1. The following question has been referred by a learned Single Judge for the decision of this Bench :--
''Whether a person who lodges a first information report is a party interested within the meaning of Section 526 Cr. P. C. in a case prosecuted by the State'.
2. Section 526 Cr. P. C.--hereinafter called the Code--confers power upon and lays down the condition under which, a High Court can transfer a case pending in a criminal court subordinate to its authority from that court to another criminal court of equal or superior jurisdiction, or itself try it. The manner in which, and the persons by whom, the power can be invoked are given in Sub-section (3) of that section. Under that sub-section.
'the High Court may act either on the report of the lower court or on the application of a party interested or on its own initiative.'
3. The question posed above thus concerns the construction which is to be placed on the expression 'party interested'. Is it confined in its scope--as contended for by Mr. D.S. Tewari, learned counsel for the opposite party--to the accused and the public prosecutor, on behalf of the State in a case started by the police and a complainant in a case instituted on a private complaint or is it--as argued, by Mr. S.N. Misra, learned counsel for the applicant--wide enough also to include an aggrieved person who lays information about a crime with the police and thereby sets the machinery of law in motion. In my opinion the alternative answer is to be preferred. I shall therefore proceed forthwith to give my reasons for coming to that conclusion.
4. Now, the word 'party' has not been defined in the Code. In coasonance therefore with the well-established canon of interpretation applicable to such a case, that word would have to be given its ordinary dictionary meaning, so that in relation to proceedings in Court it would mean 'each of the two or more persona making the two sides in legal action,' (Oxford Concise English Dictionary). It follows therefore that if that word in Sub-section (3) had stood unqualified in any way, there would have been little to be said in favour of Mr. Misra's point of view. As it is, however that word is followed by the term 'interested'. Since the Legislature is intended to use every word in an Act with a purpose, it becomes necessary to find out what it meant by the word 'interested' in the aforesaid context.
5. In my opinion the addition of that term was made in order to give the word 'party' a wider amplitude than it otherwise possessed. I say so, because on no other basis can the use of that term if it is to have a purpose and meaning be explained. If used to qualify 'party' in the narrow sense, it is a surplusage as it is impossible to conceive of a party in that sense not being interested in its own cause. If however it is used to differentiate an accused who has a reasonable apprehension of not getting a fair and impartial trial from a co-accused who has no such personal apprehension, it is equally redundant, because the right of the latter to move a transfer application cannot be taken away--though his application may be dismissed on merits--on that ground. For all these reasons the term 'interested' must be given the interpretation preferred by me above.
6. The interpretation which I have ventured to place above on the expression 'party interested' finds considerable support from the change which the Legislature itself thought fit to make in another sub-section, viz. Sub-section (8), of Section 526 of the Code, by the Amending Act No. XXI of 1932. Till that amendment the said sub-section ran thus:
'If, in the course of any inquiry or trial, orbefore the commencement of the hearing of any appeal, the 'Public Prosecutor, the complainant or the accused' notifies to the Court before which the case or appeal is pending his intention to make an application under this section in respect of such, case or appeal, the Court shall adjourn the case or postpone the appeal for such a period as will afford a reasonable time for the application to be made and an order to be obtained thereon'.
7. By the Amending Act the expression 'party interested' was substituted in place of 'the Public Prosecutor, the complainant or the accused' and the sub-section was redrafted so as to read as follows :--
'If in any inquiry under Ch. VIII or Ch. XVIII or in any trial, 'any party interested' intimates to the Court at any stage before the defence closes its case that he intends to make an application under this section or under Section 528, the Court shall, upon his executing, if so required, a bond without sureties, of an amount not exceeding two hundred rupees, that he will make such application within a reasonable time to be fixed by the Court, adjourn the case for such a period as will afford sufficient time for the application to be made and an order to be obtained thereon.
Provided that nothing herein contained shall require the Court to adjourn the case upon a second or subsequent intimation from the same party if the application is intended to be made to the same Court to which the party has been given an opportunity of making such an application or, where an adjournment under this sub-section has already been obtained by one of several accused, upon a subsequent intimation by any other accused'.
8. The Amending Act, therefore, brought Sub-section (8) in line with Sub-section (3) wherethe expression 'party interested' has figured from the very inception of the Code. In my opinion the fact that the change was made in Sub-section (8) and not Sub-section (3) is significant, and clearly shows that the legislature did not consider the three categories of persons mentioned in the former as exhaustive of the persons covered by the expression 'party interested'; and accordingly found it necessary 'to make the necessary change in Sub-section (8) rather than in Sub-section (3). For all these reasons. I am satisfied that the expression 'party interested' in Section 526 of the Code must also he held to include an aggrieved person who lodges a report with the police and thereby sets the machinery of law in motion.
