H.N. Seth, J.
1. By this application Under Section 482 of the Cr P. C,. the applicant Chiranji Lal Pachaurj prays that the orders dated 14th May, 1976 and 19th June 1976, passed by the Munsif Magistrate, Mathura be quashed and he be directed to deal with the criminal case against the applicant, pending before him, in accordance with law.
2. The facts giving rise to this application, briefly stated, are that on 8th February 1972 one Radhey Shyam (opposite party No. (2) lodged a First Information Report at the police station Kotwali, Mathura, on the basis of which a case Under Section 457 I.P.C. was registered against the applicant. While the police was investigating the case, Radhey Shyam on the basis of the same facts, filed a complaint Under Section 457/380 I.P.C. against the applicant on 14th August, 1970, In due course, the police completed investigation and submitted a charge-sheet Under Section 448 I.P.C. against the applicant on 26th August, 1974 after the repeal of the Cr. P. C. 1898, (hereinafter referred to as the old Code, and enactment of Cr. P. C., 1973, hereinafter referred to as the new Code). Subsequently, both the complaint and police cases came to be pending before the Munsif Magistrate, Mathura.
3. On 27th January 1976 the applicant moved an application praying that both the complaint and the police cases be merged and after staying proceedings in the complaint case the trial should take place in accordance with the procedure applicable for the trial of the police case as laid down in Section 210 of the new Code. For some reason, the court concerned did not pass any order on the application. The applicant then moved another application on 14th May, 1976 alleging that although the police had submitted a charge sheet, its copy had not been supplied to the applicant. The applicant prayed that both the complaint and the police cases should be dealt with in accordance with Section 210 of the new Code. The Munsif Magistrate rejected this application by his order dated 14th May, 1976. He held that as the investigation in the case was pending when the new Code came into force, the case was as laid down in Section 484 of the new Code, to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions contained in the old Code, and that the provisions contained in Section 210 of the new Code were not attracted. He also opined that under the old Code there is no provision for amalgamating the trial of two cases. However, while rejecting the application, the Munsif Magistrate, directed that the trial of the complaint case was to proceed and that the police case was to be merged with it. On 16th June, 1973 the applicant moved yet another application praying for a direction that the copies of the statements of the prosecution witnesses, recorded by the police during investigation be supplied to him so as to enable him to cross-examine those witnesses. The Munsif Magistrate rejected this application as well bv his order dated 19th June, 1976 holding that in cases which governed by the procedure applicable to the complaint cases it was not necessary to furnish the copies of the statements recorded Under Section 161 Cr. P. C. to the accused.
4. Being aggrieved, the applicant had come up to this Court. Learned Counsel for the applicant contended that as the police had submitted the charge-sheet against the applicant on 26th August, 1974 i.e. on a date subsequent to the coming into force of the new Code, the case was fully covered by Section 210 thereof which lays down that the trial commenced on the basis of the complaint has to be stayed and both the complaint and the police cases have to be tried together as if they have been instituted on a police report.
5. In order to deal with the arguments raised by the learned Counsel for the applicant it would be pertinent to extract Section 210 of the new Code which finds place in Chapter XVI dealing with the commencement of proceedings before a Magistrate as also Section 484 thereof.
Section 210(1) : When in a case instituted otherwise than on a police report (hereinafter referred to as a complaint case) it is made to appear to the Magistrate during the course of the enquiry or trial held by him, that an investigation by the police is in progress in relation to the offence which is the subject-matter of the enquiry or trial held by him, the Magistrate shall stay the proceedings of such inquiry or trial and call for a report on the matter from the police officer conducting the investigation
(2) If a report is made by the investigating police officer Under Section 173 and on such report cognizance of any offence is taken by the Magistrate against any person who is an accused to the complaint case, the Magistrate shall inquire into or try together the complaint case and the case arising out of the police report as if both the cases were instituted on a police report.
(3) If the police report does not relate to any accused in the complaint case or if the Magistrate does not take cognizance of any offence on the police report, he shall proceed with the inquiry or trial which was stayed by him in accordance with the provisions of this Code.
Section 484(1) The Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 is hereby repealed.
(2) Notwithstanding such repeal --
(a) If, immediately before the date on which this Code comes into force, there is any appeal, application, trial, inquiry or investigation pending, then, such appeal, application, trial, inquiry, or investigation shall be disposed of, continued, held or made as the case may be, in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, as in force immediately before such commencement (hereinafter referred to as the old Code), as if this Code had not come into force :
6. Reading the two sections together and construing their provisions harmoniously, it would become evident that all the investigations and trial pending on the date of commencement of the new Code, are to be concluded in accordance with the provisions contained in the old Code, and that the provisions of the new Code shall apply to the proceedings initiated or instituted after its enforcement, In this context, the provisions of Section 210 of the new Code would be attracted only where a complaint case is instituted after the enforcement of the new Code and if at the time of its institution, a police investigation in relation to an offence which is the subject matter of the complaint, is pending. Viewed in this light it appears that the Munsif Magistrate was right in observing that the trial of the complaint case which had already commended under the provisions of the old Code, it had to be, as provided in Section 484 of the new Code, concluded in accordance with the procedure laid down in the old Code.
