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Kshetra Mohan Sarkar Vs. Paran Chandra Mondal - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Subject;Criminal
CourtGuwahati High Court
Decided On
Judge
AppellantKshetra Mohan Sarkar
RespondentParan Chandra Mondal
Excerpt:
.....the legislature has pointedly favoured continuance of the proceeding and not withdrawal of the proceeding. in our opinion, the proceeding in such cases must continue as there is no embargo clearly expressed or reasonably drawn by necessary intendment from any of the provisions referred to above. ..this shows clearly that a construction leading to a manifest contradiction of an apparent purpose of the enactment or to some inconvenience or absurdity, hardship or injustice presumably not intended by the legislature, a construction should be put which modifies the meaning of the words and even the structure of the sentence 17. while dealinq with the question as to the interpretation of a statute lord dennina in seaford court estates ltd. 18. if we give any other interpretation to section..........his own decision in the case' have been obliterated by 'the code'. therefore, under 'the old code' a magistrate had power to attach the land in case of emergency either before the commencement of the enquiry under section 145(4) or after the conclusion thereof, subject to the conditions set forth above.5. under 'the code' it appears to us that a separate provision has been made empowering the magistrate to attach the subject-matter of the dispute and to appoint receiver. we set out the provision contained in section 146(1) of 'the code' along with the proviso:146. power to attach subject of dispute and to appoint receiver. (1) if the magistrate at any time after making the order under sub-section (1) of section 145 considers the case to be one of emergency, or if he decides that.....
Judgment:

K. Lahiri, J.

1. Whether a proceeding Under Section 145 of the Cr.PC 1973 (for brevity referred to as 'the Code') comes to an end after an order of attachment is made Under Section 146(1) of the Code on the ground of emergency ?

2. This is the moot question posed and referred to this Bench along with a subsidiary question. The later is not of wide importance.

3. Mr. S. N. Medhi, the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner has contended that once an attachment is made Under Section 146(1) of the Code on the ground of emergency a proceeding comes to an end. Counsel relies on the decisions reported in 1976 Cri LJ 1150 (Pat), Mahomed Muslehuddin v. Md. Sala-huddin; 1976 Cri LJ 1915 (Delhi), Hakim Singh v. Girwar Singh; 1977 Cri LJ 563 (Raj), Mansukh Ram v. State; and 1977 Assam LR 58, S. Kamayao v. A. C. Mamatuithei, and adopts the principles enunciated in these decisions as a part of his argument. The sole factor for arriving at the conclusion was plain and simple reading of Section 146(1) of 'the Code' along with the proviso. The learned Judges put special emphasis on the collocation of the words 'until a competent Court has determined the rights of the parties thereto with regard to the person entitled to the possession thereof;' as contained in Section 146(1) of 'the Code' read with the proviso empowering such Magistrate to withdraw the attachment on his satisfaction as to the non-existence of likelihood of a breach of peace with regard to the subject of the dispute.

4. Under the Cr.PC Code, 1898 (since repealed) (for brevity referred as 'the old Code') two classes of attach ment were envisaged: (1) attachment in case of emergency before an enquiry Under Section 145(4), and (2) attachment after the said enquiry in case of doubt as to which party was in possession of the subject-matter of dispute, that is, after the completion of an enquiry Under Section 145(4) of 'the old Code'. It will be seen that Under Section 145 of 'the old Code' the first kind of attachment in case of emergency with the qualifying words 'pending his own decision in the case' have been obliterated by 'the Code'. Therefore, under 'the old Code' a Magistrate had power to attach the land in case of emergency either before the commencement of the enquiry Under Section 145(4) or after the conclusion thereof, subject to the conditions set forth above.

5. Under 'the Code' it appears to us that a separate provision has been made empowering the Magistrate to attach the subject-matter of the dispute and to appoint receiver. We set out the provision contained in Section 146(1) of 'the Code' along with the proviso:

146. Power to attach subject of dispute and to appoint receiver. (1) If the Magistrate at any time after making the order under Sub-section (1) of Section 145 considers the case to be one of emergency, or if he decides that none of the parties was then in such possession as is referred to in Section 145, or if he is unable to satisfy himself as to which of them was then in such possession of the subject of dispute, may attach the subject of dispute until a competent Court has determined the rights of the parties thereto with regard to the person entitled to the possession thereof:

Provided that such Magistrate may withdraw the attachment at any time if he is satisfied that there is no longer any likelihood of a breach of the peace with regard to the subject of dispute.

