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Ramekbal Tiwary Vs. Madan Mohan Tiwary and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtSupreme Court of India
Decided On
Judge
Reported inAIR1967SC1156; 1967(0)BLJR646; 1967CriLJ1076; [1967]2SCR368
ActsIndian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 - Sections 148, 149, 302, 304-A, 307, 326, 338, 379 and 477; Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) - Sections 173, 207, 207-A, 208, 209, 209(1), 236, 237, 251-A, 258, 273, 403(1), 403(4), 423, 426, 427, 428, 429, 435, 437 and 439
AppellantRamekbal Tiwary
RespondentMadan Mohan Tiwary and anr.
Cases ReferredSambasivam v. Public Prosecutor
Excerpt:
criminal - sections 148, 149, 302, 304-a, 307, 326, 338, 379 and 477 of indian penal code, 1860 and sections 173, 207, 208, 209, 236, 237, 251-a, 258, 273, 403 (1), 403 (4), 423, 426, 427, 428, 429, 435, 437 and 439 of criminal procedure code - appeal against judgment of high court affirming order of additional sessions judge in revision ordering appellant initially acquitted by magistrate under section 307 to be committed to sessions for being tried on charge under section 307 - appellant contending that there can be no commitment for offence under section 307 in view of acquittal on charge under sections 326 and 338 by magistrate - in view of section 403 (4) there can be fresh charge and trial under section 307 in spite of acquittal of appellant on minor charges - additional sessions..........the appellant to be committed to sessions for being tried on a charge under section 307, indian penal code. 2. it appears that the police submitted a charge-sheet against the appellant and 8 others in respect of offences under section 307, read with sections 148 and 149, indian penal code, on the information lodged by gourishankar tiwari, alleging that the accused had formed an unlawful assembly and, in prosecution of the common object, the appellant ramekbal tiwary injured the informant with a gunshot. the defence of the appellant was that gourishankar tiwari had raided his house with several other persons and in self-defence he used his gun inside his house as a result of which gourishankar tiwari received injuries. the magistrate to whom the case was transferred by the.....
Judgment:

Ramaswami, J.

1. This appeal is brought, by special leave, from the judgment of the Patna High Court dated May 8, 1964 in Criminal Revision No. 162 of 1961 affirming the order of the Additional Sessions Judge of Arrah in Criminal Revision No. 194 of 1960 ordering the appellant to be committed to Sessions for being tried on a charge under section 307, Indian Penal Code.

2. It appears that the police submitted a charge-sheet against the appellant and 8 others in respect of offences under section 307, read with sections 148 and 149, Indian Penal Code, on the information lodged by Gourishankar Tiwari, alleging that the accused had formed an unlawful assembly and, in prosecution of the common object, the appellant Ramekbal Tiwary injured the informant with a gunshot. The defence of the appellant was that Gourishankar Tiwari had raided his house with several other persons and in self-defence he used his gun inside his house as a result of which Gourishankar Tiwari received injuries. The Magistrate to whom the case was transferred by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, started an enquiry under Chapter XVIII of the Criminal Procedure Code and, having examined eleven prosecution witnesses and heard the arguments of the parties, decided to try the accused under section 251-A of the Criminal Procedure Code for offences under sections 326 and 338 of the Indian Penal Code, because in his opinion, the evidence did not make out an offence under section 307, Indian Penal Code. This order was made by the Magistrate on March 19, 1960. Thereafter the Magistrate held a regular trial with regard to charges under sections 326 and 338, Indian Penal Code and acquitted the appellant and the other accused of those charges by his order dated July 13, 1960. On behalf of the prosecution, an application in revision was made to the Additional Sessions Judge who allowed the application and set aside the two orders of the Magistrate dated March 19, 1960 and July 13, 1960, and directed the Magistrate to commit the appellant and the other accused to the Court of Sessions on charges under sections 307 and 148, and 307 read with section 149 of the Indian Penal Code. The appellant took the matter in revision in Revision No. 162 of 1961 before the Patna High Court which, by its judgment dated May 8, 1964 held that the appellant was improperly discharged by the Magistrate and the order of the Additional Sessions Judge for his commitment under section 307, Indian Penal Code was therefore justified. With regard to the other accused persons, the High Court held that there was no evidence to justify their commitment and the order of the Additional Sessions Judge with regard to these accused persons was set aside.

