1. Three persons, hereinafter referred to as 'the accused', were prosecuted in Sessions Case No. 366 of 1981 tried by Mr. N. I. Makhijani, the learned Additional Sessions Judge of Bombay, for the offences to be mentioned hereinafter. Those offences have been mentioned in the charge framed by the learned Sessions Judge and, therefore, it would be appropriate to refer to the charges themselves. We are following this procedure because the impugned judgment is so hopelessly unsatisfactory that it does not give to the Court of appeal, where we are now sitting, the least idea of what the prosecution case was, what the evidence on behalf of the prosecution was and what exactly was passing in the mind of the learned Sessions Judge while he disposed of the case before him. We are mentioning something more about the quality of this judgment a little latter while discussing the case of accused No. 1 who alone has appealed against the judgment and order passed by the learned Sessions Judge.
2. Returning to the charge, we notice that accused Nos. 1 to 3 were charged with the offence punishable under S. 392 read with S. 34 of the Penal Code on the ground that they along with one person known as Taklya committed robbery in respect of coke valued at Rs. 2,500/- from a truck bearing No. MTT 3080 which was in charge of one Prabhakar Raghoba Ombale. The second charge against the accused was that they along with the unknown person Taklya caused hurt to one Shrirang alias Shripa Sayappa Sable during the course of committing the aforesaid robbery and, therefore, committed the offence punishable under S. 394 of the Penal Code. It is interesting to note that the learned Sessions Judge did not apply S. 34 of the Penal Code in the second charge though he specifically mentioned that accused Nos. 1 to 3 had caused the injury to Shrirang. Fortunately, the learned Sessions Judge has held that the second charge has not been proved against the accused concerned.
3. The third charge was only against accused No. 1 and it was that he at the time of committing the aforesaid robbery used deadly weapon, namely a knife, and therefore he committed an offence punishable under S. 397 read with S. 392 of the Penal Code. The fourth charge was in similar terms, but against accused No. 2 alone. The fifth charge again was in similar terms but against accused No. 3 alone. Thus there were five charges. The first charge was against all the accused together and was under S. 392 read with S. 34 of the Penal Code; the second charge again was against all the accused but for the offence punishable under S. 394 of the Penal Code simpliciter without the application of S. 34 of the Penal Code. Charges Nos. 3, 4 and 5 were against each of the three accused for the offence punishable under S. 397 read with S. 392 of the Penal Code, again without the application of S. 34 of the Penal Code. We do not understand why the learned Sessions Judge framed a charge against all the three accused for the offence punishable under S. 394 of the Penal Code without application of S. 34 of the Penal Code when in charge Nos. 3 to 5 he has framed individual charges against each of the accused when there was no application of S. 34 of the Penal Code. This, together with several instances to be found in the conduct of this case, shows a non-application of mind or an inadequate application of mind to the facts as well as the procedure of this particular case.
4. Normally it would be expected that a Court of first instance such as the Sessions Court would begin its judgment by mentioning what the prosecution case is, what the defence of the accused, which evidence the prosecution has led and thereafter proceed to give reasons for the findings which the Court would arrive at. In the instant case, we are bereft of this assistance which we should get as a court of appeal from a Court of first instance because the learned Sessions Judge has not in an intelligible manner summarised the prosecution case which was unfolded before him by the examination of several prosecution witnesses. It has, therefore, become imperative for us to briefly summarise the prosecution case as is to be found in the evidence which is on record.
5. There is one Dinshaw Rusi Mehta, who is the owner of a foundry situated at Foras Road in Bombay and who imports coke from outside Bombay. On 29th June, 1981, a wagon of coke belonging to him had arrived at the goods depot and under his instructions one Suresh Baburao Bhondave (P.W. 4) cleared the same and got it loaded in a truck bearing registration. No. MTT 3080. This truck was being driven by one Prabhakar Raghoba Ombale (P.W. 3) and along with the said Prabhakar an employee of Dinshaw Rusi Mehta was travelling in the truck. The name of that employee is Malleshayya Yellappa (P.W. 1) who, in our opinion, is a very important witness in this case. Alone with him, naturally, Prabhakar would be an important witness.
