M.M. Husain, J.
1. The two petitioners, namely, Shabbu and Ranga alias Israil, are detained in the District Jail of Bahraich for serving out concurrent sentences of six months' R.L. under Section 325/149 I.P.C. and three months' R. I. under Section 147 I.P.C. awarded to them in Sessions Trial No. 89 of 1979 of the Sessions Division of Bahraich. Their contention in this petition moved under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is that after crediting the period, during which they have remained in jail as under-trial in connection with other crimes, they have already served out the sentences awarded to them in the aforesaid Sessions Trial. Their prayer, therefore, is that a writ in the nature of habeas corpus or any other appropriate writ, order or direction be issued to the opposite parties to set them at liberty forthwith as their detention in jail is now illegal.
2. One Jitendra Singh lodged a first information report against the two petitioners at P.S. Kotwali Bahraich on 27-8-1978. A case under Sections 149 and 323/149 I.P.C. bearing Crime No. 409 of 1978 was registered against them on the basis of that report. The said case, when sent up for trial, was registered as S. T. No. 89 of 1979. Both the petitioners surrendered themselves in court as soon as the case was registered against them. They were immediately bailed out and remained on bail till convicted by the trial court on 11-4-1980. Even after their conviction they were granted interim bail by the trial court, They filed Criminal Appeal No. 244 of 1980 in this court against their convictions. They remained on bail during the pendency of the appeal also which was ultimately dismissed on 25-9-1981 and the two sentences of six months and three months R. I. respectively awarded to them by the, trial court for offences under Sections 325/149 and 147, I.P.C. were confirmed. After the confirmation of their sentences by this court Shabbu was taken into custody on 5-11-1981 whereas Ranga surrendered himself on 7-12-198L Both of them are in jail since then.
3. Besides the aforesaid case, the two petitioners were also involved in three other cases, namely, Crimes Nos. 562 of 1978, 528 of 1979 and 484 of 1981. They were taken into custody in connection with those cases and bailed out on different dates.
4. In connection with Crime No. 562 of 1978, Shabbu remained in jail from 18-10-1978 to 5-12-1978 i.e. for forty-nine days whereas Ranga remained in jail for sixty-one days from 3-11-1978 to 3-1-1979. Shabbu remained is jail for fifty-nine days i.e. from 18-9-1979 to 16-11-1979 in connection with Crime No. 528 of 1979 whereas Ranga remained in jail from 11-1-1978 to 28-2-1980 i.e. for sixtyone days in connection with that case, Shabbu again remained in jail for a total period of fifteen-days in two instalments i.e. from 25-9-1981 to 6.10,1981 and 12.10.1981 to 14.10.1981 in connection with Crime No. 484 of 1981 whereas Ranga remained in jail for twenty days i.e. from 25.9.1981 to 14.10.1981 in connection with that crime. The petitioners contend that in connection with the sentences awarded to them in S. T. No. 89 of 1979 they had to remain in jail, at the most, for six months. The periods during which they remained in jail in connection with crimes Nos. 562 of 1978, 528 of 1979 and 484 of 1981, should be credited towards their sentences awarded in S. T. No. 89 of 1979 as laid down by Section 428 Cr, P. C and after that set off they have already served out those sentences and should no longer be detained in jail.
5. This petition had earlier come up for hearing before a Bench consisting of H. N. Seth and S. S. Ahmad, JJ. Reliance was placed before their Lordships upon two Bench decisions of this court namely, Nasim v. State of U.P. 1978 All LJ 1284 decided by Hari Swarup, J. and one of us, and Onkar Singh v. Police Officers, Prashashan 1979 Cri LJ 1098 decided by Hari Swarup and U. C. Srivastava, JJ. In Nasim's case (supra) reliance was placed upon the Supreme Court's decision in Govt. of Andh. Pra. v. A. Venkateswara Rao : 1977CriLJ935 ,
6. The learned Judges, who had earlier heard this petition, came to the conclusion that in Govt. of A.P. v. A.V. Rao 1977 Cri LJ 935 (supra) the Supreme Court, by a process of reasoning, had held that in certain circumstances the period of detention in some other context can also be treated as period of sentence in connection with a case in which a person had eventually been convicted and the said period can be set-off against the sentence awarded to him. They further held that in their opinion detention in connection with some other cases could not be considered or treated as a detention in connection with the case in which he had eventually been convicted and no question of setting off the period of detention in connection with other case against the sentence awarded to him could possibly arise. The Hon'ble Judges referred the matter to a larger Bench with the following observation:
As in our opinion the view taken by Hari Swarup and D.N. Jha, JJ. in Nasim's case 1978 All LJ 1284 (supra) and that taken by Hari Swarup and U. C. Srivastava, JJ. in Onkar Singh's case (supra) requires reconsideration, we direct that the papers be laid before the Hon'ble the Chief Justice for constituting a larger Bench to decide this petition.