3. The first question involved in this appeal is whether the Additional Sessions Judge had jurisdiction under section 437, Criminal Procedure Code to direct the commitment of the appellant to Sessions Court on a charge under section 307, Indian Penal Code, in the circumstances of this case.

4. In order to decide this question it is desirable to examine the relevant provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code. Section 437, Criminal Procedure Code states :

'When, on examining the record of any case under section 435 or otherwise, the Sessions Judge or District Magistrate considers that such case is triable exclusively by the Court of Session and that an accused person has been improperly discharged by the inferior Court, the Sessions Judge or District Magistrate may cause him to be arrested, any may thereupon, instead of directing a fresh inquiry, order him to be committed for trial upon the matter of which he has been, in the opinion of the Session Judge or District Magistrate, improperly discharged :

Provided as follows :-

(a) that the accused has had an opportunity of showing cause to such Judge or Magistrate why the commitment should not be made;

(b) that if such Judge or Magistrate thinks that the evidence shows that some other offence has been committed by the accused, such Judge or Magistrate may direct the inferior Court to inquire into such offence.'

5. Section 207, Criminal Procedure Code provides that in every inquiry before a Magistrate where the case is triable exclusively by a Court of Session or High Court, or, which in the opinion of the Magistrate, ought to be tried by such Court, the Magistrate must in any proceeding instituted on a police report, follow the procedure prescribed in section 207-A. Under section 207-A the Magistrate, after perusing the police report forwarded under section 173, has to fix a date for hearing and require the production of the accused on that date. He has also the power to compel the attendance of such witnesses or the production of any document or thing on that date if an application is made in that behalf by the officer conducting the prosecution. On the date of hearing the Magistrate, after satisfying himself that copies of the documents referred to in section 173 have been furnished, has to proceed to take the evidence of such persons, if any, as are produced as witnesses to the actual commission of the offence. After the examination of those witnesses and after their cross-examination by the accused the Magistrate may, if he thinks it necessary to do so in the interest of justice, take the evidence of any one or more of the other witnesses for the prosecution. He will then examine the accused for the purpose of enabling him to explain the circumstances appearing in the evidence against him and hear both the prosecution as well as the accused. If at that stage he is opinion that no ground for committing the accused for trial exists the Magistrate can, after recording his reasons, discharge the accused. If, however, it appears to the Magistrate that such person should be tried by himself or some Magistrate he must proceed accordingly. This contingency will arise if the Magistrate forms an opinion that no case exclusively triable by Court of Session is disclosed but a less serious offence which it is within the competence of the Magistrate to try is disclosed. In that case the Magistrate has to proceed to try the accused himself or send him for trial before another Magistrate. Section 209(1), Criminal Procedure Code states :

'209. (1) When the evidence referred to in section 208, sub-sections (1) and (3) have been taken and he has (if necessary) examined the accused for the purpose of enabling him to explain any circumstances appearing in the evidence against him, such Magistrate shall, if he finds that there are not sufficient grounds for committing the accused person for trial, record his reasons and discharge him, unless it appears to the Magistrate that such person should be tried before himself or some other Magistrate, in which case he shall proceed accordingly.'

