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Giriraj Singh and anr. Vs. the State and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Revn. No. 771 of 1963
Judge
Reported inAIR1965All131; 1965CriLJ275
ActsCode of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1898 - Sections 190, 200, 202, 204(1) and 239; Evidence Act, 1872 - Sections 154 and 165
AppellantGiriraj Singh and anr.
RespondentThe State and ors.
Appellant AdvocateJ.N. Chaturvedi and ;P.C. Chaturvedi, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateS.S. Tyagi and ;Asif Ansari, Advs. and ;A.G.A.
DispositionRevision application partly allowed
Excerpt:
criminal - amalgamation of complaints - sections 154 and 165 of evidence act, 1872 - during pendency of complaint another complaint having same facts and offences filed before the same magistrate who amalgamated them - also directed that complainants can cross examine and contradict witnesses examines by other complainant -held, the order to the extent of allowing the complainant to cross examine and contradict the witnesses called by the other complainant should be set aside. - .....has made a provision, though not an exhaustive one, for the trial of or inquiry into such cases. complaints or police reports based on the same facts and pertaining to the same offences can be presented before and entertained by the same magistrate or by different magistrates. section 185, are cri. p. c. makes a provision for the inquiry into or trial of offences taken cognizance of by two or more magistrates. sub-section (1) thereof lays down that whenever a question arises as to which of two or more courts subordinate to the same high court ought to inquire into or try any offence, it shall be decided by that high court sub-section (2) of section 185 makes a provision for the inquiry into or trial of an offence where the courts taking cognizance of the offence are not.....
Judgment:
ORDER

D.S. Mathur, J.

1. This is a revision application by Girraj Singh and Sohan Lal Sharma, accused, to challenge the order dated 22-10-1962 of Sri J.P. Kaushik, Magistrate First Class, Saharanpur, directing that both the complaints shall be amalgamated and both Basheshwar Daya] Kaushik and Dharam Singh shall be treated as co-complainants. It was at the same time ordered:

'Each will have a right to examine his own witnesses. At the same time each will have a right to cross-examine and contradict the witnesses examined on behalf of the prosecution with the permission of the Court and in accordance with the provisions of the law if they go against or prejudice the prosecution.'

2. The material facts of the case are that on 11-1-1962 Basheshwar Dayal moved a complaint alleging that the present applicants, Girraj Singh and Sohan Lal Sharma, had committed offences punishable Under Sections 408, 467 and 471, I. P. C. The complaint was moved in the Court of the judicial Magistrate, Saharanpur; but some one on behalf of Judicial Magistrate, City, directed the return of the complaint for presentation in the Court of the Bench Magistrates, Saharanpur, for disposal according to law. However, from the application dated 21-8-1962 it appears that the complaint had been made in the Court of Sri J. P. Kaushik, Judicial Magistrate, and the complaint was transferred to the Court of the Bench Magistrates, Saharanpur. We are not concerned with the irregularities committed at the time of the presentation and transfer of the case to the Court of the Bench Magistrates. The Bench Magistrates examined the complainant under Section 200, Cri. P. C. and after making an inquiry under Section 202, Cri. P. C. issued notice to the accused applicants to stand their trial of offences punishable under Sections 408, 467 and 471, I. ,P. C. The complainant examined a few witnesses and, in fact, the trial proceeded in accordance with the law till Sri J. P. Kaushik, Judicial Magistrate, recalled the criminal case for trial by himself. The order of recall was passed on 12-9-1962.

3. It was on 4-6-1962 that Dharam Singh moved another complaint based on the same facts in the Court of the Judicial Officer, Saharanpur, alleging that the applicants had committed offences punishable under Sections 408, 467 and 471, I. P. C. Sri I. P. Kaushik, Judicial Magistrate, called upon the police to make an enquiry and to submit report within a month. On receipt of the police report the accused persons were summoned for appearance in Court on 19-7-1962 to stand their trial of the offences arising out of the complaint.

