R.L. Narasimham, C.J.
1. This is a petition under Section 526, Cri.P.C. by an I.A.S. Officer under suspension for the transfer of a criminal case pending against him before the Special Judge (Sessions) Bolangir. Kalahandi, for offences under Section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 165, Indian Penal Code.
2. The petitioner was serving as District Magistrate of Kalahandi in 1959. He was transferred as Deputy Secretary in the Secretariat and then, on the 13th October 1959 an information was lodged against him at Bhowanipatna Police Station, charging him with various acts of criminal misconduct committed by him while serving as District Magistrate of Kalahandi. After the investigation the sanction of the Ministry of Home Affairs at New Delhi was obtained on the 11th October 1960, for his prosecution for an offence under Section 5(2) read with Section 5(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act That case is pending now in the Court of the Special Judge (Sessions Judge) Bolangir-Kalahandi whose head-quarters is Bolangir. The petitioner alleged that while he was serving as District Magistrate, Kalahandi he incurred the displeasure of the Maharaja of Kalahandi Shri P.K. Deo who is a prominent leader of the Ganatantra Parishad which is now running the Government of Orissa, in coalition with the Congress Party. He further alleged that with a view to humiliate him, the said Maharaja organized an agitation against him with the held of his workers in the Parishad, that public meeting was held on the 27th June, 1959, in which reckless allegations were made against him, and that his transfer from Kalahandi was brought about in consequence of the vicious propaganda carried on against him by the Parishad. The Maharaja of Patna Shri R.N. Deo, who is also a prominent leader of the Ganatantra Parishad is at present the Minister-in-charge of Finance and Law in the Coalition Ministry, and it was alleged by the petitioner that it was he who influenced the Chief Minister of Orissa, Dr. Harekrushna Mahatab to take steps for the institution of the present case which, according to him was started on baseless allegations. According to the petitioner the four districts of Kalahandi, Bolangir, Sambalpur & Koraput are tile strongholds of the Ganatantra Parishad and as that party has taken up an antagonistic attitude towards the petitioner he apprehends that he may not get a fair trial in any of the courts in the aforesaid districts, as witnesses may not be able to attend to depose in his favour for fear of their safety. He also apprehends personal injury to himself in those areas. At the time of the filing of the transfer petition the Special Judge, Bolangir-Kalahandi, was one Shri Trilochan Misra who, according to the petitioner, was formerly a member of the Ganatantra Parishad having stood as a candidate on behalf of that Party in the General elections held in 1952 and had also applied for a Ganatantra Ticket during 1957. Hence the petitioner prayed for the transfer of his case to a Court in Orissa outside these districts.
3. In Orissa, the Government is at present being run by a coalition Ministry consisting of the leaders of the Congress Party and of the Ganatantra Parishad. The Chief Minister Sri Harekrushna Mahatab is the leader of the Congress Party in the Legislative Assembly and the Maharaja of Patna Shri R.N. Singh Deo is the leader of the Ganatantra Parishad and is the Minister in charge of Law and Finance. The Maharaja of Kalahandi Sri P.K. Deo is not a member of the Orissa Legislative Assembly but is a member of Parliament, from his constituency of Kalahandi. He is also a prominent leader of the Parishad. It may also be taken as unchallenged that in the two aforesaid districts of Kalahandi and Bolangir the Parishad secured an overwhelming majority of votes in tile last General Elections.
4. The principles to be borne in mind in exercising powers of transfer under Section 526, Cri.P.C. have been recently reiterated by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in the unreported case of R.P. Kapoor v. State of Punjab, Transfer Petition No. 19 of 1960.
There it has been pointed out that the power of transfer should be used for the purpose of maintaining full confidence in the administration of justice and that such confidence can be maintained only by giving an assurance that no one should be compelled to undergo trial in a court or courts where this Court (Supreme Court) is satisfied that there are grounds which a reasonable person in the position of the accused considers to be sufficient for entertaining an apprehension that he Will not get a fair and impartial trial. This proposition is grounded on the principle that not only should justice be done but also manifestly seen to be done.
