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Thursday, May 25, 2017

“20-A Cognizance of offence.- (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code, no information about the commission of an offence under this Act shall be recorded by the police without the prior approval of the District Superintendent of Police. (2) No court shall take cognizance of any offence under this Act without the previous sanction of the Inspector-General of Police, or as the case may be, the Commissioner of Police.” - non-compliance with Section 20-A(1) of TADA = the confessions of A-1 and A-6 are involuntary as they were taken in the immediate custody of high security of CBI and a non-voluntary confession cannot form the basis of conviction.- In the light of the judgments cited above and the material on record, we have no hesitation in holding that whole proceedings in the present case were vitiated. Therefore, the order of conviction and sentence passed by the Designated Court is hereby quashed and set-aside. The appellants herein be released forthwith, if not required in any other case.

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.498 of 2012
                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.867 of 2012
      OF POLICE                                          ...RESPONDENT(S)

                               J U D G M E N T

      Pinaki Chandra Ghose, J.
   1. These two appeals are directed against the judgment  and  order  dated
      8th September, 2011 passed by the Court of Designated Judge  for  TADA
      Cases, Tirunelveli,  in  TADA  Case  No.1/1997,  whereby  the  learned
      Designated Judge found  the  appellants  herein  guilty  for  offences
      punishable under Section 120(B) read with Sections 302, 147, 148 & 149
      of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter referred to as “IPC”)  and
      Sections 3(2), 3(3) & 3(4) of the Terrorist and Disruptive  Activities
      (Prevention) Act, 1987 ( for short “TADA”) and sentenced them to  life

   2. The facts of the case have been elaborately discussed by  the  learned
      Special Judge of the Designated Court for adjudication of TADA  cases.
      We need not, therefore, recapitulate the entire  factual  backdrop  in
      which the appellants were tried, found guilty and sentenced, excepting
      where it is absolutely necessary to do so. There are  six  accused  in
      this case, namely, Sahul Hameed (A-1), Raja Hussain (A-2), Zubeir  (A-
      3), Zakir Hussain (A-4),  Azeez (A-5) and Seeni Nainar Mohammed (A-6).
      On 10th October, 1994, at about 06:30 a.m., A-1 to A-6 in pursuance of
      the conspiracy  hatched  amongst  them,  went  to  the  house  of  one
      Rajagopalan (since deceased),  who  was  President  of  Hindu  Munnani
      Association, with a motive to kill him. A day before the incident,   A-
      6 Seeni Nainar Mohammed had advised his brother Raja Hussain (A-2)  to
      meet him after completing the  task  of  murdering  Rajagopalan.  When
      Rajagopalan, after taking the newspapers from  a  newspaper  sub-agent
      Saravanam (PW-3), was going through the newspapers facing East at  his
      house, accused persons came from left hand  side  of  Rajagopalan  and
      while A-1 caught hold of the neck of Rajagopalan from behind, A-3  and
      A-4 took out knives and stabbed on his stomach. A-5 showing  a  sickle
      threatened the public to run away and  repeatedly  attacked  the  said
      Rajagopalan and thereafter they ran away towards west. On hearing  the
      noise, PW-1 Krishnaveni wife of the deceased came out of the house and
      saw that her husband was lying down in a pool of blood. The occurrence
      was witnessed by PW-1, PW-3, PW-4, PW-5 & PW-6.  PW-1  informed  about
      the incident to the Market Police Station on telephone. Upon receiving
      the information, PW-2 Inspector of Market Police Station rushed to the
      spot and enquired from PW-1 who gave a written complaint to him.

   3. Law was set into motion when PW-2 Stalin Michael, Inspector registered
      the FIR Ext.P2 at  07:30  a.m.  at  Police  Station  Thilagar  Ground,
      Madurai District, under Sections 147, 148 and  302  of  IPC  in  Crime
      No.2490/1994. On the orders of DGP,  the  case  was  transferred  from
      local Police to CBCID and Shri Rajagopal,  DSP  (PW-24)  took  up  the
      investigation, went to the place of occurrence, examined the witnesses
      and   recorded   their   statements.     Since   PW-24   was   holding
      additional charge, he could not accomplish the task  of  investigation
      and further investigation was taken up by Shri Jones, DSP (PW-30)  and
      after receiving prior approval from Superintendent of Police  (PW-26),
      registered  the  case  under  TADA.  The  records  of  the  case  were
      transferred to the learned Designated Judge for TADA Cases  and  after
      trial, the learned Designated Judge vide his judgment and order  dated
      08.09.2011 convicted all the accused in TADA  Case  No.1/1997  holding
      that the prosecution has proved the first charge as against A-1 to  A-
      6. A-1 to A-5 were convicted under Section 3(2) read with Section 3(1)
      of TADA read with Section 149 of IPC and  sentenced  to  undergo  life
      imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs.10,000/- each, and in default  of
      payment of fine, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 1 year. However,
      A-6 was convicted under Section 3(2) read with 3(1) of the  TADA  read
      with Section 109 of IPC and under Section 3(4) of TADA  and  sentenced
      to undergo life imprisonment and also to pay a fine of Rs.5,000/-  and
      in default of payment of fine, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for  1
      year. However, all the sentences were directed  to  run  concurrently.
      Hence, the present appeals under Section 19  of  TADA  read  with  the
      Supreme Court (Enlargement of Criminal  Appellate  Jurisdiction)  Act,
      1970.  Criminal Appeal No.498 of 2012 has  been  filed  by  A-6  while
      Criminal Appeal No.867 of 2012 has been filed by A-1 to A-5.

