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Chudaman Narayan Patil Vs. State of Maharashtra - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Revn. Appln. No. 60 of 1967 with Revn. Appln. No. 61 of 1967
Judge
Reported inAIR1969Bom1; (1968)70BOMLR383; 1969CriLJ105; ILR1969Bom194; 1968MhLJ620
ActsCode of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1898 - Sections 222, 234, 403 and 561A
AppellantChudaman Narayan Patil
RespondentState of Maharashtra
Appellant AdvocateH.D. Gole, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateV.T. Gambhirwalla, Asst. Govt. Pleader
Excerpt:
criminal procedure code (act v of 1898), sections 403, 222, 234, 561a - person tried for criminal breach of trust committed during certain period--such person tried again for criminal breach of trust committed during same period but in respect of different amount--second trial whether barred.;the second trial of an accused person for criminal breach of trust committed by him during a certain period is not barred by reason of the principle contained in section 403 of the criminal procedure code, 1898, notwithstanding that he has been tried previously for having committed criminal breach of trust during the same period but in respect of a different amount.;there is no conflict between the views expressed in emperor v. kashinath (1910) 12 bom. l.r. 226 and emperor v. anant narayan (1944) 47.....chandrachud, j.1. these are two companion revision applications from the judgment of the learned additional sessions judge, jalgaon dismissing the revision applications filed by the petitioner against two orders passed by the learned judicial magistrate, first class, jalgaon. the facts leading to the revision applications before us are as follows:2. chudaman narayan patil, who is the petitioner in these revision applications, was employed in the revenue department of the government of maharashtra and at the material time he was working as a special recovery officer in the jalgaon people's co-operative bank limited. he worked in this capacity from the 20th of january 1962 to the 3rd of october 1962. it was found that he had committed criminal breach of trust in respect of a sum of rs. 583.....
Judgment:

Chandrachud, J.

1. These are two companion revision applications from the judgment of the learned Additional Sessions Judge, Jalgaon dismissing the revision applications filed by the petitioner against two orders passed by the learned Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Jalgaon. The facts leading to the revision applications before us are as follows:

2. Chudaman Narayan Patil, who is the petitioner in these revision applications, was employed in the Revenue Department of the Government of Maharashtra and at the material time he was working as a Special Recovery Officer in the Jalgaon People's Co-operative Bank Limited. He worked in this capacity from the 20th of January 1962 to the 3rd of October 1962. It was found that he had committed criminal breach of trust in respect of a sum of Rs. 583 which was entrusted to him during this period. He was accordingly prosecuted under Section 409 of the Indian Penal Code in Sessions Case No. 46 of 1963 and was found guilty of that offence. He was sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for a period of one year and to pay a fine of Rs. 500 in default to suffer rigorous imprisonment for a period of three months. The appeal filed by the petitioner against the order of conviction and sentence was dismissed by this court. His application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court and the application filed by him before the Supreme Court for special leave to file an appeal were also dismissed.

3. After the conclusion of the Sessions Case, two more chargesheets were filed against the petitioner under S. 409 of the Indian Penal Code in the Court of the learned Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Jalgaon. In the first of these chargesheets, the allegation against the petitioner is that he had committed criminal breach of trust in respect of a sum of Rs. 53 which was received by him on the 23rd of July 1962 and that he had also committed a similar offence in respect of a sum of Rs. 106 which was received by him on the 21st of August 1962. In this case (Case No. 42 of 1966) an application Ex. 4 was filed by the petitioner contending that the order of conviction in Sessions Case No. 46 of 1963 constituted a bar to the trial in view of the provisions contained in Section 403 of the Criminal Procedure Code and that therefore, the proceedings could not be continued. This application was rejected by the learned Magistrate and the revision application filed against that order has been dismissed by the learned Additional Sessions Judge, Jalgaon. Being aggrieved by the later order, the petitioner has filed Revision Application No. 60 of 1967.