6. According to the prosecution, after this truck was loaded at Byculla Goods Depot with the coke, it was driven in the direction of the foundry owned by Dinshaw Rusi Mehta. One Shrirang Sayappa was also in the truck, but he was travelling in the body of the truck while Malleshayya Yellappa and Prabhakar were sitting together in the cabin of the driver. When the truck came near what has been called by the witnesses as Chinchpokli Junction, it stopped because there was a red signal of the traffic light. After the signal changed the truck proceeded again along Sane Guruji Marg, which was formerly known as Arthur Road. At that time the truck was moving in slow speed when suddenly two persons boarded the truck on the side of the driver and two persons boarded the truck on the side where the cleaner was sitting. One of each of these pairs of persons who boarded the truck had a knife in his hand. The two persons who had knives in their hands were guarding the doors of the cabin of the truck while the other two persons went over to the main body of the truck where Shrirang was sitting. At the point of knife the truck is said to have been hijacked to a place near the Fire Brigade of Byculla. It is the prosecution case that a part of the coke which had been loaded at the Byculla Goods Depot was removed and dumped on a footpath nearby. Thereafter, again the truck was taken by them to some distance where accused Nos. 1 and 2 got down from the truck and walked away. The two persons who had got in the main body of the truck had already left the truck.
7. The prosecution has sought to prove that the two persons who had knives are accused Nos. 1 and 2 before the Court while accused No. 3 is one of the two persons who had boarded of the truck and were sitting in the main body of the truck along with Shrirang. Taklya, alleged to be the fourth person, has been absconding and, therefore, could not be tried in the Sessions case. It may be stated that when the truck was stopped at one of the several junctions on its journey from Chinchpokli Junction to the Byculla Fire Brigade point, Shrirang got out of the truck. One of the prosecution witnesses says that when Shrirang so got out of the truck an injury on his finger was noticed. The attempt probably is to show that even Shrirang could not get away freely without being injured at the hands of the persons who hijacked the truck. The key witness, namely Malleshayya, has specifically mentioned that they along with the truck had left the goods depot sometime after 4 p.m. and the entire incident was over by 4.45 p.m. In the examination-in-chief itself of this witness it has not been mentioned as to what he did after the incident took place, but he has mentioned that his statement, namely the FIR, was recorded at about 8 p.m. It may be added at this stage that the other evidence shows that the FIR was recorded at 8.30 p.m. on the same day. This means, 3 hours 45 minutes after the incident was over the FIR was lodged at the Agripada Police Station by P.W. 1 Malleshayya.
8. Thereafter investigations followed. We do not propose to deal with the detailed steps of the investigation. It is sufficient for the purpose of the disposal of this appeal to mention that the accused were arrested on 30th June 1981 and an identification parade was held on 2nd July 1981. On 1st July 1981, the coke which was alleged to have been stolen from the truck is said to have been discovered pursuant to a statement made by accused No. 1 under S. 27 of the Evidence Act. Fourteen bags of coke from the shop of one Laxman Hansraj Tripathi were attached and were produced before the Sessions Court as Article 3. On 4th July, 1981, pursuant to a statement made by accused No. 1, a knife, being Article 1 before the Court, was discovered. Thereafter the accused were put up for trial as mentioned earlier in this judgment.