   4. We have carefully perused the impugned judgment and  the  material  on
      record and have also meticulously  examined  the  testimonies  of  the
      witnesses and other relevant evidence produced.  Since  the  appellate
      jurisdiction against any judgment passed by the Designated  Court  for
      TADA cases lies with this Court only, we would consider  the  peculiar
      circumstances of the  present  case  to  appropriately  discuss  every
      relevant issue in question before us.

   5. The very first issue which falls for our determination as  pressed  by
      the learned  senior  counsel  for  the  accused-appellants  herein  is
      whether the approval in the present case can be said to be  sufficient
      compliance of the provisions of Section 20-A of TADA  which  reads  as
           “20-A  Cognizance  of  offence.-  (1)  Notwithstanding  anything
           contained in the Code, no information about the commission of an
           offence under this Act shall be recorded by the  police  without
           the prior approval of the District Superintendent of Police.
           (2) No court shall take cognizance of any offence under this Act
           without  the  previous  sanction  of  the  Inspector-General  of
           Police, or as the case may be, the Commissioner of Police.”

   6. We have considered the fact that after the investigation, PW-30 DSP of
      CBI approached PW-28 IG on 13th September, 1997 seeking  sanction  for
      prosecution against A-1 to A-5 for offences under TADA Act.  PW-28  on
      16th September, 1997 granted the sanction (Ext.P-46)  for  prosecution
      against A-1 to A-5 under TADA Act. It is stated by PW-28, IG  that  he
      perused all the records  placed  by  PW-30,  along  with  requisition,
      seeking  for  sanction  containing  the  Inquest  Report,  Post-mortem
      Report, 164 Statements of eye-witnesses and 161  Statements  of  other
      witnesses, confession of A-1 and other materials and granted  sanction
      for prosecution against A-1 to A-5 under Section 3 of  the  TADA  Act,
      1987. It is also to be noted that in the course of investigation,  the
      confession of A-6 (Ext.P-43) dated 25.10.1994 was  recorded  by  PW-26
      SP, on the basis of the requisition given by  PW-24  DSP,  CBCID.  The
      case was  subsequently  transferred  to  CBI  in  July,  1996  and  on
      transfer, PW-30 CBI, DSP took up the investigation on 17.07.1996.

   7. We have also noted that the sanction (Ext.P-46) granted on  16.09.1997
      by PW-28 IG, referred to A-1’s confession (Ext.P-41) only recorded  on
      3.04.1997 but it does not refer to the confession  of  A-6  (Ext.P-43)
      which was recorded on 25.10.1994. This was  the  only  document  which
      revealed that A-6 addressed and advised  A-1  to  A-5  to  commit  the
      murder of Rajagopalan, with intention to create terror in the minds of
      public at large in Tamil Nadu. Therefore, the confession of A-6 (Ext.P-
      43) is the only document which  refers  to  the  intention  to  create
      terror as required under Section 3 of TADA Act. No other  material  or
      no other witness speaks about the intention of the accused  to  commit
      the murder with intention to create terror  in  the  minds  of  public
      which is main ingredient for invoking the TADA Act. Unfortunately, the
      said document (Ext.P-41) has neither been referred to nor relied  upon
      by the Sanctioning Authority in the sanction order (Ext.P-46).

   8. We have also noticed that the confession of A-1 (Ext.P-41) is  totally
      contradictory to the confession of A-6 (Ext.P43). It appears from  the
      facts that the Investigating Officer suppressed the material  document
      by not placing the same before  the  Sanctioning  Authority.  We  have
      further noticed that the TADA Court convicted the  accused  under  the
      TADA Act on the basis of confession of A-6 and not on the basis of any
      other material. The other point  which  we  have  noted  is  that  the
      Sanctioning Authority (PW-28) admitted in his deposition that  he  did
      not know Tamil and did not go through the entire records which were in
      Tamil. Therefore, it is clear that the Sanctioning Authority  has  not
      applied his mind to the records in its entirety and  granted  sanction
      only after  considering  certain  documents  which  were  in  English.
      Therefore, we have to accept the contention of the appellants that the
      Sanctioning Authority without perusing the relevant  documents  issued
      the order of sanction and thereby it  has  to  be  accepted  that  the
      sanction was granted mechanically.