4. In the companion case (Case No.43 of 1966) the allegation against the petitioner is that he had committed criminal breach of trust in respect of a sum of Rs. 106 received by him on the 23rd of July 1962 and in respect of another sum of Rs. 106 received by him on 21-8-1962. In this case also a similar application was filed by the petitioner contending that the prosecution was not maintainable by reason of his previous conviction in Sessions Case No. 46 of 1963. This application was dismissed by the learned Magistrate and the learned Sessions Judge, Jalgaon has confirmed that order in Revision. Being aggrieved thereby, the petitioner has filed Revision Application No.61 of 1967.

5. The two revision applications came up for hearing before the learned Chief Justice on the 28th of July 1967. The attention of the learned Chief Justice drawn to certain decisions and he felt that '......in view of a possible conflict of views it is better that this case should be decided by a Division Bench.' The conflict of views is stated to be on the question whether in a matter of this nature the subsequent trial is barred under Section 403 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. This is how these revision applications have come up for hearing before us.

6. It is urged by Mr. Gole, who appears in support of these applications, that the petitioner was convicted in Sessions Case No. 46 of 1963 for an offence under Section 409 of the Indian Penal Code which was committed by him during the period 20th of January 1962 to 3rd of October 1962 and therefore, the two present prosecutions, which have been filed against him for offences alleged to have been committed by him during the same period, are not maintainable. The argument is founded on the provisions contained in Section 403 of the Criminal Procedure Code and what is urged before us is that the petitioner having been once convicted of the offence of criminal breach of trust committed by him during a certain period he cannot be prosecuted again for the offence of criminal breach of trust committed during the same period, for which he could have beer charged and tried in the same Sessions trial. Now Section 403 is founded on a rule of public policy that a person shall not be tried for the same cause more than once. It provides by sub-section (1) that a person who has once been tried by a Court of competent jurisdiction for an offence and convicted or acquitted of that offence shall, while such conviction or acquittal remains in force, not be liable to be tried again for the same offence nor on the same facts for any other offence for which a different charge from the one made against him might have been made under Section 236, or for which he might have been convicted under Section 237. Sub-section (1) can, in our opinion, have no application to the facts of the case before us, because the petitioner is not being tried for the same offence for which he was tried and convicted in Sessions Case No. 46 of 1963. In that case the charge against him was that he had committed criminal breach of trust in respect of a gross sum of Rs. 583 which was entrusted to him between the 20th of January 1962 and the 3rd of October 1962. The charge against the petitioner in the two cases which are now filed against him is in respect of amounts which, undoubtedly, were entrusted to him during the same period but these amounts were admittedly not included in the gross sum of Rs. 583 in respect of which the Sessions trial was held. The offences which form the subject-matter of the two prosecutions which are now filed against the petitioner are therefore independent of the offence for which the petitioner was tried and convicted in Sessions Case No. 46 of 1963. It cannot therefore be said that the petitioner is being tried again for the same offence.

7. It is however urged by Mr. Gole that sub-section (1) of Section 403 not only prohibits a second trial for the same offence but it also prohibits a second trial on the same facts for any other offence for which a different charge from the one made against the accused might have been made under section 236 or for which he might have been convicted under Section 237. Now Section 236 deals with a case where a single act or series of acts is of such a nature that it is doubtful which of several offences the facts which can be proved will constitute. In such a case, the accused may be charged with having committed all or any of such offences, and any number of such charges may be tried at once; or he may be charged in the alternative with having committed some one of the said offences. Section 237 deals with a situation where, in the case mentioned in Section 237, the accused is charged with one offence, and it appears in evidence that he has committed a different offence for which he might have been charged under the provisions of Section 236. In such a case, he may be convicted of the offence which he is shown to have committed, although he is not charged with it. It is transparent that neither Section 236 nor Section 237 can have any application to the facts before us, because this is not a case in which the acts attributed to the petitioner are of such a nature that it is doubtful as to which of several offences the facts which can be proved will constitute. If Section 236 can have no application to the case, Section 237 can obviously have none, because the latter section only deals with cases which are covered by the former.

8. In our opinion, therefore, sub-section (1) of Section 403 can have no application to this case and therefore, the learned Additional Sessions Judge was justified in taking the view that the charges now levelled against the petitioner are valid and the proceedings are maintainable.

