisdiction. It was further submitted that the accused had been charged for the offence under Section 7 of the PC Act and even an attempt is sufficient to attract the offence under Section 7 of the PC Act.

Stand taken by the Respondent

The defense raised by the respondent-accused was that, he had refused to issue residence certificate for Rajsthan and caste certificate in favor of complainant having come to know about the complaint being the permanent resident of Agra and that the complainant wanted a false residence certificate and caste certificate illegally. It was submitted that in fact the respondent-accused gave a report rejecting the request of the complainant and there was nothing pending before the accused and the decision regarding his application was already taken.

The respondent submitted that at the time of conversation two persons were present, (1) the complainant – Jai Kishore; and (2) Devi Singh. And the so far as the complainant was concerned, the accused categorically refused to accept any bribe. However, it was alleged that  the appellant had tried to confuse and mislead the Court by mixing the conversation of Devi Singh regarding his dues of Rs.4,850-/ to the bank against which he had paid Rs.2,000/- and the remaining amount of Rs.2,850/- was due to the bank. Thus, neither there was any acceptance nor there was any demand of bribe and the High Court has rightly discharged the accused. The reliance was placed on Dilawar Balu Kurane v. State of Maharashtra, (2002) 2 SCC 135, it had been held that, by and large if two views are equally possible and the Judge is satisfied that the evidence produced before him will give rise to some suspicion but not grave suspicion against the accused, he will be fully justified to discharge the accused.

Findings of the Court

At the stage of Section 227, the Judge has merely to sift the evidence in order to find out whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused. The Bench opined that the High Court had exceeded in its jurisdiction and had acted beyond the scope of Section 227/239 Cr.P.C. While discharging the accused, the High Court had gone into the merits of the case and had considered whether on the basis of the material on record, the accused was likely to be convicted or not. For the aforesaid,

“The High Court has considered in detail the transcript of the conversation between the complainant and the accused which exercise at this stage to consider the discharge application and/or framing of the charge is not permissible at all.”

At the stage of framing of the charge and/or considering the discharge application, the mini trial is not permissible. At this stage, it is to be noted that even as per Section 7 of the PC Act, even an attempt constitutes an offence. Therefore, the High Court has erred and/or exceeded in virtually holding a mini trial at the stage of discharge application.

Lastly, the Bench stated, defence on merits is not to be considered at the stage of framing of the charge and/or at the stage of discharge application. In view of the above, the impugned judgment and order was held unsustainable in law and the same was quashed and set aside. The order passed by the Special Judge of framing charge against the accused under Section 7 of the PC Act was restored.

[State of Rajsthan v. Ashok Kumar Kashyap, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 314, decided on 13-04-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

*Judgment by: Justice M. R. Shah

Appearance before the Court by:

For the State: Adv. Vishal Meghwal

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Reminding the Courts of the scope of their powers, the bench of Abhay Manohar Sapre and Dinesh Maheshwari, JJ has said:

“While considering the case of discharge sought immediately after the charge­sheet is filed, the Court cannot become an Appellate Court and start appreciating the evidence by finding out inconsistency in the statements of the witnesses.”

Background of the case:

  • An Inspector of Police and Sub-­inspector of Police were prosecuted for commission of the offences punishable under Section 7 read with Section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
  • On charge­sheet being filed by the State Prosecuting Agency against the respondents after obtaining necessary sanction as required in law, both of them filed applications under Section 227 of the Cr.P.C. in the Court of Special Judge and Chief Judicial Magistrate.
  • The Chief Judicial Magistrate allowed the applications and discharged them from the case.
  • State approached the High Court and the High Court dismissed the revisions and affirmed the order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, giving rise to filing of these appeals by the State by way of special leave in this Court.

When the matter reached Supreme Court, it had to decide whether the Courts below were   justified in allowing the discharge applications filed by the respondents under Section 227 of the Cr. P.C. Stating that the Court the High Court acted like an Appellate Court than as a Revisionary Court as if it was hearing the appeal against the final verdict of the Special Court, the Court said:

“consideration of the record for discharge purpose is one thing and the consideration of the record while deciding the appeal by the Appellate Court is another thing.”

The Court, hence, set aside the impugned order, dismissed the applications filed by the respondents under Section 227 of the Cr.P.C. and remanded the case to the Special Judge/CJM for its trial on merits in accordance with law.

[State v. J. Doraiswamy, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 338, decided on 07.03.2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a matter where the Gujarat High Court had set aside the order passed by a Chief Judicial Magistrate who had taken cognizance of the offences punishable under Sections 420, 465, 467, 468, 471, 477A and 120-B IPC on the basis of the second supplementary charge sheet filed by the police and ordered issuance of process to the accused, the bench of R. Banumathi and Indira Banerjee, JJ held that the High Court ought not to have gone into the merits of the matter when the matter is in nascent stage.

Holding that the High Court overstepped in the said matter, the bench said:

“When the prosecution relies upon the materials, strict standard of proof is not to be applied at the stage of issuance of summons nor to examine the probable defence which the accused may take. All that the court is required to do is to satisfy itself as to whether there are sufficient grounds for proceeding.”

