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State of Maharashtra Vs. Anderson Finn Kay Ove - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1978CriLJ1666
AppellantState of Maharashtra
RespondentAnderson Finn Kay Ove
Excerpt:
.....the view that the best way to check the spread of these illegal operations is to impose deterrent fines whenever these offences are discovered and proved. 1644 of cri lj): a question of sentence is a matter of discretion and it is well settled that when discretion has been properly exercised along accepted judicial lines, an appellate court should not interfere to the detriment of an accused person except for very strong reasons which must be disclosed on the face of the judgment. 14. these observations therefore, speak of the discretion exercised by the trial court and very strong reasons being necessary to interfere with such exercise of discretion. the question ot sentence, it is well settled, is always a matter of judicial discretion of the trial court within the statutory limits...........fine or both; looking to the circumstances of the case, he has persuaded himself to impose a heavy fine and to sentence the accused to substantive punishment of one week only. he must be taken as aware that by reason of section 428 cr. p.c. the accused would not be required to go to jail after pronouncement of the judgment. but the main question for discussion is, what normally should be the approach in punishing crimes falling under sub-clause (ii). we can conceive of cases where fine alone would meet the ends of justice and also cases where substantive imprisonment with fine would be adequate punishment,17. a look at the decision reported in bhalchandra waman pethe v. state of maharashtra (1969) 71 bom lr 634, 636 would show that the high court would not be justified in interfering.....
Judgment:

Dighe, J.

1. These proceedings relate to the prayer of enhancement of sentence passed by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Bombay, on 27-2-1978, against the 1st respondent Andorsen Finna Kay Ove.

2. According to the case for the prosecution, during night between 31-12-1977 and 1-1-1978, the respondent-accused accompanied by another person reported at Santa Cruz Airport for * flight which was to leave Bombay for Copenhagen via London, When the accused produced his baggage consisting of two suit-cases, on examination, it was found that the suit-cases had concealed packets in which 7 kgs. of Has his valued approximately at Rs. 9,000/-, was found. Necessary formalities of making the panchanama etc., were done and the accused was charge-sheeted. Sanction from the Additional Collector of Customs, Bombay, was obtained. At the trial the accused pleaded guilty, That plea was accepted, The learned Magistrate observed that the accused was a foreign national of Danish origin. There was a growing tendency amongst the foreigners to use drugs such as Hflshia, Charas, Opium etc., and as such they make an attempt to smuggle such drugs. The accused was merely a carrier, as stated by him and considering these circumstances, the learned Magistrate felt that ends of justice would be met by sentencing the accused to surfer one week's R.I. and to pay a fine of Rs. 5,000/- i. d. three months R.I.

3. It seems as an under-trial prisoner, the accused was in jail and therefore, by reason of Section 428 of the Cr. P.C. the substantive sentence of one week's R.I. was already suffered by him.

4. Initially, the revision petition was filed by the Assistant Collector of Customs Department for enhancement of sentence. It was said that the quantity of Has his found is large enough to warrant imposition of a substantial sentence of imprisonment. A week's imprisonment was not enough as that was set off against the period of custody before trial. It was said that the sentence of six months at least should have been imposed upon him to deter him and others from committing such offence.

5. As the State of Maharashtra was a party to the revision petition, notice was served and the State has come in appeal, supporting the stand taken by the Customs Department. In the appeal Memo it is said that smuggling is an anti-social offence and it ultimately affects the economy of the nation. The offence committed by the respondent was also under Section 38 of the Dangerous Drugs Act and hence he should have been strictly dealt with.

