1. This revision application raises an important point of law as to whether an appeal lies from an order passed by the District Magistrate under Section 476 of the Criminal Procedure-Code to the Court of Sessions under Section 476-B of the said Code.
2. The revision application is filed by the four persons against whom the order was passed by the District Magistrate, Thana under Section 476 of the Criminal Procedure Code in the following circum-stances:
Gajadhar Bhagchand Prithiyani, respondent No. 2 in this revision application, filed on September 4, 1958 an application, under Section 145 of the Criminal Procedure Code alleging that on September 3, 1958, he was forcibly and wrongfully dispossessed by the four opponents in that application (1) Lachhamandas Sitaldas, who is not a party in this revision application; (2) Pahilajrai Sitaldas, Petitioner No. 3 in this revision application; (3) Vassumal Bodaram, and (4) Pamandas-Bodaram who are also not parties in this revision application. The application filed by Gajadhar had a chequered history. It is not necessary to mention all the facts relating to that application or the details-of the proceedings in respect of that application, including Criminal Revn. Appln, No, 145 of 1959, which was decided on July 8, 1959 (Bom.) by Mr. Justice-Mudholkar and Mr. Justice Naik and Criminal Revn. Appln. No. 1585 of 1959, which was decided on April 8, 1960 (Bom) by Mr. Justice Patel and Mr. Justice Patwardhan in this Court. It is sufficient to state for the disposal of the present revision application that an order was passed by the District Magistrate, Thana, upon that application under Section 145 of the Criminal Procedure Code on July 29, 1963 restoring possession of the room to-Gajadhar and in pursuance of that order Gajadhar has been in possession of the said room since 1963.
3. On December 20, 1963. Gajadhar made an application to the District Magistrate, Thana, submitting that during the proceedings in the application under Section 145 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which were, according to the applicant, protracted unduly on account of the influence which his opponents were holding, his opponents relied on an anti-dated false agreement purporting to be of December 25, 1956 and filed false affidavits and gave perjured evidence to the effect that one Dr. Kripal, who was actually in United Kingdom, was in possession of Room No. 15 under that agreement. Gajadhar further alleged that all the persons concerned with that agreement and with the affidavits filed in the said proceedings and the persons who gave evidence against him were liable to be prosecuted for forgery and perjury. He, therefore, prayed that the District Magistrate should sanction prosecution of the persons concerned.
4. The District Magistrate, thereupon, held an inquiry under Section 476 of the Criminal Procedure Code, considered the documentary evidence and other material before him and passed an order sanctioning prosecutions against the four petitioners in this revision application and one Manik Israni who died subsequently, as the District Magistrate came to the conclusion that the witnesses who had given the evidence by the affidavits vouching the authenticity of the aforesaid agreement and the other witnesses who filed affidavits confirming the say of Pahilajrai that Dr. Kripal was in possession of Room No. 15, must be regarded as having given false evidence. Petitioner No. 1 was ordered to be prosecuted for the offences under Sections 197 and 202 of the Indian Penal Code, because according to the learned District Magistrate Petitioner No. 1 who was at the relevant time an Honorary Magistrate put his signature in. token of his attestation of the aforesaid agreement on September 9, 1958, even though the document was purported to have been executed on December 25, 1956 and the signatures to the document were not before him. He also held that petitioner No. 1 attested a true copy of the said document on September 11, 1958 notwithstanding that he had himself scored out his attestation. The District Magistrate ordered Petitioner No. 2 to be prosecuted under Section 199 of the Indian Penal Code, as he found that Petitioner No. 2 made an affidavit on December 5, 1958 stating falsely that he was aware of the fact that Dr. Kripal had purchased Room No. 15 and had also seen the agreement of the sale, under which Dr. Kripal had become the owner of Room No. 15 and had further stated that after the departure of Dr. Kripal in 1957, he had been invited in Room No. 15 by Kripal's father pahilajrai. Then petitioner No. 3, in this revision application, who was opponent No. 2 in the application filed under Section 145 of the Criminal Procedure Code, was ordered to be prosecuted under Section 193 for fabricating false evidence by creating a false agreement and also under Section 209 of the Indian Penal Code for using the said forged document in the course of the proceedings under Section 145 of the Criminal P. C. The deceased Manik Israni was ordered to be prosecuted for offences under Sections 193 and 199 of the Indian Penal Code for filing a false affidavit. Petitioner No. 4, Asudomal Kundandas was ordered to be prosecuted under Sections 193 and 199 of the Indian Penal Code for filing false affidavits and for making a false statement that Dr. Kripal resided in Room No. 15 for about one year.