5. For the disposal of this revision petition it is unnecessary to discuss whether the petitioner has reasonable grounds for apprehending that the leaders of the Ganatantra Parishad were partially, (at any rate,) responsible for initiating the criminal proceedings against him. Assuming (without deciding) that the petitioner has reasonable grounds for such an apprehension the sole question for decision is whether on this ground alone it should be further held, that the petitioner has reasonable grounds to apprehend that he may not get a fair trial before the Special Judge at Bolangir. Bolangir and Kalahandi districts form one Judge-ship with head-quarters at Bolangir where the Sessions Judge generally holds his court. The petitioner may feel some embarrassment if the trial is held at the headquarters of Kalahandi district, namely Bhowanipatna where he had formerly served as District Magistrate. But I do not think that there are reasonable grounds for him to apprehend that at Bolangir he may not get a fair trial. It is true that the Maharaja of Patna is a prominent resident of Bolangir town and has considerable influence there, but the petitioner has not stated in his affidavit that he apprehends that the Maharaja of Patna would go out of his way whether directly or indirectly to terrorize the petitioner's witnesses and to prevent fair trial of this case. The only allegation against the Maharaja, of Patna is that it was he who made a statement to the Chief Minister of Orissa about certain incidents connected with the criminal proceeding and thereby influenced the Chief Minister against the petitioner. This allegation has been emphatically denied in the counter-affidavit filed by Mr. Bhupendra Singh, Deputy Secretary, Police and Services Department, Government of Orissa. The petitioner's apprehension that there is danger of personal injury to him or to his witnesses is equally unfounded. At Bolangir-Patna there is an adequate Police force to give protection if necessary; and moreover the portfolio of Police (Home) is in charge of the Chief Minister and not under the control of the Ganatantra leader in the Ministry.
6. I should further point out that several cases, Civil and Criminal, in which some of the leaders of the Ganatantra Parishad have figured as parties, have been tried by courts having territorial jurisdiction in the districts of Bolangir and Kalahandi and till now no transfer petition has been filed by a party merely on the ground that on account of the influence of the Ganatantra Parishad in these districts he may not get a fair trial. To quote a recent instance, Criminal Revision No. 410 of 1950 which was admitted by this Court on 6th January 1961 arose out of a judgment of a Magistrate of Patnagarh in Bolangir district, in a proceeding under Section 145, Cr.P.C. In that proceeding the Maharaja of Patna was himself one of the parties. But nobody objected to the hearing of that case by the Magistrate of Patnagarh on the ground that the rival party may not get a fair trial due to the influence of the Maharaja Sahib in that place. I may also mention that even election petition by defeated candidates against the successful Ganatantra Parishad candidates soon after the last General Elections, were tried by courts having territorial jurisdiction over that area, notwithstanding the fact that the Parishad had secured a majority of votes in that area. It will therefore be unreasonable to hold that merely because a particular Political party has influence over, some area there may not be a fair trial in courts located in that area, in respect of a case in which some prominent members of that party may have taken an unusual interest. The decision of the Supreme Court in Transfer Petition No. 19 of 1960, on which Mr. Sahu relied is distinguishable on facts. There, there were specific allegations of a serious type made against the Chief. Minister of Punjab which were not controverted by any counter affidavit. Here though some allegations of enmity have been made against the Maharaja of Kalahandi, no such allegations have been made against either the Maharaja of Patna or against the Chief Minister of Orissa. From the facts stated in the petition there is no reason to think that these two leaders took more interest than was necessary, when serious allegations against a public servant of the status of the petitioner, were brought to their notice.
7. The petitioner made a grievance of the fact that Shri Trilochan Misra who was the Sessions Judge (Special Judge) at Bolangir had political leanings towards the Parishad prior to his recruitment to the Judicial service. This was urged as a special ground for his apprehension that he may not get a fair trial before that Officer. This grievance has since been redressed by the transfer of that Officer to Sambalpur and the appointment of Shri S.K. Mohapatra as Special Judge at Bolangir. It is not suggested that Sri S.K. Mohapatra had any leaning towards any party before he became a Judicial Officer.
In my opinion, therefore, after the transfer of Shri Trilochan Misra from Bolangir and the appointment of Shri S.K. Mohapatra in his place as Special Judge, the petitioner cannot have any reasonable grounds for apprehending that, he will not get a fair trial at Bolangir.
8. The petition is accordingly rejected.