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Roshan Lal L. Malik Ram and anr. Vs. State of Punjab and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Misc. No. 114 of 1957
Judge
Reported inAIR1957P& H297; 1957CriLJ1448
ActsCode of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1898 - Sections 517, 517(1) and 519
AppellantRoshan Lal L. Malik Ram and anr.
RespondentState of Punjab and ors.
Appellant Advocate M.L. Sethi, Adv.
Respondent Advocate K.S. Chawla, Asst. Adv. General and; R. Sachar, Adv.
DispositionApplication dismissed
Cases ReferredWoohnington v. Director of Public Prosecutions
Excerpt:
.....is based on the grounds (a) that the bales returned to genda ram have not been proved to be the stolen property of genda ram given by him to jaimal singh and (b) that they have been acquitted and as the bales were taken from their possession and the learned judge in the high court did not discount their claim that they had purchased the bales in good faith and for value from jaimal singh, so they are entitled to the return of the same. the learned counsel for the applicants contends that a criminal court in a case of this type and proceeding under sections 517 and 520 of the code of criminal procedure is not to decide a question of title to the property--a function which is more appropriate to a civil court--but its duty is to return the property, once the accused have been acquitted,..........having reason to believe, that the same was stolen, thecourt has discretion, on restitution of the stolenproperty to the person entitled to the possession thereof, to compensate such purchaser, outof any money taken from the person of the accused at the time of his arrest. this section refers to--(a) the conviction of the accused for an offence of theft or of receiving stolen property,(b) a finding that the property involved in the case is stolen property, and (c) a finding that some other person has purchased the property without knowing, or having reason to believe, the same to be stolen property. in such circumstances and on such findings the property is restored to the person from whom it was stolen as the person 'entitled to the possession' of it, and the other person, who purchased.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Mehar Singh, J.

1. This application under Section 520 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, arises out of facts and circumstances as below:

2. A firm of Ludhiana by the name of Roshan Lal-Des Raj is a dealer in yarn bales. It is owned by the two persons making up its name. On September 8, 1955, it sold 40 bales of yam to Genda Ram. This Genda Bam gave the bales to Jaimal Singh, proprietor of Doaba Dyeing House at Ludhiana, for dyeing. Jaimal Singh returned other bales except thirty-four and three-quarters bales. It appears that he sold those thirty-four and three-quarters bales to firm Roshan Lal-Des Raj on September 13, 1955. When Genda Ram could not obtain back the bales from Jaimal Singh and learnt of the disposal of the same by Jaimal. Singh to the firm Roshan Lal-Des Raj, he reported the matter to the police against all the three. The police recovered thirty-four bales of yarn from the shop of the firm Roshan Lal-Des Raj. All the three, namely Jaimal Singh, Roshan Lal, and Des Raj, were then prosecuted, Jaimal Singh under Section 406 and Roshan Lal and Des Raj under Section 411 of the Penal Code. The learned trial Magistrate convicted the three of the offences of which they were charged and ordered delivery of the thirty-four bales to Genda Ram. On appeal the convictions of the three were affirmed, but the appellate Court said nothing about the delivery of the bales, which meant that it did not interfere with the order of the trial Court about the same. Jaimal Singh did not come in revision before this Court, but Roshan Lal and Des Raj did so.

3. On December 6, 1956, Kapur J. accepted the revision petition on their behalf and acquitted them observing -;

'Except that the goods were found in possession of the accused, and therefore a presumption arises under Section 114 of the Indian EvidenceAct, there is no other indication of the criminality of the accused. Their explanation is supported by two documents and a witness. It cannotbe said in these circumstances that the explanation is not reasonable even though it may not beabsolutely correct which a jury would acceptas such.

In, these circumstances the rule laid down by the House of Lords in Woohnington v. Director of Public Prosecutions, 1935 A.C. 462, (A) applies. The rule is that if at the end of a case the jury are led to reasoriable doubt, whether the explanation given by the accused is acceptable or not the accused is entitled to acquittal. In my opinion the Prosecution have not proved the case beyond all reasonable doubt and it is that element of doubt which entitles the petitioners to acquittal.'

The learned Judge acquitted Roshan Lal and Des Raj giving them the benefit of the doubt, but at the same time proceeding on a finding of fact that the bales of yarn recovered from their possession were the bales sold to them by Jaimal Singh who had misappropriated the very bale as having been given to him by Genda Ram for the purpose of dyeing. At the time the revision peti-tion was disposed of no question was raised on behalf of Roshan Lal and Des Raj for the return of the bales to them in consequence of their acquittal.

4. It is after the order of the learned Judge acquitting them that the present application has been made on February 26, 1957, by Roshan Lal and Des Raj claiming the thirty-four bales of yarn that were taken possession of by the police from their shop. Their claim is based on the grounds (a) that the bales returned to Genda Ram have not been proved to be the stolen property of Genda Ram given by him to Jaimal Singh and (b) that they have been acquitted and as the bales were taken from their possession and the learned Judge in the High Court did not discount their claim that they had purchased the bales in good faith and for value from Jaimal Singh, so they are entitled to the return of the same.

The learned counsel for the applicants contends that a criminal Court in a case of this type and proceeding under Sections 517 and 520 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is not to decide a question of title to the property-- a function which is more appropriate to a civil Court-- but its duty is to return the property, once the accused have been acquitted, to them as they have not been proved to be the receivers of stolen property and their allegation that they purchased the property for value and in good faith has not been discounted.