6. Attachment can be made Under Section 146 only in cases of (1) emergency, (2) if the Magistrate decides that none of the parties was then in such possession as is referred to in Section 145 or (3) he is unable to satisfy himself as to which of them was then in such possession of the subject of dispute. It becomes crystal clear that the conditions precedent for attachment as stated under Items 2 and 3 above must be after determination of enquiry Under Section 145(4) of 'the Code'. The words and expressions underlined, namely, 'decides', 'unable to satisfy', 'then in such possession as is referred to in Section 145' are conclusive enough to show that they can be made only after completion of a proceeding Under Section 145(4) of 'the Code'.

7. It will be seen that the conditions precedent of Items 2 and 3 are (1) a positive decision of the Magistrate that none of the parties was in actual physical possession of the subject of dispute as referred to in Section 145, and (2) his inability to satisfy himself as to which of the parties was in actual physical possession of the land on the date of drawal of the proceeding. However, these are not the condition-precedent of attachment in case of emergency. The conditions precedent for attachment are, when the Magistrate (1) makes an order Under Section 145(1) of 'the Code', and (2) considers the case to be one of pressing necessity, crisis or emergency. As such, it can be reasonably concluded that a Magistrate derives his power to attach a land in case of emergency only after he makes an order Under Section 145(1).

8. Therefore, let us turn to Section 145(1) of 'the Code'. An order Under Section 145(1) includes the following: (1) Satisfaction of the Magistrate as to the likelihood of the breach of peace and recording the grounds of his satisfaction in the order; (2) requiring the parties concerned in such disputes to attend (a), his Court, (b) on a specified date and time, and (c) to put in written statements as respects the fact of actual possession of the subject of disputes. Therefore, we visualise the position under which an attachment is made in case of emergency. It can be made only after a written order of a Magistrate to the parties to attend his Court in person or by pleader, on a specified date and time and to put in written statements of their respective claims as respects the fact of actual possession and then alone a Magistrate is empowered to attach the disputed land provided he considers it to be a case of emergency. Therefore, we find ourselves unable to reconcile the position that after fixation of the date of appearance of the parties and calling upon them to lodge the respective claims of the parties the legislature intended to stop the proceeding. Section 146 does not contemplate even by implication a total withdrawal or prohibition or impose a bar or ban on the Magistrate to proceed on with an enquiry initiated by him commandeering the parties to take steps in aid. Least than we can say is that the said position appears to us to be not only anomalous but irreconcilable.

9. In our opinion, had it been the intention of the legislature to withdraw the power of continuance of a proceeding the legislature would have put the expressions 'at any time after being satisfied that a dispute likely to cause a breach of peace exists and making of order in written a stating the ground of being so satisfied under Sub-section (1) of Section 145' in place of the expressions 'at any time after making the order under Sub-section (1) of Section 145.' But fn view of the use of expressions contained in Sub-section (1) of Section 145 we are left with no alternative but to hold that an attachment of a land, in case of emergency, can be made only after fulfilling all the conditions precedent of Sub-section (I) of Section 145 of 'the Code'. This is indicative of the fact that by the use of a particular set of expression in Section 146(1) of 'the Code' the legislature has pointedly favoured continuance of the proceeding and not withdrawal of the proceeding. They did not use the expressions referred by us to nip in the bud a regular initiation of a proceeding Under Section 145(1) of 'the Code'. The mandate of the legislature in not prohibiting the Magistrate to call upon the parties on a subsequent specified date and time and also to put in their claims reinforces our conclusion that the Magistrate is bound to continue with the proceeding drawn up by him Under Section 145(1) notwithstanding an attachment Under Section 146(1) of 'the Code' in case of emergency.

10. We are not oblivious of the fact that in certain cases attachment may be called for even during the continuance of a proceeding Under Section 145(4). As an abundant caution the expressions 'at any time after... Section 145' have been used in Section 146(1) of 'the Code'. In that event the legislature would have, in our opinion, used the expressions set out in Section 146(1) in the alternative

11. We conclude that the use of the expressions in Section 146(1) is the indicative of the commencement of an order of attachment and nothing more. The use of expressions in the opening part of Section 146, at any rate, do not take away the jurisdiction of a Magistrate to continue with the proceeding is clear and apparent. On the other hand they merely indicate the date of commencement of an order of attachment.

12. Therefore, when a Court is allowed to proceed on with a proceeding it is natural and reasonable to conclude that the law gives it jurisdiction to conclude the proceeding unless of course there are prohibition or embargo expressly put by the legislature not to proceed on with it. Scanning Section 146 coupled with Section 145 of 'the Code', we do not find any embargo or prohibition either expressly prescribed or can be impliedly drawn that a proceeding comes to an end no sooner an attachment is made in case of emergency. In our opinion, the proceeding in such cases must continue as there is no embargo clearly expressed or reasonably drawn by necessary intendment from any of the provisions referred to above.