   9. The confessions of A-1 and A-6 are not voluntary as has been evidenced
      by us from the materials since those confessions were not recorded  in
      a free atmosphere thereby it violated the  directions  given  by  this
      Court. Further, the said confessions could not be relied upon as  they
      contradicted with each other.

  10. We, without hesitation, are of this considered opinion that the answer
      to this question is in the negative  for  settled  principle  of  non-
      application of mind by sanctioning authority while  granting  approval
      for taking cognizance under TADA Act and undermining the objective  of
      the Act. This relevant provision was inserted by Act 43 of 1993  which
      came into force on 23.05.1993 which is prior to the date of commission
      of the offence i.e., 10.10.1994 disputed in instant appeal which makes
      it crystal clear that Section 20-A(1) of TADA  must  be  construed  by
      indicating  that  prior  approval  from  the  competent  authority  is
      mandatory for taking cognizance  of  offence  punishable  under  TADA.
      However, it shall always be borne in mind by the sanctioning authority
      that application of such provisions which forms part of penal  statues
      requires  strict  interpretation  and  failure  to  comply  with   the
      mandatory requirement of  sanction  before  cognizance  is  taken,  as
      mentioned in TADA, may vitiate the entire proceedings in the case.  In
      the recent past, it has been observed by  this  Court  in  respect  of
      Section 20-A of TADA in the case of Hussein Ghadially @ M.H.G.A Shaikh
      & Ors. Vs. State of Gujarat, (2014) 8 SCC 425, at para 21, as follows:

           “A careful reading of the above leaves no manner of  doubt  that
           the provision starts with a non obstante clause and  is  couched
           in negative phraseology. It  forbids  recording  of  information
           about the commission  of  offences  under  TADA  by  the  Police
           without the prior approval of  the  District  Superintendent  of

  11. The most important factor for  determination  before  the  sanctioning
      authority was that the acts done by a  person  must  fall  within  the
      ambit of terrorist activity and the accused must  be  a  terrorist  as
      defined in Section 3(1). This position of law was  discussed  by  this
      Court in the case of Kalpnath Rai Vs. State (Through  CBI),  (1997)  8
      SCC 732, as follows:
           “34. Sub-section 3(5) was inserted in TADA by  Act  43  of  1993
           which came into force on 23-5-1993. Under Article 20(1)  of  the
           Constitution ‘no person shall be convicted of any offence except
           for violation of a law in force at the time of the commission of
           the act charged as an offence’. So it is not enough that one was
           member of a terrorists’ gang before 23-5-1993.

           35. There are two postulates in Sub-section (5). First  is  that
           the accused should have been a member of ‘a terrorists gang’  or
           ‘terrorists organisation’ after 23.5.1993. Second  is  that  the
           said gang or organisation should have involved in terrorist acts
           subsequent  to   23.5.1993.   Unless   both   postulates   exist
           together Section 3(5) cannot be used against any person.
           36. ‘Terrorist act’ is defined  in Section  2(h) as  having  the
           meaning assigned to it in Section 3(1). That  sub-section  reads
           ‘3(1) Whoever with intent to overawe the Government  as  by  law
           established or to strike terror in people or any section of  the
           people or to alienate any section of the people or to  adversely
           affect the harmony amongst different sections of the people does
           any act or thing by using bombs,  dynamite  or  other  explosive
           substances or  inflammable  substances  or  fire-arms  or  other
           lethal weapons or poisons or noxious gases or other chemicals or
           by any other substances (whether biological or otherwise)  of  a
           hazardous nature in such a manner as to cause, or as  is  likely
           to cause, death of, or injuries to, any  person  or  persons  or
           loss of, or damage to, or destruction of, property or disruption
           of any supplies  or  services  essential  to  the  life  of  the
           community, or detains any person and threatens to kill or injure
           such person in order to  compel  the  Government  or  any  other
           person to do or abstain from doing any act, commits a  terrorist
           37. The requirements of the  sub-section  are:  (1)  the  person
           should have done an act in such a manner as to cause, or  as  is
           likely to cause death or injuries to any person or damage to any
           property, or disruption of any supplies; (2) doing of  such  act
           should  have  been  by  using  bombs,  dynamites  etc.;  (3)  or
           alternatively he should have detained any person and  threatened
           to kill or injure him in order to compel the Government  or  any
           other person to do or abstain from doing anything.”
  12. Mr. Karpaga  Vinayagam,  learned  senior  counsel  appearing  for  the
      appellants submitted that the Prior  Approval  for  investigating  the
      case under TADA, granted by PW-26 in the present case, is bad  in  law
      as the same has been granted  by  PW-26  mechanically,  without  going
      through the records and without recording his satisfaction.  A careful
      perusal of the requisition given by PW-24 to PW-26 for  seeking  prior
      approval (Ext.P-35) reveals that a single  murder  on  10.10.1994  was
      mentioned therein but no act of murder with intent  to  create  terror
      and panic in the minds of public, which is the main ingredient of  the
      offence under TADA Act, was mentioned.  The  incident  prior  to  this
      murder relating to objections raised by Hindus on the construction  of
      mosque near Hindu temple in Madurai was mentioned in the deposition of
      PW-24, which could nowhere be referred or connected to act of  murder.
      Admittedly, as per his deposition,  till  19.10.1994,  none  gave  any
      complaint that there was any commotion or violence  at  the  place  of
      occurrence, resultantly connecting the case under IPC to  be  a  prima
      facie case under TADA leading to  seeking  prior  approval,  which  if
      granted, would be bad in the eyes of law.