The learned counsel appearing for Genda Ram has taken the position that in view of Section 27 of the Indian Sale of Goods Act (Act III of 1930), Jaimal Singh could hot pass better title to the applicants than he himself had in the goods and even though the applicants purchased the goods for value from Jaimal Singh, the property in the goods still remained in Genda Ram and the applicants have no right to the return of the same.

5. The learned counsel on either side has relied upon, a number of authorities in support of the position taken by him. In the view that I take of the case, it is not necessary to refer to any of those authorities.

6. There is no substance in the contention on behalf of the applicants that the thirty four bales in question are not the stolen property for the observation of the learned Judge disposing of the revision petition of the applicants proceeds on the acceptance of a finding of fact that the bales, misappropriated by Jaimal Singh, were the bales found from the possession of the applicants.

In an application of the type as this application that finding of fact by the learned Judge while disposing of the revision petition, cannot be called into question. The disposal of the present application must, therefore, proceed on the basis of the finding of the learned Judge while acquitting the applicants.

7. A criminal Court is empowered to deliver property, regarding which an offence appears to have been committed, or which has been used for the commission of an offence, to any person claiming to be 'entitled to possession' of the same. This is under Sub-section (1) of Section 517 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, That Sub-section does not refer to any question of title other than question of title to such property based on possession. What the Court has to decide at the conclusion of an inquiry or trial is this; who is 'entitled to possession' of the property? The argument on both sides turns upon the meaning of this expression.

On behalf of the applicants it is said that since only question of possession is to be decided by the Court the applicants were the persons from whose possession the property was taken by the police, they are obviously entitled to the return of the property on acquittal. The learned counsel appearing for Genda Ram says in reply that in a case as the present, in which the property has been found to be stolen property, even though the accused have been acquitted because they have been given benefit of the doubt, it is to be returned to the original owner because he in fact is the person who is entitled to its possession.

The expression 'person entitled to the possession also appears in Section 519 of the Code ofCriminal Procedure. According to that sectionwhen an accused person is convicted of theft orreceiving stolen property and it is proved thatany other person has bought the stolen property from him without knowing, or having reason to believe, that the same was stolen, theCourt has discretion, on restitution of the stolenproperty to the person entitled to the possession thereof, to compensate such purchaser, outof any money taken from the person of the accused at the time of his arrest. This section refers to--

(a) the conviction of the accused for an offence of theft or of receiving stolen property,

(b) a finding that the property involved in the case is stolen property, and (c) a finding that some other person has purchased the property without knowing, or having reason to believe, the same to be stolen property. In such circumstances and on such findings the property is restored to the person from whom It was stolen as the person 'entitled to the possession' of it, and the other person, who purchased the property for value and in good faith, is to be compensated by a criminal Court, in criminal proceedings, should any money have been found, at the time of his arrest, on the person of the accused convicted.

8. What has happened in the present case is this: (a) that the applicants have been acquitted of the offence of receiving stolen property because of benefit of doubt having been given to them, (b) that the bales, in question, have been held by the learned Judge to be stolen property, inasmuch as he finds that the bales misappropriated by Jaimal Singh were found from the possession of the applicants, and (c) that the version of the applicants that they purchased the bales from Jaimal Singh without knowing, or having reason to believe, that the same were stolen property has not been disproved or discounted.

It is evident that the last two aspects, as above , in this case are practically the same as the last two, out of the three, aspects involved, in the application of Section 519 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. It is true that that section itself does not apply to the facts and circumstances of the present case because the applicants were not convicted, but have in fact been acquitted.

At the same time, that section provides an indication, and to my mind a very clear indication, of the meaning which the legislature intended to attach, to the expression 'entitled to possession' as used in Sections 517 and 519 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which meaning is that where property is found to be stolen property and at the same time found to have been purchased by another person in good faith for value, the person 'entitled to possession' of the same, in such a case, is the person who originally lost possession of the property in consequence of theft or misappropriation and the other person, who subsequently purchased the property, is only entitled to be compensated.

That expression has the same meaning in both the sections. It now becomes clear that in the present case, according to the finding of the learned Judge in the revision petition, the property has rightly been delivered to Genda Ram from whose possession it originally came and all that the applicants are entitled to as purchasers of it in good faith, is to be compensated for its value.

If any money had been found on the person of Jaimal Singh, whose conviction under Section 406 of the Penal Code, for having misappropriated the property in this case, stands unchallenged it would have been within the power of this Court under Section 519 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, to direct payment to the applicants out of such money to the tune of such amount not exceeding the price of the bales; but there is no material, and none to which reference has been made by the learned counsel on either side, to show that any money, was found on the person of Jaimal Singh when he was arrested.

Section 519 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, thus, can have no application to the case, and the only remedy, if any, that the Applicants have is a claim by an action in a Civil Court. In the view that I have taken, it is not necessary to consider the argument based, and accepted in a number of reported cases, on the consideration of Section 27 of the Indian Sale of Goods Act.

Without reference to that section the conclusion reached in the case, on consideration stated above, is the same as reached by the learned Judges in some of the reported cases in which reliance has been placed on that section. I have, therefore, not considered it necessary to refer to reported cases in which decision proceeds upon consideration of that section nor to reported cases which deal with the question as if it involves a question of title to property.

9. In consequence, the application is dismissed.


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