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State of U.P. Vs. Jag Raj - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal;Constitution
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Misc. Case No. 69 of 1961
Judge
Reported inAIR1961All630
ActsConstitution of India - Article 134(1)
AppellantState of U.P.
RespondentJag Raj
Advocates:Dy. Govt. Adv.
DispositionApplication dismissed
Excerpt:
.....and (c) of article 134(1) of constitution of india - clauses (a) and (b) gives absolute right of appeal to accused - clause (c) deals with case in which there is no absolute right of appeal. - - a high court does not come into the picture at all when an appeal is filed under clause (a) or clause (b) but it does when an appeal is to be filed under clause (e) because an appeal cannot be filed unless the high court grants a certificate of fitness for appeal which the high court can only do if it is satisfied not only with regard to the merits of the appeal but also with regard to the fact that it is one of the orders contemplated by article 134(1). 4. in this view it would not be necessary for us, except to the limited extent which we have mentioned above, to decide whether an appeal..........he is acquitted by the high court or his acquittal by a subordinate court is maintained by it on appeal. clauses (a) and (b) are fundamentally-different from clause (c) ; the former give an absolute right of appeal to the accused and deal with a case in which he is tried and sentenced to death by the high court itself.there is nothing in common between them and clause (c), which gives an independent right to appeal. clause (c) deals with a case in which there is no absolute right of appeal, that is, with every case barring a case in which an accused is tried and sentenced to death by the high court itself. the words 'the case' occurring in clause (c) are not so ambiguous as to require any assistance from clauses (a) and (b) in their interpretation. there is no scope at all for the.....
Judgment:

Desai, C.J.

1. This application by the State for a certificate under Article 134(1)(c) of the Constitution, that the case is a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court, is laid before us in accordance with the orders of the Bench by which it was heard. The opposite party was tried before a Magistrate for the offence of Section 14(2) of the Employees Provident Fund Act read with para 76 of the Provident Fund Scheme. The Magistrate convicted him, but cm appeal the Sessions Judge acquitted him. The State preferred an appeal from the acquittal which was dismissed by our brothers, Vishnu Datta Bhargava and Takru. The question raised in the appeal before them was of the effect of the number of workmen employed in a factory falling below iifty after the scheme had come into force.

It was held by them that after the number of workmen employed in a factory by the opposite party fell below fifty, he was not bound to implement the scheme and could not be convicted under Section 14(2) of the Act. The State wants a certificate under Article 134(1)(c) on the ground that the question of law decided by our learned brothers is of sufficient importance to justify its being raised before the Supreme Court.

2. Article 134(1) of the Constitution is as follows:

'An appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court from any judgment, final order or sentence in a criminal proceeding of a High Court ........... if the High Court-

(a) has on appeal reversed an order of acquittal of an accused person and sentenced him to death; or

(b) has withdrawn for trial before itself any case from any court subordinate to its authority and has in such trial convicted the accused person and sentenced him to death; or

(c) certifies that the case is a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court:'

It is to be noted that there are two matters dealt with by this provision: (1) of the maintainability of an appeal in the Supreme Court and (2) the granting of a certificate. Clauses (a) and (b) grant to an accused, who has been convicted and sentenced to death by a High Court, an absolute right of appeal to the Supreme Court, while Clause (c) gives a right on the basis of a certificate of fitness for appeal granted by the High Court.

3. The question whether an appeal lies to the Supreme Court under Article 134 or not is within the sole jurisdiction of the Supreme Court; a High Court has absolutely no jurisdiction to decide this question. In fact a certificate granted by the High; Court does not bind the Supreme Court and their Lordships can in a proper case hold that the certificate should not have been granted by the High Court.

All that the High Court has to do is to prima facie satisfy itself that the order sought to be appealed from is one contemplated by the first clause of Article 134 and then to see whether it also answers the requirements of Sub-clause (a), (b) or (c) of Article 134(1). If the order sought to be appealed from is not a judgment, final order or sentence in a criminal proceeding, the High Court cannot grant a certificate under Clause (c) of Article 134(1) however erroneous the judgment may be.

