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The Public Prosecutor, Andhra Pradesh Vs. Thota Chennaiah - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Misc. Petn. No. 835 of 1962
Judge
Reported inAIR1963AP289; 1963CriLJ7
ActsCode of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1898 - Sections 561A
AppellantThe Public Prosecutor, Andhra Pradesh
RespondentThota Chennaiah
Appellant AdvocateO. Chinappa Reddi, Adv. and ;Party in person
Respondent AdvocateA. Ramanujam and ;P. Sithapati, Advs.
Excerpt:
.....of evidence collected against suspect released to press is undesirable - whatever be nature of crime accused to be given fair trial - premature publicity embarrassing accused is violation of fair trial and should be prevented. - - i am constrained to comment on the lamentable lack of sense of duty on the part of the deputy collector in this failure to be present during the next stage of investigation. the investigating officer was apparently satisfied with this explanation and did not insist upon the presence of sri nizam yar khan the next day presumably because there were other 'panch' witnesses to assist him in the further investigation. , and sending the accused to the central crime station for lock-up, the investigating officer with his experience and training in scotland..........relate to no one in particular but to a press conference stated to save been held by a men police official when the investigation into the crime was in progress. it is submitted by the learned public prosecutor that the above observations which amount to aspersions, are unjustified and should to expunged by this court in exercise of its inherent power under section 561-a of the code of criminal procedure.2. as regards sri nizam yar khan (p. w. 42), this is what the learned sessions judge has said in paragraph ib of his judgment:'in this connection, it may be relevant to point out that p. w. 42, deputy collector, excused himself from assisting the police in the further discoveries made on the ground that he had other work and that the next day was working day for him. p. w. 44.....
Judgment:

Basi Reddy, J.

1. This application has been filed by the Public Prosecutor under Section 561-fl of the Code of Criminal Procedure for the expunction of certain remarks from the judgment of the Principal Sessions Judge, Hyderabad Sessions Division, at Secunderabad, in Sessions Case No. 4 of 1952, which has coma up to this Court as Referred Trial No. 8 of 1962, in which v/e have just delivered judgment. The remarks sought to be expunged are to be found in paragraphs 18, 15 and 33 of the learned Judge's judgment. The observations in paragraph 18 relate to Sri Nizam Yar Khan, a Deputy Collector who was working in December, 1961, in Hyderabad City as a Land Acquisition Officer for the Heavy Electrical Project, and who figured as Prosecution Witness No. 42 in Sessions Case No. 4 of 1962, The observations in paragraph 33 of the judgment relate to Sri N. Ramachandran, the Deputy Superintendent of Ponce, C.I.D., Crime Branch, Hyderabad, who had conducted 'ha investigation in the murder case and who was examined as Prosecution Witness No. 44, The observations in paragraph 33 of the judgment relate to no one in particular but to a press conference stated to Save been held by a men Police Official when the investigation into the crime was in progress. It is submitted by the learned Public Prosecutor that the above observations which amount to aspersions, are unjustified and should to expunged by this court in exercise of its inherent power under Section 561-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

2. As regards Sri Nizam Yar Khan (P. W. 42), this is what the learned Sessions Judge has said in paragraph IB of his judgment:

'In this connection, it may be relevant to point out that P. W. 42, Deputy Collector, excused himself from assisting the police in the further discoveries made on the ground that he had other work and that the next day was working day for him. P. W. 44 requested him to fie present for further establishment of facts, but in spite of his request the Deputy Collector did not choose to assist a public servant engaged in investigating into a grave crime. I am constrained to comment on the lamentable lack of sense of duty on the part of the Deputy Collector in this failure to be present during the next stage of investigation. He has admitted that he had exercised magisterial powers and I am surprised how arty Deputy Collector who had exercised magisterial powers could act in contempt of the lawful authority of a public servant who requisitioned his services. He should have known that he was a competent and an important witness for the prosecution in the establishment of its case and I am at a loss to Know, now He could have felt that his presence was not of much material consequence at the time of discovery of the facts consequent on the information furnished by the accused. I am surprised that a Government servant of the rank or e Deputy Collector who had exercised magisterial powers should be so oblivious to his duties as a public servant when he was legally bound to be present as an independent witness, at the investigation by the police.'

It may be mentioned that Sri Nizam Yar Khan is a Deputy Collector who was then working as a Land Acquisition Officer in Hyderabad City. On 10-12-1961, which was a Sunday, he was on his way to his club but as he was requested by the Investigating Officer (P. W. 44) to officiate as a 'panch' witness, he readily agreed and stayed with the investigation officer from 2 p.m. till about 7 p.m. that day. During this period, the Investigating Officer examined the accused, suspected to be involved in the murder of Suryanarayanamma in Vijayanagar Colony, and recorded a detailed statement from him and later effected the recoveries of some of the stolen items of jewellery from the house of the accused. Sri Nizam Yar Khan extended his co-operation to the Investigating Officer in an ungrudging manner. The investigation was closed for that day at about 6 p.m. and when the Investigating officer requested Shri Nizam Yar Khan to be present the next nay also, the latter informed him that the next day was a working day and as he had some important official work to attend to, fie would not be able to be present.