9. It is then urged on behalf of the petitioner that assuming that sub-section (1) of Section 403 has no application to the case, the principle underlying that sub-section should be extended to the case and the charges should be quashed. It is in the context of this argument that the attention of the learned Chief Justice was invited to certain decisions. Having considered this argument carefully, and the several decisions to which our attention has been drawn, we are of the opinion that there is no conflict of decisions on the question and there is certainly no conflict between the views expressed by the two Division Benches of this Court in Emperor v. Kashinath Bagaji : (1910)12BOMLR226 and Emperor v. Anant Narayan 47 Bom LR 138=AIR 1945 Bom 413.

10. The question for our decision is whether in circumstances as those before us, the second trial is barred by reason of the principle contained in Section 403 if not because of the direct application of that section. In : (1910)12BOMLR226 the accused was tried for the offence of criminal breach of trust as a public servant in respect of a sum of Rs. 12 and odd and was acquitted of the offence. He was again tried for the offence of criminal breach of trust in respect of a sum of Rs. 19 and odd misappropriated during the same period and was convicted. On an appeal, the Sessions Judge acquitted the accused on the ground that his previous acquittal was a bar to the second trial. The Sessions Judge took the view that the first trial must be treated as being for the same offence as that in respect of the second amount, because both the amounts were misappropriated during the same period. According to him, the prosecution having made its election under Section 222(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code to prosecute the accused in respect of one out of the two amounts misappropriated by him during the same period, it was estopped by the provisions of Section 403 from instituting the second prosecution in respect of fresh item falling within the same period. This view was reversed in appeal by the High Court (Chandavarkar and Knight JJ.) on the ground that the normal rule was the one contained in Section 233 of the Code that for every distinct offence there shall be a separate charge and every such charge shall be tried separately. One of the exceptions to this rule was contained in Section 234 which provides that more than one charge but not exceeding three charges can be included in one trial, provided the offences charged are of the same kind and the offences in respect of those charges have been committed within a space of twelve months from the first to the last of such offences. According to the learned Judges, though subsection (2) of Section 222 engrafts an exception on the rule in Section 233 it was not an exception of the same kind as was contained in S. 234 and it did not restrict in any way the scope and object of S. 234. Section 222(2) was construed as containing an exception rather to the general rule that certain particulars must be given in the charge. It was on these grounds that the decision of the learned Sessions Judge was overruled and it was held that the second trial of the accused was not barred merely because the period covered by the two trials was identical. No other question was canvassed before the learned Judges and it is obvious from the judgment that apart from the legality of the second trial, no other question was considered by them.

11. It is argued on behalf of the petitioner that this decision is in conflict with that in 47 Bom LR 138=(AIR 1945 Bom 413). In the latter case the accused was found to have misappropriated certain sums belonging to Government which he repaid subsequently. He was charged for offences under Sections 409 and 466 of the Indian Penal Code in respect of two items only as having been misappropriated during a certain period of time. The trial was held before a Sessions Judge, who, agreeing with the unanimous verdict of the jury as regards the charge under Section 409 and the opinion of assessors as regards the charge under Section 466, acquitted the accused. The accused was then tried by another Sessions Judge for an offence under Section 409 of the Penal Code in respect of an amount which formed part of the gross amount which was mentioned in the earlier trial but which was not included in the two charges which alone were picked up in that trial. The accused contended that the second trial was barred under Section 403 of the Criminal Procedure Code and he was therefore entitled to an acquittal. The Sessions Judge acquitted the accused holding that though it was technically correct to try the accused for what was a separate offence, it was undesirable that the accused should be so tried for an offence which could have been included in the first trial. On a reference by the Sessions Judge for quashing the order of committal, it was held by a Division Bench of this Court (N. J. Wadia and Sen JJ.) that even though the plea of autrefois acquit under Section 403 was not technically available to the accused, the principle of it was available to him in the interests of justice and that he should not be tried again for the offence under Section 409. The attention of the learned Judges who decided this case was specifically drawn to the earlier decision in : (1910)12BOMLR226 and they have characterised in view taken therein as 'somewhat technical'. This may prima facie give the impression that the two decisions take contrary views but there is in our opinion no conflict between these decisions. The decision in Kashinath's case : (1910)12BOMLR226 was construed by the learned Judges, who decided the subsequent case, as one in which the only question which was considered was whether the second trial was illegal and it was held that the second trial was not illegal. It was not held in Anant's case 47 Bom LR 138=AIB 1945 Bom 413 that the second trial was illegal and thus both the decisions take the same view regarding the legality of the second trial. The further question, apart from the legality of the second trial, which was considered in Anant's case, 47 Bom LR 138=AIR 1945 Bom 413 was whether it was in the interests of justice to allow the subsequent trial to proceed and it was held that on the facts and circumstances of the case, it was not desirable to subject the accused to another trial. It was observed (page 142 of Bom LR)=(at pp. 416-417 of AIR) that the Jury had unanimously held in the first trial that the accused was not guilty, that the accused had in fact paid the entire amount involved in the two trials, that he had already suffered one lengthy trial and that it was undesirable that in the second trial there should be any risk of the jury's taking a view different from that which was taken in the first trial. These circumstances made it necessary that the second trial of the accused should be prevented.