9. In support of its case, the prosecution examined P.W. 1 Malleshayya Yellappa, he being the first informant, Prabhakar (P.W. 3), the driver of the truck which was hijacked and Dinshaw Rusi Mehta, the owner of the foundry for which the coke was supposed to be meant, as P.W. 2. There is the evidence also of Suresh (P.W. 4) who was working at the relevant time as Mukadam with one Krishna Coal Company and who was responsible for the loading of the truck with coke at the Byculla Goods Depot. The Special Executive Magistrate who conducted the identification parade has been examined as P.W. 8. His name is Madhukar Balkrishna Chavan. The panchas to prove the discoveries have been examined and the panchanamas have been exhibited on record. We will refer to the same during the course of this judgment. There is, in addition, the testimony of Dr. Agarwal, a 22 year old person who was attached to the Nair Hospital as the Casualty Medical Officer on 29th June 1981. He has been examined as P.W. 7 and has proved the extract of the casualty register which shows that one Shrirang was brought to the Casualty Department with an alleged history of assault with stick on right hand and abdomen. That extract is on record as Exhibit 14. Nishar Abdul Hafiz Ahmed Khan, who was at the relevant time a Sub-Inspector of Police attached to the Agripada Police Station, is the investigating officer and he has been examined as P.W. 10. In addition, P.S.I. Jadhav, also attached to the Agripada Police Station, has been examined as P.W. 11 because he also conducted the investigation at the earlier stage and had recorded the complaint of P.W. 1 Malleshayya, which was treated as the FIR.
10. The defence of the accused was one of total denial. They contended that the prosecution witnesses, namely Malleshayya Yellappa and Prabhakar Raghoba were themselves hand in glove with a gang of coke pilferers and having either disposed of the commodity themselves or having helped others in disposing of the same they have thought it fit to involve the present accused.
11. The prosecution evidence at no stage suggested that more than two persons were having knives in their hands. On the other hand, each of the prosecution witnesses, whose evidence is relevant on this aspect of the case, is unequivocal and specific that only two accused had knives in their hands and those two accused were accused Nos. 1 and 2. It is thus clear that though charged accused No. 3 could not have, by any stretch of imagination, been convicted of the offence punishable under S. 397 of the Penal Code. Now we proceed to notice the findings given by the learned Sessions Judge in paras 62 and 63 of his judgment. He held that the prosecution has proved against all the accused the first charge of having committed the offence punishable under S. 392 read with S. 34 of the Penal Code. It was held that the second charge was not proved. The learned Sessions Judge held that accused No. 1 was guilty of the offence punishable under S. 397 read with S. 392 of the Penal Code. He also held that the fourth and fifth charges framed by him against accused Nos. 2 and 3 respectively were also proved and, therefore, accused Nos. 2 and 3 were guilty of the offence punishable under S. 397 read with S. 392 read with S. 34 of the Penal Code.
12. On the question of sentence, the learned Sessions Judge awarded to accused No. 1 seven years' rigorous imprisonment for the offence under S. 397 of the Penal Code. This was natural, as the learned Sessions Judge himself has said in para 65 of his judgment, because the minimum sentence provided for the said offence is seven years and the learned Sessions Judge was 'not inclined to grant him even a day more.' But, for the same offence the learned Sessions Judge has awarded a sentence of three years' rigorous imprisonment to accused Nos. 2 and 3. This is wholly incomprehensible. If the learned Sessions Judge understood the law correctly, as he did understand as can be seen from the contents of para 65, that the minimum sentence for the offence under S. 397 of the Penal Code is seven years, then we do not see how he could proceed to give for the same offence less than the minimum sentence, namely three years, to accused Nos. 2 and 3. He accepted the submissions as mentioned in para 66 of the judgment that accused Nos. 2 and 3 have no previous convictions on record. But S. 397 does not make any distinction between persons who have got previous convictions and persons who have no previous convictions. If it is held that accused Nos. 2 and 3 committed the offence in question, there was no reason at all why they should have been awarded a sentence less than the minimum prescribed for the said offence. But, as we have already said, the conviction itself against accused No. 3 for the offence punishable under S. 397 of the Penal Code was, both in fact and in law, wrong. This is not the only infirmity in the said judgment which, as we will show presently, is no judgment at all in the properly understood meaning of that term.
13. While beginning this judgment of ours we have already mentioned that absolutely no assistance of any kind is available from the impugned judgment in order to understand the prosecution case, the evidence which is on record, and the findings which the learned Sessions Judge ultimately arrived at. The summary of the prosecution case attempted by the learned Sessions Judge does not give a clear picture to those who read the judgment and to those who are required to read the judgment while sitting in appeal. Each of the paragraphs from paras 7 to 15 starts with the following expression :
'It is the case of the prosecution and it is in the evidence ......'
