1. The above criminal application under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India is directed against the judgment, dated April 16, 1975, passed by the Special Judge, Greater Bombay, in case No. 6 of 1974, in which the petitioner is prosecuted for an offence under Section 5(1)(e) read with Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, on the allegation that while the petitioner was functioning as Income-tax Officer in the office of the Commissioner of Income-tax at Bombay and Nagpur, during the period between February 1, 1958 and November 27, 1971, he was found to be in possession of pecuniary resources or properties both in his name and in the name of his dependent wife and his dependent children, like bank balances, fixed deposits, National Savings Certificates, National Defence Certificates, plots of land, costly household articles, jewellery and motor car, worth Rs. 4,00,687.32, while his known income was Rs. 2,89,986 and his known expenditure was Rs. 1,53,181, and the probable savings amounted to only Rs. 1,36,805 as on February 1, 1958.
2. It is surprising that notwithstanding the absence of any provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, for entertaining a preliminary objection to the sanction for prosecution, the learned Special Judge allowed a preliminary objection to be raised in this case and wrote a lengthy interlocutory judgment ignoring the provisions of Section 309 of the new Criminal Procedure Code. Under Sub-section (1) of that section, in every inquiry or trial, the proceedings shall be held as expeditiously as possible, and in particular, when the examination of witnesses has once begun, the same shall be continued from day to day until all the witnesses in attendance have been examined, unless the Court finds the adjournment of the same beyond the following day to be necessary for reasons to be recorded. Sub-section (2) lays down:
If the Court, after taking cognizance of an offence, or commencement of trial, finds it necessary or advisable to postpone the commencement of, or adjourn, any inquiry or trial, it may, from time to time, for reasons to be recorded, postpone or adjourn the same on such terms as it thinks fit, for such time as it considers reasonable, and may by a warrant remand the accused if in custoday.
In Sub-section (1), the words to be emphasized are 'shall be continued from day to day' and the words 'to be necessary for reasons to be recorded'. In Sub-section (2), the words which should not be forgotten are 'finds it necessary or advisable to postpone'.
3. Under Section 397(2) of the new Code, the powers of revision conferred by Sub-sectoin (1) shall not be exercised in relation to any interlocutory order passed in any appeal, inquiry or trial, or other proceeding. This also, therefore, implies that the trial Court is bound to try the case not piecemeal or in different stages to be called preliminary stage, middle stage and final stage, but in all stages at once, as required by Section 309. The practice of allowing such preliminary objections to be raised, whatever may be the reasons for it, under the old Criminal Procedure Code, requires to be deprecated having regard to the intention of Parliament in enacting Section 397(2) prohibiting exercise-of revisional powers of this Court in interlocutory orders.
4. It was found in numerous cases, and particularly cases like cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, that all sorts of so-called preliminary objections of a technical nature were raised and trials were postponed sometimes: indefinitely, and this often led to miscarriage of justice or softness in the administration of criminal law, which in all civilized countries, is required to be administered swiftly, efficiently and fairly, if it is really to operate as criminal law. The facility which was available under the old Criminal Procedure Code of having a wrong or unjust interlocutory order struck down in revision was so extensively abused that it had become a major factor in delaying disposal of cases not only for months but for years, during which some of the witnesses died or lost interest in the case and sometimes even the prosecution let its keenness and the accused also died and put an end to the criminal prosecution thereby. The Parliament has enacted the exclusion of interlocutory orders from the scope of revision with the hope that the subordinate Courts, after the separation of the judiciary, would be manned by judicial officers who may be expected to act strictly according to law.
5. It is true that under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India, it is open to the parties to move the High Court to quash an illegal or ultra vires prosecution, but the power of the High Court under Articles 226 and 227 cannot be ordinarily invoked for the purpose of quashing a criminal proceeding which is expected to end quickly in accordance with the new Code of Criminal Procedure. The High Court would be slow to interfere with criminal proceeding as one of the objects of criminal law is to bring a criminal prosecution fairly, legally and speedily to an end and if the High Court interferes under Articles 226 and 227 this object of the criminal law would be impeded, if not sometimes completely defeated.
6. In the present case, for instance, the offence, if any, is alleged to have been committed during the period from 1958 to 1971. The sanction was given by the Commissioner of Income-tax, Vidarbha and Marathwada, Nagpur, on January 31, 1974. The offence was registered on November 1, 1971. The charge-sheet was filed on February 24, 1974. At the very commencement of the trial before the special Judge on April 16, 1975, the preliminary objection was taken; and because it was taken, the trial has not really begun at all till now, although if such a preliminary objection was not allowed to be taken and decided, the trial would have ended long back.