  13. We have also noticed that the Sanctioning Authority under Section  20-
      A(2) of TADA, i.e. PW28  -  IG,  CBI  in  present  case,  had  granted
      permission to file a case under TADA  on  16.09.1997  vide  permission
      order being Ext.P.46 and in his deposition  PW-28  stated  that  “…  I
      verified the  TADA  Rules  very  carefully.  Upon  perusing  the  said
      documents as I was satisfied that there are ample evidences to file  a
      case against A1 to A5, namely Shahul  Hameed,  Raja  Hussain,  Subair,
      Zahir Hussain and Aziz alias Abdul Aziz under the TADA Act,  I  issued
      orders granting permission to file a case under section 3 of the  TADA
      Act…”.  We may straightaway observe that the sanctioning authority did
      not have necessary material before him to show that the alleged act of
      causing death of the deceased was done with intent to create terror in
      the minds of public at large.  Had there been any such terror  in  the
      minds of people, then as an aftermath of the  death  of  the  deceased
      there would have  been  an  adverse  effect  on  the  harmony  amongst
      different sections of people in the vicinity of the place of incident.
      However, no such incident of striking terror in the minds of people or
      adverse effect on the harmony  amongst  any  section  of  society  was
      reported. The alleged act of causing death of an individual  was  only
      an attack by the accused-appellants with weapons on the  deceased  who
      later succumbed to the injuries.

  14. We have noticed that sanction under Section 20-A(2) of TADA in respect
      of A-6 was granted by PW-29 on 16.09.1998, which was  delayed  due  to
      time consumed in the investigation  against  him.  In  our  considered
      opinion, the same is also unlawful for the  reasons  mentioned  above.
      Furthermore, cross examination of PW-30 is also  reflecting  the  non-
      application of mind when after specifically stating about relationship
      of the accused-appellants herein  with  Alumma  organization,  it  was
      deposed by him that he did not collect any  evidence  or  document  to
      show that accused belonged to that organization.   In  our  considered
      opinion, the said  sanctions,  which  have  not  been  proved  by  the
      depositions of these witnesses, are not as per the mandate of law laid
      down by this Court in the case of State of Maharashtra Vs.  Mahesh  G.
      Jain, (2013) 8 SCC 119, and Kootha Perumal Vs.  State,  (2011)  1  SCC

  15. After going through the records, it appears to us  that  the  accused-
      appellants had grudge in their minds  because  the  deceased  used  to
      organize  Vinayaga  Chaturthi  Celebrations  in  various  places   and
      criticize Muslims and Islam which includes  a  public  notice  by  the
      deceased wherein he had demanded protection  of  Madurai  City  which,
      according to the deceased, was being used by Pakistan as the base  for
      spying activity. The issuance of this public notice was proved by  PW-
      11, A.R. Kalidasan. Instances of  pelting  stones  by  the  appellants
      herein were proved by the evidence of PW-10, as  corroborated  by  the
      deposition of PW-13.

