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Monday, September 30, 2013

Wrong procedure adopted by Magistrate = In a Kidnap case on a private complaint, when the police filed charge sheet excluding kidnap and filed only under sec. 323 and 343 of I.P.C. - with out conducting trial no court should pass orders on plea of guilty and releasing the accused on probation with a direction - not to affect his service = conviction of an employee in an offence permits the disciplinary authority to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the employee or to take appropriate steps for his dismissal/removal only on the basis of his conviction. The word “disqualification” contained in Section 12 of the 1958 Act refers to a disqualification provided in other statutes, as explained by this Court in the above referred cases, and the employee cannot claim a right to continue in service merely on the ground that he had been given the benefit of probation under the 1958 Act.”= the trial court had no competence to make any observation having civil consequences so far as the private respondents are concerned. The High Court rejected the application under Section 482 Cr.P.C. filed by the appellant only on the ground that the appellant neither challenged the order of taking cognizance nor raised any objection at the time of reading over of the charges to the accused. The High Court failed to appreciate that before the statement of the appellant or any other witness could be recorded, the trial court disposed off the matter on the date when the application itself had been submitted admitting the guilt. Even otherwise if the trial court wanted to entertain any issue of plea bargaining under Chapter XXI-A, inserted w.e.f. 5.7.2006, then too the court was obliged there under to put the victim to notice before extending any such benefits that have been given in the present case. The procedure therefore appears to have been clearly violated. Therefore, in the facts and circumstances of the case, the appellant had no opportunity to raise any grievance before the appropriate forum.= In view of the above, the appeal succeeds and is allowed. The judgment and order of the trial court dated 15.7.2011 as well as of the High Court dated 23.4.2012 are set aside. The matter is remitted

published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40841
                                                      REPORTABLE


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                     CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.  1547  of 2013




     Girraj Prasad Meena
     …Appellant


                                   Versus


     State of Rajasthan & Ors.
       …Respondents








                               J U D G M E N T




      Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN, J.


      1.    This appeal has been preferred against the impugned judgment and
      order dated 23.4.2012 passed  by  the  High  Court  of  Judicature  of
      Rajasthan (Jaipur Bench) in S.B. Criminal Misc. Petition No.  1260  of
      2012, by which the High Court rejected the application  filed  by  the
      appellant under Section  482  of  Code  of  Criminal  Procedure,  1973
      (hereinafter referred to as `Cr.P.C.’)
for setting aside the  judgment
      and order  dated  15.7.2011  passed  by  the  Judge,  Gram  Nyayalaya,
      Gangapur City, District Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan, in Case No. 269  of
      2011, whereby the  trial  court  has  allowed the application of   the
      respondents-accused   for   pleading    guilty    for   the   offences
      punishable under Sections 323 and 343 of the Indian Penal  Code,  1860
      (hereinafter referred to as the `IPC’)  and
 has further given them the
      benefit of Section 12 of the Probation of  the  Offenders  Act,  1958,
      (hereinafter referred to as the `Act 1958’), in the case  arising  out
      of FIR No. 115 of 2009 lodged at Police Station Wazirpur under Section
      365 IPC.