6. Maintainability of this appeal by the State, was a question for discussion. Here at the instance of the revision petitioner it was sought to be justified that learned advocate presenting revision petition could be viewed as a Public Prosecutor, directed by the Central Government under Section 377 of the Criminal Procedure Code, to file proceedings for enhancement of sentence. Section 377 deals with appeal by the State Government against sentence. Sub-section (2) of that section however, makes an exception that whenever investigation has been carried out by the Delhi Special Police Establishment or by any other agency empowered to make investigation into an offence under any Central Act other than this Code, the Central Government may direct the Public Prosecutor to present an appeal. Such an appeal has not been filed before this Court. We have the appeal at the instance of the State Government falling under Sub-section (1) of Section 377 and hence the point for determination is whether this is a valid appeal. The decision on the point depends upon the finding whether any other agency was empowered to make investigation under the Customs Act 1962. This point has recently been looked into by the Division Bench consisting of Deshmukh and Aggarwal JJ., when they decided Criminal Appeal No. 898 of 1974, on 31st Aug. 1977 : repelling the contention that under the Customs Act, 1962, an agency is created which is empowered to make investigation into an offence under the Customs Act 1962, which is a central statute, It is said that,

The proper view of the provisions will be that the Customs Act has been enacted primarily for the enforcement of the provisions of the Customs Act and to prevent the evasion of duty in the matter of imports and exports. The scheme of the Act is to enforce the provisions of the Customs Act and to prevent the evasion of the Customs duty. The Machinery created under this Act is not one for the purpose of investigation into crimes. It is only the side effect resulting from the Customs Act that certain offences are detected. Certain imports or exports without licence are also detected. Since they also constitute offences on the basis of the material collected, a prosecution can be launched as provided in Chap. XVI. The machinery is however, not created for the purpose of investigation of crime under any Central Act It cannot be said that that is a separate machinery for the purpose of investigation of crimes by-passing the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code. There is therefore no warrant in thinking that the investigation of the Customs crime falls under Sub-section (2) of Section 377 Cr. P.C. so as to render the State Government incompetent to instruct the Public Prosecutor to file an appeal.

In arriving at this finding, the decision of the Supreme Court in Eknath Shankarrao Mukkawar v. State of Maharashtra : 1977CriLJ964 has been relied upon. According to the principle laid down in that judgment mere carrying out some investigation by persons empowered under the Act cannot be equated with the creation of an agency empowered to make investigation into the offence under any Central Act.

7. In view of the finding of the Division Bench, in relation to the Customs Act, the appeal by the State must be held as competent

8. The main question for consideration however, would be whether the sentence of one week's R.I. and a fine of Rs. 5,000/-, imposed on the respondent Anderson Finn Kay Ove, under Section 135 (1) (a) read with Section 135 (1) (ii) of the Customs Act, 1962 and read with Section 38 of the Dangerous Drugs Act, should be enhanced.

9. Both Mr. Barday for the State Government and Mr. Vora, who was allowed to assist this Court as a counsel for the Customs Department, contended that the sentence was inadequate, Mr. Barday argued that smuggling was an anti-social offence. It affected the whole economy of the nation and if persons like the present respondent, who professed to be carrier, are allowed to let go with the sentence of mere fine, far from such activities getting discouraged, persons employing them as carriers, would be encouraged to repeat such offences and hence deterrent punishment was called for. Apart from the economic nature of the offence, Mr. Vora at the latter stage of his argument emphasised that the offence committed by the respondent was one of smuggling in Narcotics. It had sinister implications and an overall view should be taken to pronounce the punishment already given as lenient or inadequate,