  16. Mr. P. K. Dey,  learned  counsel  for  respondent-CBI  has  drawn  our
      attention to the decision of this Court in Kartar Singh  Vs  State  of
      Punjab, 1994 (3) SCC 569, wherein at para 451, this Court observed:
           “Mere possession of arms and ammunition specified in the section
           has been made substantive offence. It is much serious in  nature
           and graver in impact as it  results  in  prosecution  of  a  man
           irrespective of his association or connection with  a  terrorist
           or  terrorist  activity.  A  comparison  of  this  section  with
           Sections 3 and 4 demonstrates the arbitrariness inherent in  it.
           Section 3 operates when a person not only intends to overawe the
           Government or create terror in people etc. but he uses the  arms
           and ammunitions which results in death or  is  likely  to  cause
           death and damage to property  etc.  In  other  words,  a  person
           becomes a terrorist or is  guilty  of  terrorist  activity  when
           intention, action and consequence all the three ingredients  are
           found to exist. Similarly Section 4 applies to those  activities
           which  are   directed   towards   disrupting   sovereignty   and
           territorial integrity of the country.  Thus  a  terrorist  or  a
           disruptionist and a  person  possessing  any  of  the  arms  and
           ammunition mentioned in the section have been placed on  a  par.
           In Sections 3 and 4 the offence arises on the  act  having  been
           done whereas in Section 5 it is founded only on possession. Even
           under sub-section (3) of Section 3 a  person  is  liable  to  be
           prosecuted  for  abetting  the  offence   if   he   assists   or
           communicates with a terrorist. Sub-sections (5) and (6) inserted
           by Act 43 of 1993 to Section 3 also require that a person can be
           prosecuted only if he is found to be a  member  of  a  terrorist
           gang  or  terrorist  organisation  etc.  The   Act,   therefore,
           visualises prosecution of the  terrorist  or  disruptionist  for
           offences under Sections 3 and 4 and of others only if  they  are
           associated or related with it.  That  is  in  keeping  with  the
           objective of the Act. The legislation has  been  upheld  as  the
           legislature is competent to enact in respect of a crime which is
           not otherwise covered by any Entry in List  II  of  the  Seventh
           Schedule. The definition of the crime,  as  has  been  discussed
           earlier, is contained in Sections 3 and 4 of the Act and  it  is
           true that while defining the crime it is open to the legislature
           to  make  provision  which  may  serve  the  objective  of   the
           legislation and from a wider point of  view  one  may  say  that
           possession of such arms, the use of which may lead to  terrorist
           activity, should be taken as one of the offences as a preventive
           or deterrent provision. Yet there must  be  some  inter-relation
           between the two, howsoever, remote it may be. The  harshness  of
           the provisions is apparent as all those provisions  of  the  Act
           for prosecuting  a  person  including  forfeiture  of  property,
           denial of bail etc., are  applicable  to  a  person  accused  of
           possessing any arms and ammunition as one who is charged for  an
           offence under Sections 3 and 4 of the Act. It is no  doubt  true
           that no one has justification to have such arms and  ammunitions
           as are mentioned in Section 5, but unjustifiable possession does
           not make a person  a  terrorist  or  disruptionist.  Even  under
           Ireland Emergency Provisions Act, 1978 on which  great  reliance
           was placed by learned Additional Solicitor General there  is  no
           such harsh provision like Section 5. Since both the  substantive
           and procedural law apply to a terrorist and disruptionist  or  a
           terrorist act or a  disruptive  act,  it  is  necessary,  in  my
           opinion, that this section if it has to be immune from attack of
           arbitrariness, may be invoked only if there is some material  to
           show that the person who was possessed of the arms  intended  it
           to be used for terrorist or disruptionist activity or it was  an
           arm and ammunition which in fact was used.”
                                                  (emphasis supplied)

  17. He further relied upon judgment of this Court in the case of  Girdhari
      Parmanand Vadhava Vs. State of Maharashtra, (1996) 11 SCC 179, wherein
      it was enunciated that  a  crime  even  if  perpetrated  with  extreme
      brutality may not constitute “terrorist activity” within  the  meaning
      of Section 3(1) of TADA. For constituting  “terrorist  activity”,  the
      activity must be intended to strike terror in people or a  section  of
      the people or bring about other consequences referred  to  in  Section
      3(1). Terrorist activity is not confined to unlawful activity or crime
      committed against an individual or individuals but it aims at bringing
      about terror in the minds of people or section  of  people  disturbing
      public order, public  peace  and  tranquillity,  social  and  communal
      harmony,  disturbing  or  destabilising  public   administration   and
      threatening security and integrity of the country.