12. It is thus clear that whereas the decision in Kashinath's case : (1910)12BOMLR226 deals only with the legality of the second trial, the decision in Anant's case 47 Bom LR 138=AIR 1945 Bom 413 deals principally with the propriety of the second trial. Both the cases take the view that the second trial is not illegal. Kashinath's case : (1910)12BOMLR226 stops by holding that the second trial is legal but Anant;s case 47 Bom LR 138=MR 1945 Bom 413 proceeds to hold that though the second trial was not barred, it was desirable not to allow it to proceed. The question as to desirability of the second trial could arise only if it was legal.

13. Our attention has been drawn by Counsel for both the sides to a large number of decisions bearing on this question. It would be necessary to examine some of these decisions.

14. The case In re Appadurai AIR 1917 Mad 524 is, if we may say so, unique, because it is the only decision which takes the view that the second trial in circumstances such as those before us, is illegal. The question in that case was whether the accused could be tried for misappropriation of a sum of money committed during a period which was covered by the earlier trial though the amount which formed the subject matter of the earlier case was different. It was held that the accused was already tried and convicted for having misappropriated a gross sum of money during the same period and the charge in the previous case should be taken to include all the items misappropriated by the accused in course of the same transaction during that period. This, according to the learned Judge, was the true interpretation of Section 403, because they thought that the provisions contained in Section 222 of the Criminal Procedure Code would other-wise become meaningless. With great respect, it is not possible to agree with this view. Even though the period covered by two separate cases might be identical, the trials are not for the period but the trials are for misappropriation of certain amounts committed during a certain period. We see no justification for the view that a prior case must be deemed to include all items misappropriated by an accused during a particular period, whether or not those items are specifically included in the charge.

15. We might in this behalf draw attention to the decision of the Supreme Court in Ranchhod Lal v. State of Madhya Pradesh : [1965]2SCR283 which says that sub-section (2) of Section 222 is not the normal rule with respect to framing of charges in cases of criminal breach of trust and it is only in the nature of an exception to meet a certain contingency. The normal rule, according to the Supreme Court, is that there should be a charge for each distinct offence as provided in Section 233 of the Code.

'It is only when it may not be possible to specify exactly particular items with respect to which criminal breach of trust took place or the exact date on which the individual items were misappropriated or in some similar contingency, that the Court is authorised to lump up the various items with respect to which breach of trust was committed and to mention the total amount misappropriated within a year in the charge. If several distinct items with respect to which criminal breach of trust has been committed are not so lumped together, no illegality is committed in the trial of those offences. In fact, a separate trial with respect of each distinct offence of criminal breach of trust with respect to an individual item is the correct mode of proceedings with the trial of an offence of criminal breach of trust. (page 1250).

