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E.M. Barnett Vs. L.N. Thakkar and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1956CriLJ755
AppellantE.M. Barnett
RespondentL.N. Thakkar and anr.
Excerpt:
- - this is mentioned in the order as well. i can do no better than quote the observations of grille j. he would have been perfectly justified in declining to give any opinion at all. the magistrate apparently has not sufficient strength of mind to act on his own conviction and is afraid that the police might think mm a weak magistrate. 5 i am satisfied that in this case the nagar nyaya panchayat acted solely on whatever the district superintendent of police conveyed to it through the district police prosecutor. he had made amends to the complainant and the complainant had been fully satisfied......an application on 13-2-1954 seeking the permission of the court to compound the offence. the nagar nyaya panchayat, second class, khandwa, before which the case was pending, ordered that a memo be sent to the district superintendent of police, nimar, asking him whether he had any objection to the offence being compounded.after adjourning the case to suit the convenience of the district superintendent of po lice, the final order was made on 18-3-1954. on that date the district police prosecutor appeared and said that the district superintendent of police had objection to the compounding of the case. the court then ordered that since the district superintendent of police objected to the compounding of the case and since the offence was committed in a public place permission to compound was.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Hidayatullah, C.J.

1. This is an application by one E. M. Barnett, Guard on the Western Railway, for revision of the order passed by Shri R. D. Gour, District Magistrate, Nimar, refusing to refer the case to the High Court for quashing the order of the Magistrate who declined to permit the compounding of this case between the aforesaid Barnett and one L. N, Thakkar, another guard.

2. It appears that the two guards quarrelled among themselves and Barnett hit Thakkar a blow on the face, which caused one of his teeth to fall out. The complainant and the ac cased after the case had gone on for some time put in an application on 13-2-1954 seeking the permission of the Court to compound the offence. The Nagar Nyaya Panchayat, Second Class, Khandwa, before which the case was pending, ordered that a memo be sent to the District Superintendent of Police, Nimar, asking him whether he had any objection to the offence being compounded.

After adjourning the case to suit the convenience of the District Superintendent of Po lice, the final order was made on 18-3-1954. On that date the District Police Prosecutor appeared and said that the District Superintendent of Police had objection to the compounding of the case. The Court then ordered that since the District Superintendent of Police objected to the compounding of the case and since the offence was committed in a public place permission to compound was refused. Against this order a revision was filed before Shri R. D. Gour, District Magistrate, who declined to refer the case to the High Court, as stated above.

3. Before the learned District Magistrate a ruling of this Court reported in - 'Pratap Singh v. Emperor' AIR 1937 Nag 114 (A) was cited. This is mentioned in the order as well. The learned District Magistrate observed that this ruling did not help the applicant in any way. He was of opinion that all that the Nagar Nyaya Panchayat did was to hear the District Police Prosecutor and to disallow the request for compounding of the ease for reasons which it had given itself.

He considered that the mere mention of the name of the District Superintendent of Police by the lower Court had not in any way prejudiced the case of the applicant as the Court reached a decision on its own after hearing the applicant fully.

4. In my opinion, the learned District Magistrate did not study the case carefully. If he had, he would have noticed that Grille J. '(as he then was) had strongly commented upon the action of Courts in consulting police authorities with respect to matters before them. To begin with, the action of the Nagar Nyaya Panchayat. Court in seeking the opinion of the District Superintendent of Police was highly improper. It is obvious that the Nagar Nyaya Panchayat waited for that opinion and modulated its own orders in the light of the opinion when received.

It merely added a reason, which probably-emanated from the District Superintendent of Police, though the record is not quite clear. In my opinion, the Nagar Nyaya Panchayat Court entirely abdicated itself in favour of the District Superintendent of Police, and such conduct cannot be allowed to continue. I can do no better than quote the observations of Grille J. (as he then was) in the case cited by me above. This is what the learned Judge observes at p. 115 of the ruling:

The action of the Magistrate in this case has been most improper. Under Section 345 (2), Cr. P.C. an offence punishable under Section 325, I.P.C. may only be compounded with the permission of the Court before which any prosecution for such offence is pending, that is to say, the Court which is in possession of the case. No reference is permitted by any subordinate Magistrate to a superior Court on the question whether an offence should be compounded or not; it is the Court itself which has to determine the question; 'a fortiori' the Court Is not permitted to refer the question to any outside agency.

In this case the Magistrate has entirely surrendered his own judgment and discretion as a Magistrate to the opinion of the police. The opinion of the police in a matter which the Magistrate is by law bound to dispose of in his judicial capacity is entirely irrelevant, and this the police officers themselves have recognized. The Dist. Superintendent of Police out of courtesy replied to the question that was put to him, but Bale-guarded himself by giving his personal opinion only; he would have been perfectly justified in declining to give any opinion at all.

The Magistrate's action is particularly reprehensible in that it is bound to give rise to the impression that Magistrates are influenced in their decisions by the opinion of the police, as indeed Mr. Chauhan has been in this particular case. It is clear from the terms of his reference to the District Superintendent of Police that if the police had raised no objection fee would have allowed the composition.

The Magistrate apparently has not sufficient strength of mind to act on his own conviction and is afraid that the police might think Mm a weak Magistrate. This is the first case of this kind that has been brought to my notice, and I trust that it will be the last. It is essential for the administration of justice and for the self-respect of the magistracy as a body that Magistrates should avoid any suspicion of being influenced in their decisions by the opinion of the police who investigate the cases which are brought before them.

5 I am satisfied that in this case the Nagar Nyaya Panchayat acted solely on whatever the District Superintendent of Police conveyed to it through the District Police Prosecutor. It toad no opinion of its own in the matter, and it merely added a reason, which, as I have said before, probably emanated from the District Superintendent of Police and was reached to the Court through the District Police Prosecutor.

I am surprised that the District Magistrate with the ruling before him did not see through 'the whole thing and regarded this as an exercise of proper discretion by the Court. If he has at all applied himself to the facts of the case it would have been clear to him that there was no exercise of discretion by the Nagar Nyaya Panchayat at all, which surrendered its decision to the opinion of the District Superintendent of Police. If there be any need to add to the warning which has been issued by Grille J. (as he then was), I add to it my own.

It is absolutely necessary In the administration of justice that Courts should keep the investigating authorities at arms length in reaching their decision on matters on which they alone are called upon to decide. I hope, as did Grille J. (as he then was) in the earlier ease, that no such incident will ever be brought to the notice of this Court in future,

6 I do not think that the case merits such attention as has been bestowed on it. It was a private quarrel between two railway guards and one hit the other, with the result that a tooth was knocked out. The case was important between them, but when they had compounded the case, no doubt, the Court still had discretion to refuse permission to compound. Normally, it should not have refused permission, regard being had to the serious consequences which would ensue to the accused.

He had made amends to the complainant and the complainant had been fully satisfied. It was just a chance quarrel in which a hasty and ill-advised blow was struck, which was not a| planned offence in the sense in which offences; are planned by other criminals. In my opinion, permission should not have been refused in this: case.

7. Following the precedent of Grille J. (as he then was) in the earlier case I order that the composition of the offence be allowed. allowed.


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