When we proceed to read the judgment, we do not see in which evidence or in the testimony of which witness the evidence which is supposed to be in the prosecution case is to be found. The testimonies of the different witnesses have not been summarised at all. They have not been subjected to any examination, as indeed they ought to have been done, before any inference, favourable or otherwise to the accused, is drawn. The statement of facts, the parts of the evidence referred to and the submissions of the Advocates appearing for the prosecution and the defence have been so inextricably interwoven that it is impossible to separate the same for understanding the judgment. In particular, we have been unable to find out the reasons which persuaded the learned Sessions Judge to arrive at the conclusions which he ultimately arrived at. In a case of this type where the findings must depend almost entirely on the acceptability of the testimonies relating to the identification of the accused concerned, an assessment of all the evidence relating to the identification of the accused must find place in the judgment.
14. However, the learned Sessions Judge in para 15 of the judgment had totally shirked his responsibility in this regard. He mentions, somewhat strangely, that accepting the contention of the defence counsel ordinarily he 'would have rejected the evidence of identification parade without much difficulty if the ground was made for the same. Here for whatever reasons the accused have themselves admitted as being know to the witness.' If the learned Sessions Judge had thought if fit to accept the case of the accused being known to the witnesses, the identification parade itself loses all its value. Then what was done was a farce of an identification parade and not an identification parade to provide a test for assessing the identification that might be made by the witnesses in the court. The learned Session Judge probably missed the main purpose and object of an identification parade that is held in the investigation of those cases where the accused are unknown to the witnesses who would be later examined in the trial Court. A standard text book on the Evidence Act such as Sarkar's will give to those who want to know the elementary principles underlying the identification parades. Unfortunately these principle are not often borne in mind while judging the value of the evidence relating to an identification parade. It is well settled in law that identification made by a witness at the time of the identification parade is not substantive evidence. What is substantive evidence is the identification made by the witness in the Court. But identification parades are held as a rule to test the evidence given in the Court. The evidence relating to the identification parade gives a sort of corroboration to the testimony that is ultimately given in the Court.
15. The learned Sessions Judge has also mentioned that it was not suggested to the witnesses that they were shown to them before the parade. On this aspect of the matter we want to observe that the suggestion of the type mentioned by the learned Sessions Judge need not made in explicit terms. The Special Executive Magistrate who conducted the identification parade has been subjected to detailed cross-examination with the object of showing that the precautions which should be taken by anyone holding identification parade were not taken by him. In fact when we read the testimony of the Special Executive Magistrate we notice that the necessary precautions which ought to be taken have not been taken by him. Normally an identification parade is held by the investigating machinery with the help of an independent person like an Executive Magistrate. The entire identification parade is within the command and control of the police officers except the actual identifications that is being made. The accused do not know what steps have been taken by the police and in what manner. They do not know how the possibilities of errors, deliberate or otherwise, are eliminated by the police while requisitioning the identification parade and holding the same. In these circumstances, it is too much to expect the accused to subject the authority holding the identification parade to any detailed cross-examination.
16. It is the duty of the prosecution to produce before the Court all the evidence which should convince the Court that the identification parade has been held in a foolproof manner leaving no doubt about the honesty, integrity and safety of the same. The learned Sessions Judge finds fault with the accused for having not suggested to the prosecution witnesses that the accused were shown to them. If such a question had been asked, would the learned Sessions Judge have rejected the evidence relating to the identification parade even if the answer by the prosecution witnesses was in the negative, as it was bound to be in the negative Failure to ask a formal question such as the one the learned Sessions Judge is expecting cannot be made the basis for acceptance of the evidence relating to the identification parade. Has the prosecution proved that the possibility of the accused being seen by the prosecution witnesses, if not shown to them, been eliminated by the steps taken by the Executive Magistrate and the investigating machinery In our opinion, this is the test while examining the evidence relating to the identification parade. It is indeed a poor understanding of the evidence relating to an identification parade that is disclosed by the learned Sessions Judge in para 59 of his judgment.
