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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Section 378(3) of the Code = whether requisite leave should or should not be granted, the High Court must apply its mind, consider whether a prima facie case has been made out or arguable points have been raised and not whether the order of acquittal would or would not be set aside.= “Heard. No case for grant of leave is made out. Accordingly, the leave to appeal stands dismissed.” = cryptic order = it was a clear case of total non application of mind to the case by the learned Judges because the order impugned neither sets out the facts nor the submissions of the parties nor the findings and nor the reasons as to why the leave to file appeal is declined to the appellant. We, therefore, disapprove the casual approach of the High Court in deciding the application



                                                                  Reportable
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 750 OF 2006



      State of Rajasthan                                 Appellant(s)


                             VERSUS


      Firoz Khan @ Arif Khan                 Respondent(s)





                               J U D G M E N T

     Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.
      1)    This appeal is filed by the State of Rajasthan against the final
      judgment and order dated  28.10.2005  passed  by  the  High  Court  of
      Judicature for Rajasthan at Jodhpur in D.B. Criminal Leave  to  Appeal
      No. 227 of 2005 whereby the Division Bench of the High Court dismissed
      the application filed by the appellant herein seeking  leave  to  file
      appeal under Section 378(3)  of  the  Criminal  Procedure  Code,  1973
      (hereinafter referred to as “the Code”)  against  the  judgment  dated
      13.08.2004 passed by the Sessions Judge, Jaisalmer in  Sessions  Trial
      Case No. 48 of 2002.

       2)   Keeping in view the short point involved in the  appeal,  it  is
      not necessary to state the facts in detail except  few  to  appreciate
      the grievance of the appellant.
      3)    The respondent (accused) was prosecuted and tried for commission
      of an offence of murder of one Liley Khan aged around 11  years  under
      Section 302 of  the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter  referred  to
      as “IPC”)  pursuant to lodging of FIR No  44/2002  in  Police  Station
      Ramgarh, District Jaisalmer in Sessions Trial Case No. 48 of  2002  in
      the Court of District and Sessions Judge, Jaisalmer.  The  prosecution
      adduced evidence in support of their case.
      4)    By judgment dated 13.8.2004, the Session Judge  on  appreciating
      the evidence adduced by the prosecution acquitted  the  respondent  of
      the charge of murder by giving him benefit of doubt.
      5)     The  State  of  Rajasthan,  felt  aggrieved   of   respondent's
      acquittal, filed application for leave to appeal before the High Court
      under Section 378 (3) of the Code.
      6)    By impugned order, the High Court declined to  grant  leave  and
      accordingly rejected the application made by the State. It is  against
      this order, the State has filed this appeal by way  of  special  leave
      petition.
      7)    Notice of lodgment of petition  of  appeal  was  served  on  the
      respondent but despite service  of  notice,  the  respondent  has  not
      appeared.
      8)    Heard learned counsel for the State of Rajasthan.
      9)    Learned counsel for  the  appellant-State  has  made  only   one
      submission.  According to him, the High  Court  while  dismissing  the
      application for leave to appeal did not assign any  reason  and  hence
      the impugned order is rendered bad in law. It was his submission  that
      there were several discrepancies and errors in  the  judgment  of  the
      Sessions Judge against which the  leave  to  appeal  was  sought  and,
      therefore, this was a fit  case  where  the  High  Court  should  have
      granted leave to appeal for further  probing  into  the  case  by  the
      appellate court. In support of his submission, he placed  reliance  on
      the decision of this Court in State of Maharashtra vs.  Sujay  Mangesh
      Poyarekar, (2008) 9 SCC 475.
      10)   We are inclined to agree in part with the  submission  urged  by
      the learned counsel for the appellant.
      11)   The question as to how the application for  grant  of  leave  to
      appeal made under Section 378 (3) of the Code should be decided by the
      High Court and what are the parameters which  the  High  Court  should
      keep in mind remains no more res Integra. This issue was  examined  by
      this Court  in  State  of  Maharashtra  vs.  Sujay  Mangesh  Poyarekar
      (supra). Justice C.K. Thakker speaking for the Bench held in paras 19,
      20, 21 and 24 as under:

           “19. Now, Section 378 of the Code provides for filing of  appeal
           by the State in case of acquittal. Sub-section (3) declares that
           no appeal “shall be entertained except with  the  leave  of  the
           High Court”. It is, therefore, necessary for the State where  it
           is aggrieved by an order of acquittal recorded  by  a  Court  of
           Session to file an application for leave to appeal  as  required
           by sub-section (3) of Section 378 of the Code. It is  also  true
           that an appeal can be registered and heard on merits by the High
           Court only after the High Court grants  leave  by  allowing  the
           application filed under sub-section (3) of Section  378  of  the
           Code.
           20. In our opinion, however, in deciding  the  question  whether
           requisite leave should or should not be granted, the High  Court
           must apply its mind, consider whether a  prima  facie  case  has
           been made out or  arguable  points  have  been  raised  and  not
           whether the order of acquittal would or would not be set aside.
           21. It cannot be laid down as an abstract proposition of law  of
           universal application that each and every petition seeking leave
           to prefer an appeal against an order of acquittal recorded by  a
           trial court must be allowed by the  appellate  court  and  every
           appeal must be admitted and  decided  on  merits.  But  it  also
           cannot be overlooked that at that stage,  the  court  would  not
           enter into minute details of the prosecution evidence and refuse
           leave observing that the judgment of acquittal recorded  by  the
           trial court could not be said to be “perverse”  and,  hence,  no
           leave should be granted.
           24. We may hasten to clarify that we may not  be  understood  to
           have laid down an  inviolable  rule  that  no  leave  should  be
           refused by the appellate court against  an  order  of  acquittal
           recorded by the trial court. We only state that in  such  cases,
           the appellate court must consider the relevant  material,  sworn
           testimonies of prosecution  witnesses  and  record  reasons  why
           leave sought by the State should not be granted and the order of
           acquittal recorded by the trial court should not  be  disturbed.
           Where there is application of mind by the  appellate  court  and
           reasons (may be in brief) in support of such view are  recorded,
           the order of the  court  may  not  be  said  to  be  illegal  or
           objectionable. At the same time,  however,  if  arguable  points
           have been raised, if the material  on  record  discloses  deeper
           scrutiny  and  reappreciation,  review  or  reconsideration   of
           evidence, the appellate court must grant  leave  as  sought  and
           decide the appeal on merits. In  the  case  on  hand,  the  High
           Court, with respect, did neither. In the  opinion  of  the  High
           Court, the case did not require grant  of  leave.  But  it  also
           failed to record reasons for refusal of such leave.”


      12)   Coming now to  the  facts  of  this  case,  it  is  apposite  to
      reproduce the impugned order in verbatim infra.
                 “Heard.
                 No case for grant of leave is made out.  Accordingly, the
           leave to appeal stands dismissed.”


      13)   We are constrained to observe that the High Court grossly  erred
      in passing the impugned order without assigning any  reason.   In  our
      considered opinion, it was a clear case of total  non  application  of
      mind to the case by the learned  Judges  because  the  order  impugned
      neither sets out the facts nor the submissions of the parties nor  the
      findings and nor the reasons as to why the leave  to  file  appeal  is
      declined to  the  appellant.  We,  therefore,  disapprove  the  casual
      approach of the High Court in deciding the application, which  in  our
      view is against the law laid down by this Court in the case  of  State
      of Maharashtra vs. Sujay Mangesh Poyarekar (supra).
      14)   In  the  light  of  foregoing  discussion,  the  impugned  order
      deserves to be set aside. The appeal thus succeeds and is  accordingly
      allowed and the  impugned  order  is  set  aside.        The  case  is
      remanded to the High Court for deciding the application  made  by  the
      appellant for grant of leave to appeal afresh on merits in  accordance
      with law keeping in view the law laid down by this Court in  State  of
      Maharashtra vs. Sujay Mangesh Poyarekar (supra).
      15)   It is made clear that we have not applied our mind to the merits
      of the case and remanded the  case  having  noticed  that  it  was  an
      unreasoned  order.   The  High  Court  will  accordingly  decide   the
      application on merits uninfluenced by any of our observations made  in
      this order.
      16)   Since the case is old, we request the High Court to  decide  the
      matter within three months from the date of  receipt  of  this  order.
      Since no one appeared in this Court for the respondent despite  notice
      to him, the High Court will issue a fresh notice  of  the  application
      for grant of leave to the respondent and then decide  the  application
      as directed.



     .……...................................J.
                                     [ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE]





                 ………..................................J.
                                      [ASHOK BHUSHAN]
      New Delhi,
      May 17, 2016.

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