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Hari Rachu Kanadi Vs. the State of Maharashtra - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case Number Criminal Appeal No. 1112 of 1970
Judge
Reported in(1971)73BOMLR891; 1972MhLJ191
AppellantHari Rachu Kanadi
RespondentThe State of Maharashtra
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Excerpt:
.....5. apart from all this independent corroboration of the testimony of shivaji, we have the evidence of shivaji's nephew vishwanath as well as his sons sarjerao and madhukar, all of whom have deposed in clear terms to the demand for the bribe and the actual giving of the money. an explanation is sought to be given for this in the evidence of witness vasant who himself made that entry, but i am afraid, not only is that explanation unconvincing, but vasant's evidence itself contains a contradiction as to whether the said entry for es. 2 and 3 cannot be sentenced both under the relevant provisions of the prevention of corruption act as well as under section 161 of the indian penal code, as this offence relates to the same acts of the accused persons. that the accused had been..........out under the directions of accused no. 1 was turn and set fire to. the prosecution story is that kalandar, sarjerao, madhukar. vishwanath and shivaji then went to the chief goods clerk, one ganpati sakhalkar, at about 6 p.m. the same evening, mid narrated to him that a bribe had been demanded from them and that kalandar had been handcuffed, and the next morning shivaji actually filed a complaint setting out all the facts, which has been tendered and marked exh. 10 in the present proceedings. on these facts, the four accused persons were charged under section 120b read with section 161, indian penal code and section 5(1)(d) read with section 5(2) of the prevention of corruption act, as well as under section 161 read with section 34 of the indian penal code, and under section 5(7)(d).....
Judgment:

Vimadalal, J.

1. This is an appeal filed by the original accused Nos. 2, 3 and 4 'who have been convicted, by the learned Special Judge, Greater Bombay, oil offences under Section 5(1)(d) read with Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, and Section 161 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code.

2. The prosecution case is that accused No. 1 was, at the material time which would be January 17, 1968, working as a Sub-Inspector in the Railway Protection Force (hereinafter referred to as E.P.F.) on probation, and accused Nos. 2 and 3 were Rakshaks in the R.P.F. under him, whilst accused No. 4 was a head-rakshak working under him, all of them being at the material time posted at Bimsaval railway station. The prosecution case is that Shivaji Ogale was a merchant dealing in timber and Shahabad stones at Bhusaval, and a wagon load of Shahabad stones ordered out by him arrived at Bhusaval railway station on January 16, 1968. Some of the goods were unloaded and removed by Shivaji in two bullock carts on that very day, and on January 17, 1968 Shivaji engaged two trucks, one of which was driven by witness Kalandar, to remove the remaining goods from the railway station. When Kalandar drove his truck into the railway goods yard for his second trip, Shivaji as well as his sons Madhukar and Sarjerao were present in the goods shed. At about 4.30 p.m., first a Rakshak of the R.P.F., and then original accused Nos. 1 and 2 came to the place where Kalandar had parked his truck a little on the platform for the purpose of facilitating the loading of the' Shahabad stones into his truck, and objected to his having parked the truck there. The prosecution case is that accused No. 2 then took Kalandar to the office of accused No. 1 in which accused Nos. 3 and 4 were sitting, that accused Nos. 1 and 2 threatened Kalandar, that Shivaji followed Kalandar to the office of accused No. 1, that accused No. 1 had Kalandar handcuffed and his arms tied with a rope at about 5.30 p.m., that Shivaji protested to accused Nos. 1 and 2 and even entreated them to let Kalandar go, that accused No. 1 then threatened to handcuff Shivaji himself, that Shivaji's son Madhukar and Sarjerao as well as his nephew Visbwanath arrived in the office of accused No.1 at that time and intervened but accused No.1 did not relent and had a memo written out by accused No.4 to the railway police to put Kalandar in the police lock-up and then ordered accused Nos. 2 and 3 to take Kalandar and Shivaji to the railway police station, that accused No.2 then told Shivaji that if he paid Rs. 200 they would be released and accused No.1 also demanded the said amount from him for releasing them, and that ultimately Shivaji agreed to pay Rs. 100 for saving himself and freeing Kalandar to which accused Nos. 1 and 2 agreed. The prosecution case is that Shivaji then sent his son Sarjerao to his shop and Sarjerao' brought the sum of Rs. 100 in cash from Shivaji's son Vasant who was at the shop at that time, and handed over the amount to Shivaji who, in his turn, handed it over to accused No.1. According to the prosecution accused No.1 then handed over the said sum of Rs. 100 to accused No. 2, telling him to keep the amount and stating that it would be divided subsequently between them. The prosecution case is that accused No. 1 then ordered accused No. 2 to free Kalandar and that was done and the memo which accused No. 4 had written out under the directions of accused No. 1 was turn and set fire to. The prosecution story is that Kalandar, Sarjerao, Madhukar. Vishwanath and Shivaji then went to the chief goods clerk, one Ganpati Sakhalkar, at about 6 p.m. the same evening, mid narrated to him that a bribe had been demanded from them and that Kalandar had been handcuffed, and the next morning Shivaji actually filed a complaint setting out all the facts, which has been tendered and marked exh. 10 in the present proceedings. On these facts, the four accused persons were charged under Section 120B read with Section 161, Indian Penal Code and Section 5(1)(d) read with Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, as well as under Section 161 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, and under Section 5(7)(d) read with Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, and were tried by Mr. V. R. Talashikar, Special Judge, Greater Bombay, who convicted and sentenced all of them to various terms of imprisonment and fine, directing the substantive sentences of imprisonment to run concurrently in respect of each of the accused persons. All the four accused persons thereafter filed the present appeal. The same was summarily dismissed by the learned Chief Justice as far as accused No. 1 was concerned, but was admitted as far as accused Nos. 2, 3 and 4 were concerned, on October 13, 1970.