9. I shall now deal with the various decisions which were cited at the bar. On behalf of the applicant reliance was placed on Sheodhari Rai v. Jhingur Rai, AIR 1925 Pat 818, Bagh Ali v. Muhammad Din, AIR 1926 Lah 156 Emperor v. Bhik Chand : AIR1926All307 , Rajagopal Rao v. Narayana Reddi, AIR 1929 Mad 844, Sardar Shan v. Gurdut Singh, AIR 1934 Lah 612, In re Abdul Naseer : AIR1937All664 , Emperor v. Phana, AIR 1938 Lah 569, Om Radhe v. Emperor, AIR 1939 Sind 238, Ghulam Rasul v. Emperor, AIR 1941 Lah 299, Sir Rajendra Narain v. Bhagaban Mahapatra, AIR 1947 Pat 166, Brahma Dutt v. State, AIR 1950 AH 483, and N.C. Bese v. Probodh Putta Ghosh, AIR 1955 Assam 116. While on behalf of the opposite party, In re, J. Ganon, 5 Born LR 861, Jamuna Kanth Jha v. Rudra Kumar Jha, AIR 1920 Pat 836 and Sri Krishna v. Haijnath : AIR1953All698 were pressed into service.
10. The entire case law catalogued above can be conveniently divided in two categories. The first category comprises of decisions in which the right of the person who lodges the F. I. R. with the police to move the High Court for transfer is assumed without being decided, while in the other, that matter is considered and the reasons for taking one view or the other stated. The cases of Bagh Ali, AIR 1926 Lah 156, Emperor (Through Shib Narain) : AIR1926All307 , Rajagopal Rao, AIR 1929 Mad 844, Sardar Shah, AIR 1934 Lah 612 : AIR1937All664 , ATR 1.938 Lah 569, Ghulam Rasul, AIR 1941 Lah 299 Sir Rajcndra Narain, ATR 1947 Pat 166. Brahma Dutt : AIR1950All483 fall in the former category. In Om Radhe, AIR 1939 Sind 238 a learned Judge of the Sindh Chief Court has gone even further and has held that in addition to a police informant, a witness is also a 'party interested' for the purposes of Section 526 of the Code. This decision can also be properly placed in the first category as the right of a police informant and witness to move for transfer has been assumed without being decided. Similarly in 5 Bom LR 869, the contrary proposition has been assumed without being decided. These cases are thus of little assistance to us.
11. The second category consists of Jamuna Kanth Jha, AIR 1920 Pat 836, Sheodhari Rai, AIR 1925 Pat 818. N. C Bose. AIR 1955 Assam 116 and Sri Krishna : AIR1953All698 . Of these cases Sheodhari Rai AIR 1955 Pat 818 and N.C. Bose AIR 1955 Assam 116 take the view that a person who lodged a report with the police is an interestedparty while in Sri Krishna : AIR1953All698 , the contrary view finds favour. In the case of Jamuna Kanth Jha AIR 1920 Pat 836 the two Judges who heard it took different views. I shall therefore take up Jamuna Kanth Jha AIR 1920 Pat 836 and Sri Krishna : AIR1953All698 first.
In Jamuna Kanth Jha AIR 1920 Pat 836, Mullick, J. was of the opinion that:
'It seems to be clear that ordinarily the only persons who are recognized by the Code as parties to a criminal case are the persons who have the right to be heard, that is to say, persons who have the right to control the proceedings. These are the Crown, the accused and parties engaged in conducting certain proceedings of quasi civil nature which, accepting the reasoning in In re. Arumuga Tegundun ILR 26 Mad 188 I assume to be criminal cases within the meaning of the Code'.
Jwala Prasad J. the other Judge was of the contrary opinion. I shall refer to his reasoning later in this judgment.
12. According to Mullick, J. therefore the parties to a criminal case are ordinarily the persons who have the right to control the proceedings of the case i.e., the Crown, the accused and parties engaged in conducting certain proceedings within the meaning of the Code. He therefore held that a person who had received injuries during the commission of a crime and had made a report about if to the police was not a 'party interested'. With due respect to Mullick, J., I am unable to accept the aforesaid view. If the right to control proceedings is held as the acid test, then there are a number of cases in which, though the prosecution is in the hands of the public prosecutor, the aggrieved persons on whose reports those cases were instituted also retain some sort of a right to control the proceedings. Section 345 of the Code contains a long list of such cases in which an aggrieved person can compound offences with or without the permission of Court, Many of the offences mentioned in that section are of a cognisable nature.
