1. One Vishwanath filed a complaint against Harnam Singh accused under Section 448 I. P. C. alleging that the accused had committed criminal trespass over a portion of an abadi plot belonging to him with intent to intimidate insult or annoy him. The trial court convicted the accused under Section 447 I. P. C and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of one month the court held that the complainant was entitled to be restored to possession and accordingly ordered delivery of possession of the property to him under Section 522 Cr. P. C.
2. Harnam Singh accused filed an appeal against his conviction and the learned Civil & Sessions Judge set aside the conviction holding that the possession of the accused was not wrongful and that he has been in continuous and peaceful possession of the property from before. In the result the appellate court ordered redelivery of possession of the property to the accused under Sections 522/423 Cr. P. C.
3. The complainant then filed an application in revision in this Court challenging the legality of the order passed by the learned Civil & Sessions Judge and contended that the lower appellate court had no jurisdiction to redeliver possession of the property to the accused. The learned Single Judge, who heard the revision, noticed two conflicting Single Judge decisions of this Court in Ram Prasad v. State 0044/1958 : AIR1958All159 and Malkhan Singh v. Emperor : AIR1945All226 as to the powers of the appellate court while acting under Section 522/423 Cr. P C. to order re-delivery of possession to the accused, has referred the following question for decision to a larger Bench:
'Whether under Section 522/423 Cr. P. C. the appellate court can order redelivery of property to Harnam Singh (accused)?'
4. To appreciate the question referred to us it is necessary to read the relevant provisions of Section 522 Cr. P. C.
522 (1)--Whenever a person is convicted of an offence attended by criminal force or show of force or by criminal intimidation and it appears to the court that by such force or show of force or criminal intimidation any person has been dispossessed of any immovable property, the court may, if it thinks fit, when convicting such person or at any time within one month from the date of the conviction order the person dispossessed to be restored to the possession of the same.
(2) No such order shall prejudice any right or interest to or in such immovable property which any person may be able to establish in a civil suit.
(3) An order under this section may be made by any court of appeal, confirmation, reference or revision.
5. By Sub-section (1) Section 522 Criminal P. C. a trial court convicting an accused person is empowered to order delivery of possession of immovable property to any person who has been dispossessed therefrom by criminal force or show of force or criminal intimidation. If the court recording the conviction does not make any order regarding delivery of possession under Sub-section (1), the court of appeal or revision has jurisdiction under Sub-section (3) to make an order in terms of Sub-section (1).
6. The provisions of Section 522 Cr. P. C. are limited in scope in that they merely provide for delivery of possession of immovable property in the event of the accused being convicted. Section 522 Criminal P. C. does not provide for the contingency when the accused person is acquitted by a court of appeal or revision and the question of redelivery of possession to him of the immovable property may consequently arise. We have to look for those powers in Section 423, Criminal P. C. It is that section which empowers the appellate or revisional court to make consequential or incidental orders necessary for the ends of justice. This is clearly brought out by a comparison of the provisions of Section 522 with those of Section 520 of the Code. Whereas under Section 520 a court of appeal, confirmation, reference or revision can modify an order made under Section 517, Cr. P. C. no such power is conferred on the appellate or revisional court under Section 522(3), Cr. P. C.
7. The question as to the powers of the High Court to interfere in revision with an order made under Section 522, Cr. P. C. relating to delivery of possession to the person dispossessed from immovable property came up for consideration in Manki v. Bhagwanti. (1905) ILR 27 All 415. The decision in that case was based on the provisions of the old Act. Sub-section (3) of Section 522, Criminal P. C., was introduced in the Code by Act XVIII of 1923. It was pointed out in the above case that apart from the powers conferred on the High Court under Section 439, Criminal P. C. as a court of revision it has all the powers of an appellate court, as set out in Section 423, Criminal P. C. and that one of those powers is to make any amendment or consequential or incidental order that may be lust and proper. It was therefore, held that the High Court in exercise of its revisional Jurisdiction has power to order redelivery of possession of immovable property to the accused person who has been acquitted of an offence under Section 447 of the Indian Penal Code.
