1. This revision application is directed against the order of the Metropolitan Magistrate, 30th Court, Kurla, Bombay (Shri S. A. Merchant,) discharging the respondents-accused Nos. 1 and 2 of the offences punishable under Ss. 363, 366, 366A, 372 and 373 read with S. 34, I.P.C. and further directing the appellant-State to put up a separate charge-sheet against the accused Nos. 1 and 2 for the offences punishable under Ss. 5 and 6 of the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act, 1956 (hereinafter for the sake of brevity referred to as 'the Act').
2. The Antop Hill Sub-Police-Station filed a charge-sheet against the accused Nos. 1 to 4 for the offences punishable under Ss. 363, 366, 366A, 372 and 373 read with S. 34, I.P.C. and under Ss. 5 and 6 of the Act. The accused No. 5 was shown in the charge-sheet as an unknown person and absconding. The accused Nos. 1 and 2 are the respondents in this revision application.
3. The prosecution alleged that two minor girls, namely, Munni alias Banu and Santanlaxmi alias Saroja, were kidnapped from their native places to Bombay and they were kept at the place of the accused No. 1 at Mahim. It was also alleged that the accused No. 1 used them for the purpose of prostitution. He kept the girls for some time and thereafter he passed on the girls to the accused No. 2. The accused No. 2 also used the girls for the same purpose. The girl Saroja was being taken by the accused for disposal at Antop Hill and at that time one social worker, Pandurang Bala Mandavkar, noticed that the girl was being taken for the said purpose. He contacted the girl later on at the brothel and obtained in writing from her wherein she expressed her willingness to get out of the brothel and requested the social worker to make efforts for her release from the brothel. Pandurang Mandavkar reported the matter to the police. Ultimately the girls were rescued from the brothel and the police recorded the F.I.R. of the victim Saroja. The statements of witnesses were recorded and after completing the necessary investigation charge-sheet was submitted against the accused Nos. 1 to 4 for the offences mentioned above.
4. While the case was pending before the learned Metropolitan Magistrate. 30th Court, Kurla, Bombay, for commitment to the Court of Session, as some of the offences were exclusively triable by the Court of Session, the learned Counsel for the appellants-accused Nos. 1 and 2 submitted an application before the learned Metropolitan Magistrate for discharge of the accused on the ground that there was no prima facie evidence against them for committal to the Court of Session. The learned Metropolitan Magistrate, after hearing the learned Assistant Public Prosecutor and the Counsel for the accused Nos. 1 and 2, discharged the accused Nos. 1 and 2, for the offences publishable under Ss. 363, 366, 366A, 372 and 373 read with S. 34, I.P.C. He also ordered that a separate case should be put up against the accused Nos. 1 and 2 for the offences under Sections 5 and 6 of the Act.
5. Feeling aggrieved by the order passed by the learned Metropolitan Magistrate, the State has preferred this revision application.
6. The learned Public Prosecutor submits that the learned Metropolitan Magistrate, was wrong in discharging the appellants-accused Nos. 1 and 2 and also in directing the police to put up a separate charge-sheet for the offence under the Act against those accused. According to her, the learned Metropolitan Magistrate should have followed the procedure laid down in S. 209, Cr.P.C. as some of the offences alleged against the accused were exclusively triable by the Sessions Court. She submitted that the learned Metropolitan Magistrate had no jurisdiction to enter into the appreciation of the evidence and to reach the conclusion that there was no evidence against the accused Nos. 1 and 2 for the offence mentioned above. She also submitted that the learned Metropolitan Magistrate was also wrong in observing that the medical certificate shown to him by the learned Assistant Public Prosecutor showed that the age of the girl was 18-19. The learned Public Prosecutor has placed on record the copies of the documents filed along with the charge-sheet. These documents contain copies of medical certificates. The medical certificate in respect of Saroja records her age at 18-19 years and the certificate in respect of Banu records her age at 16-17. The evidence regarding the age recorded in the medical certificates is on the basis of the ossification test. It is at the stage of the trial on considering the overall evidence that the trial Metropolitan Magistrate will have to determine the age of those girls on the date of the offence. The learned Metropolitan Magistrate travelled beyond his powers under S. 209, Cr.P.C. in probing into the final aspects of the case and merely on the basis of the medical certificate in respect of one of the girls, observing in his order that the prosecution had no evidence to show that the girls were within the age of 18 years. He was also wrong in his statement that the learned Assistant Public Prosecutor showed him the medical certificate of the two girls wherein the ages of the girls mentioned were 18-19. As stated earlier, the medical certificate in respect of Saroja alone shows the age at 18-19. The reading of the order passed by the learned Metropolitan Magistrate clearly shows that the learned Metropolitan Magistrate travelled beyond his powers under S. 209, Cr.P.C. in probing into the evidence on record and in reaching the conclusion that the charges for the offences under Ss. 363, 366, 366A, 372 and 373 read with S. 34, I.P.C. could not be levelled against the accused Nos. 1 and 2 and in discharging those accused on that ground.