  18. Therefore, it will be  very  dangerous  for  us,  in  the  absence  of
      legislative attempt, to provide with an opinion to define whether  any
      activity falls within the definition of  terrorist  activity  or  not.
      After all the legislative intent behind enactment of any statute shall
      prevail. This Court had opined in the words of Justice Dr. A. S. Anand
      in Hitendra Vishnu Thakur & Ors. Vs.  State  Of  Maharashtra  &  Ors.,
      (1994) 4 SCC 602, that
           “7. 'Terrorism'  is  one  of  the  manifestations  of  increased
           lawlessness and cult of violence. Violence and crime  constitute
           a threat to an established order and  are  a  revolt  against  a
           civilised society. 'Terrorism' has not been defined  under  TADA
           nor is it possible to give a precise definition  of  'terrorism'
           or lay down what constitutes 'terrorism'. It may be possible  to
           describe it as use of violence when its most important result is
           not merely the physical and mental damage of the victim but  the
           prolonged psychological effect it produces or has the  potential
           of producing on the society as a  whole.  There  may  be  death,
           injury, or  destruction  of  property  or  even  deprivation  of
           individual liberty in the process but the extent  and  reach  of
           the intended terrorist activity travels beyond the effect of  an
           ordinary crime capable of  being  punished  under  the  ordinary
           penal law of the land and its main objective is to  overawe  the
           Government or disturb harmony  of  the  society  or  "terrorise"
           people and the society and not only  those  directly  assaulted,
           with a view to disturb even tempo, peace and tranquillity of the
           society and create a sense of fear and insecurity. A 'terrorist'
           activity does not merely arise by causing disturbance of law and
           order or of public order. The fall out of the intended  activity
           must be such that it travels beyond the capacity of the ordinary
           law enforcement agencies to tackle it under the  ordinary  penal
           law. Experience has shown us that 'terrorism'  is  generally  an
           attempt to acquire or maintain power or control by  intimidation
           and causing fear and helplessness in the minds of the people  at
           large  or  any  section  thereof  and  is  a  totally   abnormal
           phenomenon. What distinguishes 'terrorism' from other  forms  of
           violence, therefore, appears to be the deliberate and systematic
           use of coercive intimidation. More often than  not,  a  hardened
           criminal today takes advantage of the situation and  by  wearing
           the  cloak  of  'terrorism',  aims  to   achieve   for   himself
           acceptability  and  respectability  in   the   society   because
           unfortunately in the States affected by militancy, a 'terrorist'
           is projected as a hero by  his  group  and  often  even  by  the
           misguided youth. It is therefore,  essential  to  treat  such  a
           criminal and deal with him differently than an ordinary criminal
           capable of being tried by the ordinary courts  under  the  penal
           law  of  the  land.  Even  though  the  crime  committed  by   a
           'terrorist' and an ordinary criminal would be overlapping to  an
           extent but then it is not the intention of the Legislature  that
           every criminal should be tried under TADA, where the fall out of
           his activity does not extend beyond the normal frontiers of  the
           ordinary criminal activity. Every 'terrorist' may be a  criminal
           but every criminal cannot be given the label  of  a  'terrorist'
           only to set in motion the more stringent provisions of TADA. The
           criminal activity in order to invoke TADA must be committed with
           the requisite intention as contemplated by Section  3(1) of  the
           Act by use of such weapons as  have been  enumerated  in Section
           3(1) and which cause or are likely to result in the offences  as
           mentioned in the said section.”

  19. We would, therefore, make it abundantly clear that these relied  cases
      do not help the respondent to make a case under the provisions of TADA
      in the absence of intention to cause terror in the minds of people  or
      strike on them with terror. Therefore, in our considered opinion,  the
      approvals granted by the Superintendent of Police (PW-26) and the  IG,
      CBI (PW-28), in the facts and circumstances of the present case,  were
      completely invalid lacking  compliance of the requirements  prescribed
      under Section 20-A of TADA. Albeit, it  can  rightly  be  opined  that
      prior approvals were bad in law in the present case, nevertheless,  it
      cannot be said  that  the  entire  proceedings  against  the  accused-
      appellants under TADA, were vitiated in the light of the  judgment  in
      the case of Ashrafkhan alias Babu Munnekhan Pathan & Anr. Vs. State of
      Guajrat, (2012) 11 SCC 606, wherein this Court observed:
           “33. Now we proceed to consider the submission advanced  by  the
           State that non-compliance with Section 20-A(1) i.e.  absence  of
           approval of the District Superintendent of Police, is a  curable
           defect under Section  465 of  the  Code.  We  do  not  have  the
           slightest hesitation in holding  that Section  465 of  the  Code
           shall be attracted in the trial of an offence by the  Designated
           Court under TADA. This would be evident from Section  14 (3)  of
           TADA which reads as follows:

                 ‘14.Procedure and powers of Designated Courts.-
                 (1)-(2) …
                 (3)  Subject  to  the  other  provisions  of  this  Act,  a
                 Designated Court shall, for the purpose  of  trial  of  any
                 offence, have all the powers of  a  Court  of  Session  and
                 shall try such offence as if it were a Court of Session  so
                 far as may be in accordance with the  procedure  prescribed
                 in the Code for the trial before a Court of Session.’

           34. From a plain  reading  of  the  aforesaid  provision  it  is
           evident that for the purpose of  trial  Designated  Court  is  a
           Court of  Session. It has all the powers of a Court  of  Session
           and while trying the case under TADA, the Designated  Court  has
           to follow the procedure prescribed in the Code  for   the  trial
           before a Court of Session.  Section 465 of the Code, which falls
           in Chapter 35, covers cases triable by a Court of Session  also.
            Hence, the prosecution can take shelter behind Section  465  of
           the Code.   But  Section 465 of the  Code   shall   not   be   a
           panacea  for  all  error,  omission  or irregularity.   Omission
           to grant prior  approval  for  registration  of  the case  under
           TADA by  the  Superintendent  of  Police  is  not  the  kind  of
           omission which is covered under Section 465 of the Code.  It  is
           a defect which goes to the root of the matter and it is not  one
           of the curable defects.”