The Investigating Officer was apparently satisfied with this explanation and did not insist upon the presence of Sri Nizam Yar Khan the next day presumably because there were other 'panch' witnesses to assist him in the further investigation. In this situation, we are unable to agree with the learned Sessions Judge that there was any dereliction of public duty on the part of Sri Nizam Yar Khan to warrant the passing of severe strictures on him an Nizam Yar Khan is himself a public servant and he excused himself because he had public functions to perform on 11-12-1961. The learned Judge was not justified in saying that Sri Nizam Yar Khan acted 'In contempt of the lawful authority of a public servant who requisitioned his services'; that he had acted with a 'lamentable lack of sense of duty'; and that fie was 'oblivious to his duties as public servant.' We therefore direct that the whole of paragraph 18 be expunged from the judgment of the Court below.

3. The next passage which is sought to tie expunged from the judgment is contained in paragraph 15 of the judgment. It runs thus;

'It is no doubt, true that instead of closing the investigation on each day at 6 p.m., and sending the accused to the Central Crime Station for lock-up, the Investigating Officer with his experience and training in Scotland Yaw and the number of assistants he had to help him, and also the other facilities like quick conveyance, could nave easily covered the places or contacted the witnesses the accused promised to point out, leading to the discovery of the material objects in one day when information was already available instead of prolonging the investigation by requesting the Magistrate (P. W. 34) on 11-12-1961 for further remand of the accused to police custody. I cannot but agree with the comment and observe that there has been some delay in making quick discoveries in a capital crime like this when what was needed at that juncture was speed and utmost caution.'

4. It appears from the record of evidence in the case that the Investigating Officer arrested the person suspected to be involved in the crime on the afternoon of 10-12-1961, interrogated him, recorded a statement in the presence of 'panchas' was then proceeded to the house of the accused where the accused dug out certain stolen articles. A 'panchnama' was then prepared and that went on till about 6-30 p.m. Arrangements were then made for the sate-custody of the properly and the accused was then sent to the C. C. S. loch-up for the night. The investigation was continued the next day. In these circumstances, the learned Judge was not right in expecting the investigating officer to do the, impossible and effect all the recoveries on the night of the 10th itself. For one thing it was obviously impossible for the Investigating Officer to have secures any one to comb the waters of Hussain Sagar during the night and retrieve the gunny bag which the accused had thrown into the water.

In our view, there was no avoidable delay whatever in-effecting the recoveries. On the contrary, Sri N. Ramachandran's investigation in this case left nothing to be desired. It was prompt, thorough and effective and what is more, it was absolutely fair. We are therefore of ma opinion that the learned Sessions Judge was not justified in commenting adversely on the investigation conducted by Sri N. Ramachandran (P. W. 44). Having said that, we do not however think it necessary to direct the expunction of the passage occurring in paragraph 15 of the judgment.

5. The third passage which is sought to be expunged appears at paragraph 33 of the judgment and is as follows:

'It is also argued by Mr. Ramanujam that when once the First Information Report reaches a Criminal Court and cognizance is taken of the offence by the Magistrate, anything published by the police affecting the case would-be in contempt of the lawful authority of the Court and pointed out in this connection the evidence of P. W. 44, wherein he admitted his having seen in the local newspapers a press conference held by a high police official, although he stated that he did not Know the name of the high official. The four issues of 'Deccan Chronicle (Exs. D-17 to D-20) placed before me, do not, in my opinion, cause any prejudice to the case of the accused as only-factual information (without the name of the accused has been published. The name of the accused was not lathe picture even on 9-12-1961, when the Chief Minister furnished factual information regarding the occurrence in the Legislative Assembly. I, therefore, do not find anything prejudicial to the case of the accused so far as Exs. D-17 to D-20 are concerned. If what P. W. 44 has stated is true that a local newspaper published the news given by, a high police official at a press conference held by him, then I must observe that, whoever be the high police official, he acted in an extraordinary manner after me Chief Minister had furnished factual information on the floor of the Legislative Assembly. This particular news item has not been placed before me by the Defence and I am not in a position to know the nature of the news given out by the high Police Official so far as this occurrence is concerned. I do not Know whether he had the authority of the Government to hold a press coherence and what locus started tie had to hold a press conference relating to a case of which cognizance was taken by a competent Court.'

6. It is true that in passing the above remarks, me learned Sessions Judge did not even have before him the news item which contained the information given by the 'high police official' and to that extent his remarks are open to criticism. The news item has, however, open placed before us and it runs thus:

'The Deccan Chronicle,

December 13, 1961.

CLUE THAT LED TO ARREST

DETAILS OF VIJAYANAGAR CULONY MURDER

(By our Staff Reporter)

Hyderabad, Dec. 12

A cut on one of the fingers, sustained while committing the crime, led to the arrest of Head Constable Chenniah of the Special Branch CID for the murder of Mrs. Suryanarayanamma, a high police official told newsmen here this evening.

Mrs. Suryanarayanamma, wife of Mr. Ayyapu Raju, Assistant Director, Bureau of Economics and Statistics, was found lying in a pool of blood and with nine stab injuries on her body in her house in Vijayanagar Colony on December 5.

