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Meghraj and ors. Vs. Emperor - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtAllahabad
Decided On
Judge
Reported inAIR1917All108; 37Ind.Cas.483
AppellantMeghraj and ors.
RespondentEmperor
Excerpt:
.....aggrieved at the non-postponement of the sale and at being compelled to bring a suit for the return of the bonds, but according to his own statement, the bonds were perfectly worthless and the moment it appears that they were given for fictitious amounts, and were given to his knowledge for fictitious amounts for the purpose of obtaining the postponement, the fictitious nature of the consideration ceases to have any bearing upon the criminal intent or alleged criminal intent of the decree-holder in obtaining it. to my mind that is clearly immaterial. it looks to me like one of those eases in which neither the prosecution nor the court has really ever cleared its mind as to the actual charge which was being made against the accused......to say how he was ever cheated or an attempt to cheat was perpetrated by the mere execution of the bonds for fictitious amounts. it may be that the decree-holders pretended to oblige him by obtaining a postponement of the sale and did not in fact do so, being desirous of getting the property for themselves. that, however, is not the charge made against them, and there is no evidence that even if that were so, that the judgment-debtor suffered any loss. it looks to me like one of those eases in which neither the prosecution nor the court has really ever cleared its mind as to the actual charge which was being made against the accused. relevant topics have been mixed up with irrelevant topics and the resultant total of prejudice and suspicion has been considered sufficient to justify a.....
Judgment:

Walsh, J.

1. This conviction cannot be sustained. It is perhaps better, rather than to attempt to speculate as to the true interpretation of these proceedings, to see whether the charge, as stated, is made out by the evidence. Now the charge, as originally framed, was in these terms: that you, that is, the present appellants, on the 18th of February 1906, cheated Lal Singh and induced him to execute two documents in favour of Niranjan Lal and Ishwari Prasad. So stated there is no offence in law at all. There are considerable gaps in the statement. It is not a crime to induce a person to execute a document. It has to be shown that the inducement was made by some false or fraudulent representation, if the charge is that you induced him to do it for the purpose of cheating. Nor is it alleged in the charge in what way, when the documents were executed, he would be a loser and the accused would be the gainers. In complicated matters of this kind nothing is more important than that the Criminal Court trying the case should, either by itself or through the prosecution, frame the process with the nature of the fraudulent inducement which constituted the fraudulent intent and the alleged resultant gain to the accused which constitutes the cheating. There is less difficulty and less liability to error if the Court throughout the trial keeps before it the frame-work of the charge, in order to see whether the evidence fits into it. Now in this case the frame-work of the charge shows no criminal offence at all, but the judgment of the Appellate Court does state, in more or less precise language, what it believed the complaint to be. The statement of the charge and the judgment is this, that Niranjan Lal promised that if the complainant would execute two documents for a total of Rs. 1,200 he would get the sale postponed. Assuming that to be the correct interpretation of the object for which these bonds were executed, the failure to obtain the postponement was no more than a breach of duty or a breach of contract on the part of the decree-holder, which rendered him liable to deliver up the bonds and possibly, if any loss had been suffered by the failure to postpone, to pay damages to the judgment-debtor. What appears to have happened afterwards is this: that being in possession of these bonds (whether or not he ever intended to use them for the purpose of obtaining a postponement is for this purpose immaterial), after promising to return them he retained them in his possession, apparently contemplating making some future use of them. Whether if he had attempted to do so, that in itself would have been an offence against the criminal law, or would have been sufficient evidence of his proposed fraudulent intent, it is not necessary to discuss; because before he made any attempt to make use of them, the complainant was too quick for him and brought a suit for the cancellation of the bonds. Whatever defence the decree-holder set up in that suit has no bearing on this charge. To my mind the obtaining of the bonds either under a pretence of attempting to obtain a postponement of the sale or with a bona fide intention of using them for that purpose, has the same result so far as this charge is concerned. I have read through the evidence of the complainant and it is only fair to say that he did not attempt either to say or to suggest that he had been cheated by anybody. He was, no doubt, aggrieved at the non-postponement of the sale and at being compelled to bring a suit for the return of the bonds, but according to his own statement, the bonds were perfectly worthless and the moment it appears that they were given for fictitious amounts, and were given to his knowledge for fictitious amounts for the purpose of obtaining the postponement, the fictitious nature of the consideration ceases to have any bearing upon the criminal intent or alleged criminal intent of the decree-holder in obtaining it. The Appellate Court realised that criminal intent ought to be established. It discussed four witnesses who were called to establish it and dismissed them with contempt. It then proceeded, as far as I follow its judgment, to draw the conclusion that the decree-holder's intention was fraudulent, because the debts for which the bonds were executed were fictitious. To my mind that is clearly immaterial. They were fictitious to the knowledge of the executant, and the bonds in the hands of the decree-holder, the moment the chances of postponing the sale had been lost, were worthless as against the complainant, and it is extremely difficult to say how he was ever cheated or an attempt to cheat was perpetrated by the mere execution of the bonds for fictitious amounts. It may be that the decree-holders pretended to oblige him by obtaining a postponement of the sale and did not in fact do so, being desirous of getting the property for themselves. That, however, is not the charge made against them, and there is no evidence that even if that were so, that the judgment-debtor suffered any loss. It looks to me like one of those eases in which neither the prosecution nor the Court has really ever cleared its mind as to the actual charge which was being made against the accused. Relevant topics have been mixed up with irrelevant topics and the resultant total of prejudice and suspicion has been considered sufficient to justify a conviction for cheating. That will not do. In a case of cheating, it must be shown exactly how the complainant has, in the first instance, been misled and what loss he has suffered, or what attempt to obtain a benefit to his prejudice was made by the accused. I think the conviction must be reversed and the accused acquitted. I, therefore, acquit all the accused and order them to be forthwith released. The bail-bonds of all the appellants are discharged.


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