  20. We are therefore of this  considered  opinion  that  as  a  result  of
      illegal sanction order the criminal proceedings for prosecution  under
      the TADA Act are vitiated entirely. Suffice it  to  say  that  Learned
      Court under the TADA Act has grossly erred in taking cognizance of the

  21. Mr. M. Karpaga Vinayagam, learned senior  counsel  appearing  for  the
      appellants advanced three main submissions, apart from challenging the
      sanction granted by the competent authority  which  has  already  been
      discussed in earlier paragraphs. He submitted that  the  eye-witnesses
      and PW-7 are not reliable. He further submitted that A-1’s  confession
      is not voluntary  and  there  has  been  non-examination  of  material
      witnesses. Concluding  with  his  arguments  he  would  say  that  the
      Identification Parade is a farce and that there are infirmities in the
      depositions of the Investigating Officers being PW-2, PW-24 & PW-30.

  22. We have reappreciated  the  evidence  on  record  and  considered  the
      arguments advanced by Mr. P.K. Dey, learned counsel appearing for  the
      respondent-CBI. Though we find little difficulty in accepting the view
      taken by the learned Designated Court in its entirety,  as  it  arises
      from several notable facts, it is not and cannot be disputed that  the
      deceased was killed at the entrance  of  his  house.  The  post-mortem
      report  being  Ext.P-14,  which  was  duly  proved  by  PW15   -   Dr.
      Thiagarajan, also  mentioned  the  cause  of  death  being  shock  and
      haemorrhage due to multiple cut and  stab  injures  sustained  by  the
      deceased somewhere near 5 O’clock in the  morning  on  10.10.1994.  We
      have noticed that PW-1 was never  called  for  identification  of  the

  23. Apropos question of reliability of the test identification  parade  in
      the present case, when admittedly accused were  already  seen  through
      newspaper, we emphasise on few judgments of this Court  before  coming
      to the answer to this question. This Court  in  the  case  of   Suresh
      Chandra Bahri Vs. State of Bihar, 1995 Supp (1) SCC 80, has held:

           “ 78….From this point of view it is a matter of great importance
           both for the investigating agency and  for  the  accused  and  a
           fortiori for the proper  administration  of  justice  that  such
           identification is held without avoidable and unreasonable  delay
           after the arrest of the  accused  and  that  all  the  necessary
           precautions and safeguards were effectively taken  so  that  the
           investigation proceeds on correct lines for punishing  the  real
           culprit. It would, in addition, be fair to the witness concerned
           also who was a stranger to the accused because in that event the
           chances of his memory fading away are reduced and he is required
           to  identify  the  alleged  culprit  at  the  earliest  possible
           opportunity after the occurrence. It is in adopting this  course
           alone that justice and fair play can  be  assured  both  to  the
           accused as well as to the prosecution. But the position  may  be
           different when the accused or a culprit  who  stands  trial  had
           been seen not once but for quite a number of times at  different
           point of time and  places  which  fact  may  do  away  with  the
           necessity of TI parade.”

  24. We accept the  contention  of  the  learned  senior  counsel  for  the
      appellants that the test identification parade was a  farce  as  after
      the pictures of the accused had been published in the  newspaper,  the
      identification parade which is a very weak piece  of  evidence  should
      not have been conducted.