17. We have already mentioned how the judgment of the learned Sessions Judge is no judgment at all in the properly understood sense of that term. What is a judgment Broadly speaking, a judgment means two things - the act of judging and the written record of that act. That is a good judgment which truly and faithfully reflects in words the act of judging made by the Judge. The judgment to be a judicial judgment is not a single act; it is a process of reasoning or ratiocination. It is that mental exercise which applies itself to the two conflicting view-points canvassed before it and selects one of the points for reasons which are to be mentioned in the written record of the act of judgment. No judgment can be regarded as a considered judgment unless the reasons for accepting one and rejecting the other of the two view-points are clearly mentioned in the judgment. This is especially necessary in the case of trial Courts because the judgments of the trial Courts are almost always subject to appeal. The trial Courts should take care that the appeal Courts are not handicapped, as we are being handicapped in the instant case, while deciding the correctness or otherwise of the judgment of the Court of first instance. Fortunately this is a criminal appeal where, as a final Court of facts, we normally read the entire evidence on record and despite what has been mentioned in the judgment of the Court below arrive at our own findings. But damage of a severe type can happen in a civil case where the judgment is sketchy without containing the reasoning which must form the foundation of the findings given by the trial Court. If the judgment does not reflect the search made by the trial Judge for the truth between two conflicting versions, then to that extent the judgment must be said to be a poor judgment. It is the right of the parties to know the reasons that weighed with the learned Judge and, therefore, it is the duty of the Judge to disclose those reasons. In the instant case where the question of the liberty of three persons was involved we were almost thinking of remitting the case to the learned Sessions Judge for writing a judgment afresh by giving reasons for the findings which he has arrived at in the impugned judgment. Since the three accused have been sentenced to jail terms we have refrained from following the last mentioned course and have proceeded to dispose of the appeal with the assistance of Mr. S. M. Paranjpe appearing for the accused and Mr. Chopda, the learned Public Prosecutor, appearing for the State.
18. From what has been mentioned by us earlier in this judgment and from what has been mentioned by the witnesses whose testimonies we are now proceeding to examine, some features can be said to be striking. One is the high degree of improbability that is writ large on the manner in which the incident is alleged to have taken place. Those who are familiar with the streets of Bombay know that the areas through which the truck is said to have passed are busy localities. The incident is said to have taken place at a time when these roads are almost flooded with vehicles at all types. The manner in which the said truck is hijacked also smacks of a fictional element.
19. The second feature which must strike one is the gross delay in the filing of the FIR by the star prosecution witness, namely Malleshayya. The third feature which is almost distressing is the fact that neither Laxman Hansraj Tripathi, the owner of the shop from whom 14 bags of coke were seized, nor Shrirang, who is alleged to have been injured by one of the four robbers, has been examined. A pointed argument was made by the learned Advocate for the defence before the learned Sessions Judge that the prosecution having failed to examine two important witnesses, namely the cleaner and Shrirang, the prosecution must be held to have failed to that extent. Let us see what the learned Sessions Judge has to say in this regard in para 45 of his judgment :
'Mr. Dahivalkar next contended that the prosecution has not examined the two witnesses viz. the cleaner and Shrirang. Mr. Dahivalkar had benefit of both Investigating Officers being present in the Court and could have suggested the purpose for the prosecution not examining those witnesses. Therefore whereas I am not giving any benefit to the prosecution in relation to whatever either of them told to the police if at all but at the same time, I am not inclined to draw any inference against the prosecution for not having examined those witnesses. I have little doubt that if the witness Shrirang had stated somethings in his statement to the police, which would have the benefit of the accused, Mr. Dahivalkar would have brought on the record from the evidence of the police officer or at least suggested to them that as a reason for not examining that witness.'