10. Mr. Merchant for the respondent, however, argued that no interference with the discretion used by the trying Magistrate, is necessary. He urges that smuggling of goods necessarily involves an element of concealment and hence the fact that Has his was concealed in a false compartment should not weigh with the Court for enhancement. It was also argued by him that when prosecution proceeded under the Customs Act, 1962, by taking the required sanction, bare fact that what was being carried was Narcotics would not give an additional complexion to justify the enhancement of sentence. He dwelt on the concept of punishment to be given to a criminal and he also invited my attention to Section 135 of the Customs Act, which has an in-built mechanism for considering the offences as grave or otherwise. Section 135 of the Customs Act, 1962 dealt with evasion of duty or prohibition. Clause (a) of Sub-section (1) of that section refers to fraudulent evasion of duty, chargeable on goods. Sub-clause (b) speaks of acquiring possession of goods known to be liable to confiscation. The present offence has been proved under Section 135 (1) (a), The punishment provided for such offences is of two types, cll. (i) of Sub-section (1) deals with that type of cases where the punishment provided for may extend to 1 years and fine; There is also a proviso to it, laying down that except for special and adequate reason, such imprisonment shall not be less than six months. Clause (ii) refers to cases other than those provided by Clause (i) where the punishment may extend to 3 years or with fine or with both. Now Clause (i) of Sub-section (1) of Section 135 relates to offences where Section 123 applies and where the market price of the goods exceeds one lac of rupees. Section 123 of the Customs Act, 1962, is in respect of burden of proof in certain cases. So far as the articles enumerated wherein, such as gold, diamond, watches and such other articles which are covered by Notification in a gazette, the burden of proving the articles found in possession as not smuggled goods, lies upon the accused. Where such articles are the articles regarding which the offence under Section 135 of the Customs Act, is committed and where the market price exceeds rupees one lac, it is looked upon as a graver offence. It may be observed that the gravity or the special treatment for punishment does not depend only upon the character of the duty payable article or only upon its value but when the articles are both of the nature referred to in Section 123 and when their value exceeds rupees one lac. Consequently even when there are articles covered by Section 123, if the value is less than one lac of rupees, the offence would fall under Clause (ii) of Sub-section (1) of Section 135.

11. The offence with which we are concerned, falls under Clause (ii) of Sub-section (1) of Section 135. The value of the property involved is roughly about Rs. 9,000/-. Mr. Merchant is interested in pointing out that by way of personal penalty at the time of adjudication, the present respondent has paid Rs. 15,000/- to the Customs Department. It is therefore, said, that the present respondent has been adequately punished and in any case there is no ground made out for interfering with the discretion exercised by the trying Magistrate, According to Mr. Merchant, it is only when the punishment meted out is manifestly inadequate and it is likely to result into failure of justice that the High Court could interfere with the discretion for enhancing the punishment otherwise simply because it feels that some higher punishment may have been given there is no good reason to set aside or substitute the order passed by the trying Magistrate.

12. In this connection, Mr. Merchant invites the attention of this Court to the observations in Para 33 (of AIR) : (Para 33 of Cri LJ) of the judgment in the case of Indo-China Steam Navigation Co. Ltd., v. Jasjit Singh : 1964CriLJ234 . Vessel 'Easter Saga' had come into Indian waters and on rummaging operations, it was found to carry contraband goods valued in lacs of rupees. The Supreme Court referring to the considerations for meeting out penalty referred to the concept of modern criminology in not encouraging the imposition of a severe sentence against criminals because deterrent or punitive aspect of punishment is no longer a valid consideration in the administration of criminal law. It is said, normally, criminal law deals with persons committing offences under pressure of provoked and unbalanced emotions, or as a result of adverse environments and circumstances. But it will not be appropriate that the same approach should be adopted in dealing with an offence committed by a vessel contravening Section 52. The observations at p. 1158 (of AIR) : (at p. 248 of Cri LJ) that follow, are as under:

Illegal importation of gold has assumed the proportions of a major problem faced by the country, and the manifold, clever and ingenious devices adopted in carrying out these illegal operations tend to show that the organisation which is responsible for them is inspired merely by cupidity because it conducts its operations solely for the purpose of making profit, and so, it would be open to the Customs authorities to take the view that the best way to check the spread of these illegal operations is to impose deterrent fines whenever these offences are discovered and proved. Having regard to this aspect of the matter, if the Customs Authorities took the view that the fine of Rs. 25 lakhs was called for in the present case, we see no reason whatever to entertain the plea made by Mr. Choudhary that the said fine should be reduced.

13. These observations therefore, show that considerations of heavy fine could be introduced while dealing with such offences. Mr. Merchant also relies upon the decision in Shiv Govind v. State of Madhya Pradesh : 1972CriLJ1181 . That was a case where the High Court had enhanced the punishment under Section 366 of the Indian Penal Code but the Supreme Court restored the punishment given by the trial Court, remarking that the High Court had over-looked the principles laid down by the Supreme Court governing the exercise of the powers of the High Court to enhance the sentence imposed by the trial Court. Observations from the decision in Bed Raj v. State of Uttar Pradesh : 1955CriLJ1642 to the following effect are reiterated (at p. 1644 of Cri LJ):

A question of sentence is a matter of discretion and it is well settled that when discretion has been properly exercised along accepted judicial lines, an appellate Court should not interfere to the detriment of an accused person except for very strong reasons which must be disclosed on the face of the judgment.