3. At the outset, a point of law was sought to be raised by Mr. Pradhan on behalf of accused Nos. 2 and 3 that members of the R.P.F. are police officers and, under the circumstances, the trial Court should not have used the statements recorded by them for any purpose other than that of contradicting- the prosecution witnesses as enjoined by Section 162 of the Criminal Procedure Code, and he sought to rely on the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Ramesh Chandra v. State of W.B. : 1970CriLJ863 for that proposition. I am afraid, however, the test laid down by the Supreme Court in that case for the purpose of finding out whether a particular officer is a police officer within the meaning of Section 25 of the Evidence Act, if applied to the present case, clearly shows that members of the R.P.F. are not police officers. A reference to the Railway Protection Force Act of 1957 shows clearly that that is the position. Section 11 of that Act says that their duties are primarily connected with the protection of railway property, and Sections 12, 13 and 14 show that they do not have all the powers of police officers under the Code of Criminal Procedure. In fact, Section 14 requires that any member of the R.P.F. making an arrest under the said Act must make over the person so arrested to a police officer, or take him to the nearest police station. Section 9 of the Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1966, was also relied upon by Mr. Pradhan in support of his argument on the point, but the said section merely confers powers on officers of R.P.F. to summon a person to give evidence and produce documents. That, by itself, cannot, however, make them police officers, either for the purpose of Section 25 of the Evidence Act, or for the purpose of Section 162 of the Criminal Procedure Code, in view of the test laid down by the Supreme Court in Ramesh Chandra's case to which I have just referred. This contention of Mr. Pradhan must, therefore, be rejected.

4. Turning to the evidence in the case, this is one of those rare cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 161 of the Indian Penal Code in which no trap was laid for the accused, but the prosecution rests on the evidence of witnesses who claim to have been present at the time and place where the bribe was demanded and taken by the accused persons. That, however, whilst making the task of the prosecution somewhat heavier, cannot affect the ultimate decision of this appeal. There is, in my opinion, abundant evidence led by the prosecution in the present case to prove the guilt of accused Nos. 2 and 3, though I have come to the conclusion that the conviction of accused No. 4 by the trial Court cannot be sustained. The first and the most important witness for the prosecution is naturally Shivaji himself. He is an old man 70 years of age who has been a timber merchant at Bhusaval for the last over 40 years. He has deposed to the prosecution story in the same terms in which I have set it out above and I need not repeat the same. Suffice it, to say that, apart from minor discrepancies to which it is unnecessary to refer, there is not a title of evidence to show that Shivaji was not deposing truthfully in the trial Court. He has not been shaken at all in the course of the protracted cross-examination to which he was subjected, and the only point, that is sought to be made out by way of a discrepancy is that whereas Shivaji deposed that he gave the currency notes to accused No. 1 who in his turn handed them over to accused No. 2, Inspector Hanotia of the R.P.F. has deposed that Shivaji identified accused No. 2 as being the person to whom he had given the money at the time when the identification parade was held by Hanotia. I am afraid, however, this discrepancy may be due to a defective understanding of what Shivaji may have told Hauotia, or to a defective understanding by Shivaji of the questions put to him by Hanotia. After all, there is a very thin line between saying that the money was given directly to accused No. 2, and saying that it was given to accused No. I who immediately handed over the same to accused No. 2. I, therefore, do not attach any importance to this discrepancy. What is most important is that, apart from being corroborated by his own sons and the nephew, Shivaji is corroborated, first and foremost, by the complaint (exh. 10) which he filed before the chief goods clerk Sakhalkar the very next morning- as early as 8 a.m. He is corroborated still more strongly by the evidence that on the very evening of January 17, 1968, immediately after the incident in this case, he had gone to the said Sakhalkar and had told him that a bribe had been demanded and Kalandar had been handcuffed and that he, was being harassed, facts which appear unmistakably from the evidence of the said Sakhalkar. Shivaji is also corroborated materially, though not in regard to the actual passing of the money, by the evidence of another independent witness, and that is Sayad Abdul Jaffar, Assistant Sub-Inspector of the E.P.F. at the material time, who has stated that at about 6 p.m. he saw accused Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the E.P.F. office, that he actually saw accused Nos. 2 and 3 taking the driver of the truck to the office of accused No. 1, and that when that driver was brought to his own room from the room of accused No. 1, he had seen that the driver was in handcuffs and his arms were tied with a rope. This evidence, in my opinion, also affords valuable corroboration to the testimony of Shivaji, coming as it does, from an independent source.

