Case BriefsDistrict Court

Karkardooma Court: Naveen Gupta, Additional Session Judge, while addressing a bail application filed, denied the same and held that,

A peaceful protest is the essential right in a vibrant democracy as of ours, but this right is subject to certain exceptions provided under the Constitution of India.

In the present case, allegations in view of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) Section 144 CrPC had been imposed. During a flag march with large police on 26-02-2020, a noise of firing was heard. Pursuant to the firing, public persons were asked to disperse, but they refused to do so.

Further, SHO announced the crowd as unlawful assembly and again asked the people to disperse but the persons named in FIR including the applicant did not allow the crowd to remove themselves. Applicant instigated the crowd saying that they would not remove themselves even if, they die or whatever police officials do, they want freedom. In fact, the crowd was even asked to pelt stones.

In view of the above, Police used the force to control the situation, but the crowd remained there and thereafter, police used tear gas shells and fired in the air. Persons from the crowd started manhandling with police staff. Thus FIR was registered.

Applicants counsel submitted that there was a peaceful protest against CAA for las 49 days and no complaint of criminal activity had been moved against the protesters. It is one of the fundamental rights of citizens to protest and register their dissent.

Further, they contended that those police officials who were a part of the flag march did not record the entire alleged incident by videography. Moreover, the applicant was not present at the spot, rather she was picked up from her house.

Additional Public Prosecutor for the State submitted that, the said actions of persons named in FIR, as well as other persons of the crowd, clearly lead to infer that the assembly had turned into an unlawful assembly with a common object to overawe by criminal force the police officials in the exercise of the lawful power as well as to commit an offence.

Adding to the above contentions, APP submitted that, considering the background of applicant, there is a high chance of tampering with the evidence and threatening of witnesses by her, in case she is admitted to bail at the preliminary stage of the investigation.

Court’s Decision

Bench stated that,

Under Section 141 of Penal Code, 1860, ‘an assembly which not unlawful when it assembled, may subsequently become an unlawful assembly’. Referring to the Supreme Court decision in Ramachandran v. State of Kerala, (2011) 9 SCC 257“Common Object” may also be developed at the time of the incident.

Court stated that in view of the facts and circumstances along with the contents of the FIR, it shows that members of the assembly had been armed with a pistol. They had pelted stones. Instigation was also caused by the persons named in the FIR.

Applicant and members of assembly targeted the police officials with gunshot and pelting of stones etc.

Bench adding to the above also stated that it is guided with the principles laid down in the Supreme Court’s decision in Prashant Kumar Sarkar v. Ashis Chatterjee, (2010) 14 SCC 496, wherein it was held that,

“…factors to be borne in mind while considering an application for bail are: (i) whether there is any prima facie or reasonable ground to believe that the accused had committed the offence; (ii) nature and gravity of the accusation; (iii) severity of the punishment in the event of conviction; (iv) danger of the accused absconding or fleeing, if released on bail; (v) character, behaviour, means, position and standing of the accused; (vi) likelihood of the offence being repeated; (vii) reasonable apprehension of the witnesses being influenced; and (viii) danger, of course, of justice being thwarted by grant of bail.”

Hence, while concluding its decision, the Court held that the charges in the present case are of serious nature.

When protectors of law are targeted in the manner as reflected in presnet FIR and that too, in the gaze of general public, such actions lower public confidence in the ability of police officers to do their duty.

Thus, Court view of above is not inclined to grant bail to the applicant. [State v. Ishrat Jahan, Bail Application No. 370, decided on 28-02-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Raja Vijayaraghavan V., J. allowed this bail application registered under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. 

The applicant of this application is the accused 7 of the Crime No. 445 of 2019 of the Shornur Police Station registered under Sections 143, 144, 147, 148, 324, 326, 307 and 447 read with Section 149 of the Penal Code. 

The facts of the case are that on 22-11-2019, all the 7 accused’s who were named in the First Information Report along with 3 others, attacked the complainant and his friend Abdul Rahman with swords and weapons, causing him serious injuries. 

The counsel for the applicant/accused, Nireesh Mathew, contended that the accused 7 did not hurt the complainant. The counsel contended that the injuries were made by the rest of the accused. He contended that the accused is only liable for being a member of unlawful assembly and as such guilty under Section 149 of the Penal Code.

Section 149 of the IPC states that if an offence is committed by any member of an unlawful assembly, or such as the members of that assembly knew to be likely to be committed in prosecution of that object, every person who, at the time of the committing of that offence, is a member of the same assembly, is guilty of that offence. in. The counsel would contend that the injuries were inflicted by the rest of the accused and the applicant herein was roped in with the aid of Section 149 IPC.

The counsel for the complainant/respondent, Remesh Chand, Public Prosecutor, contended that the wound certificate shows serious injuries of the informant and his friend. 

The Court, after listening to the counsels of both the parties, held that the first informant has no case and that the applicant was not armed with a weapon or anything. Neither did the applicant induced any serious injury to the complainant. On this basis, the Court allowed this application of bail on executing a personal bond of Rs 1,00,000 with two other solvent sureties each for the sum as per the satisfaction of the Court having jurisdiction. Some other conditions were also imposed-

  1. the applicant has to appear before the Investigating Officer on all the Mondays between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. for a period of three months or till the final report is laid; whichever was earlier.
  2. the accused should not intimidate or attempt to influence the witnesses, nor should he tamper with the evidences
  3. while the accused is on bail, he should not commit any offence.