14. These observations therefore, speak of the discretion exercised by the trial Court and very strong reasons being necessary to interfere with such exercise of discretion.

15. We can also usefully refer to the citation in Ram Narain v. State of U.P. : 1971CriLJ649 . That was a case where for murder a sentence of life imprisonment was given. It was changed into one of death by the High Court and that enhancement was reversed by the Supreme Court. The relevant observations, in Para 5, p. 758 (of AIR) : (at p. 650 of Cri LJ) of the judgment are as under:

We are asked by Shri Chari learned Counsel for the appellants, to set aside the sentence of death and restore that of life imprisonment imposed by the trial Court. The question ot sentence, it is well settled, is always a matter of judicial discretion of the trial Court within the statutory limits. In the case of murder the discretion is limited to two alternatives for the sentence can be either one of death or of imprisonment for life. The proper exercise of discretion in this respect is generally a matter of some difficulty. This discretion has, however, like all discretions, to be exercised on a proper consideration of all the relevant facts and circumstances keeping in view the broad objective of sentence being neither too severe nor too lenient. If the reasons for awarding the lesser penalty by the trial Court in case of murder are such on which a judicial mind may appropriately do so then the appellate Court is not expected to enhance the sentence and impose the extreme penalty of death. Merely because the appellate Court feels that left to itself it would have preferred to impose the sentence of death is by itself and without more not a sufficient ground to justify enhancement. It is only when the sentence appears on the facts and circumstances of the case to be so manifestly inadequate as has resulted in failure of justice that enhancement of the sentence may be justified by the appellate Court.

16. In view of these rulings, it will be apparent that unless there are very strong reasons for coming to the conclusion that the punishment meted out is inadequate and that non-interference with it, would result in failure of justice, the discretion exercised by the trying Magistrate, should not be interfered with. Viewing the offence under. Dangerous Drugs Act, and under the Customs Act, punishment meted out is of 7 days R.I. and a fine of Rs. 5.000/-, has been ordered to be paid. In the application of Section 135 of the Customs Act, it is obvious that Sub-clause (i) of Sub-section (1) does not apply, therefore this is not a case where graver type of offence is committed necessitating a compulsory punishment of imprisonment on the plain words of the statutes. It was open to the trying Magistrate to sentence the accused to suffer imprisonment or fine or both; looking to the circumstances of the case, he has persuaded himself to impose a heavy fine and to sentence the accused to substantive punishment of one week only. He must be taken as aware that by reason of Section 428 Cr. P.C. the accused would not be required to go to jail after pronouncement of the judgment. But the main question for discussion is, what normally should be the approach in punishing crimes falling under Sub-clause (ii). We can conceive of cases where fine alone would meet the ends of justice and also cases where substantive imprisonment with fine would be adequate punishment,

17. A look at the decision reported in Bhalchandra Waman Pethe v. State of Maharashtra (1969) 71 Bom LR 634, 636 would show that the High Court would not be justified in interfering with the sentence imposed by the trial Court, unless it is unduly lenient. The observations material for this purpose are as follows : --

The High Court would not be justified in interfering with that discretion unless it is satisfied that the sentence imposed by the trial Court is unduly lenient or in other words grossly inadequate.