7. Both the old and the new Codes, provide different procedures for trial of cases instituted on complaints and police reports (charge sheet submitted by the police). The question, therefore, that arises for consideration is as to which of the two procedures is to be followed in a case where both the complainant and the police approach the Criminal Court for trying an accused for one and the same offence. So far as cases governed by the new Code are concerned. Section 210 thereof clearly provides that in such cases the trial commenced on the basis of the complaint has to be stayed and it has to be tried together with the case initiated on a police report in accordance with the procedure applicable for trial of latter class of cases. The old Code, however, did not specifically provide for dealing with such a contingency. Under that Code it was not possible to consolidate the trial of a complaint case with that of a case instituted on a police report as different procedures had been prescribed for trial of such cases, if the two cases were to be tried separately and in accordance with the respective procedure applicable to them, necessarily the trial in one of such cases was to conclude earlier. After the trial in either of the two cases was concluded the trial in the other case necessarily became infructuous for an accused who has been tried by a court of competent jurisdiction and had either been convicted or acquitted, he could not be re-tried for the same offence over again. The trial of a case which was to become infructuous entailed unnecessary waste of public time and money and harassment to the accused. Such a waste of public time and money and harassment to the accused could be avoided by staying proceedings in either of the two cases (for which the court had ample jurisdiction under the Code). Of course, the choice of staying proceedings in either of the two cases was in the judicial discretion of the court and had to be exercised in the interest of justice and after taking into consideration the entire circumstances of the respective cases. For example, in a case where the trial of complaint case was practically over before the police submitted the charge-sheet, the court could in the interest of justice, say that the proceedings in the police case were to remain stayed and that its fate was to be governed by the decision arrived at in the complaint case. However, if there were circumstances to indicate either that the complainant was colluding with the accused or that for some reason the trial in the complaint case was not proving effective, it could have in the interest of justice stayed the proceedings in the complaint case, and have proceeded with the trial of the case instituted on police report in accordance with the procedure applicable to such cases. Similarly, if there was no other intervening fact or circumstance to show that the trial of a case, in accordance with the procedure applicable to police case, was more advantageous to the accused and that it was in the interest of justice so to do, the Court could in its discretion, direct that the trial of a subsequently instituted police case was to proceed and that the trial of the complaint case though commenced earlier was to be stayed.
8. I find that in the instant case, even though the Munsif Magistrate while rejecting the petitioner's application dated 14th May, 1976 for proceeding in accordance with the provisions contained in Section 210 of the new Code observed that under the old Code, there was no provisions for amalgamating the two types of cases, yet towards the end of his order he directed that the police case was to stand merged in the complaint case. In the context I read the order of the magistrate, directing that the police case was to stand merged in the complaint case, as amounting to an order staying in his discretion proceedings in the police case which were to stand disposed of in accordance with the decision that was to be arrived at in the complaint case. Such exercise of discretion by the magistrate. can be interfered with if it can be shown that it had not been exercised in the interest of justice.
9. Learned Counsel for the applicant urged that as held by the Munsif Magistrate in his order dated 19th June, 1976 (which order also has been impugned in these proceedings) under the old Code the accused is not, during the trial of a complaint case, entitled to receive copies of the statement of the prosecution witnesses recorded by the police Under Section 161 Cr. P. C. This deprives him of an opportunity to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses effectively. Accordingly the discretion in the instant case exercised by the Magistrate, in proceeding with the complaint ease instead, of the police case is likely to result in grave miscarriage of justice. Interest of justice requires that the trial of the complaint case should have been stayed and instead the police case, wherein the accused would have had an opportunity to cross-examine prosecution witnesses with the help of copies of statements recorded Under Section 161 of Code of Criminal Procedure, should have been allowed to proceed.
10. I find force in the aforesaid submission of the applicant. As pointed out by the Privy Council in Kottaya's case AIR 1947 PC 67 : 48 Cri LJ 533, the right given to an accused to obtain copies of the statements recorded by the police during investigation is a very valuable right and often provides important material for cross-examination. A perusal of the orders passed by the learned magistrate does not show that before deciding the complaint case he did not apply his mind to the question as to whether it would be in the interest of justice to do so. It is apparent from the circumstances in which the applicant filed the application and which led to the passing of the impugned order that the accused had made the request for being tried in accordance with the procedure applicable for trial of police case at a stage before any substantial proceedings for the trial of the complaint case had taken place. Neither the State Counsel nor the counsel appearing for the complainant could place any thing before me which might have even remotely indicated that in the circumstances of the case, interest of justice required following of a procedure wherein the valuable right given to an accused person to get the veracity of a prosecution witnesses tested with reference to his statement recorded Under Section 161 Cr. P. C. may not be available to him.
11. I am accordingly of opinion that in this case the Munsif Magistrate should have, instead of proceeding with the complaint case, stayed its hearing and he should have proceeded with the trial of the police case. If this had been done the accused would undoubtedly have been entitled to receive the copies of the statements of such of the witnesses recorded Under Section 161 Cr. P. C. whom the prosecution wants to produce during the trial.
12. The application therefore succeeds and is allowed. I set aside the orders dated 14-5-1976 and 19-6-1976 passed by the Munsif Magistrate and direct that he should stay further proceedings in the complaint case and instead he should proceed with the trial of the police case in accordance with law.