4. It was during the hearing of this complaint that the application referred to above was made on 21-8:1962 and the case arising out of the first complaint was recalled by the Judicial Magistrate for trial to enable him to hear both the cases pertaining to the same offences.

5. On 17-10-1982 the application moved an application before the Magistrate With the request that the second (subsequent) complaint be not proceeded with and be filed without orders in view of the pendency of the first complaint. Being faced, with the difficulty that there was no clear provision in the Cri. P. C. for the hearing of two complaints pertaining to the same facts and offences, the Magistrate passed the order referred to above and decided to amalgamate the two cases and to treat both as co-complainants with the right to examine their witnesses and to cross-examine or contradict the witnesses examined by the other complainant, of course, with the permission of the Court.

6. The applicants in successfully challenged the Magistrate's order before the Sessions Judge and have now come in revision to this Court, chiefly on the ground that the Magistrate could take cognizance of the offences only once and that could be on the first complaint made before him. It was thus contended that the second complaint of Dharam Singh could not be taken cognizance of--the Magistrate having already taken cognizance of the offences, and the Magistrate had no option except to keep the second complaint pending and to proceed with the trial on the basis of the first complaint alone.

7. The Cri P. C. lays down the procedure for the inquiry into or trial of criminal cases instituted on a police report or otherwise, the last category including cases arising out of complaints; but the cognizance taken of by Magistrates is of offences and not complaints or police reports. Section 190(1), Cri P. C. provides that a Magistrate may take cognizance o an offence upon receiving a complaint of facts which constitute such offence; or upon a report in writing of such facts made by any police officer; or upon information received from any person other than a police officer, or upon his own knowledge or suspicion, that such offence has been committed. Similarly, other sections, e.g. Sections 191, 193 to 196, 196-A, 197, 197-A, 198, 198-A, 198-B and 199, Cri. P. C. speak of taking cognizance of an offence. But on taking cognizance of the offence the complaint or police report is registered as a criminal case to be tried or inquired into in accordance with the law. Cases triable by Magistrates are divided in two categories, summons cases and warrant cases, though they can, in certain circumstances, be tried summarily and the trial is 'called Summary Trial. At occasions the Cri. P. C. also speaks of a case taken cognizance of by a Magistrate. For example, under Section 192, Cri. P. C. a Magistrate transfers a case of which he has taken cognizance, for inquiry or trial to another Magistrate. In other words. Magistrates take cognizance of not only offences, but also of criminal cases. In the circumstances, the possibility of Magistrates entertaining more than one case based on the same facts and pertaining to the same offences, cannot be excluded.

8. The legislature has made a provision, though not an exhaustive one, for the trial of or inquiry into such cases. Complaints or police reports based on the same facts and pertaining to the same offences can be presented before and entertained by the same Magistrate or by different Magistrates. Section 185, are Cri. P. C. makes a provision for the inquiry into or trial of offences taken cognizance of by two or more Magistrates. Sub-section (1) thereof lays down that whenever a question arises as to which of two or more Courts subordinate to the same High Court ought to inquire into or try any offence, it shall be decided by that High Court Sub-section (2) of Section 185 makes a provision for the inquiry into or trial of an offence where the Courts taking cognizance of the offence are not subordinate to the same High Court. Who shall make an inquiry or hold the trial is decided by the High Court within whose appellate criminal jurisdiction the proceedings were first commenced; and if that High Court, upon the matter having been brought to its notice, does not decide the question it is decided by any other High Court. The effect of the direction, of one High Court or the other ,js that the proceedings pending before other subordinate Courts, in respect of the offence, are discontinued and the inquiry or trial takes place in one Court only. Discontinuance of proceedings takes away the jurisdiction of the Magistrates before whom such proceedings were pending, but does not debar the Magistrate authorised to inquire into or try the offence from taking notice of the complaints or reports made before other Magistrates or of the evidence recorded by or documents produced before them. Section 185, in my opinion, merely lays down the place of inquiry or trial and not how such inquiry or trial shall be conducted. Where the complaints or reports are entertained by and are pending before the same Magistrate, they can be inquired into or tried by him, of course, in accordance with the law.