5. It must be stated here that the said order of the District Magistrate does not bear any date. However, it was forwarded by the District Magistrate to the Judicial Magistrate, First Class, on June 30, 1964. After forwarding of the papers by the District Magistrate, nothing serious appears to have been done by the District Magistrate till a complaint was filed on February 19, 1966 in the Court of the Judicial Magistrate, First Class, at Thana, which was numbered as Criminal Case No. 267 of 1966. Consequently summonses were issued against accused No. 1 under Section 209 read with Section 114 of the Indian Penal Code and against accused Nos. 2 to 5. under Sections 196, 199 and 209 read with Section 114 of the Indian Penal Code. Although processes were issued on February 19, 1966, the summonses were not served till April 5, 1966. However, accused No. 2 was present on April 27, 1966 and accused Nos. 3 and 5 were present in the Court after service of the summonses on April 28, 1966. But accused Nos. 1 and 4 were not served till then and fresh summonses had to be issued against them.
6. On May 18, 1966 the case was taken up before the Court and accused Nos. 1 and 4 also appeared. But it is clear that the process was issued on all the Petitioners and the deceased Israni on May 18, 1966 and they appeared in the proceedings through Advocates. Manik Israni died subsequentely. In spite of all these steps having been taken, there is nothing on the record to show that the order of the District Magistrate sanctioning the prosecution under Section 476 of the Criminal P. C. was communicated to the Petitioners by the District Magistrate, even though the said order appears to have been passed sometime before June 13, 1964. when the District Magistrate forwarded papers to the Judicial Magistrate. What we find on record is a certified copy of that order and certain correspondence addressed on behalf of some of petitioners to the District Magistrate which shows that an application for a certified copy of the order of the District Magistrate was made on January 16, 1966. It appears that the said certified copy was ready for delivery and was delivered on November 25, 1966, though in the certified copy, which is filed, against the entry 'copy ready on' originally dated '6-10-66' was struck off and instead date '25-11-67' was written. It is indeed shocking to find, in the first place, that the District Magistrate did not care to communicate the order, which he had passed, to the parties concerned and in the second place, his office did not care to supply the certified copy of the order, which ran into only about six written pages, for a period of more than 10 months.
7. On getting the certified copy on November 25, 1966 the Petitioners filed an appeal against the order of the District Magistrate on November 28, 1966 in the Court of Session at Thana. But it appears that although it was presented on that day, the proper Court-fee stamps were not paid and the Office raised an objection with regard to the limitation and it was only on December 20, 1966 that the third Additional Session Judge, Thana, in view of an affidavit filed in the course of the proceedings by petitioner No. 2 explaining the delay and in view of the fact that the certified copy was applied for on January 16, 1966 and was ready for delivery and delivered on November 25, 1966, admitted the appeal and thereafter the Petitioners paid the Court-fees on December 21, 1966. The learned Second Additional Sessions Judge, Thana, who heard the appeal, however, by his order dated August 16, 1967, held that the Sessions Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the appeal and ordered that the appeal should be returned to the appellants for presentation to the proper Court.
8. Feeling aggrieved by the order of the District Magistrate and also the order of the Second Additional Sessions Judge, the Petitioners filed the present criminal revision application on November 28, 1967. The revision application was admitted by this Court on December 8, 1967 and the stay order was also issued staying the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 267 of 1966 in the Court of the Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Thana. The Petitioners, however, did not remove the objections raised by the office in respect of this revision application. One of the said objections was that the petitioners had not filed along with the revision application a certified copy of the impugned order of the District Magistrate under Section 476 of the Criminal Procedure Code, although they had taken time from time to time for filing the certified copy. Gursahani has also produced the appeal memo which was filed along with the appeal memo in the Court of Sessions, Thana and it appears to have been returned to the petitioner along with the appeal. Mr. Gursahani has also produced the appeal memo which was returned to his clients and both the certified copy and the appeal memo before the Sessions Court are taken on the record today. But it must be observed that the Petitioner No. 3 who was opponent No. 2 in the proceedings under Section 145 of the Criminal P. C. appeared to be very anxious to protract the proceedings by not taking the necessary steps in time to remove the office objections and it is necessary for the quick disposal of this case that any attempt by Petitioners to delay the proceedings should not allowed to succeed.
9. Mr. Gursahani, the learned Counsel for the Petitioners has submitted that the learned Second Additional Sessions Judge was not right in his view that no appeal lay against the order of the District Magistrate under Section 476-B of the Criminal P. C. He has also submitted that the order of the District Magistrate is illegal and without jurisdiction and wrong on merits. However, as the learned Sessions Judge has decided the matter only on the preliminary point of jurisdiction and as I am of the view that the view taken by the learned Sessions Judge was wrong, I do not propose to discuss the merits of the case. Moreover for reasons to be stated presently I hold that the Petitioners have the right of appeal on tacts as well as on law against the order passed by the District Magistrate before the Court of Session.