13. It has 'been argued and found favour in some of the High Courts in India that the expression 'tie may attach the subject-matter until a competent Court has determined the rights of the parties thereto with regard to the person entitled to the possession thereof;' is a clear prohibition. In our opinion, it is not. It goes without saying that the question of prohibition to continue with the proceeding does not arise in case of a decision by the Court that none of the parties was then in such possession as is referred to in Section 145 or if the Court is unable to satisfy itself as to which of them was in such possession. After conclusion of the enquiry envisaged Under Section 145(4) an order of attachment may be made by the Court. The question of second enquiry is never called for. It has been argued that the expression referred to above cries a halt to the proceeding Under Section 145 of 'the Code'. It is the first impression that one gets while reading the section. If one reads between the lines it will appear clear that the expression is not a prohibition to continue with the proceeding in case of emergency but it speaks about the length and duration of the attachment. It has nothing to do with the exercise of power of the Court to proceed on with an en- quiry Under Section 145. It is too late in the day to enunciate anew the limit of the power of the Court to determine the rights of the parties in a proceeding Under Section 145. Suffice it to say that a Magistrate cannot determine 'the merits or the claims of the parties to a right to possess the subject of dispute' and his only jurisdiction is to determine 'the effect of actual possession of the subject of dispute'. Therefore, the power of the Court is limited to the determination of 'actual possession' without reference to the merits or claims of any of the parties to a right to possess the subject-matter of dispute. This being the limit of the power, the question is as to whether any such power of determination vested in the Court Under Section 145 has been taken away by the said expression. The power to determine the question of an actual possession on the date of drawal of the proceeding, which is the jurisdiction of the Court has not been taken away by the expression. A power which was never there in the Court to determine Under Section 145(1) is referred to in the expression. As such, it cannot be said that by the said expression the power of the Court Under Section 145(4) has been taken away. In our opinion, the expression referred to above speaks only about the duration of the attachment and nothing more. This is the most reasonable way of looking at Section 146(1) read with the proviso.

14. It was urged that in the event of attachment in the case of emergency if the Magistrate continues to proceed on with the action Under Section 145 and decides that one of the parties in actual physical possession of the land he would have no jurisdiction to. withdraw the attachment. In our opinion, it is a wrong approach. If a Magistrate decides in favour of a party he has the power to prohibit the other party not to disturb the possession of the other. This order of injunction takes away the likelihood of any breach of peace with regard to the subject-matter of dispute in view of a positive finding and the order of prohibition issued by a competent Court. For this contingency a provision has been made by the legislature in proviso to Sub-section (1) of Section 146 of 'the Code'. In the event of a decision and a prohibitory order no breach of peace can exist and the Magistrate would be competent to withdraw the order of attachment.

15. Therefore, in short, we are of the 'opinion that Section 146 deals with duration of an order of attachment and does not prohibit any Court directly or indirectly to proceed on with a proceeding Under Section 145 of 'the Code' in case of emergency. In respect of the other contingen-files arising after the decision the question of second inquiry cannot arise at all.

16. We are of the view that there is no ambiguity in Section 146 and the meaning of the provision appears to us to be clear and exolicit. But. however, if the words are really ambiguous, that is to say, that they can reasonably bear more than one meaning or if Section 146, if read literally. is incompatible with Section 145 of 'the Code', the Court would be justified in construing the words in a manner which will make the section purposeful. This was the view expressed in M. Pentiah v. Veeramallappa : [1961]2SCR295 .

16-A. The Supreme Court observed as follows (at p. 11.15)

Where the language of a statute, in its ordinary meaning and grammatical construction leads to a manifest contradiction of the apparent purpose of the enactment, or to some inconvenience of absurdity, hardship or injustice presumably not intended, a construction may be put upon it which modifies the meaning of the words, and even the structure of the sentence....

This shows clearly that a construction leading to a manifest contradiction of an apparent purpose of the enactment or to some inconvenience or absurdity, hardship or injustice Presumably not intended by the legislature, a construction should be put which modifies the meaning of the words and even the structure of the sentence

17. While dealinq with the question as to the interpretation of a statute Lord Dennina in Seaford Court Estates Ltd. v. Asher. (1949) 2 All ER 155 (164) has observed that when a defect appears in a statute. Judges cannot simply fold their hands and blame the draftsman. They should supplement the written word so as to animate or make effective the intention of the legislature. They should answer the question how the legislature, who had devised or made the law. would have straightened it. We are tempted to quote an observation of Lord Denning in the above case.. which is an example of the methodology of judicial process

a Judge must not alter the material of which the Act is woven, but he can and should iron out the creases.