      2.    Facts and circumstances giving rise to this appeal are that:
      A.    The learned Magistrate passed an order  under  Section  156  (3)
      Cr.P.C. for the investigation whereunder FIR No.  115  of  2009  under
      Section 365 IPC was lodged on  the  complaint  filed  by  one  Kamlesh
      Meena, who is brother-in-law  of  the  appellant,  alleging  that  the
      appellant had been kidnapped  by  the  private  respondents  alongwith
      other accused when he was returning from the school duty as a teacher.
      B.    Police investigated  the  matter,  located  the  appellant  from
      village Jeevli on 4.7.2009 and  recorded  the  statements  of  various
      persons under Section 161 Cr.P.C, and the statement of  the  appellant
      was  recorded  under  Section  164  Cr.P.C.   After   completing   the
      investigation, the police filed a charge sheet dated 4.8.2010  against
      the accused – namely private respondents only for offences  punishable
      under Sections 323, 343 read with Section 34 IPC.
      C.    After filing of  the  charge  sheet,  the  trial  commenced.  On
      3.1.2011,  the  court  ordered  the  presence  of  the  witnesses  for
      recording their statements on 9.6.2011. 
However on the said date,  the
      summons were issued to three witnesses, including  the  appellant  for
      recording their evidence on 7.7.2011. 
But on the date  so  fixed,  the trial could not proceed.
      D.    On 15.7.2011, both the accused-respondents appeared  before  the
      learned trial court and filed an application pleading guilty  for  the
      offences under Sections 323 and 343  IPC.  
The  said  application  was
      entertained forthwith and the learned trial court concluded the  trial
      on  that  day  itself,  without  issuing  notice  to  the   appellant,
      convicting the respondents under Sections 323 and 343 IPC and imposing
      a  fine  of  Rs.500/-,  and  further  granting  them  the  benefit  of
      provisions of Sections 3 & 12 of the Act 1958. 
The learned  Magistrate
      further held that the order passed in criminal case herein  shall  not
      have any adverse affect on  the  government  service  of  the  accused
      persons.
      E.    Aggrieved, the appellant challenged the said judgment and  order
      dated 15.7.2011 before the High Court  on  various  grounds  including
      that the court below  had  committed  an  error  in  not  taking  into
      consideration  the  statement  of  the  appellant  under  Section  164
      Cr.P.C., wherein serious allegations had been made against the accused
      persons and others particularly that the appellant was  kidnapped  and
      illegally  detained  from  29.6.2009  to  4.7.2009;  terrorising   and
      threatening him that his hand and legs would be chopped  of;   abusing
      the complainant persistently.  The case was disposed  off  hastily  in
      one day without notice to the appellant.  More so, the court below had
      no right to make the observation that the order  of  conviction  would
      not adversely affect the services of the respondents-accused.
      F.    The High Court dismissed the said application vide  order  dated
      23.4.2012 on the ground that the  appellant  has  not  challenged  the
      order taking cognizance nor any objection was raised when charges were
      read  over  to  the  accused  and  the  respondents-accused  had  been
      convicted on their pleading guilty regarding the  aforesaid  offences.
     
The High Court held that there was no obligation in law  to  hear  the
      appellant or any other witness at this stage and the trial  court  was
      right in passing the impugned order.
            Hence, this appeal.


      3.    Shri H.D. Thanvi, learned counsel appearing  on  behalf  of  the
      appellant, has raised a large number of issues and insisted  that  the
      trial court had no right to make any observation that  the  conviction
      could not have adverse affect on the service of the respondents.  More
      so, the courts below had committed an error in exceeding the scope  of
      the provisions of  Section  12  of  the  Act  1958.  The  trial  stood
      concluded without framing the charges, without issuing notice  to  the
      appellant.


      4.     On  the  other  hand,  Ms.  Nilofar  Qureshi,  learned  counsel
      appearing on behalf of the private respondents, has opposed the appeal
      contending  that  the  judgment  and  order  impugned  is  passed   in
      consonance with law and does not require any interference.   In  fact,
      appellant is the  father  of  son-in-law  of  respondent  no.2-accused
      Kirodi Lal Meena. Respondent’s daughter Hemlata had  been  ill-treated
      by the appellant and his family. There  had  been  various  civil  and
      criminal cases between the parties and the  present  case  is  just  a
      counter blast to such proceedings.
           Shri Vivek Singh, learned Standing counsel appearing  on  behalf
      of the State of Rajasthan, has supported the case of the  respondents-
      accused contending  that  the  orders  of  the  courts  below  are  in
      consonance with the statutory provisions and once a  charge  sheet  is
      filed, the charges become final, and as the charges so framed were not
      so serious, the benefit of Act 1958 has rightly been  granted  to  the
      private respondents. Thus, the appeal is liable to be rejected.


      5.    We have considered the rival submissions  made  by  the  learned
      counsel for the parties and perused the record.