10. Mr. Kanade, the learned Assistant Government Pleader has sought to support the order passed by the Additional Sessions Judge on the ground that whereas under Section 476-B read with Section 195(3) of the Criminal P. C, the right of appeal is conferred on the parties affected by the order under Section 476 of the Criminal P. C, only when ordinarily an appeal lies from the sentence passed by the District Magistrate and as no sentence of punishment can be passed by the District Magistrate under the provisions of the Criminal P. C. now in force, the Petitioners had no right of appeal against the order passed by the District Magistrate. Mr. Bhatia who appeared for Gajadhar, respondent No. 2, supported the contention raised by Mr. Kanade and further argued that the order was passed by the District Magistrate sometime before June 30, 1964 and the Petitioners came to know of the order in 1964 and hence the appeal presented by them in the Court of Session on 11-10-1966 was hopelessly time-barred. Mr. Bhatia further submits that the affidavit filed by the Petitioner No. 2 in the Court of Session does not disclose sufficient material on the basis of which the Court could excuse the delay in filing the appeal and he is entitled to raise the point of limitation, as that was not considered by the Second Additional Sessions Judge after his client received notice of the appeal. I do not wish to deal with the contention regarding limitation at this stage because it is open to the Respondent No. 2 to raise the point of limitation before the Court of Session. The order against which this revision application is filed is the order returning the appeal filed by the Petitioner for presentation to the proper Court The merits of the appeal are not at all considered by the Sessions Judge.
11. Hence the only point which I shall deal with for the purpose of the disposal of this revision application is the point of jurisdiction decided by the Second Additional Sessions Judge. There can be no doubt that against any order passed under Section 476 of the Criminal P. C. directing a prosecution, the person prosecuted can file an appeal, after the filing of the complaint under Section 476-B which runs as follows:
Any person on whose application any Civil, Revenue or Criminal Court, has refused to make a complaint under Section 476 or Section 476-A, or against whom such a complaint has been made, may appeal to the Court to which such former Court is subordinate, within the meaning of Section 195, Sub-section (3), and the Superior Court may thereupon, after notice to the parties concerned, direct the withdrawal of the complaint or, as the case may be, itself make the complaint which the subordinate Court might have made under Section 476, and if it makes such complaint the provisions of that section shall apply accordingly.
12. The definition of the Court to which an appeal can be preferred, as incorporated in Section 476 of the Criminal P. C. is to be found in Section 195, Sub-section (3), which runs as follows:
(3) For the purposes of this section, a Court shall be deemed to be subordinate to the Court to which appeals ordinarily lie from the appealable decrees or sentences of such former Court, or in the case of a Civil Court from whose decrees no appeal ordinarily lies to the principal Court having ordinary civil jurisdiction within the local limits of whose jurisdiction such Civil Court is situate:..
In view of these provisions, therefore, the first question that arises is as to whether the District Magistrate is a criminal Court within the meaning of Section 476-B of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The District Magistrate is one of the Executive Magistrates mentioned under Section 6-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Section 17-B of the Code lays down:
17B. Courts of Session and Courts of Magistrates (including Courts of Presidency Magistrates) shall be Criminal Courts inferior to the High Court and Courts of Magistrates outside Greater Bombay shall be Criminal Courts inferior to the Court of Session.
13. The next question that has to be considered is as to whether the Court of Session is a Court to which appeals ordinarily lie from an order of the District Magistrate for the purpose of Section 476-B and Section 195, Sub-section (3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
14. Mr. Gursahani submitted that under Section 476-B of the Code in respect of any proceedings in any Criminal Court, the petitioner against whom a complaint is filed under Section 476 of the Code is entitled to appeal to the Court to which the District Magistrate is subordinate within the meaning of Section 195 Sub-section (3) of the Code. Subordination denned in Section 195(3) is not a general subordination or an administrative subordination. Section 195, Sub-sec, (3) of the Code, gives a special meaning to the word and that meaning is that if appeals ordinarily lie against any order passed by the District Magistrate to the Court of Session, the District Magistrate would be subordinate to the Court of Session.