18. If we give any other interpretation to Section 146 it would be a happy day for the strong against the weak. Gav and happy, the strong would prevail over the weak by attempting to grab weaklings' properties, create an emergent situation, obtain an order of attachment and the Door or weak shall be left with no other alternative but to so to the Civil Court anri accept a decision or the fruit of literation to be handed down to his successor. This is just an instance. Any other meaning would create an ambiguous position and we do not see any reason for stopping a proceeding Under Section 145 up to its conclusion. Therefore, although we do not find any ambiguity in Section 146, we are constrained to hold that if there is any. we instead of altering the material of the Act which is woven we just iron out the creases of the provision and assert the view that the legislature would have straightened out the ambiguitv if mentioned of their real intention in the manner set out bv us.

19. Srivastava J., in Ram Adhin v. Shyama Devi, 1977 Cri LJ 453 (All), having considered the object of a proceeding Under Section 145, held that two views were possible and considering the underlying object of Chap. X of the Act held that even in the case of attachment, in case of emergency the jurisdiction of a Magistrate to decide question of possession as contemplated Under Section 145(4) did not come to an end. A similar view has been expressed by a Division Bench of the Bombay High Court in C. A. D'Souza v. State of Maharashtra, 1977 Cri LJ 2032. The learned Judges held that two views were possible and accordingly a harmonious construction of Sections 145 and 14K (1) was necessary. We entirely agree with the conclusion arrived at. But. however, according to us reading between the lines, Section 146(1) read with Section 145 depict a clear picture that there is no ambiguity and a Magistrate does not become functus officio to proceed on with an action Under Section 145 after an order of attachment Under Section 146 (11

20. We respectfully differ from the opinions expressed by the Delhi, Patna, Rajasthan and this Court referred to by the learned counsel for the petitioner, for the reasons set forth above.

21. In the result, we hold that a Magistrate does not become functus officio after a land is attached Under Section 146(1) of 'the Code' in the case of an emergency.

22. The subsidiary point urged appears to be short and concise. The Counsel for the petitioner submits that the Magistrate found that the first party was in possession of a portion of the subject-matter of the dispute and the second party in the rest. In our Opinion, there is no bar for the Magistrate to hold that a part of the subject-matter of the dispute was in actual physical possession of one party and the other was in such possession of the other party. On materials available at his disposal, the learn- ed Magistrate has arrived at the conclusions. When the power of determination as to who was in possession of the subject matter of dispute on the date of drawal of the proceeding has been conferred on a Magistrate without any limitation, he has the power to determine the entire question as to the possession of the parties to the proceeding. It happens more, than often that the party in posssession of a part of the land claims possession over the entire disputed land and the other party being in dos-session of a part of the subject matter of dispute lodges his claim over the entire subject matter of dispute. Under such circumstances, a Magistrate, in our opinion, does not lose jurisdiction to determine the rights of the parties as to the actual possession of the subject matter of disputes. We do not find any force in the contention and as such, we reject the same.

23. We are not oblivious of the pronouncement of the Supreme Court in Chandu v. Sitaram : 1978CriLJ356 . In our opinion the question did not come up for consideration nor did Their Lordships determine the point. A pending proceeding Under Section 145 does not abate in view of a bar of jurisdiction of Courts imposed Under Section 8 of the Maharashtra Vacant Land (Prohibition of Unauthorised Occupation and Summary Eviction) Act. 1975. At best we can go to this extent that from the pronouncement it may be inferred or comprehended that the opinions expressed by us is on the risk track, In view of the stern caution of Hidayatullah, C. J., in Dr. (Mrs.) Sihashi Chaudhury v. State of Jammu & Kashmir. 1969 UJ (SC) 241 at p. 245 reading. 'The case is an authority for what it decides and not for what can be dedu- ced from it' (Emphasis supplied), we have refrained from using the decision as the sheet anchor in deciding the question.

24. In fine. I have no hesitation in saying that my decision in Kamavao v. A. C. Mamctuittiei. 1977 Assam LR 58, was a wrone decision. I did not look at the provision from all perspectives, I own the entire blame but I have the satisfaction that by constant exercise I have seen a new light in the provision to declare my own decision to be wrong. I feel relaxed and I cannot better express my feeling than to recall an observation of Bhagawati, J. in Umed v. Raj Singh : [1975]1SCR918 :

To perpetuate an error is no heroism. To rectify it is the compulsion of judicial conscience. In thus we derive rom-for1 and strength from the wise and inspiring words of Justice Bronson m Piece v. Delameter. (1847) 3 AMY 18:

A Judge ought to be wise enough to know that he is fallible, and therefore even ready to learn; great and honest enough to discard all mere nride of opinion, and follow truth wherever it may lead; and courageous enough to acknowledge his errors'....

25. In the result, the petition stands dismissed.


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