      6.    Filing of charge sheet and taking cognizance has nothing  to  do
      with the finality of charges, as charges framed after  the  cognizance
      is taken by the court, can be altered/amended/changed and  any  charge
      can be added at any stage upto the stage of conviction in view of  the
      provisions of Section 216 Cr.P.C. The only legal requirement is  that,
      in case the trial court exercises its  power  under  Sections  228/251
      Cr.P.C.,  the  accused  is  entitled  to  an  opportunity   of   show-
      cause/hearing as required under the provisions of Section 217 Cr. P.C.
      (Vide: Umesh Kumar v. State of A.P., JT 2013 (12) SC 213).


      7.    In fact, the appellant has been raising the grievance  from  the
      very beginning that the police has not  been  investigating  the  case
      properly and for that purpose, he had also approached the  High  Court
      by filing Writ Petition No. 14272 of 2009, wherein several  directions
      had been issued by the Division Bench of the High Court  of  Rajasthan
      to the Director General of Police for a fair investigation vide orders
      dated 10.2.2010 and 11.8.2010.  In  the  statement  of  the  appellant
      recorded under Section 164  Cr.P.C.  before  the  learned  magistrate,
      appellant has given a full version as to how  he  had  been  kidnapped
      while returning from school duty and forcibly lifted  by  the  private
      respondents and five others in a Innova Car and was illegally detained
      from 29.6.2009 till  4.7.2009 when  he  was  located  by  the  police.
      Appellant  named  7  persons  and  serious  allegations  of   criminal
      intimidation, threats, terrorising and causing physical harm had  been
      levelled.  The police  after  concluding  the  investigation  filed  a
      charge sheet only against the two accused and, that too, only for  the
      offences punishable under Sections 323 and 343 IPC.
      8.    Had the trial court applied its mind to the  material  collected
      during investigation and particularly  the  statement  recorded  under
      Section 164 Cr.P.C., the charges could have been  framed  also   under
      Section 365 IPC.
In that  case,  the  Gram  Nyayalaya  would  have  no
      jurisdiction to deal with the matter as the maximum sentence for  that
      offence is 7 years imprisonment with fine, and the Magistrate in  that
      situation, was bound to commit  the  matter  to  the  Sessions  court.
      Further, before the statements of the witnesses could be recorded, the
      private respondents filed an application admitting  their  guilt.  Had
      the statements of the witnesses been recorded, perhaps the court could
      have issued summons to other accused  under  Section  319  Cr.P.C.  or
      charges could have been  amended/altered/modified  under  Section  216
      Cr.P.C. More so, at that stage, the appellant  was  not  heard  as  no
      notice had been issued to him.  The trial  court  proceeded  in  great
      haste and disposed off the matter on 15.7.2011 the same date when  the
       application was filed by the private respondents.
      9.    On the said facts, we are of the  considered  opinion  that  the
      learned trial court proceeded not only in great haste, but  adopted  a
      procedure not known in law, and the judgment and order  of  the  trial
      court therefore stands vitiated.
      10.    In State of U.P. v. Ranjit Singh, AIR 1999 SC 1201,
this  Court
      has held that the High Court,  while  deciding  a  criminal  case  and
      giving the benefit of the U.P. First Offenders’ Probation  Act,  1938,
      or similar enactment, has no competence to issue  any  direction  that
      the accused shall not suffer any civil  consequences.  
The  Court  has held as under:
              “5. We also fail to  understand  how  the  High  Court  while
           deciding a criminal case, can direct that the  accused  must  be
           deemed to have been in continuous  service  without  break  and,
           therefore,  he  should  be  paid  his  full  pay  and  [dearness
           allowance] during the period of his suspension.  This  direction
           and  observation  is  wholly  without   jurisdiction….”(Emphasis
           added)