7. We are of the view that it was to obviate such delays in the prosecution that Section 397(2) of the new Code was enacted to prohibit parties from approaching this Court in revision. That provision cannot be judicially nullified by interpreting Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution in such a way as to render Section 397(2) nugatory and to frustrate the intention of the Parliament to expedite hearings of criminal trials. We, therefore, think that the trial Courts should strictly follow the provisions of Section 309 of the new Criminal Procedure Code. Instead of encouraging piecemeal trials, they ought to consider different questions, however important they may be, or however substantial and root, questions they may be, at one trial, and deliver one judgment dealing with all the points in the case at the end of the trial. We also think that having regard to the scheme of the new Criminal Procedure Code, it is not proper for this High Court to interfere, in exercise of its powers under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution, with interlocutory findings, judgments and orders like the one which is impugned in this petition.
7. Mr. Chandurkar, the learned Counsel for the petitioner, submitted that the view which we are taking is inconsistent with the judgment of the Division Bench of this Court in Kishorchandra Mishrimal Vardhan v. B.B. Ghumkar (1975) Criminal applications Nos. 118 and 119 of 1975, decided by Chandurkar and Sawant JJ., on July 16, 1975 (Unrep.). We are of the view that there is nothing in that judgment which is relevant to the present case, because that was a judgment given in a case arising out of procedures under Section 145, Criminal Procedure Code, in which an ultra vires order of injunction was passed by the Executive Magistrate ignoring the pendency of a civil litigation and orders passed by the civil Courts. The ratio in that case cannot be extended to the trial of an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
8. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the learned special Judge erred in entertaining the objection to the sanction in the present case as a preliminary objection, though no section of the Criminal Procedure Code warrants such procedure, and the scheme of the new Criminal Procedure Code requires that the whole trial should be over at one stage and the case should not be tried for different issues at different times, merely because some of the issues raise what are usually known or described as root questions of law. We are also of the view that having regard to the provisions of Section 397(2) of the new Code, this petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution cannot be entertained by this Court so as to nullify the provisions of Section 397(2). In our opinion, the petition is liable to be dismissed only on this ground.
9. However, Mr. Chandurkar submitted that there were certain aspects of the matter which went to the root of the case and which rendered the sanction for prosecution granted against the petitioner null and void and even mala fide, and therefore, it was necessary for this Court to quash the proceedings. In support of his argument, he relied on the decision of the Calcutta High Court in Indu Bhusan v. State : AIR1955Cal430 , in which a Division Bench of that Court held with regard to Section 6 of the Prevention of Corruption Act as under:
The provision for sanction is a most salutary safeguard. The sanctioning authority is placed somewhat in the position of a sentinel at the door of criminal Courts in order that no irresponsible or malicious prosecution can pass the portals of the Court of Justice. It is, therefore, essential that persons charged with the responsible duty of granting sanction, which is a duty of deciding whether or not the credit and reputation of another citizen should be put in peril by means of a criminal prosecution, should bring to the discharge of their duty a sense of responsibility and the industry required to examine the relevant materials. The duty of granting a proper sanction can hardly be imagined to have been properly discharged by merely putting one's signature on a ready-made sanction presented by the police.
10. According to the petitioner, the sanction given by Mr. Kalwant Rai, Commissioner of Income-tax, Vidarbha and Marathwada, Nagpur, on January 31, 1974, was so given by him under coercion and under influence of the C.B.I. authorities who were themselves holding inquiries against him, without applying his mind to all the facts and figures, which called for careful consideration, particularly as his predecessor Mr. Karnik had refused to sanction the prosecution and as Mr. Kalwant Rai himself was not voluntarily willing to grant the sanction.
11. The sanction relied upon by the prosecution is as follows:
Dated, Nagpur the 31st January, 1974.