9. A consideration of the provisions of the Cri. P. C. to be referred hereinafter, makes it clear that there can be no fresh trial after the acquittal or conviction of the accused; the trial is of the offence committed not necessarily with particular reference to the complainant; and the Magistrate has, all the more in complaint cases, unrestricted power to examine witnesses likely to be acquainted with the facts of the case.

10. Criminal trial ordinarily ends with conviction or acquittal of the accused of the offence alleged to have been committed by him; and after such conviction or acquittal by a Court of competent jurisdiction there can be no fresh trial for the same offence, nor on the same facts for any other offence for which a different charge from the one made against him might have been made under Section 236, or for which he might have been convicted, under Section 237, (See Section 403, Cri. P. C.) Fresh trial is permissible in a warrant case only when the proceeding resulted in discharge of the accused, i.e., there did not exist sufficient evidence to justify framing of a charge. When after conviction or acquittal no fresh trial is possible, howsoever improperly or negligently the previous prosecution was conducted, it is but necessary that the Courts of law should give a liberal interpretation, wherever permissible, to the provisions governing the trial of a criminal case.

11. Even though the Magistrate takes cognizance of an offence on complaint or police report, or upon information received, or upon his own knowledge or suspicion, further proceedings taken not with particular reference to the complainant or the informant Responsibility for prosecution in complaint cases does invariably lie on the complainant, but any action taken is with the sole intention to do justice in the case to find out if the accused is guilty of any offence. Information can be given or complaint made by any person not necessarily an aggrieved person, unless under some provision of the Jaw the Magistrate cannot take cognizance of such information or complaint, and in such cases the charge framed is of the offence alleged to have been committed, without reference to the complainant? unless he himself is the victim. The charge contains the particulars of the offence alleged, and finding has to be recorded with regard to the offence charged. It is thus necessary that all the material pertaining to the offence, irrespective of who the complainant or informant is, should come on the record.

12. For the detailed consideration of the third point summarised above, it shall be appropriate to make reference to the procedure prescribed for various kinds of trials and inquiry. Criminal cases triable by Magistrates are of two kinds; summons cases or warrant cases. Either kind of the cases can, in suitable circumstances, be tried summarily. Magistrates hold an inquiry under Ch. XVIII while committing a case to the Court of Session for trial.

13. Sub-section (1A) of Section 204, Cri. P. C. does lay down that no summons or warrant shall be issued against the accused under Sub-section (1) unless a list of the prosecution witnesses has been filed; but the subsequent provisions do not disentitle the complainant or prosecutor from examining witnesses outside the list, in any case, the Magistrate can examine any witness acquainted with the facts of the case. In the trial of summons cases the Magistrate first of all records the statement of the accused and then hears the complainant, if any, and thereafter takes all such evidence as may be produced in support of the prosecution (vide Section 244 (1), Cri. P. C.) Similarly, under Sub-section (2) of Section 244, Cri. P. C. the Magistrate can, if he thinks fit, on the application of the complainant or accused, issue a summons to any witness directing him to attend or to produce any document or other thing. The words 'as may be produced in support of the prosecution' used in Section 244 (1) and the word 'any' used in Section 244 (2) are general and shall include witnesses not cited in the list furnished under Section 204 (1-A), Cri. P. C. In addition, the Magistrate can suo motu examine ay witness even though not produced by the complainant or prosecutor, (vide Section 245 (1), Cri. P. C.) This procedure governs all summons cases, whether instituted on complaint, or police report, or upon information received. However, for warrant cases separate procedure has been prescribed for the two kinds of cases. Section 251-A, Cri. P. C. governs cases instituted on a police report and the other sections of Ch. XXI to cases instituted otherwise than on police report. In cases started on police report, the Magistrate records all such evidence as may be produced in support of the prosecution, after a charge has been framed upon consideration of all the documents referred to in Section 173, Cri. P. C. and making such examination, it any, of the accused vide Section 251-A (7), Cri. P. C.) Section 252, Cri. P. C. onwards governs the trial of warrant cases instituted on complaints or started on information received. Section 252 (1), Cri. P. C. has been worded on the lines of Section 244 (1), Cri. P. C. and it is nowhere laid down that the Magistrate can examine only such witnesses as are cited by the complainant in the afore-mentioned list It is further provided in Sub-section (2) of Section 252 that the Magistrate shall ascertain, from the complainant or otherwise, the names of any persons likely to be acquainted with the facts of the case and to be able to give evidence for the prosecution. After ascertaining the names of witnesses the Magistrate has the discretion to summon such witnesses whose evidence is necessary for the decision of the case. The words 'from the complainant or otherwise' make it clear beyond doubt that the Magistrate can ascertain the names of witnesses not only from the complainant but also from others.

