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Lala Dhanpat Rai and ors. Vs. State - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCrminal Revn. No. 251 of 1958
Judge
Reported inAIR1959All425; 1959CriLJ806
ActsCode of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1898 - Sections 247; Uttar Pradesh Entertainment and Betting Tax Act, 1937
AppellantLala Dhanpat Rai and ors.
RespondentState
Appellant AdvocateOmesh Prasad, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateD.P. Uniyal, Adv.
DispositionApplication dismissed
Excerpt:
.....adjournment existed. it is well known that every magistrate does criminal cases and the number of public prosecutors is far less than the number of criminal courts which are functioning. such absence if it is due to good reasons can be a valid and proper reason for granting an adjournment. this was a perfectly valid reason. the fact that he examined a witness in the absence of the public prosecutor shows that he had dispensed with the attendance of the complainant and was proceeding with the case under the proviso to section 247. it would have been better if he had mentioned it in the order-sheet. 7. i will like to observe that if i have correctly interpreted the intention of the legislature it would be better if a proviso is added to section 247 cr. such statutes are likely to increase..........therefore he is to be represented by those officers who represent the state. it is therefore the public prosecutor or tbe assistant public prosecutor whose presence is needed in such cases. their presence is equivalent to the presence of the district magistrate. 4. the next question is whether the absence of the public prosecutor from a court room is sufficient to come to the conclusion that the complainant is not present without a satisfactory reason in such cases. it is conceded that if the complainant is absent because of a sufficient reason for-example if he is ill it would be a valid ground for not dismissing the complaint and adjourning the case. it is well known that every magistrate does criminal cases and the number of public prosecutors is far less than the number of criminal.....
Judgment:
ORDER

A.N. Mulla, J.

1. Lala Dhanpat Rai and three other applicants have come up in revision before this court praying that complaint pending against them be dismissed and they be acquitted.

2. The facts of the case are as follows : The four applicants are being prosecuted under Section 9(2)of the U. P. Entertainment and Betting Tax Act, 1937, in the Court of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Lucknow. This complaint is filed as required by law by the District Magistrate Lucknow who is a public servant. Summonses were issued to the applicants. When the case came before the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Lucknow and they appeared on differtent dates before him the District Magistrate who was the complainant in this case did not personally attend the Court of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate on any of the hearings.

On 4-6-1958, which was one of the dates fixed for the hearing of this case an application was given by the applicants that the case against them should be dismissed and they should be acquitted under the provisions of Section 247 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. It was contended by them that the complainant was absent and therefore they are entitled to an acquittal under the provision mentioned above. The learned Magistrate adjourned the case to 7-6-1958 for want of time and did not acquit the applicants as prayed by them. It seems that the applicants did not immediately challenge that order of the Magistrate and the case came again before the Magistrate on 7-6-1958.

On that date the Magistrate discovered that the necessary formalities were not fulfilled when the applicants were summoned under Section 204 Cr. P. C. Under Section 204 as it stands, amended it is necessary that when summonses are issued to an accused a copy of the written complaint and the names of the witnesses who are to be examined should also be given to him. This was not done when the applicants were originally summoned and so when the Magistrate came to know about it on 7-6-1958, he adjourned the case to 2-7-1958, on the ground that these formalities should be followed. At this stage the applicants went up in revision before the Sessions Judge and as the Sessions Judge did not grant their prayer they have now come up before this court.

3. The real question in this case is whether an order of acquittal must be automatically passed under Section 247 Cr. P. C. as soon as a complainant is absent on any of the hearings. It was contended by the Counsel for the applicants that under the words of Section 247 Cr. P. C. there is no option for the Court but to pass such an order. It was, however conceded that such an order could be passed only if the court is present and it cannot be passed in the absence of the court. For example if the presiding officer of the Court fails to attend the court on a particular date and the complainant is also absent then in such a case the accused will not get the benefit of the provisions of Section 247, Cr. P. C. Similarly if the case is not taken up for hearing the absence of the complainant would not justify such an order. The legislature has also modified the operation of this rule in two ways. First it has given the right to the Court to adjourn the hearing of the case for some proper reason.

It is true that this proper reason should be recorded in the order-sheet but there is no absolute direction of the law that failure to do so would make the adjournment illegal even if a valid ground for adjournment existed. This question however does not arise in this case for the Magistrate has mentioned the reason for adjournment on both the dates. The second modification made is that where the complainant is a public servant his personal attendance may be dispensed with by the Magistrate and he may proceed with the case.