WHEREAS it is alleged that Shri G.G.A. Naidu while functioning as Income-tax Officer, in the office of the Commissioner of Income-tax, Bombay and Nagpur during the period between 1.2.1958 to 27.11.1971, was on 27.11.1971 found to be in possession of pecuniary resources or properties both in his name and in the name of his dependent wife, Smt. G. Sabitha Naidu and his dependent children namely Rajesh, Jyoti and Jayawant, like bank balances, fixed deposits, national savings certificates, national defence certificates, plots of land, costly household articles, jewellery, watches and motor car etc. worth Rs. 4,00,687.32 the details of which are as follows:
Rs. P.1. Bank balance. 28,441.782. Fixed Deposits. 1,46,522.543. National Savings/Defence Certificates. 85,450.004. Unit Trust. 500.005. Plots of land in the name of Mrs. G. Sabitha Naidu (wife). 3,605.006. 4 acres of wet land in the name of Mrs. G.S. Naidu. 28,000.007. Plot of land in the name of self, wife and children. 6,700.008. Jewellery. 52,640.009. Cash at hand. 14,718.0010. Motor Car. 10,500.0011. Furniture, Utensils, Clothing etc. 23,610.00-------------Total 4,00,687.32-------------WHEREAS it is further alleged that taking into consideration the known sources of income of said G.G.A. Naidu, his wife Smt. Sabitha Naidu during the period from 1-2-1958 to 27-11-1971 which comes to Rs. 2,89,986.00, the details of which are as follows:
Rs. P.1. Net income from pay and allowances from 1-2-1958 to 27-11-1971. 60,696.002. Income from Wt. land. 8,000.003. Total interest on Bank Savings and F.D. 4,500.004. Income through Horse races. 1,73,680.005. Gifts received from in-laws. 35,500.006. Gifts from parents. 7,500.007. Refund of Security Deposit of Gas Cylinder. 110.00______________Total 2,89,986.00______________AND taking into consideration the total expenses of Rs. 1,53,181.00 incurred by said Shri G.G.A. Naidu for the said period towards himself and his family, the details of which are as follows:
Rs. P.1. Donations given to Sidhi Vinayak Temple, Bombay, TirupathiDevasthanam and Ganesh Temple, Nagpur. 43,110.002. Expenditure incurred towards payment of Insurance Premium for 7 policies. 27,071.003. Expenditure incurred on horse races. 12,000.004. Expenditure incurred towards the maintenance of the Car. 19,800.005. Expenses incurred towards education of 3 children. 7,000.006. Extra payment made on personal effects at the time of transferfrom Bombay to Nagpur. 2,000.007. Expenditure towards house rent at Nagpur. 1,160.008. Expenditure incurred on day to day charges and self and family i.e. food, vegetables, milk etc. 42,600.009. Expenses incurred towards decoration charges of Ganesh Temple. 440.00_____________Total 1,53,181.00_____________AND also taking into consideration the aforesaid assets of said Shri G.G. A. Naidu the pecuniary resource of properties possessed by him are found to be disproportionate to the aforesaid known sources of his income to the extent of Rs. 2,63,882.32, for which he cannot satisfactorily account as against his likely savings of Rs. 1,36,805.00, which are arrived at as per following calculations:
Rs. P.1. Total income 2,89,986.002. Total estimated expenditure. 1,53,181.00______________Likely savings. 1,36,805.00______________WHEREAS the aforesaid possession of pecuniary resources or properties by the said Shri G.G.A. Naidu being found to be disproportionate to the known source of his income as aforesaid, for which he cannot satisfactorily account amounts to an offence under Section 5(2) read with Section 5(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (Act-II) of 1947.
AND WHEREAS I Kalwant Rai, Commissioner of Income-tax, Vidarbha and Maharashtra, Nagpur, being the authority competent to remove the said Shri G.G.A. Naidu from Office, after fully and carefully examining the material before me in regard to the said allegations and circumstances of the case, consider that the said Shri G.G.A. Naidu should be prosecuted in a Court of law for the aforesaid offence.
NOW THEREFORE, I do hereby accord sanction under Section 6(1)(c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 (Act-II of 1947) for the prosecution pf the said Shri G.G.A. Naidu for the said offences and any other offences punishable under other provisions of law in respect of the act aforesaid and for taking cognizance of the said offences by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Commissioner of Income-tax,
Vidarbha and Marathwada, Nagpur.
Rubber stamp (Seal)
Office of the Commissioner
of Income-tax, Nagpur,
Vidarbha & Marathwada.
12. The leading case on the point about the burden of proof with regard to sanction is the case of Gokulchand Dwarkadas Morarka v. The King (1948) L.R. 75 IA 30., which has been approved by the Supreme Court in Madam Mohan v. State of Uttar Pradesh : AIR1954SC637 and the decision in State of Rajasthan v. Tarachand : 1973CriLJ1396 . There can be no dispute that it is for the prosecution to establish that the sanction is valid in accordance with the principles laid down in the said decisions. There can be also no dispute that if the prosecution establishes that the sanction is valid on the face of it, it is open to the accused to establish either by challenging the evidence led by the prosecution or by leading his own evidence that the sanction suffered from infirmities which rendered it invalid. It is unnecessary to discuss these cases because it appears to be well-settled by now that if there is infirmity in the sanction, the prosecution must fail. While it is true that provision for sanction before prosecution of a public servant should not be an umbrella for protection of corrupt officers but a shield against reckless or malevolent harassment of officials whose upright discharge of duties may provoke unpleasantness and hostility, that is an area of law reform covered by the 47th Report of the Law Commission of India. See Raghubir Singh v. State of Haryana : 1974CriLJ1062 .