20. From what has been extracted above from the judgment of the learned Sessions Judge it is clear to us that the learned Sessions Judge does not seem to have fully understood the law which is to be found in S. 162 of the Cr.P.C. When the learned Sessions Judge says 'if the witness Shrirang had stated something beneficial to the accused the learned Advocate would have easily brought the same on record by suggesting it to the police officer concerned,' he is grievously in error. S. 162 of the Code is a total embargo on asking such questions to the police officer. No statement made by any person to a police officer in the course of an investigation under Chap. XII of the Code or any part of such statement can be used for any purpose except for the purpose of contradicting a witness as mentioned in S. 162. We fail to understand how the learned Sessions Judge thought that the statement made to a police officer by a witness, who has not even been examined by the prosecution, or any part thereof could be brought on record even if it were beneficial to the accused. We trust and fervently hope that the learned Sessions Judge has not followed such a procedure in any of the cases which he was conducted and will not follow such a procedure in future.
21. We also cannot help mentioning the undesirability of stating that it was open to the defence counsel to ask the investigating officer who was present in the Court as to why some of the prosecution witnesses were not examined. If certain witnesses who are found to be key witnesses or important witnesses, then it is the duty of the prosecution to explain why those witnesses were not examined. It is not the function of the defence to allow the investigating officer an opportunity of giving an explanation. In the instant case, the shop owner Laxman Hansraj Tripathi was an important witness who had to be necessarily examined for the purpose of proving the seizure of coke from his shop by the police pursuant to a statement made by accused No. 1 under S. 27 of the Evidence Act. Similarly, Shrirang who, according to some of the prosecution witnesses, was the first to go to the police station and who had been in the course of the alleged robbery injured, was a very important witness, for unfolding the prosecution case. It is the duty of the prosecution to explain why these two important witnesses were not examined.
22. Contrary to what the learned Sessions Judge says in para 45 of his judgment, the learned defence counsel in fact has put this question to the investigating officer, who has given answers which are totally unsatisfactory. Those answers are as follows :-
'I tried to execute the warrant against Laxman Hansraj Tripathi, but he is not available at his shop and his where about at his shop and his where about is not known. The witness Shri rang is out of Bombay and no one knows when he shall come back. Even the witness Harbans is not in the shop and is not traceable.'
From where does the learned Sessions Judge get the idea that the defence counsel has not put to the investigating officer the question as to why the important witnesses have not been examined by the prosecution We find this error somewhat grave because the entire prosecution evidence was recorded by the learned Sessions Judge himself. How is it conceivable that the did not notice the answers which were given in his presence and which were recorded on his dictation ?
23. Another somewhat curious feature of the prosecution is the total failure of identifying the coke seized from the shop of Laxman Hansraj Tripathi as the coke which was originally loaded on the truck in this case. It has not been even suggested by the prosecution, let alone proved, that the coke seized from the shop of Laxman Tripathi was sent along with the sample of the coke taken from the truck to any chemical analyser or physics laboratory to find out that both the cokes were the same. Indeed, such a course would not have been advisable because coke after all is coke and the commodity must be available in abundance all over the country. Difference between coke in one place and coke in another place would practically be nil. Naturally, therefore, the attempt was not made, but if the prosecution had examined Laxman Hansraj Tripathi or his son Harbans then either of them could have mentioned that a particular coke which was seized from the shop was the one which was sold by one of the three accused before the Court.
24. It is somewhat astounding that a senior police officer should come and tell the Court and the Court should accept that the owner of a place like a shop, which is a fixed place, could not be traced by the police and, therefore, he could not be examined. Despite this, the learned Sessions Judge has proceeded, in the last para of his judgment, to complement the officer concerned in this case. In our opinion, this action of the learned Sessions Judge is highly objectionable. In the first place, it is not necessary to complement the police officers if they have done their duty in a case of this type. In the instant case those complements are totally undesirable. The Sessions Judges should refrain from giving complements to the investigating officers in every case merely because the investigation has resulted in conviction in the hands of those Sessions Judges. If the officers have done their duty we do not see any reason why such complements should be repeated. It is true that when a particular case is complicated and the investigations are required to be carried out for a long period of time and the number of witnesses examined is unduly large, then an appreciation in dignified words may be made in the judgment. On the facts of this case, however, in the light of what we have said so far it is clear that the complements are wholly undeserved.
25. Appeal allowed.