18. Mr, Merchant invited my attention to a number of decided cases for contending that the sentence given in the present case, by the learned Magistrate, cannot be looked upon as grossly inadequate and if that is so, he argues that the High Court will not be justified in enhancing the same. Ha relies upon the decision of Naik, J., in Criminal Revision Application No. 530 of 1975 with Criminal Application No. 779 of 1977, decided on Aug. 29, 1977, where contraband wrist watches valued at Rs. 21,540/- were found. Although, the articles come under Section 123 of the Customs Act, by reason of the value of the confiscated goods, the case fell under Sub-clause (ii) of Section 135 (1) of the Customs Act. The trying Magistrate had sentenced the accused to pay a fine of Rs. 5000/- only with a default punishment. The State had come in appeal. The request of the State was rejected with the observations that the Court would not be justified in interfering with the discretion exercised by the learned Magistrate in the matter of sentence as it could not be said to be grossly inadequate.

19. He also relies upon another judgement of this High Court delivered in Criminal Appeal No. 81 of 1976 by Shah and Jahagirdar, JJ., on 9th Feb., 1977, Here also watches were confiscated. Though a contraband article, since the value of the articles was Rs. 1620/- the offence fell under Sub-clause (ii) of Section 135 (1) of the Customs Act. On each of the two counts, punishment meted out was fine of Rs. 350/- only, so that the total fine came to be Rs, 700/-. The High Court refused to enhance the sentence although the State had moved for it, because in the opinion of the learned Judges, the reasons given by the learned Magistrate that, the accused was a young man of 18 years and the contraband recovered was in small quantity would show that any interference with the sentence was not necessary,

20. Mr, Merchant also relies upon two other cases falling under Section 135 (1) (i) decided by the same Division Bench. Criminal Appeal No. 217 of 1976 filed by the State was decided on 22nd Feb. 1977. The value of the contraband imported by a foreign national was over Rs. 2 1/2 lacs. On each count the learned Magistrate had sentenced him to suffer 6 months R.I. and pay a fine of Rs, 15.000/-. Substantive sentences were to run concurrently. That sentence was maintained because the Court was not satisfied on facts that the sentence of 6 months R.I. was grossly inadequate.

21. Mr, Merchant also relied upon the judgment of that Bench in Criminal Appeal No. 284 of 1976, decided on 22nd Feb. 1977, wherein gold bangles worth Rs. 1,37,434/- were recovered. The offence fell under Sections 55 and 85 of the Gold Control Act. No charge under Section 135 (1) of the Customs Act was framed by the learned Magistrate. Punishment prescribed under Section 85 was of six months in the minimum. The sentence meted out for each of the offences was one day's S. I. and a fine of Rs. 1,000/-. It is worth noticing that the sentence of one day's S. I, imposed by the trial Magistrate, was confirmed although the amount of fine was, increased by Rs. 2,000/-, Mr. Merchant emphasises that even when the act had prescribed for minimum sentence of 6 months R.I. the sentence oil one day's S. L was considered adequate. In fact, he is more interested in urging that there should be no enhancement of sentence unless the High Court is thoroughly satisfied that the sentence is too lenient or grossly inadequate or that it results into injustice.

22. Mr. Merchant was fair enough in referring to my judgment in Criminal Appeal No. 572 of 1974 delivered on 7th Dec, 1975, Wrist watches valued at more than Rs. 4 lacs came to be confiscated and when the offence fell under Section 135 (1) (i), the punishment meted out was of one day's S. I. and a fine of Rs. 40.000/-. The Court taking into consideration the circumstances of the case raised the substantive sentence to 2 months R.I. That was a case where substantive sentence of one day's S. I. was considered inadequate, looking to the value of the property.

23. During arguments, Mr. Barday invited my attention to the decision in Criminal Appeal No. 887 of 1975, delivered by Deshmukh and Aggarwal, JJ. on 30th Aug. 1977, (Reported In 1977 Crl LR (Mah) 379) wherein textiles worth over Rs. 5 lacs were brought in by a crew and the accused were sentenced to one day's S. I. and to pay a fine of Rs. 100/- in default to suffer R.I. for two months. Sub-clause (i) of 8. 135 (1) was attracted. No wonder therefore, that the punishment of one day's S. I. was considered grossly inadequate. Hence the substantive sentence was raised to R.I. for one year. In Criminal Appeal No. 989 of 1974 (Bom) decided by the same Division Bench on 31st Aug. 1977, 173 silver bars valued at Rs. 81.455/- were the subject matter of the charge under Section 135 (1) (ii) of the Customs Act. The sentence imposed was of a fine of Rs. 3,000/- only. The appeal was dismissed on consideration that the person was already in custody for 2 1/2 months before the trial. Mr. Merchant, therefore argues that the substantive sentence could be said to be influenced by the value of the goods involved. One more Judgment to be looked into, in this context is, the decision in State of Maharashtra in Hakimuddin Saifuddin, 1977 Cri LJ 49. The articles concerned in this case, were wrist watches valued at Rs. 15.570/-. The case fell under Sub-clause (ii) of Section 135 (1). The learned Magistrate had sentenced the accused to pay a fine of Rs. 1,000/- only in default 6 months R.I.