It cannot be denied that the District Magistrate, Lucknow, is not only a public servant but a very busy public servant. The legislature never contemplated that the District Magistrate should dance attendance upon Courts of Magistrate who are his subordinates when prosecutions are launched under those offences which he alone under the law is entitled to prosecute. It would lead to absurd and ridiculous results if the absence of the District Magistrate is to be treated as the absence of the complainant within the meaning of Section 247 Cr. P. C.

The District Magistrate will file such complaints against all those who commit a breach of the enactment and the number of such offenders can be very large. The cases of such offenders may also come up before different Courts on the same date and the District Magistrate cannot possibly split himself into several persons. The legislature never intended that the District Magistrate should appear in person in 6uch cases. A prosecution by the District Magistrate in such cases is to be deemed as a prosecution by the state through the agency of the District Magistrate and therefore he is to be represented by those officers who represent the state. It is therefore the Public Prosecutor or tbe Assistant Public Prosecutor whose presence is needed in such cases. Their presence is equivalent to the presence of the District Magistrate.

4. The next question is whether the absence of the Public Prosecutor from a Court room is sufficient to come to the conclusion that the complainant is not present without a satisfactory reason in such cases. It is conceded that if the complainant is absent because of a sufficient reason for-example if he is ill it would be a valid ground for not dismissing the complaint and adjourning the case. It is well known that every Magistrate does criminal cases and the number of Public Prosecutors is far less than the number of criminal courts which are functioning.

It is not possible to interpret the law in a manner which would necessitate that for every Magistrate's Court a separate Public Prosecutor should be appointed. Under the existing circumstances the Public prosecutor appears before several Magistrates and therefore when he is functioning in a Court he should be deemed to be present in all those Courts which are in his charge. It is only when he is not functioning in any Court that it can be said that he was absent.

There is nothing on the record of the case to indicate that the particular Public Prosecutor who was in charge o this prosecution was not functioning in the courts of law on that date. The Magistrate cannot insist that the moment they take up a case the Public Prosecutor must immediately appear before them. The Magistrates have to come to an understanding between themselves and the Public Prosecutors as to when their attendance is desired before a particular court.

It is only when such an arrangement has been made and the Public Prosecutor does not appear in accordance with this arrangement and the Court has tried to contact the Public Prosecutor but he is found absent that in such prosecutions it could be said that the complainant was absent. I am therefore of the opinion that merely the absence of the Public Prosecutor from the Court room in such prosecutions which are launched by the State cannot be deemed to be the absence of the complainant without adequate cause within the meaning of Section 247 Cr. P. C. Such absence if it is due to good reasons can be a valid and proper reason for granting an adjournment.

5. In view of what I have observed above all the decisions cited before me are not applicable at all. The learned Judges who gave those decisions have only tried, if I may say so with respect, to interpret the words of the section and have not co-related those words with the spirit of the section or the purpose of the legislature. It would become .absolutely impossible for the state to prosecute offenders in this type of offences if this interpretation is given to the provisions of Sec 247 Cr. P. C.

6. The Magistrate gave adjournments on two hearings. He was entitled to do so within the provisions of Section 247 Cr. P. C. On 4-6-1958 he recorded the statement of a witness and then adjourned the case on the ground that there was no time. This was a perfectly valid reason. The fact that he examined a witness in the absence of the Public Prosecutor shows that he had dispensed with the attendance of the complainant and was proceeding with the case under the Proviso to Section 247. It would have been better if he had mentioned it in the order-sheet. Coming to the next date the learned Magistrate adjourned it on the ground that copies of the complaint were not supplied to the accused. This was again, a valid ground, for this was necessary under the amended provisions of Section 204, Cr. P. C. Where no proper process has been issued to the accused the provisions of Section 247 will not apply, and even on this ground this application must be rejected.

7. I will like to observe that if I have correctly interpreted the intention of the legislature it would be better if a proviso is added to Section 247 Cr. P. C. which will make this intention clear. Section 247 was enacted at a time when the welfare state was not functioning and the public servants were not entrusted with the duty of filing complaints on behalf of the state for breach of statutes which have been enacted for the welfare of the community at large. Such statutes are likely to increase in number and the very purpose of the statute would be defeated if the physical presence of the complainant in such cases is held to be necessary. A clear expression on this point in the statute itself is therefore desirable.

8. I, therefore, find no substance in this application of revision and reject it. The stay order isvacated.


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