      11.    In Shankar Dass v. Union of India & Anr., AIR 1985 SC 772,
this
      Court has held that the order of dismissal  from  service,  consequent
      upon a conviction, is not a disqualification  within  the  meaning  of
      Section 12 of the Act 1958 observing as under:
           “4. … There are statutes which  provide  that  persons  who  are
           convicted   for   certain   offences   shall    incur    certain
           disqualifications.   For   example,   Chapter   III    of    the
           Representation   of   the    People    Act,    1951,    entitled
           ‘Disqualifications  for  membership  of  Parliament  and   State
           Legislatures’ and Chapter  IV  entitled  ‘Disqualifications  for
           Voting’ contain provisions which disqualify persons convicted of
           certain charges from  being  members  of  legislatures  or  from
           voting at elections to legislatures. That is the sense in  which
           the word  ‘disqualification’  is  used  in  Section  12  of  the
           Probation of Offenders Act. [Therefore, it is  not  possible  to
           accept the reasoning of the High Court that Section  12  of  the
           1958 Act takes away the effect of conviction for the purpose  of
           service also.”




      12.   The provision of the Act 1958 has been dealt with by this  Court
      elaborately in  Sushil  Kumar  Singhal  v.  Regional  Manager,  Punjab
      National Bank,  (2010)  8  SCC  573,  wherein  after  considering  the
      judgments of this court in Aitha Chander Rao v. State  of  A.P.,  1981
      Supp SCC 17; Harichand v. Director of School Education,  AIR  1998  SC
      788; Divisional Personnel Officer, Southern Railway  &  Anr.  v.  T.R.
      Chellappan, AIR 1975 SC 2216; and Trikha Ram v. V.K. Seth & Anr.,  AIR
      1988 SC 285, the court held as under:
           “In view of the above, the law on the issue can be summarised to
           the effect that 
the conviction of  an  employee  in  an  offence
           permits the  disciplinary  authority  to  initiate  disciplinary
           proceedings against the employee or to  take  appropriate  steps
           for his dismissal/removal only on the basis of  his  conviction.
           The word “disqualification” contained in Section 12 of the  1958 Act refers to a disqualification provided in other statutes,  as explained by this Court in  the  above referred  cases,  and  the employee cannot claim a right to continue in service  merely  on the ground that he had been given the benefit of probation under  the 1958 Act.”


      (See also: Karamjit Singh v. State of Punjab, (2009) 7 SCC 178).
      13.   Thus, we are also of the considered opinion that
 the trial court
      had no competence to make any observation having civil consequences so
      far as the private respondents are concerned.
            
The High  Court  rejected  the  application  under  Section  482
      Cr.P.C. filed by the appellant only on the ground that  the  appellant
      neither challenged the order  of  taking  cognizance  nor  raised  any
      objection at the time of reading over of the charges to  the  accused.
      
The High Court failed to appreciate that before the statement  of  the
      appellant or any other witness could  be  recorded,  the  trial  court
      disposed off the matter on the date when the  application  itself  had
      been submitted admitting the guilt. 
 Even otherwise if the trial court
      wanted to entertain any issue of plea bargaining under Chapter  XXI-A,
      inserted w.e.f. 5.7.2006, then too the court was obliged there under to
      put the victim to notice before extending any such benefits that  have
      been given in the present case. 
The  procedure  therefore  appears  to
      have been clearly violated. Therefore, in the facts and  circumstances
      of the case, the appellant had no opportunity to raise  any  grievance
      before the appropriate forum.


      14.   In view of the above, the appeal succeeds and  is  allowed.  The
      judgment and order of the trial court dated 15.7.2011 as  well  as  of
      the High Court dated 23.4.2012 are set aside. 
The matter  is  remitted
      to the trial court to be decided afresh in accordance with law. As the
      matter is very old, we request the trial court to conclude  the  trial
      afresh adopting the procedure as explained herein above  expeditiously,
      preferably within a period of six  months  from  the  date  of  filing
      certified copy of the order before it.
            Before parting with the case, we  would  clarify  that  we  have
      expressed no opinion on the merits of the ensuing trial.


                                       ….………………..........J.            (DR.
                                       B.S. CHAUHAN)




      …...................................J.
                                                              (S.A. BOBDE)
      NEW DELHI;
      September 30, 2013


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