15. Mr. Gursahani relied on the provisions of Sections 406, 406-AA and 406-A of the Criminal Procedure Code and contends that since those sections provide for appeals from the orders under Secs. 118, 436(2) and 122 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, it must be held that the District Magistrate is a subordinate Criminals Court for the purpose of Sections 195(3) and 476-B of the Code. He submits that the word 'sentence' occurring in Section 195(3) of the Code does not necessarily imply 'sentence of punishment after conviction'. But it means any order passed by a Criminal Court. He relies on the meaning of the said word as given in Wharton's Law Lexicon, where 'sentence of a Court' is given the meaning as 'definite judgment pronounced in Criminal Proceedings', Mr. Gursahani contends that the orders referred to in Sections 406, 406-AA and 406-A of the Code, being all orders or definite judgments pronounced in Criminal Proceedings, they are sentences as explained by Wharton's Law Lexicon. He also relied on the meaning of the word 'sentence' given in Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English, 1964 Edition, where the meaning given to the word 'sentence' is 'verdict' although there is a gloss that this meaning is rare and its usual meaning is: 'declaration of punishment awarded to person condemned in a criminal trial'. He argued that it is also possible that in view of the accepted meaning in Law Lexicon of the word 'sentence' to mean a Judgment of the Criminal Court, legislature, after introducing the scheme of separation of judiciary and executive, did not think it necessary to amend the provisions of Section 195(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
16. Mr. Gursahani has also relied on a decision in Bharat Pati v. Brindaban Panda, 1LR (1964) Cut 515, which fully supports his argument. In that case there was a proceeding under Section 145 of the Criminal Procedure Code and as it was considered necessary by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, before whom the said proceedings were heard, to prosecute one of the parties, an order was passed by him under Section 476 of the Criminal Procedure Code. An appeal was filed to the Sessions Court against the said order and the Sessions Judge came to the conclusion that no appeal lay under Section 476-B of the Criminal Procedure Code against the order of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate under Section 476 of the Code. Narasimham, C. J. held:
Here the learned Sessions Judge has committed a serious error. The scheme of separation of judiciary from the executive does not in any way affect the judicial powers of the Sessions Judge under the Code of Criminal Procedure which have been kept intact. His Court is superior to that of all Magistrates whether executive or judicial both for the purpose of exercising revisional jurisdiction and also for the exercise of appellate powers where appeals have been provided against orders of Magistrates. It is true that trial of cases has been transferred to the Judicial Magistrates and the Sessions Judge is their appellate authority subject to the provisions of Chapter XXXI of the Code of Criminal Procedure,. It is also true that under the allocation of functions between the Executive and the Judiciary the jurisdiction of the Executive Magistrates is limited to those provisions of the Code dealing with prevention of offences mentioned in Chapters VIII, IX, X, XI and XII of the Code . The learned Sessions Judge, however, is not right in saying that no appeal is provided against the orders passed by Executive Magistrates, while exercising powers under those Chapters. An order passed by an Executive Magistrate in a proceeding under Sections 107, 109 or 110, Criminal P. C, is appealable to the Court of Session under Section 406 and Section 406-A, Criminal P. C. Hence, by virtue of Sub-section (3) of Section 195. Criminal P. C, even Executive Magistrates are deemed to be subordinate to the Court of Session. An appeal will, therefore, lie under Section 476-B, Criminal P. C. to the Court of Session, against an order passed by an Executive Magistrate under Section 476, Criminal P. C.
17. With respect I entirely agree with the view taken by Narsimham, C. J. as, in my judgment, that view appears to be the proper view on a reasonable construction of Section 195(3) and, I, therefore, uphold the contention of Mr. Gursahani that the Petitioner had a right of appeal against the order of the District Magistrate to the Court of Session.
18. The learned Sessions Judge, Thana relied on a decision of this Court in Ramchandra Nagoji Kadam v. Dhondiram Nagoji Kadam : AIR1967Bom41 which has been overruled by the Division Bench of this Court consisting of Mr. Justice Patel and Mr. Justice Paranjape on October 21, 1966 in Criminal Revn. Appln. No. 955 of 1966 (Reported in (1968) 70 Bom LR 588). The case on which the learned Sessions Judge relied and which was overruled, related to the question as to whether the revisional powers could be exercised in regard to the decisions by the Executive Magistrates, and it has been held that if the Magistrate was acting as a Criminal Court, the order would be subject to revisional jurisdiction under Section 435 of the Criminal P. C. It is not necessary to discuss the cases, further, because in the present case the specific provisions of as. 476-B and 195 (3) of the Cr. P. C. which conferred a right of appeal on the persons aggrieved by an order under Section 476 of the Code required to be construed and as stated by me above, on a proper construction of these provisions, it is clear that the petitioners had a right of appeal to the Court of Session against the order of the District Magistrate.
19. In the result the order passed by the Second Additional Sessions Judge, Thana, directing the return of the appeal for presentation to the proper Court is set aside and the appeal memo which is filed by Mr, Gursahani today in this Court is directed to be forwarded to the Sessions Judge, Thana; and he shall dispose of the appeal on merits (including the point of limitation raised by Mr. Bhatia) in accordance with law. As there has been a considerable delay in the disposal of these proceedings following the order of the District Magistrate under Section 476, Criminal Procedure Code passed prior to 30th June 1954, the Sessions Judge should expedite the hearing of the appeal. Rule absolute.