7. We are thus required to consider the intent and scope of Section 428 Cr. P.C. in the light of the Supreme Court's decision in Govt. of A.P. v. A. V. Rao 1977 Cri LJ 935 (supra)' and the two aforesaid Bench decisions of this court in Nasim v. State and Onkar Singh v. Police Officers prashashan 1979 Cri LJ 1098.
8. Section 428 Cr. P.C. is a new provision of law incorporated in the Code of 1973. It reads as follows:
Period of detention undergone by the accused to be set-off against the sentence of imprisonment. Where an accused person has. on conviction, been sentenced to imprisonment for a term, the period of detention, if any, undergone by him during the investigation, inquiry or trial of the same case and before the date of such conviction, shall be set off against the term of imprisonment imposed on him on such conviction, and the liability of such person to undergo imprisonment on such conviction shall be restricted to the remainder, if any, of the term of imprisonment imposed on him.
9. The object of its enactment, as pointed out by the Joint Committee of the Parliament while recommending its introduction, is that;.in many cases accused persons are kept in prison for very long period as undertrial prisoners and in some cases the sentence of imprisonment ultimately awarded is a fraction of the period spent in jail as undertrial prisoner. Indeed, there may even be cases where such a person is acquitted. No doubt, sometimes courts do take into account the period of detention undergone as undertrial prisoner when passing sentence and occasionally the sentence of imprisonment is restricted to the period already undergone. But this is not always the case so that in many cases, the accused person is made to suffer jail life for a period out of all proportion to the gravity of the offence or even to the punishment provided in the statute. The Committee has also noted that a large number of persons in the overcrowded jails of today are under trial prisoners. The new clause seeks to remedy this unsatisfactory state of affairs.
10. It is thus obvious that Section 428 Cr. P.C., is intended to relieve the anguish of undertrials for their prolonged detention in jail during the investigation, inquiry or trial of a case. Its object is to confer a special benefit upon a convict whereby his liability to undergo the imprisonment, ultimately imposed upon him in a case, stands reduced by the period during which he has remained in jail as an under-trial prisoner in the same case. It simply aims at setting off or crediting the period of pre-conviction detention of the accused of a case towards the sentence ultimately awarded to him after his conviction in that very case.
11. In Mr. Boucher Pierre Andre v. Superintendent Central Jail Tihar : 1975CriLJ182 the Supreme Court considered Section 428 Cr. P.C. and observed at the end of para 2 of the judgment that:
The Section operates prospectively on the sentence which yet remains to be served and curtails it by setting off the period of detention undergone by the accused person during the investi-gation, inquiry or trial of the case.
12. While concluding para 3 of the judgment, their Lordships further observed that:.Section 428 must clearly be held to be applicable to the case of the petitioner and his liability to undergo imprisonment must be restricted to the remainder of the term imposed on him, after setting off the period for which he was detained during the investigation, inquiry and trial of the case against him.
13. This decision was cited with approval by their Lordships in Hardev Singh v. State of Punjab : 1975CriLJ243 . In Suraj, Bhan v. Om Prakash : 1976CriLJ577 their Lordships again observed that (Para 7):
Indeed Section 428 does not contemplate any challenge to a conviction or a sentence. It confers a benefit on a convict reducing his liability to undergo imprisonment out of the sentence imposed for the period which he had already served as an under-trial prisoner.
14. In Govt. of A.P. v. A.V. Rao : 1977CriLJ935 on which decision reliance was placed by a Bench of this Court in Nasim's case 1978 All LJ 1284 (supra), the Supreme Court more specifically laid down that:
It is true that the Section 428 speaks of the 'period of detention' undergone by an accused person, but it makes it clear that the period of detention which it allows to be set off against the term of imprisonment imposed on the accused on conviction must be during the investigation, inquiry or trial in connection with the 'same case' in which he has been convicted. Therefore, the period during which the appellants accused were in detention under Preventive Detention Act could not be set off under Section 428 against term of imprisonment imposed on them on their conviction in Sessions Cases for offences under Penal Code.
15. The above observations of the Supreme Court contain an unambiguous, declaration of law that the 'period of detention' contemplated by Section 428 Cr. P.C. refers to the detention of the accused during the investigation, inquiry or trial of the same case in which he is ultimately convicted and the period of his pre-conviction detention in that very case can be credited or set off towards the sentence ultimately awarded to him.
16. After having thus interpreted Section 428 Cr. P.C. their Lordships, on the basis of the peculiar facts of that case, granted set off to the appellants for the period of their earlier detention in the preventive detention case for the reason that when they were required in subsequent case they being already under detention could also be detained in connection with those subsequent cases, since the benefit conferred upon them by Section 428 Cr. P.C. was denied due to the negligence of the concerned authorities that benefit in the interest of justice was extended to them with a finding that their detention in the earlier case should also be deemed to be their detention for the purposes of the subsequent cases with effect from the dates when they were wanted in those subsequent cases.