14. The provisions of Ch. XXII, Cri. P. C. governing summary trials do not require any further comment as under Section 262 (1), Cri. P. C. the procedure prescribed for summons cases has to be followed in summons cases, and the procedure prescribed for warrant cases in warrant cases, except in so far as any special provision has been made in the Chapter for summary trials.

15. Since after the amendment of the Cri. P. C. in 1955 there are two different procedures for holding' inquiry into cases triable by the Court of Session or the High Court. In proceedings instituted on a police report the procedure laid down in Section 207-A, Cri. P. C. is followed, and the Magistrate, merely records the evidence of such persons, if any, as may be produced by the prosecution as witnesses to the actual commission of the offence alleged. The Magistrate, however, has the power to record the evidence of any one or more of the other witnesses for the prosecution if he is of opinion that the recording of their evidence is necessary in the interest of justice. When the Magistrate was not bound to record the evidence of all the witnesses to be examined during the trial, it was not necessary to confer on him the power to examine a witness outside the list furnished under Section 204 (I-A), Cri. P. C. However, in proceedings not instituted on a police report the provisions of Section 308, Cri. P. C. onwards are followed as was done in all cases of inquiry before the amendment of the Code in 1955. It shall be found that in Section 208 (1), Cri. P. C. also general words have been used giving power to the Magistrate to record all the evidence as may be produced to support of the prosecution, or as may be called for by the Magistrate.

16. In the same manner Section 286, Cri. P. C. onwards governing the trial of sessions cases have been worded generally and the power of the prosecutor to examine witnesses bas not, in any manner, been restricted. Sub-section (2) of Section 286 lays down that after opening the case the prosecutor shall examine his witnesses. The prosecutor does not have to submit a list of his witnesses before the commencement of the trial. The prosecutor is not the complainant but is the Public Prosecutor who conducts the sessions trial, and consequently witnesses other than those relied upon by the complainant can be examined during the trial provided that their evidence is material and admissible in evidence and is necessary for the proper decisionof the case.

17. It is thus evident that the Magistrate can examine not only the witnesses cited by the complainant in the list of witnesses furnished under Section 204 (1-A), Cri. P. C. or the witnesses produced by him in support of the prosecution, but also other persons acquainted with the facts of the case. The Cri. P. C. does not lay down how the Magistrate can collect particulars of persons acquainted with the facts of the case, and consequently he can act in any manner he considers proper. The Magistrate can make an oral inquiry from any person, not necessarily the complainant, or can act on any other complaint, report or application made pertaining to the offence, under inquiry or trial. In other words, during the pendency of a complaint other complaints with regard to the same offence can be entertained by the Magistrate, and he can examine witnesses cited by or relied upon by the other complainant.

18. Whether the person making the subsequent complaint can be placed in the category of a co-complainant is not a question in issue in the present revision. However, in view of the definition of 'complaint' as contained in Section 4 (1) (h), Cri. P. C. all the complainants can be classed as such. For purposes of the Code 'complaint' means an allegation made orally or in writing to a Magistrate, with a view to his taking action under this Code, that some person, whether known or unknown, has committed an offence, but it does not include the report of a police officer. The person making the allegation with a view to the Magistrate taking action under the Code, is a complainant; and when more than one complaint has been made, all the persons making complaint shall be complainants.