A High Court does not come into the picture at all when an appeal is filed under Clause (a) or Clause (b) but it does when an appeal is to be filed under Clause (e) because an appeal cannot be filed unless the High Court grants a certificate of fitness for appeal which the High Court can only do if it is satisfied not only with regard to the merits of the appeal but also with regard to the fact that it is one of the orders contemplated by Article 134(1).

4. In this view it would not be necessary for us, except to the limited extent which we have mentioned above, to decide whether an appeal lies under Clause (C) from an order of acquittal passed, or maintained on appeal, by a High Court. But if we were to decide it, we would have no hesitation in deciding it in the affirmative. Article 134 grants a right of appeal from 'any judgment, final order or sentence'.

The words are as wide as they could be. The Article makes no distinction whatsoever between one judgment and another or one final order and another or one sentence and another; an appeal lies from every judgment or every final order or every sentence, and is appealable to the Supreme Court if the condition laid down in Clause (a) or (b) or (c) is fulfilled. When a High Court acquits an accused on an appeal by him or maintains his acquittal by a subordinate court on an appeal by the State Government or the complainant under Section 417 Cr. P. C., the judgment, though of acquittal, is a 'judgment' within the meaning of Article 134, and appealable to the Supreme Court.

The words used in the Article being of the widest amplitude, it is not open to us to restrict their scope by saying that the 'judgment' or 'final order' must be a judgment or final order of conviction or maintenance of conviction. It is also not justifiable for us to reduce their scope in this manner.

5. In the case of State of Orissa v. Minaketan, : AIR1953Ori160 , Jagannadhadas, C. J. was inclined to the view that a High Court has no jurisdiction to grant a certificate referred to in Clause (c) in a case of acquittal. He referred to the fact that an appeal against acquittal is not an ordinary feature of the English Law and that the legislature of India has made a departure from it by specially providing for an appeal by the State Government from acquittal under Section 417 and observed:

'It appears to me, therefore, quite clear that it would be against the policy of the legislature to construe Article 134(1)(c) of the Constitution as permitting the High Court to grant leave to appeal as against the judgment of acquittal confirming the acquittal.'

With great respect we find ourselves unable to agree with the reasoning of the learned Chief Justice. An appeal is, as is well known, a matter of statute, and no appeal lies, whether from conviction or from acquittal, without a statutory provision. If in English Law there is an appeal from conviction only, it is because there is statutory prevision for an appeal from conviction and no statutory provision for an appeal from acquittal. The Indian legislature has expressly taken a different line from the British Parliament and enacted Section 417, Cr. P. C.

Not only are we not governed by statutes enacted by Parliament but also, after the enactment of Section 417, Cr. P. C., it is not permissible to contend that an appeal from acquittal is foreign to the Indian legislature's policy. The learned Chief Justice did not, however, expressly decide that no appeal from acquittal lies to the Supreme Court Under Clause (c) and dismissed the application for a certificate of fitness for appeal on merits. This will be clear from the following observations made by him at page 165:

'Whether or not my view on this aspect is correct, I am inclined to think that in this case there are no sufficient grounds for certifying that this is a fit one for granting leave'.

Wo find no support for the view that a judgment of acquittal by a High Court is not a 'judgment' within the meaning of Art, 134 (1).

6. Coming to the question of a High Court's certifying that the case is a fit one for appeal, we find that it involves two questions; one of jurisdiction or power and the other of merits. The two questions are distinct from each other but sometimes have been confounded with each and some High Courts have, while discussing the jurisdiction to grant the certificate, gone into the merits of the application for a certificate and dismissed it. As regards the jurisdiction, it can hardly be doubted that a High Court can grant a certificate of fitness for appeal from 'any judgment, final order or sentence in a criminal proceeding'.

Since the appeal is to lie from 'any judgment, final order or sentence', the High Court can grant a certificate of fitness for appeal from 'any judgment, final order or sentence'. In other words, any judgment, whether of conviction or of acquittal, can be certified by a High Court to be a fit one for appeal. In the case of Minaketan : AIR1953Ori160 , referred to above and in State v. Tula Ram : AIR1960All585 . it was pointed out that the words used in. Article 134 are wide enough to cover a certificate being granted by a High Court in any case, including one of acquittal.