7. The learned Counsel for the respondents-accused Nos. 1 and 2, relying on he decision in Dr. Dattatraya Samant v. State of Maharashtra, 1981 CriLJ 1819, submits that the learned Metropolitan Magistrate was perfectly justified in probing into the case against the accused Nos. 1 and 2 and in finding that there was no prima facie case made out against them and in discharging them on that ground. I have gone through the decision in that case and I find that it does not apply to the facts of the present case. It also does not support the above contention of the learned Counsel.
8. The law on the point is laid down by the Supreme Court in Sanjay Gandhi v. Union of India, : 1978CriLJ642 . Their Lordships of the Supreme Court laid down the law as follows :-
'We have heard Counsel on both sides and proceed to elucidate certain clear propositions under the new Code bearing upon the committal of cases where the offence is triable exclusively by the Court of Session. The Committing Magistrate in such cases has no power to discharge the accused. Nor has he power of take oral evidence save where a specific provision like S. 306 enjoins. From this it follows that the argument that the accused has to cross-examine is out of bounds for the Magistrate, save in the case of approvers. No examination-in-chief, no cross-examination.
'Secondly, it is not open to the committal Court to launch on a process of satisfying itself that a prima facie case has been made out on the merits. The jurisdiction once vested in him under the earlier Code has been eliminated now under the present Code. Therefore, to hold that he can go into the merits even for a prima facie satisfaction is to frustrate the Parliament's purpose in remoulding S. 207-A (old Code) into its present non-discretionary shape. Expedition was intended by this change and this will be defeated successfully if interpretatively we hold that a dress rehearsal of a trial before the Magistrate is in order. In our view, the narrow inspection hold through which the committing Magistrate has to look at the case limits him merely to ascertain whether the case, as disclosed by the police report, appears to the Magistrate to show an offence triable solely by the Court of Session. Assuming the facts to be correct as stated in the police report, if the offence is plainly one under S. 201, I.P.C. the Magistrate has simply to commit for trial before the Court of Session. If, by error, a wrong section of the Penal Code is quoted, he may look into that aspect. Shri Mulla submits if the Magistrate's jurisdiction were to be severely truncated like this the prosecution may stick a label mentioning a sessions offence (if we may use that expression for brevity's sake) and the accused will be denied a valuable opportunity to prove his ex facie innocence. There is no merit in this contention. If made-up facts unsupported by any material are reported by the police and a sessions offence is made to appear, it is perfectly open to the Sessions Court under S. 227, Cr.P.C. to discharge the accused. This provision takes care of the alleged grievance of the accused.'
9. The order of discharge of the respondents accused Nos. 1 and 2 for the offences mentioned above and the direction for filing a separate case against them for the offences under the Act are patently against the law propounded by the Supreme Court in the case of Sanjay Gandhi : 1978CriLJ642 , referred to above and the provisions of S. 209, Cr.P.C., and therefore, cannot be sustained.
10. Consequently, the order under revision is set aside and the rule is made absolute. The papers shall be immediately sent back to the lower Court for taking further proceedings in the matter expeditiously.
11. Revision allowed.