8. In : AIR1945All226 the decision was based on the provisions of the amended Code. The question for consideration in that case was whether the High Court could order redelivery of possession of immovable property to the accused person who had been acquitted by the appellate court of an offence under Section 448, I. P. C Walliullah, J observed as follows: --
'There can be no doubt whatsoever that this court has, power as a court of revision under Section 439 read with Section 423, Sub-section (1), Sub-Clause (d), Criminal P. C. to reverse an order passed by the learned Magistrate under Section 522. Criminal P. C. It has been urged by the learned counsel for the complainant that in this particular case the findings by the appellate court come to this that the house really belonged to the complainant and he was deprived of the possession of the same on account of the commission of the offence under Section 448, Penal Code. It is, however, clear that after the quashing of the conviction by the appellate Court the accused (the applicants) must be deemed to be innocent of the crime. When once their conviction has been set aside, the order passed by the learned Magistrates under Section 522, Criminal P. C., which was obviously passed in consequence of such a conviction must also be set aside and the property should be restored to the accused even though the equities may in a sense be in favour of the complainant.'
9. The above view is in accord with that expressed in the case of Manki, (1905) ILR 27 All 415 (supra) although Walliul-lah, J. did not expressly refer to that case in his judgment.
10. A contrary view was expressed Dy Raghubar Dayal, J. (as he then was) in 0044/1958 : AIR1958All159 . The facts of that case were briefly these. Ram Prasad and others were convicted inter alia of an offence under Section 447, I. P. C. Subsequent to their conviction, the Magistrate convicting them passed an order under Section 522, Criminal P. C. ordering them to restore possession to the complainant. On appeal the conviction of Ram Prasad and others was set aside and they were ordered to be acquitted. Thereafter the acquitted persons applied to the lower appellate court for the restitution of possession over the land in dispute under Section 522, Cr. P. C. This application was rejected by the learned Sessions Judge who held that the appellate court had no jurisdiction to pass an order under Section 522 Cr. P. C. when it acquitted the accused persons. It was further held that such an order if made under Section 423(1) (d) of Criminal Procedure Code could be passed only when the appellate court was seized of the appeal and not subsequent to its disposal. It was against the appellate order refusing to restore possession of the disputed property to the acquitted persons that an application in revision was filed in this court Raghubar Dayal, J agreed with the appellate- court that an order restoring possession to the acquitted persons could not be passed by it after it ceased to have jurisdiction over the appeal and that the provisions of Section 423 (l) (d) of the Code of Criminal Procedure had no application to such a case. As regards the question whether the High Court in its revisional jurisdiction had power to pass an order directing re-delivery of possession to the acquitted persons under Section 439 read with Section 423 (l) (d). Criminal P. C. the learned Judge said that :--
'Till Sub-section (3) of Section 522, Code of Criminal Procedure was enacted in 1923 it had been held that a Court of appeal or revision could not pass an order under Sub-section (1) of Section 522, Code of Criminal Procedure, and that such an order could be passed only by the Court which convicted a person. It follows from this that an order under Sub-section (1) of Section 522, Code of Criminal Procedure, is not a consequential or incidental order vis-a-vis an order of conviction.
It is an independent order. If it was a consequential or an incidental order, there was no necessity of specifically providing for it in Section 522, Code of Criminal Procedure and such an order could be made by the appellate court, when the trial court omitted to pass such an order. The appellate Court could not pass this order because it was an independent order.'
The learned Single Judge did not agree with the view expressed by Waliullah, J. in Malkhan Singh's case, : AIR1945All226 (supra) observing that the same was based on the decision in Manki's case, (1905) ILR 27 All 415 (supra). Raghubar Dayal, J. repelled the contention that Section 423 (l) (d) of the Code of Criminal Procedure empowered an appellate or revision-al court to pass ah order restoring possession of the immovable property to an acquitted person He went on to say that :--
'Section 423 (1) (d), Criminal P. C., provides for the making of any consequential or incidental order. Reversal of order is contemplated in Clause (c) and can be done in an appeal from any order other than an order convicting or acquitting a person. No appeal is provided against an order under Section 522, Code of Criminal Procedure, and therefore, such an order cannot be reversed by considering an order of reversal to be a consequential or incidental order.'
11. With great respect the opinion expressed by Raghubar Dayal J. is inconsistent with the provisions of Section 423(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code. He imagined, and in our opinion, erroneously that Clause (d) of Sub-section (1) of Section 423 was not applicable as no appeal was provided against an order passed under Section 522. Code of Criminal Procedure.