5. Apart from all this independent corroboration of the testimony of Shivaji, we have the evidence of Shivaji's nephew Vishwanath as well as his sons Sarjerao and Madhukar, all of whom have deposed in clear terms to the demand for the bribe and the actual giving of the money. It is unnecessary for me to deal with their evidence in detail, except to state that in regard to the evidence of Sarjerao the same discrepancy occurs as in the case of the evidence of Shivaji himself. That discrepancy is that whereas Sarjerao has stated in his evidence that his father Shivaji handed over the amount of Rs. 100 to accused No. 1 who in his turn handed over the same to accused No. 2, Inspector Hanotia of the R.P.F. has deposed that Sarjerao had identified accused No. 2 at the identification parade as being the person to whom Shivaji had paid the money. The observations which I have made above in regard to the said discrepancy in the case of Shivaji apply fully to this discrepancy in regard to the evidence of Sarjerao also, and for those very reasons, I do not attach any importance to this discrepancy. The evidence of Vasant, another son of Shivaji, also lends some corroboration to the evidence of Shivaji, in so far as he deposes to Sarjerao having come to his shop at about 5.30 p.m. on January 17, 1968 and to have asked for Es. 100 from him, and also deposes to his having given Rs. 100 and made the relevant entries in the cash book in respect of the same. As far as the entry in the cash book (exh. 19) is concerned, the same would have afforded unimpeachable evidence to the giving of the bribe in the present case but for the fact that certain infirmities attach to it. Those infirmities are, first and foremost, that Shivaji had not produced his account books when an inquiry was held by Inspector Hanotia of the E.P.F. into his complaint. Secondly, there is an entry under the same date, viz. of January 1'7, 1968, in the said cash book, just above the entry for Es. 100, which relates to a payment of Es. 7.10 as and by way of wharfage charges, whereas from the evidence on record it is quite clear that that payment was made only on January 18, 1968 and the amount could not in fact have been ascertained till that date. An explanation is sought to be given for this in the evidence of witness Vasant who himself made that entry, but I am afraid, not only is that explanation unconvincing, but Vasant's evidence itself contains a contradiction as to whether the said entry for Es. 7.10 was made on January 17 or 18, 1968. The said entry (exh. 19), if it had not been tainted by these infirmities and irregularities, would have afforded very valuable evidence for the prosecution so far as it states in express terms that the said sum of Us. 100 was '' paid, to the R.P.F. Inspector Chaturvedi (accused No. 1) and 4 accompanying watchmen'. Suffice to say, that having regard to the infirmities which attach to the said entry, I am not prepared to place any reliance whatsoever on it and the same must be excluded from consideration altogether. Even so, I have, however, come to the conclusion that there is abundant evidence, as discussed above, which brings guilt home as far as accused Nos. 2 and 3 are concerned. Their conviction by the trial Court must, therefore, be upheld. As against all this evidence, the learned advocate for accused Nos. 2 and 3 relies on the evidence of Kalandar, the driver of the truck in question who, whilst admitting the earlier part of the incident including- the threat administered to him and including his being taken to the office of accused No. 1 who got wild at him, has not deposed either to the demand of the bribe or to the giving of the bribe to the accused persons or any of them, and has also denied his having actually been handcuffed, though he does state in his evidence that accused Nos. 1 and 2 had threatened him that they would handcuff him and hand him over to the police custody, Kalandar has been declared hostile by the trial Court and allowed to be cross-examined with its' permission under Section 154 of the Evidence Act. The contradictions that have been brought out in that process, in my opinion, completely destroy his credibility and ultimate effect therefore is that Kalandar's evidence must be looked at as if it had been scored off by a stroke of pen. I am not prepared to hold that he is a witness of truth or that his evidence should be preferred ,to or should negative the evidence of the other witnesses discussed above as far as the guilt of accused Nos. 2 and 3 is concerned, Moreover, Sayad Abdul Jaffar, Asst. Sub-Inspector of the R.P.F., deposed to having actually seen Kalandar in handcuffs. There is no reason whatever to disbelieve his evidence. It certainly shows that Kalandar was not telling the truth when he deposed to the contrary. Accused Nos. 2 and 3 have in their statements also admitted some of the earlier part of the incident though the sum and substance of their respective statements is that they had themselves nothing to do and did not know what had happened in regard to Kalandar and had not demanded or taken any bribe from Shivaji. The prosecution evidence discussed above amply negatives the statements of accused Nos. 2 and 3 and sufficiently establishes their guilt.