In case of violation, the jurisdictional Court shall be empowered to consider the application for cancellation.[Vishnu Prasad v. State of Kerala,  2019 SCC OnLine Ker 5349, decided on 12-12-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: Ahsanuddin Amanullah, J. allowed a petition seeking to quash an order of the Sessions court on the ground that the petitioner was juvenile and protected by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

The petitioner along with other persons was accused of forming an unlawful assembly and damaging the informant’s property. A case was instituted under Sections 147,148,149,341,323,324 and 307 of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’) and Section 27 of the Arms Act. 1959. Petitioner’s case was considered by the Juvenile Justice Board, West Champaran Bettiah. The Board ordered the petitioner to go home in the care of his father. The petitioner, being aggrieved by the order appealed before the Sessions Judge. The Sessions Judge by an order dated 11-02-2016 convicted him under Sections 149 and 307, 149 of the IPC.

Sanjay Kumar, counsel representing the petitioner submitted that on the date of occurrence of an event, the petitioner was 15 years old, the Board had to conclude enquiry without holding anything against the petitioner. He was a member of an unlawful assembly but had no role in any overt act. There was no delinquency record against the petitioner and no complainants were lodged regarding his behaviour. The petitioner was required to be released and the appellate court had gone beyond its jurisdiction in convicting him. The conviction was totally uncalled for as the informant or the State had not filed any appeal.

Bhanu Pratap Singh for the State contended that the order of the board was sufficient and the order passed by Sessions judge regarding petitioner’s guilt is unsustainable as no appeal was preferred by the prosecution.

The Court upon perusal of the facts and circumstances held that the Sessions Judge by ordering conviction has misdirected himself as it was not an appeal by State or the informant and juvenility of the petitioner should have been considered by the court. The court quashed the order and allowed the appeal on two grounds, recording of guilt was found to be unjustified upon appraisal of evidence, and secondly, the petitioner is protected by virtue of Section 24 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. [Md. Isteyak v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 1926, decided on 08-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Harsha Devani and A.S. Supehia, JJ. pronounced the order on quantum of sentence in the ‘Naroda Patiya Riot case’. The respondents who were earlier convicted for various offences of IPC were awarded 10 years imprisonment.

On a fateful day, as many as 93 persons were done to death by the unlawful assembly of which the respondents were a part. The High Court had already convicted the respondents in the case. The respondent-accused 24 moved an application seeking the benefit of the provisions of Probation of Offenders Act. On this point, the High Court noted that the respondents were convicted inter alia under Sections 326 and 436. Since the sections prescribe a punishment of life imprisonment, the Court relying on Jugal Kishore Prasad v. State of Bihar, (1972) 2 SCC 633, held that the benefit of Section 4 of Probation of Offenders Act was not available to the respondents.

Coming to the question of quantum of sentence to be awarded to the respondents, the Court referred to State of H.P. v. Nirmala Devi, (2017) 7 SCC 262, and observed that the punishment should be proportionate to the offence committed. While sentencing a person for a heinous crime, deterrence theory as a rationale for punishing the offender becomes more relevant. The Court considered the magnitude of destruction caused by the unlawful assembly; entire incident had serious communal overtones; properties of innocent victims were reduced to ashes. The offences committed were not against any individual but against the society at large. The Court was of the view that imposing too lenient a sentence would be a travesty of justice. Considering gravity of offence and agony of the victims, the Court awarded 10 years of rigorous imprisonment for the offence under Section 436 IPC along with various sentences for other offences; sentences were directed to run concurrently. [Farzanabanu Ayubkhan Pathan v. Umeshbhai Surabhai Bharwad, 2018 SCC OnLine Guj 1194, decided on 25-06-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the culpability of an accused participating in an unlawful assembly was in question, the bench of S.A. Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ said that the presence of an accused as part of an unlawful assembly, when not as a curious onlooker or a bystander, suggests his participation in the object of the assembly but it could well be that an accused had no intention to participate in the object of the assembly.

Explaining with the help of an example, the Court said that if the object of the assembly is to murder someone, it is possible that the accused as a particular member of the assembly had no knowledge of the intention of the other members whose object was to murder, unless of course the evidence to the contrary shows such knowledge. But having participated and gone along with the others, an inference whether inculpatory or exculpatory can be drawn from the conduct of such an accused.

According to the Court, the point of time at which the accused discovered that the assembly intended to kill the victim, the attempt, if any, made by him/her to stop the assembly from pursuing the object and if he/she dissociate from the assembly by getting away upon failing to stop the assembly, are the issues that will determine whether an accused shared the common object in the assembly. Without evidence that the accused had no knowledge of the unlawful object of the assembly or without evidence that after having gained knowledge, he attempted to prevent the assembly from accomplishing the unlawful object, and without evidence that after having failed to do so, the accused disassociated himself from the assembly, the mere participation of an accused in such an assembly would be inculpatory. [Kattukulangara Madhavan v. Majeed, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 299, decided on 30.03.2017]