1. This is an application in revision under Section 439, Criminal P. C. by Bachan Pandey Alias Bachan Ram and 15 other persons who 'have been committed by a Magistrate 1st Class of Gorakhpur to the Court of Session, Gorakhpur, to stand their trial on charges under Sections 120B, 342, 384 and 389, I. P. C.
The applicants first filed a revision against theorder of committal before the learned Sessions Judgeof Gorakhpur on the ground that the learned Sessions Judge bad no jurisdiction to try the charge ofconspiracy under Section 120-B, I.P.C. as that offence wascommitted within the jurisdiction of the SessionsCourt at Ghazipur. This revision was rejected bythe learned Sessions Judge and so the present revision has been filed in this Court.
2. It is alleged by the prosecution that the accused had formed a conspiracy to earn money by filing false cases against innocent persons in Courts outside the districts of their residence, thereby causing unnecessary harassment to them; that in pursuance of this conspiracy the accused either themselves or through associates got several false cases filed in the various Courts, and after the summons or warranty of arrest had been issued against these persons and received for execution in the police station concerned, the accused either directly or through other persons approached them with a view to extort money from them and forced them to agree to the terms offered by them by threatening that otherwise they would have to bear serious consequences; that the victims in order to escape harassment and inconvenience of attending the Court and also on. account of the fear of the accused, agreed to pay the-money demanded from them and thereafter the cases-against them were dropped.
The inquiry into the case was made by a Magistrate in the district of Gorakhpur and no less than 177 witnesses were examined in the case. P. W. 177, Sri Ram Nandan alias Bulbul, who is alleged to be one of the members of the conspiracy, turned approver and was examined last.
The learned Magistrate after a consideration of the entire prosecution evidence was of the opinion that a prima facie case against the accused on the various sections with which they had been charged had been made out and he, therefore, directed that they should be committed to the sessions to stand their trial on those charges. These charges are in respect of the alleged conspiracy and also in respect of the overt acts which were done by the various accused in pursuance of the above conspiracy and which acts by themselves also constituted offences.
3. It was contended before me on behalf of the applicants that in view of the finding of the learned Sessions Judge that the offence of conspiracy had been committed within the district of Ghazipurthe applicants could not be tried on that charge inGorakhpur. It was also contended that in fact the main charge against the applicants was for conspiracy to commit the various offences and that they had not been charged, separately of the various offences which had been committed in pursuance of the conspiracy.
There is no doubt that if the charge against the applicants is of conspiracy simpliciter and for no other offence they can only be tried in that district where the conspiracy was formed and where the offence of conspiracy was complete. I am, however, not inclined to accept the contention on behalf of the applicants that the charge against them is for conspiracy simpliciter and not for the various other offences which were committed by them in pursuance of this conspiracy.
On an examination of the charges which were framed against the different applicants it is quite clear that they were charged not only for conspiracy simpliciter but also for the various offences which were alleged to have been committed by the various accused in pursuance of the conspiracy. I do not consider it necessary to reproduce here the various charges which were framed by the learned Magistrate against the applicants and for the trial of which they were committed to the Court of Session at Gorakhpur.
4. The question which mainly arises for consideration is whether the applicants can be tried at Gorakhpur even though the conspiracy itself was not formed there but at Ghazipur if the various offences or some of them which were the objects of the conspiracy were committed within the jurisdiction of the Sessions Court at Gorakhpur. The contention on behalf of the applicants is that they could not be so tried, and in support of this contention reliance was placed on the following decisions:
5. 1. Bissesswar v. Emperor : AIR1924Cal1034 . It was held in this case that if a conspiracy was entered into in District A and acts were committed in pursuance of that conspiracy in District B, the Magistrate of District A could try the conspiracy but could not try the accused in the same trial for acts committed outside his district, and the mere fact that the offences could have been tried jointly under Section 239, Criminal P. C. if committed within his jurisdiction, would not give him jurisdiction to try them.
It was held in this case that Sections 181 and 182 Criminal P. C. were not applicable to the case because the offence of conspiracy was complete in itself and the mere fact that the offences in pursuance of the conspiracy were committed in some other District would not give the Courts of that District where such offences were committed the jurisdiction to try the offence of conspiracy when no part of that offence was committed within its jurisdiction. Section 180 was not considered by the learned Judges in this case and, in the circumstances, it is somewhat difficult to say that the decision would have been the same if this section were brought to the notice of the learned Judges.
6. 2. In re Dani : AIR1936Mad317 . In this case a conspiracy was entered into in B where the accused lived and some acts of cheating were one in P and the Court at P sought to try for the charge of conspiracy for cheating. It was held that as it was in B, where the accused resided and had entered into the conspiracy, the charge should have been laid there and that the Court at P could not be clothed with jurisdiction to try the charge of conspiracy merely because the conspiracy and the different acts of cheating might form part of the same transaction, and that the charges in respect of them might be tried together. It could have jurisdiction only in respect of the acts of cheating alleged to have been committed within its jurisdiction. A perusal of this case also shows that Section 180, Criminal P. C. was not at all considered in it and, in the circumstances, it cannot be said if the decision would have been the same if the applicability of the above section in the determination of the question of jurisdiction were considered.