13. Looking at the sanction, exh. J, which is quoted above, it cannot be said that there is anything on the record of this case so far, which renders it prima facie invalid. The prosecution has not led any evidence so far. The charge-sheet filed in the case gives in the list of witnesses to be examined the name of Mr. Kalwant Kai, the person who gave the sanction. In these circumstances, when no evidence is so far led on the question of the validity of the sanction, it is not open to the accused to contend that the sanction was invalid either because the Commissioner who gave the sanction was not the authority entitled to remove him within the meaning of Section 6(7)(c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, or because he gave the sanction under pressurization of the Chief Vigilance Officer in Income-tax as alleged by the petitioner and that Mr. Kalwant Rai did not voluntarily give the sanction because he was at the moment under cloud and that position was used for extorting the sanction from him.
14. It is open to the accused to cross-examine Kalwant Rai when he is in the box with regard to these points or to lead such other and further evidence as law permits the accused to lead at the trial. At the present stage of the trial, it is not open to the Court to speculate with regard to the state of mind of Mr. Kalwant Rai or even to assume that he would be examined by the Government in support of the sanction.
15. The sanction to prosecute is undoubtedly an important matter. It constitutes a condition precedent to the institution of the prosecution. The authority competent to give the sanction has an absolute discretion to grant or withhold the sanction. It is open to the authority to refuse the sanction on any ground which commends itself to it, for example, on political or administrative or economic grounds or on a ground that the prosecution was inexpedient. It is plain that the sanctioning authority cannot discharge the obligation of deciding whether to give or to withhold a sanction without a knowledge of the facts of the case. A sanction given without reference to the facts constituting the offence cannot be said to be one in compliance with the actual terms of Section 6 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
16. A public servant who is charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act must be charged with the commission of certain acts which constitutes an offence under the Act. It is to that prosecution, that is, for having done acts which constitute an offence under that Act, that the sanction is required. The burden of proving that the requisite sanction had been obtained rests on the prosecution. Such burden involves proof that the sanctioning authority had given the sanction in reference to the facts on which the proposed prosecution was to be based. Facts might appear on the face of the sanction or might be proved by extraneous evidence. All these facts must be before the sanctioning authority.
17. This Court cannot at this stage record any finding on these aspects in the absence of any evidence led by the prosecution and before even the commencement of the trial. For the same reason, it is not open to the petitioner to contend before this Court at this stage, that the sanction given by Mr. Kalwant Rai was mala fide or was obtained mala fide by the prosecution or that it was given without looking at the facts fairly or without application of the mind.
18. Similarly, the argument of Mr. Chandurkar that the sanction was invalid because the petitioner who was admittedly a Class II Income-tax Officer could be removed only by the Central Board of Direct Taxes, cannot be decided at this stage, because the prosecution did not have any opportunity to point out how the petitioner was removable by the Commissioner of Income-tax. It is true that arguments were addressed in the trial Court and the learned Judge has even referred to the Income-Tax Act, 1922, for the purpose of rejecting the preliminary objection raised on behalf of the accused. The Income-Tax Act. 1961, came into force on April 1, 1962. Under Section 297, all appointments and notifications under the old Act shall, so far as they are not inconsistent with the corresponding provisions of the new Act. be deemed to have been made under the new Act. If there are any difficulties, they could also be removed by the Central Government in exercise of its powers under Section 298. Section 117 is the section which prima facie applies to this case. Under Sub-section (2) of that section, the Commissioner may, subject to the rules and orders of the Central Government regulating the conditions of services of persons in public services and posts, appoint as many Income-tax Officers of Class II Service and as many Inspectors of Income-tax as may be sanctioned by the Central Government.
19. Neither Mr. Chandurkar for the petitioner nor Mr. Hudlikar for the State are in a position to point our attention to the rules under which the petitioner is liable to be removed. The only reference made by Mr. Chandurkar is to the rules, exh. II. which is an extract from p. 864 of the Law and Practice of Income-tax, 6th edn., vol. II, 1969 by Kanga and Palkhivala. It deals with some rules of the Income-tax (Appellate Tribunal) Rules, 1963. Prima facie it is not relevant at this stage. It is for the prosecution to lead proper evidence to show at the trial that the sanction required by Section 6 has been secured by the prosecution. At present, there is nothing before the Court to decide the question.
20. In the result, we dismiss the petition. Rule discharged. No order as to costs. Interim stay vacated. Record and proceedings, if any, shall be sent down immediately. The learned trial Judge shall proceed to hear this matter which has been pending since 1971 when the F.I.R. was registered, in accordance with law as early as possible and in the light of the observations made hereinabove. Nothing that we have observed in our judgment shall prejudice either the prosecution or the accused in raisins: any contention which is open to them at the trial in accordance with law, nor prevent them from leading such evidence in support of their contentions as may be permissible to them in accordance with law. Nothing herein said shall affect in any manner the merits of the case.