16. The Supreme Court further held that Section 234 of the Criminal Procedure Code under which three offences of criminal breach of trust can under certain circumstances be included in one trial is an enabling provision and is in the nature of an exception to Section 233 of the Code. Therefore 'if each of the several offences is tried separately, there is nothing illegal about it.' It is thus clear that as a matter of legality, a person who commits breach of trust in respect of several amounts can be prosecuted as many times as the number of individual items misappropriated by him. Whether the interests of justice require that this should not be permitted to be done is another question. That is the question which was dealt with in 47 Bom. L.R. 138 : AIR 1945 B 413 and that it is the question which was neither canvassed nor dealt with in : (1910)12BOMLR226 . That is why we have taken the view that there is no conflict of view between these two decisions.

17. As we have stated earlier, the decision in AIR 1917 Mad 524 is perhaps the only one which has taken the extreme view that by reason of the provisions contained in Sections 222 and 234 the second prosecution of an accused for criminal breach of trust is barred if the amount included in the second trial is alleged to have been misappropriated during a period which is covered by the first prosecution. No other case would seem to have taken this view and indeed, a large number of cases have taken the view that the second prosecution is in fact not barred. We have already dealt with the decision in : (1910)12BOMLR226 which has taken this view and we might now turn to the decisions in Nagendra Nath Bose v. Emperor ILR 50 Cal 632=AIR 1923 Cal 654 and Ramkrishna v. State : (1910)12BOMLR226 and follow that decision. The view taken in the Calcutta and the Madhya Bharat cases is that even if the period covered by the subsequent prosecution overlaps the period covered by the earlier prosecution the second trial is not barred by reason of the provisions contained in Section 403 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The High Court of Allahabad has taken the same view in : AIR1931All209 . With these decisions we respectfully agree.

18. The other group of decisions which is in point is: 47 Bom LR 138 = (AIR 1945 Bom 413); Sidh Nath v. Emperor : AIR1929Cal457 and Emperor v. Chinna Kaliappa ILR (1906) Mad 126. The decision in 47 Bom LR 138 has already been discussed by us and as stated earlier that case takes the view that even if Section 403 may not be applicable to a given case, it may still be necessary in the interests of justice to prevent a second trial. In : AIR1929Cal457 the second trial was held legal but on the facts of that case it was held that it was not proper to allow the second trial to be held. It is observed in that case that the prosecution knew perfectly well what was the gross amount under Section 222(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code. This circumstance was held to be a sufficient justification for the view that the second trial ought not to have been held. The second trial however was already held and therefore, the learned Judges reduced the sentence to a token period of one day's imprisonment. Incidentally, the order passed by the learned judges emphasises that the second trial was not illegal. Though, however, the second trial is not illegal, the interests of justice may require that the accused be not subjected to more than one trial. This is one of the cases which is said to have taken a different view from the one taken in : (1910)12BOMLR226 , but it is in our opinion clear that the view taken in the Calcutta case is in no way in conflict with the view taken in the earlier Bombay decision. The Calcutta decision concerns itself more with the propriety of the second trial than with its legality.

19. The decision in ILR (1906) Mad 126 is also stated to be in conflict with the view taken in : (1910)12BOMLR226 . Now in the first place, the case in ILR (1906) Mad 126 dealt with an entirely different situation and the main question which arose for decision therein was whether it is competent to a Magistrate to entertain a fresh complaint against an accused on facts substantially similar to those on which an earlier complaint was filed, the accused having been discharged in that complaint. A Bench of five Judges of the High Court heard that case, three learned Judges taking the view that if the earlier order of discharge was not set aside by the Superior Court, it is open to the Magistrate to entertain a fresh complaint on the same facts and to try the accused for the same offence. This view is founded on the basis that Section 403 cannot strictly apply to such a case for there was no previous 'acquittal', in the true sense of the term. One of the two learned Judges who took a contrary view, namely Subrahmania Ayyar J. observes in his dissenting judgment that though S. 403 may not apply to a case of a previous discharge as contrasted with the the case of a previous acquittal, authority was not wanting for the view that the principle of S. 403 was available to an accused when the interests of justice required its extension in his favour. The principle nemo debet his vexari namely, that a person shall not be vexed again for the same cause was extended by the learned Judge to the case in which the accused was previously discharged (and not acquitted) and it was held that the Magistrate was in error in entertaining a fresh complaint on the same facts. Now this decision, in our opinion, is no more, in conflict with the view expressed in : (1910)12BOMLR226 than the derision in : AIR1929Cal457 is. In both of these cases, namely ILR (1906) Mad 126 and : AIR1929Cal457 the principle contained in S. 403 was extended to cases not falling within the strict letter of that section.