The police Official told a hurriedly convened news conference at the State Police Headquarters here that their investigations so far had established that the motive De-hind the ghastly crime was the jewellery worn by the deceased.

He said that Mr. N. Ramachandran, Deputy superintendent of Police, Crime Branch, C.I.D. to whom the investigation was entrusted, deduced that the crime had been committed by a person who was known- to the deceased and that he had also suffered a cut injury.

Head Constable Chenniah, by virtue of his being an orderly of a Police Official, who was uncle of the deceased, used to frequent the house of the deceased and run errands for the inmates of the house.

When confronted with the incriminating evidence against him, Head Constable Chenniah confessed to the crime, the official said.

Meanwhile, police are trying to recover the remaining part of the stolen property and also the blood-stained cloth which the suspect was believed to be wearing while committing the offence.

On a clue that the suspect had/thrown away the blood-stained cloth into the Hussain Sagar Tank after tying them to a stone, vigorous attempts are being made by the police to recover the same from the tank. The services of expert swimmers have been requisitioned by the police for this purpose,

Answering questions, the Police official said that tie murder must have taken place between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on December 5.

The Police Official did not believe that more man one person was involved in the crime.

The Head Constable, he said, was aged about 25 years and was married. He did not attend duty on December 5 and 6. However, he was considered to be on duty from December 7 till the day of his arrest.'

7. In this application, it is stated that 'since the case had caused considerable sensation and the newspapers has given a good deal of publicity and were giving out misleading and exaggerated reports, the Inspector-General of Police had directed the Assistant Inspector-General of Police to give a correct factual information to the press in order to set at rest all speculations and conjectures and to avoid confusion.' it is further submitted that this procedure is authorised by a G.O. issued by the Government. The G. O. reads thus:

'GOVERNMENT OF ANDHRA PRADESH

Abstract.

Publicity: Release of information to the Press by the District Superintendents of Police - Sanction of the scheme on a permanent basis - Ordered.

HOME (POLICE-C) DEPARTMENT.

G. O. Ms. No. 1681 Dated the 9th July, `58.

1. G. O. Ms. No. 7, Home (Police-A) Department, dated 2-1-1956.

2. G. O. Ms. No. 1747, Home (Police-A) Department, dated 20-7-1956.

3. G. O. Ms. No. 1746, Home (Police-A) Department, dated 2-11-1957.

4. Letter No. 996/A/S8 dated 7-6-1953 from the Inspector-General of Police, Hyderabad.

ORDER

In G. 0. Ms. No. 7, Home, dated the 2nd January, 1956, Government permitted the District Superintendents cr. Police, Andhra to promptly contradict false and exaggerated reports, wherever necessary, and release to the local press correspondents information regarding the good work none by the police, including successful investigation of sensational crimes without reference to questions of policy or matters of Statewide interest for a period of six months from 2-1-1956. In G. O. Ms. 1747, Home (Police-A) dated 20th July, 1956, Government sanctioned the continuance of the above scheme for a further period of one year from 1-7-1956 and in G. O. Ms. No. 1746, Home Police-A dated 2-11-1957, Government sanctioned the continuance 01 the scheme for a further period of one year from 30-b-isD/ and also extended the scheme to the Telengana area.

In the circumstances stated by the Inspector-General of Police, in his letter cited, Government of Andhra Pradesh sanction the retention of the above scheme on a permanent basis.

(BY ORDER AND IN THE NAME OF THE GOVERNER OF ANDHRA PRADESH)

Sd. B. Ranganatha Rao,

Assistant Secretary to Government.'

8. We wish to make it clear that we do not under-stand the above G. 0. in the sense it has been understood by the police authorities, and we regard it as unfortunate-that the investigating agency should have thought it necessary to give the particulars of the investigation to the press even while the investigation was in progress and evidence had still to be collected and a charge-sheet laid. It is one thing to contradict false and exaggerated reports about an occurrence and quite another to reveal to the press, particulars of incriminating material collected and to be collected by the police against a suspect. It is one thing to give a factual account of the investigation after the trial of a case is over and another thing to give a running account to the press of the nature and result of the investigation of the case during the pendency of the case.

9. It is no doubt Important that crimes should be detected and criminals brought to book, it may not be unnatural for the police to expect their meed of publicity ana praise for efficient work done by them. But one must not lose sight of the equally important principle that whatever the nature of the crime and whoever the accused, he must have a fair deal, and anything calculated to prejudice a fair trial or embarrass the accused in his defence, should-be scrupulously avoided by the investigating as well as by the prosecuting agency. A day-to-day account to the press of the evidence collected by the police against a suspect, even before a charge-sheet is laid, is undesirable and trio sooner this practice is given up, the better it would be far the orderly dispensation of criminal justice in this State. It does not require much imagination to visuaiiss the Insidious ways in which such premature publicity might prejudice a person suspected of a crime under investigation and embarrass him in his defence at the trial.

10. On the whole we do not see any justification for expunging the observations made by the learned sessions Judge in paragraph 33 of his judgment.

11. This petition is accordingly allowed only to theextent Indicated above.


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