The prayer for enhancement of the sentence was accepted, although on behalf of the accused a request to release him on probation was made. The accused was sentenced to suffer R.I. for three months and to pay a fine of Rs. 1,000/- i. d. R.I. for 6 months.

24. A resume of all these cases would show that sentencing a person to imprisonment in customs cases depends on the circumstances of the case, upon the amount of fine imposed on the accused, the value of the goods in connection with which the offence is found proved and also taking into consideration the period during which the accused was an under-trial in custody. It cannot, however be disputed that unless the High Court gathers an impression that the sentence imposed is grossly inadequate, there would be no enhancement.

25. Looking to the present case from that angle, we find that the contraband was worth Rs, 9.000/- The respondent has paid a personal penalty of Rs. 15,000/- and learned Magistrate has ordered him to pay a fine of Rs. 5.000/- i. d. to suffer R.I. for three months. The learned Magistrate, however, has given a substantive sentence of one week and that gets set-off with the period during which he was an under-trial in custody. Obviously, the learned Magistrate has leaned towards the punishment of fine rather than the sentence of imprisonment. He was influenced by the growing tendency amongst the foreigners to use drugs and by the fact that the accused was a carrier. It is the accused who represented to the Court that he was merely a carrier and that has been accepted by the Court. Question for consideration would be, are we in a position to say that by giving this punishment to this particular accused, failure of justice has resulted or whether it is so grossly inadequate that it must be enhanced?

That the offence is under Dangerous Drugs Act, or in Narcotics or that it is an economic offence, or that the goods are smuggled are considerations of common occurrence in an offence flailing under the Customs Act. The legislature in its wisdom has however, provided two broad classifications in penalising offences under Section 135 of the Customs Act, 1962, one is where the articles fall under Section 123 and the value exceeds rupees one lakh, the other is the residuary class. Consequently if the value of the contraband is less than one lac of rupees, the Magistrate is empowered in his discretion to sentence the accused with fine only or with fine and some imprisonment, The amount of fine imposed in this case cannot at all be said to be inadequate, The inadequacy if any, has to be judged by looking to the substantive sentence of one week. It is true that if a carrier engaged by others goes out with fine only those engaging him would be encouraged in finding more carriers and engaging on smuggling but the trend of the judgments noticed so far appears to be to protect the exchequer. Therefore heavy fine is the first requirement and awarding imprisonment should be with the objective to creating aversion in those who bring the stuff. Sizable sentence of imprisonment should therefore normally be meted out. In the circumstances of the present case, however much I might have wished that imprisonment more than one week's R.I. could easily have been given by the learned Magistrate, when the test of gross made inadequacy is to be applied, I do not think that I can uphold the contention of the State. Consequently the appeal is dismissed. No order on the Revision Application is necessary.

26. Mr. Barday for the State re-quests leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. That prayer is refused. He further requests for two weeks' time to make special application and until then the return of the passport may be stayed. That request is granted. The passport to be returned after two weeks.

27. However, upon hearing Mrs. Thakur regarding the difficulties felt by the respondent No. I in not being able to cash his travellers' Cheques, without the passport I direct the Customs Authorities to give him the facilities if necessary by remaining present along with the passport, so that he is able to cash his Cheques by the use of the passport, but that passport will have to be delivered back to the Customs Authorities, immediately.


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