6. As far as accused No. 4 is concerned, even if every word of the evidence of witnesses Shivaji, Vishwanath, Sarjerao and Madhukar is accepted, the same does not show anything- more than that he was present, that he wrote out a memo as directed by his superior accused No. 1, and that he destroyed that memo when directed to do so by the same superior, viz. accused No. 1. These facts which are the only facts proved by the prosecution evidence on record against accused No. 4, cannot, in my opinion, bring home any of the charges framed against him by the trial Court and his conviction by that Court cannot, therefore, be sustained.

7. A point of law was sought to be raised by Mr. Pradhan on behalf of accused Nos. 2 and 3 to the effect that, under Section 26 of the General Clauses Act, accused Nos. 2 and 3 cannot be sentenced both under the relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act as well as under Section 161 of the Indian Penal Code, as this offence relates to the same acts of the accused persons. In support of that contention, Mr. Pradhan sought to rely upon the observations of a Division Bench of this Court in the case of State v. Gulabsing (1961) 64 Bom. L.R. 274 but I am afraid those observations cannot be of any avail to him in the present case. All that was stated in the judgment in the said case was that Section 26 of the General Clauses Act only prohibits' punishment for the same set of facts under two sections, but does not prohibit the trial of an accused under different provisions of law though on the same set of facts. In fact, a perusal of the judgment in the said case shows that the position was identical there with that in the present case, viz. that the accused had been convicted and sentenced both under Section 161, Indian Penal Code as well as under Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, and yet those sentences were maintained by the High Court in appeal. In my opinion, the only fair and proper construction of Section 26 of the General Clauses Act is that an accused person should not be made to suffer punishment more than once for the same acts or omissions merely because they may constitute offences under two or more enactments. The concluding part of the section clearly enacts that an accused is not to be punished twice for the same offence. The said section does not, as was laid down by the Division Bench in Gulabsingh's case just cited by me, prevent an accused person from being charged with and tried for the same acts under different provisions of law. I would go further and say that the said section does not even prevent an accused person from being convicted in respect of each of those offences, or from being sentenced separately in respect of each of those offences, so long as he is not made to suffer punishment twice for the same act or series of acts. So long- as the Court trying an accused and convicting and sentencing him separately under each of the provisions of the law in question, makes the punishment run concurrently, in my opinion, it does not violate the provisions of Section 26 of the General Clauses Act; 1897. In the case of Arsala Khan v. Emperor [1935] A.I.R. Pas 18 it was held that Section 26 can be complied with by the direction that the sentence of imprisonment imposed upon the accused was to run concurrently with that imposed upon him in a previous case (at p. 19), and I am in agreement with the view taken therein, though the facts of the case before the Judicial Commissioner's Court were quite different. It may be mentioned that it has been held by the Mysore High Court in the case of M.M. Gandhi v. State of Mysore A.I.R.[1960] Mys.111 that the offences under Section 161 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act are different offences, though some of the ingredients of those two offences are common, and that Section 26 of the General Clauses Act has therefore no application to the same, but in the view which I have taken above, having regard to Hie fact that the sentences passed by the trial Court in the present case have been directed to run concurrently in respect of each of the accused persons, it is not necessary for me to decide that larger question.

8. In the result, this appeal is dismissed as far as accused Nos. 2 and 3 are concerned, and their conviction as well as the sentences passed upon them by the trial Court are confirmed. Accused Nos. 2 and 3 to surrender to bail. The appeal is however allowed as far as accused No. 4 is concerned, and his conviction as well as the sentence passed upon him by the trial Court are set aside. Accused No. 4's bail bonds cancelled.


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