19. Section 417 (3), Cri. P. C. and also Ch. XVI of the Cri. P. C. cannot make us depart from the meaning to be assigned to the word 'complainant' based on the definition of 'complaint' as contained in the Code. Section 417 (3) makes a provision for appeal from the order of acquittal on the complainant being granted special leave to appeal from that order. If there are two or more complainants all of them shall have the right to apply for special leave and appeals preferred by them, after the grant of special leave, can be entertained and, if necessary, registered separately though they would be heard and decided together.

20. When two or more complaints are made at about the same time, prior to the issue of process under Section 204, Cri. P. C. it may be necessary to examine all the complainants and their witnesses under Section 200, Cri. P. C. though a common inquiry or investigation under Section 202, Cri P. C. can be ordered. But where the Magistrate has already taken cognizance of the offence, Section 200, Cri. P, C. shall be inapplicable and examination of co-complainants shall not be necessary, who can be examined for the first time during the trial. Even if the examination of co-complainants under Section 200, Cri. P, C. is necessary but they are not so examined, it would be a mere irregularity.

can take cognizance of an offence once, he can

21. My reading of the various provisions of the Cri. P. C. therefore, is that even if a Magistrateentertain and take cognizance of other complaints,applications or police reports' with regard to that offence if made during the pendency of the trial. Considering that there can be only one trial for the offence, all the complaints, police reports or applications pertaining to that offence must be amalgamated. Amalgamation and joint trial of all the cases, if registered separately, is thus necessary; Further, the Magistrate can examine not only the first complainant and his witnesses but also the other complainants and their witnesses. In fact, he can examine any person acquainted with the facts of the case. They shall all stand in the category of prosecution witnesses.

22. A witness is cross-examined by the adverse party; but under Section 154 of the Evidence Act the Court can, in its discretion, permit the person who calls a witness to put any question to him which might be put in cross-examination by the adverse party. The cross-examination of a witness by the person producing him is permissible, but such a witness cannot be cross-examined by the other complainants who had not called him as their witness. The order of the Magistrate permitting the co-complainant to cross-examine the witnesses of the other complainant as not warranted by the provisions of the Evidence Act and as it is likely to create confusion, it deserves to be set aside to this extent. However, the Magistrate has unlimited power under Section 165 of the Evidence Act to put any question to a witness' or to order him to produce documents. This is invariably done to do justice in the case, to ensure that no guilty person goes unpunished and no innocent person is convicted of an offence not committed by him. If the Magistrate finds that any witness examined by either of the complainants does not appear to be making a completely true statement or has been won over by the accused, he can put questions to the witness, as may be necessary, either suo motu or on the suggestion of the complainants, so that complete material may come on the record and it be possible for him to pronounce a proper judgment.

23. My attention was drawn to only one reported decision in the case of Mukania v. Achalia, AIR 1952 Raj 100 which supports the view expressed above. Therein the Magistrate's order amalgamating the complaint case and the police case and the joint trial of the three accused named in the police report and the further two accused named in the complaint were held not to be illegal. When amalgamation and joint trial of such cases is possible, two complaint cases against the same accused for the same offence can also be amalgamated and tried jointly.

24. To sum up, the Magistrate acted within jurisdiction and in accordance with the law when he amalgamated both the complaint cases and directed that fee evidence of both the complainants shall be recorded during the trial. He, however, acted improperly when he ordered that the complainants shall have the right to cross-examine and contradict the witnesses examined by the other complainant This part of the Magistrate's order deserves to be set aside though the Magistrate can exercise his own discretion and put any question to any witness as he may consider necessary.

25. The revision partly succeeds and partly fails. Only that part ,of the Magistrate's order is set aside under which the complainants were given the right to cross-examine and contradict the witnessesexamined by the other complainant.


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