7. 3. Emperor v. Pursumal Gerimal, AIR 1938 Sind 108 (C). In this case five accused persons were tried by the Sessions Judge of Sukkur of the offences under Sections 120B, 366 and 420, I. P. C. All were acquitted on the charge of conspiracy as the Court held that the offence of conspiracy was completed outside its jurisdiction and that there was no offence of abduction committed because the young woman in this case was not abducted, so he acquitted all the five accused on these two charges,
On the charge of cheating he acquitted the woman accused, the wife of Dhooji, because he was of the view that she merely lived with her husband accused 2 in his house, but he convicted the husband Dhooji. He also convicted one Parumal, accused 4, but acquitted Pursu and Thaku, accused 1 and 5, and it was against the acquittal of these two accused on the charge of conspiracy and cheating that the Government filed the appeal.
One of the questions which arose before the appellate Court in this case was whether the Court at Sukkur had jurisdiction to try the accused on the charge of conspiracy when the conspiracy was formed in U. P. and not. within the jurisdiction of that Court. While dealing with this question the learned Judges made the following observation:
''Conspiracy is a substantive offence in itself. It is not given in one of the illustrations to Section 180, Criminal P. C. as one of the offences which is an offence because of its relation to another offence, such as abetment, which would give the Court jurisdiction either where the principal offence or the connected offence was committed, nor can it be brought within the meaning of the section itself. It is not one of the offences named in Section 181.
'The gist of the offence of conspiracy lies not in doing that act of effecting the purpose for which the conspiracy is formed nor in attempting to do any of the acts nor in inducing others to do them, but in the forming of the scheme of agreement between the parties.
In certain cases it may be difficult for the Courts to decide whether a particular agreement which forms the basis of a criminal charge was made or concluded at a particular time or at a particular place. But it docs not follow therefrom that the scope of the conspiracy would determine the place where the conspiracy or part of it occurred. It is not the act done in pursuance of the conspiracy but the place where the conspiracy was formed or made which determines the jurisdiction of the Court, and in an indictment for conspiracy the venue should belaid where the conspiracy was and not where the result of such conspiracy was put in execution.'
8. Against tine above decisions learned counsel for the State has relied on a decision of this Court in State v. Keshari Singh, 1951 All WR (HC) 678 (E). It was held in this case that where the conspiracy was an offence by reason of its relation to the other acts committed by the conspirators which are offences by themselves, then by reason of Section 180, Criminal P. C. the offence of criminal' conspiracy could be tried at tile places where the other offences with which it is related, can be tried.
It was further held that where a conspiracy was hatched at Howrah but the offence of kidnapping in pursuance thereof was committed at Ballia, the Court at Ballia had jurisdiction to try the offence, of conspiracy. As already stated, it appears that S. 180, Criminal P. C. was nut considered in the cases cited above and relied on by the learned counsel for the applicants.
The above Madras Case (B) has been considered in this case but has not been approved. I am inclined to agree with the view taken by this Court in the above case.
9. Apart from the question of law, I think it will be more convenient if the offence of conspiracy and the various other offences committed in pursuance of it are tried together at one place because it will be more convenient and also less expensive to both the parties.
If the offence of conspiracy and the offences committed in pursuance of it are split up into different trials and the offence of conspiracy is tried at Ghazipur and the other offences in the various districts in which they were committed, there will be a number of trials in which the evidence may be more or less common and the same evidence will have to be produced a number of times in order to substantiate the charges, thereby causing unnecessary harassment & expense to the applicants and also to the State.
There can be no doubt that in order to prove the charge of conspiracy it will be necessary to prove the various offences which are alleged to have been committed by the applicants in pursuance of the conspiracy because there can be no direct evidence of conspiracy and it is only from the surrounding circumstances and the various acts committed by the different accused that it can be proved that there was conspiracy between them to commit the various offences.
Moreover, the inquiry in this case was made at Gorakhpur and a very large number of witnesses were examined there and the objection was taken only after the last witness had been examined. I am not satisfied that the applicants will in any way be prejudiced if the trial is held at Gorakhpur. If the contention on behalf of the applicants is accepted it means that there should be separate trials for the offence of conspiracy and for the various offences alleged to have been committed in pursuance of it.
It has been held by the Privy Council in Babulal Chaukhani v. Emperor that if several persons conspired to commit offences & committed overt acts in pursuance of the conspiracy, these acts were committed in the course of the same transaction which embraced the conspiracy and the acts under it, and the conspiracyand the various other offences committed in pursuance of the conspiracy could be tried together.
The principle laid down in this case was also recognized in the Madras and Calcutta cases (A & B). referred to above but it was restricted in its application only to such offences as were committed within the jurisdiction of the same Court.
10. In the circumstances, this revision has no force and is rejected. The record of the case shall be sent down to the Court below which shall proceed with the trial of the case.