20. This analysis shows that apart from AIR 1917 Mad 524, no case has taken the view that the second trial of an accused for criminal breach of trust committed by him during a certain period is illegal if he has been tried previously for having committed criminal breach of trust during the same period but in respect of a different amount. We respectfully differ from that view, particularly because of the decision of the Supreme Court in AIR 1965 SC 1248.

21. The decisions in : AIR1931All209 take the view that the second prosecution is not barred in such circumstances but the further question as to the propriety or the desirability of the second prosecution was not considered in those cases. The decisions in 47 Bom LR 138=AIR 1945 Bom 413 and : AIR1929Cal457 take the view that the second prosecution is legal but they further hold that despite the legality of the second prosecution, the interests of justice may require that the accused should not be asked to face yet another trial. The dissenting opinion in ILR (1906) Mad 126, like the decision in : AIR1929Cal457 shows that though a case may not fail within the letter of Section 403 so as to bar a subsequent prosecution, the facts and circumstances of a case may be such as to justify the extension of the principle underlying Section 403.

22. The decision therefore that the present prosecutions are not barred under Section 403 shall have to be upheld. But that is not always the sole question for decision. A prosecution may not be barred under Section 403 and yet as held in : AIR1929Cal457 it would not been the interests of justice to allow the case to proceed. That the High Court has such a Power is clear from Section 561A of the Criminal Procedure Code, which says that nothing in the Code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent power of the High Court to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under the Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice. It is true that as held by the Supreme Court in the State of Uttar Pradesh v. Mohammad Naim : [1964]2SCR363 , Section 561A confers no new Powers on the High Court and it merely safe-guards all existing inherent powers possessed by the High Court which are necessary, among other purposes, to secure the ends of justice. The object of the section, as stated by the Supreme Court, is to provide that those powers which the Court inherently possesses shall be pre served lest it be considered that the only powers possessed by the Court are those expressly conferred by the Code and that no inherent powers had survived the passing of the Code. Now there is no express provision in the Code under which proceedings can be squashed in circumstances such as those before us and the inherent power of this Court to act in the interests of justice has been preserved by Section 561A. As held by the Supreme Court in R.P.Kapur v. State of Punjab : 1960CriLJ1239 the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court can be exercised to quash proceedings in a proper case either to prevent the abuse of the process of any Court or to secure the ends of justice. We might indicate that the power to quash proceedings was exercised by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh in Re G. Bhashyakaracharyulu : AIR1960AP164 under Section 561A.

23. The only question which now remains to be considered is whether the ends of justice require that the two cases which are Pending against the Petitioner should not be allowed to proceed. What constitutes sufficient reason for not permitting subsequent proceedings to continue must evidently depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case and we are of the opinion that this is one of those cases in which it is in the interests of justice that the Proceedings must be quashed. In case No.42 of 1966 the petitioner is alleged to have committed criminal breach of trust in respect of two sums, Rs. 53 and Rs. 106. In case No.43 of 1966 he is alleged to have committed criminal breach of trust in respect of two identical sums of Rs. 106. The amount covered by the four charges has already been recovered from the petitioner. He has undergone one Sessions trial, he has already suffered a sentence of one year and he has paid the fine of Rs. 500 which was imposed on him. The amounts which now form the subject-matter of the two proceedings are partly and the Petitioner who is a Govt. servant has already been subjected not only to the agony and humiliation of a criminal trial but he shall have to face the necessary consequence, namely, that he will lose his job and will find it hard to get any other.

24. In view, of these circumstances, we are of the opinion that, though there is no legal bar to he prosecution pending against the Petitioner, it is not necessary to subject him to fresh trials. We therefore set aside the decision of the learned Additional Sessions Judge, treat these revision applications as under Section 561A of the Criminal Procedure Code and quash the proceedings in cases Nos. 42 of 1966 and 43 of 1966 pending on the file of the learned Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Jalgaon.

GGM/D. V. C.

25. Order accordingly


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