  25. Before concluding this judgment, it would be necessary to consider the
      most important factor to  which  our  attention  was  invited  by  the
      learned counsel for the respondent, i.e., confession  of  accused  and
      unearthing of conspiracy and recovery of evidences thereafter.  Having
      regard to observation  recorded  so  far,  emphasis  on  the  judgment
      delivered by this Court in State (NCT of  Delhi)  Vs.  Navjot  Sandhu,
      (2005) 11 SCC 600, is necessary wherein it was observed:
           “28. In the Privy Council decision of  Pakala Narayana Swami vs.
           Emperor, AIR 1939 PC 47, Lord Atkin elucidated the  meaning  and
           purport of the expression 'confession' in the following words:
           "[A]  confession must either admit in terms the offence,  or  at
           any rate  substantially  all  the  facts  which  constitute  the
           offence. An admission of a gravely incriminating  fact,  even  a
           conclusively incriminating fact is not of itself a confession…"
           29.  Confessions  are  considered  highly  reliable  because  no
           rational person would make admission against his interest unless
           prompted by his conscience to tell the  truth.  "Deliberate  and
           voluntary confessions of guilt, if clearly proved are among  the
           most effectual proofs in law". (vide Taylor's  Treatise  on  the
           Law  of  Evidence  Vol.  I).  However,  before  acting  upon   a
           confession the court must be satisfied that it  was  freely  and
           voluntarily made. A confession by hope or promise of  advantage,
           reward or immunity or by force or by fear induced by violence or
           threats of violence cannot constitute evidence against the maker
           of confession. The confession should have been  made  with  full
           knowledge of the nature and consequences of the  confession.  If
           any reasonable doubt is entertained  by  the  court  that  these
           ingredients are not  satisfied,  the  court  should  eschew  the
           confession from consideration. So also the  authority  recording
           the confession, be it  a  Magistrate  or  some  other  statutory
           functionary at the pre-trial stage, must address himself to  the
           issue  whether  the  accused  has  come  forward  to  make   the
           confession in an atmosphere free from fear, duress  or  hope  of
           some advantage or reward induced by the  persons  in  authority.
           Recognizing the stark reality of the accused being enveloped  in
           a state of fear and panic, anxiety and despair while  in  police
           custody, the Evidence Act has excluded the  admissibility  of  a
           confession made to the police officer.”
      In a subsequent para  of  this  relied  judgment  this  Court  further
           “32. As to what should be the legal approach of the Court called
           upon  to  convict  a  person  primarily  in  the  light  of  the
           confession  or  a  retracted  confession  has  been   succinctly
           summarized in Bharat vs. State  of  U.P.  [1971  (3)  SCC  950].
           Hidayatullah, C.J., speaking for a  three-Judge  Bench  observed
           Confessions can be acted upon if the  court  is  satisfied  that
           they are voluntary and that they are true. The voluntary  nature
           of the confession depends upon whether  there  was  any  threat,
           inducement or promise and its truth is judged in the context  of
           the entire prosecution case. The confession must  fit  into  the
           proved facts and not run counter to  them.  When  the  voluntary
           character of the confession and its truth are  accepted,  it  is
           safe to rely on it. Indeed a confession, if it is voluntary  and
           true and not made under any inducement or threat or promise,  is
           the most patent piece of evidence against the  maker.  Retracted
           confession, however, stands on a slightly different footing.  As
           the Privy Council once stated, in India it is the rule to find a
           confession and to find it retracted later. A court may take into
           account the retracted confession,  but  it  must  look  for  the
           reasons for the making of the confession  as  well  as  for  its
           retraction, and must weigh the  two  to  determine  whether  the
           retraction affects the voluntary nature  of  the  confession  or
           not. If the court is satisfied that it was retracted because  of
           an after-thought or advice, the retraction may  not  weigh  with
           the court if the general facts proved in the case and the  tenor
           of the confession as made and the circumstances  of  its  making
           and withdrawal warrant its user. All the same, the courts do not
           act upon the retracted confession without finding assurance from
           some other sources as to the guilt of the accused. Therefore, it
           can be stated that a true confession  made  voluntarily  may  be
           acted upon  with  slight  evidence  to  corroborate  it,  but  a
           retracted confession requires the  general  assurance  that  the
           retraction was an after-thought and that the  earlier  statement
           was true. This was laid down by this Court in  an  earlier  case
           reported in Subramania Gounden v. The State of  Madras(1958  SCR

  26. We are of this considered opinion that the confessions of A-1 and  A-6
      are involuntary as they were taken in the immediate  custody  of  high
      security of CBI and a non-voluntary confession cannot form  the  basis
      of conviction. We would like to emphasize on another observation  made
      by this Court in Ashrafkhan’s case (supra):
           “41. We have held the conviction of the accused  to  have   been
           vitiated  on account of non-compliance with Section  20-A(1)  of
           TADA and  thus,  it  may  be permissible in law to maintain  the
           conviction under the  Arms  Act  and  the  Explosive  Substances
           Act but that shall only  be  possible  when  there  are  legally
           admissible  evidence  to   establish    those    charges.    The
           Designated Court has only relied  on  the  confessions  recorded
           under TADA to convict the accused for offences  under  the  Arms
           Act and the  Explosive  Substances  Act. In view of our  finding
           that their conviction is vitiated on account  of  non-compliance
           of the mandatory requirement of prior approval under Section  20-
           A(1) of TADA, the confessions recorded cannot  be  looked   into
           to establish the guilt under the  aforesaid  Acts.   Hence,  the
           conviction of the accused under Sections 7 and  25(1-A)  of  the
           Arms Act and Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Explosive Substances Act
           cannot also be allowed to stand.”

  27. We would also like  to  recapitulate  observation  of  this  Court  in
      Ashrafkhan’s case (supra) which reads as follows:
           “44. The facts of the case might induce mournful reflection  how
           an attempt by the investigating agency charged with the duty  of
           preventing terrorism and securing conviction has been frustrated
           by what is popularly called a technical error. We emphasize  and
           deem it necessary to repeat that the gravity of the evil to  the
           community from terrorism can never furnish  an  adequate  reason
           for invading the personal liberty, except in accordance with the
           procedure established by the Constitution and the laws.”

  28. In the light of the judgments cited above and the material on  record,
      we have no hesitation in holding that whole proceedings in the present
      case were vitiated. Therefore, the order of  conviction  and  sentence
      passed by the Designated Court is hereby quashed  and  set-aside.  The
      appellants herein be released forthwith, if not required in any  other

  29. In the result,  the  appeals  filed  by  the  accused-appellants  are,
      accordingly, allowed.

                     . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
                                   . . .J
                                             (Pinaki Chandra Ghose)

                                              ….. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
                                       . . . . . J
                                             (Rohinton Fali Nariman)
      New Delhi;
      April 27, 2017.

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