17. The Delhi High Court in K.C. Das v. State 1979 Cri LJ 362 and Bombay High Court in Jaswant Lal Harji-van Das Dholkia v. State 1979 Cri LJ 971 have also laid down that the period of detention which Section 428 Cr. P.C. allows to be set off against the term of imprisonment awarded to the accused upon conviction must be during the investigation, inquiry or trial in connection with the 'same case' in which he has been convicted. In Writ petn. No. 1085 of 1979 decided on 10-8-1979 by a Bench of this Court consisting of K.S. Verma J. and one of us, set off under Section 428, Cr. P.C. was claimed by the petitioner in a case convicted at Luck-now for his detention as under-trial in a case at Indore. The Bench observed that:
Under the above provisions the only period which could be set off against the term of imprisonment is the period spent by the accused in jail during investigations, inquiry or trial of the same case. As such the period during which the petitioner remained in jail in connection with some other case cannot be set off against the term of imprisonment imposed against him in the case decided at Lucknow. In view of the above the petition is mis-conceived and is hereby dismissed.
18. A petition for the review of the aforesaid order was moved and the judgment pronounced by the Bench in that review petition is reported as Mohan Lal v. State of U.P. 1979 Luck LJ 272 : 1981 Cri LJ NOC 23. It shows that the Bench later on came to the conclusion that the authorities were negligent in producing the detenu before the Magistrate at Lucknow even-after his availability it Indore and benefit of that negligence, upon the analogy of Supreme Court's decision in Govt. of A.P. v. A.V. Rao 1977 Cri LJ 935 (supra) was to go to the detenu. On that account the Bench held that the detention of the accused in the case of Indore should also be deemed to be his detention for the purposes of the case at Lucknow since that date when he was wanted at Lucknow and was available at Indore. The interpretation of Section 428 Cr. P.C. earlier done by the Bench to its order dated 10-8-1980 remained unaltered in spite of the review petition having been subsequently allowed. Thus the consistent view of the Supreme Court, this Court and other High Courts regarding the scope of Section 428 Cr. P.C. is that set off towards the sentence ultimately awarded to an accused in a case has to be allowed to him only with respect to the period spent by him in jail as an under-r trial in that very case.
19. Broadly speaking in Nasim v. State 1978 All LJ 1284 and Onkar Singh v. Police Officers prashashan 1979 Cri LJ 1098 (All) also Section 428, Cr. P.C. has been given the same interpretation which was given to it by the Supreme Court and other High Courts and by a Bench of this Court in Writ Petition No. 1085 of 1979 decidted on 10-8-1979. On facts, it was held in those cases that the detention of the petitioners in earlier cases should be deemed to be their detention for the purposes of the subsequent cases also. With these findings of fact benefit of Section 428 Cr. P.C. was extended to the petitioners of those cases. Some observations made in Nasim's and Onkar Singh's cases (supra) are however capable of giving an impression that if a person is detained in several cases his detention in one case shall invariably be deemed to be detention in all the cases. We would, therefore, like to clarify and explain that the view of the Supreme Court in Andhra Pradesh's case : 1977CriLJ935 and that expressed by this court in Nasin v. State, Onkar Singh v. Police Officers Prashashan and Mohan Lal v. State (supra) is that under Section 428 Cr. P.C. the period of detention as an under-trial of an accused in a particular case can be set off only towards the sentence ultimately awarded to him in that very case. Whether or not the detention of a person in one case should also be treated to be his detention for the purposes of any other case, wherein he is wanted, is a question to be decided upon the facts and circumstances of each case. No set formula can be laid down in that behalf. If the facts and circumstances of a particular case indicate that a person already detained in one case was also subsequently wanted in another case and he was not formally detained in that other case on account of the negligence of the concerned authorities, and for no fault of his, he can, with all justification, claim that his detention in the earlier case should also be deemed to be his detention for the purposes of the second case. In that event benefit of Section 428 Cr. P.C. can be extended to him.
20. Coming to the case of the present petitioners, it has already been indicated above that they were all along on bail in the case bearing Crime No. 409 of 1978, which gave rise to S. T. No. 89 of 1979 on 27-8-1978. They have as such no pre-conviction detention period to their credit which may be set off against the sentences ultimately awarded to them in that case. In other crimes, namely No. 562 of 78,528 of 1979 and 484 of 1981, they were subsequently involved. They cannot claim any benefit of those detentions in S. T. No. 89 of 1979 in which case they were involved much prior to their involvement in three crimes wherein they subsequently remained in jail. It is not disputed that, in the normal course, Shabbu will complete his awarded sentences of S. T. No. 89 of 1979 on S-5-1982 and Ranga alias Israil will complete the same on 8-5-1982. At present their detention in Bahraich jail is perfectly valid. This petition has therefore no merits, We accordingly dismiss it.
21. At the time of pronouncement of judgment an oral request has been made that certificate of leave to appeal to the Supreme Court be granted. We have decided the habeas corpus petition on the basis of pronouncements made by the Supreme Court and, in our opinion, no substantial question of law of general importance is involved in this case to be decided by the Supreme Court, The leave prayed for is rejected.