There is nothing in Clause (c) to suggest that only a case of conviction can be said to be fit for appeal to the Supreme Court. If an appeal does lie from acquittal by a High Court, a judgment of acquittal can be certified by a High Court to be a fit one for appeal. A fit case includes not Only one in which an accused is convicted but also one in which he is acquitted by the High Court or his acquittal by a subordinate court is maintained by it on appeal. Clauses (a) and (b) are fundamentally-different from Clause (c) ; the former give an absolute right of appeal to the accused and deal with a case in which he is tried and sentenced to death by the High Court itself.

There is nothing in common between them and Clause (c), which gives an independent right to appeal. Clause (c) deals with a case in which there is no absolute right of appeal, that is, with every case barring a case in which an accused is tried and sentenced to death by the High Court itself. The words 'the case' occurring in Clause (c) are not so ambiguous as to require any assistance from Clauses (a) and (b) in their interpretation. There is no scope at all for the application of the principle of ejus-dem generis, which was invoked by a Bench of this Court in State v. Kamlesh Hari : AIR1960All458 . With great respect to our learned brothers, who decided the case, we may point out that there are no genus and species in Article 134 -- no particular words (species) followed by a word of general import (genus).

An appeal under Clause (c) differs so fundamentally from an appeal under Clauses(a) and (b) that the relationship of genus and species cannot exist between Clause (c) on one side and Clauses (a) and (b) on the other, and without such a relationship the application of the doctrine of ejusdem generis is impossible. Therefore, the circumstance that Clauses (a) and (b) deal with an appeal by a convicted person is not of any relevancy in deciding what is meant by 'the case' in Clause (c), We have no doubt that a High Court is competent to grant the certificate referred to in Clause (c) from its judgment of acquittal or maintenance of acquittal on appeal.

7-8. This application was referred to a larger Bench by our brothers before whom it was laid, on account of a conflict between : AIR1960All458 and : AIR1960All585 . We respectfully dissent from the decision in the case of Kamlesh Hari : AIR1960All458 and agree with the decision in 1960 All LJ 361 : (AIP. 1960 AU 585). The learned judges who held in the cases of Kamlesh Hari : AIR1960All458 , : AIR1953Ori160 that a High Court has no power to grant a certificate referred to in Clause (c) in a case of acquittal, thought that that was the decision of the Supreme Court in State v. Ram Krishna Ganpatrao : AIR1954SC20 . The Supreme Court dealt with an appeal filed with special leave by the State of Madhya Pradesh from an acquittal order passed by the High Court of Nagpur on appeal.

The question whether a High Court has power to grant a certificate referred to in Clause (c) when it acquits the accused (or maintains his acquittal under Section 417, Cr. P. C.) did not arise before the Supreme Court and was not answered by it. The question dealt with by it was whether the appeal should be allowed or not and in dealing with that question Mahajan, J. (as he then was) observed :

'This appeal is before us by special leave. Article 134 of the Constitution permits an appeal to this Court from any judgment, final order or sentence in a criminal proceeding of a High Court in the territory of India if the High Court has on appeal reversed an order of acquittal of an accused person and sentenced him to death. It does not provide for an appeal from a judgment, final order or sentence in a criminal proceeding of a High Court if the High Court has on appeal reversed an order of conviction of an accused person and hasordered his acquittal. In other words, there is no provision in the Constitution corresponding to Section 417, Cr. P, C. and such an order is final subject, however, to the overriding powers vested in this Court by Article 136 of the Constitution'.

We are constrained to observe that these observations have been misunderstood or misapplied. What the learned judge meant by saying that Article 134 does not provide for an appeal from a judgment of acquittal passed by a High Court on appeal is that there is no such provision in express words as there is for an appeal by an accused against his conviction. Clauses (a) and (b) give an accused, who is convicted and sentenced by the High Court, an absolute right of appeal to the Supreme Court. Section 417, Cr. P. C. also gives State Government an absolute right of appeal to the High Court from an order of acquittal by a subordinate court.