Stating that while hearing revision under Section 397 Cr.P.C., the High Court does not sit as an appellate court and will not reappreciate the evidence unless the judgment of the lower court suffers from perversity, the bench said:

“materials produced by the prosecution ought not to have been brushed aside by the learned Single Judge to quash the order of issuance of summons to the respondent-accused. As to whether these evidences are sufficient to sustain the conviction of the respondent-accused or whether he has a plausible defence or explanation is the matter to be considered at the stage of trial. The learned Single Judge ought not to have weighed the merits of the case at the initial stage of issuance of summons to the accused.”

The Court explained that while taking cognizance of an offence based upon a police report, it is the satisfaction of the Magistrate that there is sufficient ground to proceed against the accused and when the satisfaction of the Magistrate was based on the charge sheet and the materials placed before him, the satisfaction cannot be said to be erroneous or perverse and the satisfaction ought not to have been interfered with.

It was, hence, held that the High Court committed a serious error in going into the merits and  demerits of the case and hence, the impugned order was set aside. [State of Gujarat v. Afroz Mohammed Hasanfatta, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 132, decided on 05.02.2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Himachal Pradesh : Deciding upon an issue  as to whether Regular First Appeal or Civil Revision or petition under Article 227 of the Constitution  would lie against the order passed by the Wakf Tribunal, the Bench comprising of Mansoor Ahmad Mir, CJ., and Sandeep Sharma, J., held that the Regular First Appeal or Civil Revision or petition under Article 227 is not maintainable against any decision or order whether interim or otherwise, given or made by the Wakf Tribunal, since sub-section (9) of Section 83 of the Wakf Act provides an efficacious alternative remedy to the aggrieved party to invoke the revisional jurisdiction of the High Court against such order/decision of the Wakf Tribunal.

The Court while considering a bunch of petition involving the question as to  maintainability of suit in the civil court against the decision or orders of the Wakf tribunal observed that since the Act provides that the decision of the Wakf Tribunal shall be final and binding hence no appeal shall lie against any decision or order whether interim or otherwise, given or made by the Wakf Tribunal. The Court stated that it is astonishing that the present writ petitions and Regular First Appeals are being preferred by the aggrieved parties before this Court challenging the decisions rendered by the Tribunals constituted under the Act without understanding how such appeals or writ petitions will be entertained because of the existence of the specific bar in terms of Section 83(9) of the Act that no appeal will lie against the decision/order of the Tribunal.

The Court stated that if any person is aggrieved by the decisions/orders of the Wakf Tribunals can invoke the revisional jurisdiction of the High Court hence remedy is provided to the aggrieved person by way of filing revision petition and not by the medium of appeal. The Court also observed it is settled law that suit for eviction from wakf property is triable by a civil court and not by the Wakf Tribunal since the Act does not provide determination of dispute of eviction by the Tribunal. [Mumtaz Ahmad v. State of H.P., 2016 SCC OnLine HP 2603, decided on November 16th 2016]

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: While deciding that whether Rule 159 of High Court of Jharkhand Rules, 2001 which requires surrender to the custody of the Court before filing a revision petition, violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution and Sections 397 and 401 of CrPC, the Division Bench of T.S. Thakur and A.K. Goel, JJ., upheld the constitutional validity of Rule 159 stating that it is a general practice to file a revision against conviction and sentence is filed after an appeal is dismissed and the convicted person is taken into custody in Court itself. The object of the Rule is to ensure that a person who has been convicted by two courts obeys the law and does not abscond and furthermore the provision does not conflict with the provisions of CrPC.

The instant case came into being when the petitioner’s appeal against conviction under Section 498A of IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of Dowry Prohibition Act failed and he proceeded to file a revision petition before the High Court which was not registered due to the impugned Rule. Pragati Neekhra arguing for the petitioner put forth the contention that the impugned Rule is in conflict with CrPC provisions dealing with related to statutory revisional jurisdiction of the High Court along with contending that the impugned Rule violates fundamental rights under Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution. The respondent counsel A.K. Sinha presented an affidavit before that Court stating that Order XXI, Rule 6 of Supreme Court Rules, 1966 contains an identical provision to Rule 159, therefore the impugned Rule cannot be termed as arbitrary or inconsistent with the provisions of CrPC.

The Court upon considering the submissions observed that the impugned Rule is a provision to regulate the procedure of the Court and does not conflict with the substantive provisions of CrPC. The Court further observed that the Supreme Court Rules’ prohibition against listing without surrender is not applicable if the Court otherwise directs but such exception is not found in the impugned Rule, thus the exception as found in corresponding Supreme Court Rules that if the Court grants exemption from surrender and directs listing of a case the Rule cannot stand in the way of the Court’s exercise of such jurisdiction, has to be assumed in the impugned Rule. Vivek Rai v. High Court of Jharkhand, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 95, decided on 04.02.1015