The fact that an aggrieved, person has been, given the right to compound some offences of a cognizable kind also, clearly shows that he retains same control over the proceedings in respect of those offences. How can it be maintained in such cases that though an aggrieved person can by his act bring them to a close he is nevertheless not a person in control of those proceedings. That Mullick, J., himself was in some doubt about the universality of the test laid down by him is obvious from the use of the word 'ordinarily' by him. The use of that word would show that he also thought that there could be cases in which persons other than the public prosecutor, the accused and parties engaged in conducting certain proceedings within the meaning of the Code, might have to be included in the category of a 'party interested'. The test laid down by Mullick J. thus breaks down in a large number of cases and it cannot therefore be held to furnish any reliable guidance for interpreting the expression 'party interested'.
13. The only other case to be considered this connection is that of Sri Krishna : AIR1953All698 . In this case Desai, J.,--as he then was--held that;-
'In order to have the right to apply for transfer the applicant must possess two qualifications, one of being a party and the other of having interest. Mere possession of interest will not do. In other words, merely on account of his possessing interest ho will not he a 'party interested'. His position in the case may simply be that of a witness, but a witness is not a party. ....,......'
and further on he observed :--
'It stands to reason that if the legislature had intended to give the right of applying for transfer to every person interested, there was nothing to prevent it from using the words 'a person interested' instead of a 'party interested'. When the legislature deliberately chose the word 'party' it would not be right to ask that it means nothing but a person'.
He summed up the situation in the following Words :--
''The status of a person who has been injured during the commission of a crime or who makes a report about it to the police is that of a witness only, unless he is the actual complainant before the court. If a person merely On account of his interest becomes a party the word 'interested' in the phrase 'party interested' would become redundant. That word is used because all parties are not necessarily interested in having the case transferred as the ground on which transfer is sought may not apply to all parties arrayed on the same side'.
14. I have highlighted the salient observations of Desai, J. in order to bring out the reasons on which his judgment is based. Of these the last two have been considered by me earlier in the judgment and for the reasons given there, I am unable, most respectfully, to agree with them. This leaves me with the consideration of the first reason given by Desai, J.--the reason based on the distinction which he has made between parties and witnesses. With profound respect to Desai J. I would like to observe that the distinction drawn by him overlooks the fact that a person can both be a party and a witness. The two roles are not necessarily exclusive, and actually in the generality of cases the parties to a cause are usually the principal witnesses therein. Take for example a case instituted on a private complaint, in such a case the complainant is usually his principal witness--that is to, say he occupies the position of both a party and a witness. Similarly a person who goes and makes a report to the police is, more often than, not, a witness in the case. It follows therefore that a person can both be a party and a witness in the same case, and consequently any distinction based upon the difference in these two roles cannot provide a satisfactory answer to the interpretation of the expression 'party interested' , I am therefore satisfied that an aggrieved person, who lodges a report with the police does not, cease to be a party interested merely by his being a witness in that case.
15. I am fortified in the view taken by me by the decisions in Sheodhari Rai, AIR 1925 Pat 818 and N.C. Bose, AIR 1955 Assam 116 and particularly the observations of Jwala Prasad, J., in Jamuna Kanth Jha, AIR 1920 Pat 836, which might usefully be quoted here:
'If the legislature intended that the words, 'party interested' in Clause 3 should mean only 'the Public Prosecutor, the complainant or the accused', there was nothing to prevent those very words being used for the words 'party interested' in Clause 3. The object of the two clauses is quite different. Clause 8 is enacted for the purpose of enabling a Court to ''postpone or adjourn the hearing of a case where an intention is expressed of making an application for the transfer of the case, whereas the object of Clause 3 is to confer a right of making an application for transfer. An informant of the offence to the police may not be conducting the case and may not therefore be entitled to ask for an ADjournment, but is nonetheless interested in the result of the case and consequently in a fair and impartial trial of the same. He has to bear the consequences of the result of the case, such as his liability to be prosecuted if the case were held on account of an unfair trial to be false and malicious. If on the other hand, the case succeeds, he and he only is entitled to compensation in the civil Court for the wrong, done to his person or property'.
16. For the reasons stated above I would answer the, question referred to us in the affirmative.
17. SHARMA, J.:--I agree.