12. Section 522 is in Chapter XLI of the Code and deals with the disposal of property pending investigation and trial of a criminal case as also after the conviction or acquittal of an accused person, as the case may be. This section does not deal with the powers exercised by an appellate court while disposing of an appeal. Section 423 falls in Chapter XXXI of the Code and relates to appeals and powers of the appellate court. Section 423, inter alia, provides that the appellate court may -
(a) in an appeal from an order of acquittal reverse such order and direct that further enquiry b' made or that the accused be retried or committed for trial as the case may be or find him guilty and pass sentence on him according to law;
(b) in an appeal from a conviction (1) reverse the finding and sentence and acquit or discharge the accused, or order him to be retried by a court of competent jurisdiction, or (2) alter the finding maintaining the sentence or with or without altering the finding, reduce the sentence, or (3) with or without such reduction and with or without altering the finding, alter the nature of the sentence, but subject to the provisions of Section 106, Sub-section (3), not so as to enhance the same;
(c) in an appeal from any other order, alter or reverse such order;
(d) make any amendment or any consequential or incidental order that may be just and proper.
It will be seen that Clause (c) above relates to an appeal from an order other than those mentioned in Clauses (a) and (b). The powers of an appellate court mentioned in Clause (d) above apply equally to appeals under Clauses (a), (b) and (c).
13. It is erroneous to think that a consequential or incidental order contemplated by Clause (d) has reference only to an order made in an appeal under Clause (c) above. The basis upon which the decision in Ram Prasad's case. 0044/1958 : AIR1958All159 (supra) was made appears to us to be misconceived.
14. In our judgment the view expressed by Waliullah, J. in Malkhan Singh's case : AIR1945All226 (supra) is in conformity with the provisions of the Code. We are further of opinion that the ruling of the Division Bench in Manki's case, (1905) ILR 27 All 415 (supra) correctly enunciates the law as to the scope of the powers of the appellate or revisional court in regard to orders made under Section 522, Code of Criminal Procedure.
15. In Osman Gani v. Baramdeo Singh : AIR1959Cal145 a Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court, in similar circumstances, held that 'when an accused person is acquitted by an appellate court of the offence under Section 447 Penal Code the appellate court has jurisdiction to order redelivery of property to the person dispossessed'. Dealing with this aspect of the matter the learned Judges observed as follows:--
'Now the basis of an order under Section 522 (1) of the Criminal P. C. is a conviction together with a certain finding that the complainant was dispossessed by force or show of force or criminal intimidation. As soon as the conviction is set aside the whole basis of the order disappears. Consequently it is open to the High Court after the conviction has been set aside to set aside the order under Section 522 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code and to direct restoration of possession to the party who has been dispossessed by the order under Section 522 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.'
This is the view taken by the single Judge of the Allahabad High Court in Malkhan Singh's case, AIR 1945 All 226 and their Lordships adopted the view in Malkhan Singh's case and set aside the order of the Magistrate restoring possession of the premises to the complainant and directed redelivery of the property to the acquitted persons.
16. In M.V. Beran Kutty Haji v. C. I. Raman AIR 1949 Mad 191 Horwill. J. observed:--
'that the object of Section 522 is to prevent any person gaining wrongful possession of the land by his own unlawful and forcible acts. In other words the principle of civil law that a person in peaceful possession of land should be protected against dispossession by requiring whoever claims the right to possession against him to go to a competent court and dispossess him only in due course of law is sought to be enforced by empowering criminal courts under Section 522 to direct restoration of possession with a view to see that no man flouts the law and relies upon physical force to achieve bis ends.'
17. Where the finding is that a person has been dispossessed of the property of which he was in peaceful possession it is but just and proper that the court should have power to restore possession to the person so dispossessed. The powers conferred on an appellate court under Section 423 and on a court of revision or reference under Section 439/423, Criminal P. C. are meant to protect the possession of a person who has been wrongfully dispossessed. It is to achieve this end that the legislature has enacted Clause (d) of Sub-section (1) of Section 423 and invested an appellate as well as a revisional court with power to pass necessary and proper orders in consequence of the acquittal of an accused person charged with an offence under Section 447, Penal Code.
18. In the instant case there being a clear finding by the Civil & Sessions Judge that the accused party had been in peaceful possession of a portion of the disputed land and that no offence was proved to have been committed by them under Section 447. I. P. C. the order passed by the Magistrate delivering possession of the property to the complainant by dispossessing the accused party was rightly set aside and as a consequence of the acquittal of the accused they were rightly held entitled to redelivery of possession of the said portion of the land. Consequently the order passed by the appellate court in the instant case was in accordance with the provisions of Section 522 read with Section 423, Criminal P. C.
19. Our answer to the question referred to us is that the appellate court can order redelivery of property to an accused person on his acquittal in pursuance of the provisions of Section 522/423, Criminal P, C. and that the opinion expressed by Waliullah, J. in : AIR1945All226 lays down the correct law. The observations made by Raghubar Dayal, J. in : AIR1958All159 to the contrary are not in consonance with the provisions of law.