There is no similar provision which gives an absolute right of appeal to the Supreme Court from acquittal by a High Court. The learned judge did not consider at all the provision of Clause (c) and did not decide that a High Court has no jurisdiction to grant a certificate of fitness for appeal from its order by which it acquits an accused on appeal or maintains his acquittal on appeal under sec. 417. These observations were considered and explained by the Supreme Court in State of Madras v. Gurviah Naidu and Co., Ltd. : 1956CriLJ331 . The High Court of Madras on appeal had set aside the conviction of an accused and acquitted him. The State of Madras obtained from the High Court a certificate of fitness for appeal under Article 134(1)(c) and preferred an appeal from the acquittal to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court allowed the appeal, set aside the acquittal and restored the conviction. Its attention was drawn to the above-quoted observations and it was contended before it that the appeal was not maintainable under Article 134(1)(c). Tile learned judges pointed out that the decision in the case of Ramkrishna GanPatrao : AIR1954SC20 was not a decision of a Constitution Bench, that it was given in an appeal filed with special leave granted by it and that tile observations were 'obviously made to emphasise that this Court should not, in an appeal by special leave, interfere with an order of acquittal passed by the High Court merely for correcting errors of facts or law'.

The learned judges did not hear arguments on the scope of Article 134(1)(c) and expressly refrained from deciding whether a High Court has jurisdiction to grant a certificate mentioned in Clause (c) or not, because even if the appeal could be said to be not maintainable under Article 134(1)(c) it could be maintained on special leave. It is clear from this decision of the Supreme Court that it left the question of the maintainability of appeal from a High Court's order of acquittal on a certificate mentioned in Clause (c) undecided and made it clear that it was not decided, also in the case of Ramkrishna Ganpatrao : AIR1954SC20 .

If it had been already decided in the case of Ramkrishna Ganpatrao : AIR1954SC20 there was no question of its being left open by the Supreme Court. After this decision of the Supreme Court it is not possible to say that the Supreme Court has held that no appeal from acquittal lies under Article 134(1)(c) .

9. In the case of Minaketan : AIR1953Ori160 Panigrahi J., though expressing entire concurrence with the judgment of the learned Chief Justice, said that the case was not a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court. Thus he also, though being inclined to the view that a High Court has no power to grant a certificate referred to in Clause (c), rejected the application for such a certificate on merits. Narasimham J. , who was the third member of the Court, definitely held that such a certificate can be granted by a High Court. There is thus very little Support to be had from the decision in this case for the proposition that a High Court has no jurisdiction to grant a certificate referred to in Clause (c).

10. In the case of Kamlesh Hari : AIR1960All458 the learned judges did observe at page 889 (of All LJ) : (at p. 459 of AIR) that the above-quoted observations in the case of Ramkrishna Ganpatrao : AIR1954SC20 , apply in a case in which an application is made for a certificate mentioned in Clause (c) from an order of acquittal. With great respect we disagree and find that the observations have no bearing on the question. We are not certain if the question of jurisdiction was not confused with that of merits.

11. The view that we take is supported by the view taken by Roy and Uniyal, JJ., in the case of Tula Ram : AIR1960All585 , We respectfully agree with their observation that the considerations relevant for Section 417, Cr! P. C. are not relevant when a High Court has to grant a certificate mentioned in Clause (c) from an acquittal.

12. We, therefore, hold that a High Court has jurisdiction to certify that the case decided by it resulting in acquittal of the accused or maintenance of his acquittal by a subordinate court is a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court.

13. Corning to the merits of the application, we are satisfied that this is not a fit case for appeal to the Supreme Court at all. The question of law that is involved in the appeal is under consideration before a Full Bench of this court, and would be authoritatively decided, as far as this Court is concerned, soon. In view of this fact we do not consider that it should be allowed to be raised before the Supreme Court. If the Full Bench decides it against the State it will be open to the State to file an appeal to the Supreme Court from it either on a certificate or by special leave.

14. In the result we dismiss this application.


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