6. It was submitted on behalf of the appellant that if a person is accused of a major offence, for example under section 307, Indian Penal Code, and the Magistrate frames a charge of minor offence, for example under section 326 or section 338, Indian Penal Code, the order of the Magistrate is not tantamount to an order of discharge, because the criminal case is proceeding against the accused on the same facts and therefore the Sessions Judge is not competent, under section 437, Criminal Procedure Code, to direct the commitment of the accused to the Court of Session in respect of the major offence. We are unable to accept this argument as correct. It is true that in the present case there is no express order of the Magistrate discharging the appellant of the charge under section 307, Indian Penal Code, but in his order dated March 19, 1960, the Magistrate has given reasons for holding that no case is made out under section 307, Indian Penal Code in order to justify an order of commitment. It is manifest that the order of the Magistrate is tantamount to an implied order of discharge and the Additional Sessions Judge had therefore jurisdiction, under section 437, Criminal Procedure Code, to set aside the order of the Magistrate and to order that the accused should be committed to trial in the Court of Session on the major charge under section 307, Indian Penal Code. There is nothing in the language of section 437, Criminal Procedure Code from which it could be said that the power of the Sessions Court under that section can be exercised only when the Magistrate has made an express order of discharge. It is apparent from the language of section 209(1), Criminal Procedure Code that an express order of discharge is only contemplated in a case where the Magistrate comes to the conclusion that the allegations against the accused do not amount to an offence at all and therefore no question arises of trying him either by himself or by any other Court. But the section does not contemplate that an express order of discharge should be made in a case where upon the same facts it is possible to say that though no offence exclusively triable by a Court of Session is made out, an offence triable by a Magistrate is nevertheless made out and the Magistrate thereafter proceeds with the trial of that offence. There is also another consideration to be taken into account. Take, for instance, a case where on a certain state of facts the accused is alleged by the prosecution to have committed a very grave offence, say under section 302, Indian Penal Code, exclusively triable by the Court of Session, but the Magistrate thinks that the offence falls under section 304-A which he can try and after trying the accused either convicts or acquits him. In either case the result would be that the appropriate Court will be prevented from trying the accused for the graver offence which those fact disclose. It is to obviate such a consequence and to prevent inferior Courts from exercising a jurisdiction which they do not possess that the provisions of section 437, Criminal Procedure Code have been enacted. To say that these provisions can be availed of only where an express order of discharge is made by a Magistrate would be to render those provisions ineffective and inapplicable to the very class of cases for which they were intended. As we have already pointed out, the language used in section 437, Criminal Procedure Code is wide and there is nothing in that section from which it could be gathered that the power can be exercised only when the Magistrate has made an express order of discharge. We accordingly reject the argument of Mr. Nurrudin Ahmed on behalf of the appellant and hold that the Additional Sessions Judge had jurisdiction to set aside the order of the Magistrate dated March 19, 1960, and to direct the commitment of the appellant to Sessions Court on a charge under section 307, Indian Penal Code.

7. The view that we have expressed is borne out by the decision of the Full Bench of the Madras High Court in Krishna Reddi v. Subbamma I.L.R. 24 Mad 136. In that case, certain persons were charged before a First Class Magistrate under section 379, Indian Penal Code with the theft of a promissory note. The prosecution applied for a further charge to be framed under section 477, Indian Penal Code, but this the Magistrate declined to do, as in his opinion, there was no direct evidence that the accused had destroyed or secreted the note. After hearing the evidence for the defence the Magistrate acquitted the accused under section 258, Criminal Procedure Code. An application was then made to the Sessions Court to call for the records and direct the committal of the accused for trial for an offence under section 477, Indian Penal Code. The Sessions Court ordered that a further enquiry be made and that the accused be committed for trial. It was contended before the High Court that the order of the Sessions Court was illegal on the ground that the accused had been acquitted and not discharged. It was held by the Full Bench that the order of the Magistrate was, in substance, an order discharging the accused in respect of an alleged offence under section 477, Indian Penal Code, and that the Sessions Judge had jurisdiction to make the order sought to be revised. In the course of its judgment the Full Bench observed at page 146 of the Report as follows :-

'If section 209 of the Criminal Procedure Code is to be construed as meaning that there can be no 'discharge' under that section in respect of an offence exclusively triable by a Court of Session in cases where it appears to the Magistrate that the accused should be tried before himself or some other Magistrate in respect of offences not so exclusively triable, there would be a deadlock, since there is no provisions in the Code, other than that contained in section 209, for dealing with a case where the Magistrate is of opinion that there is no evidence of an alleged offence which is triable exclusively by a Court of Session, but considers that the accused should be tried before himself, or some other Magistrate in respect of alleged offences which are not so exclusively triable. From the terms of the Magistrate's order it is clear that he adjudicated upon the question whether there was any evidence against the accused in respect of the major offence. The Magistrate came to the conclusion that there was not, and he declined to charge him with the major offence. It seems to us that this is a 'discharge' within the meaning of section 209.

Chapter XVIII relates to enquiries into cases triable by the Court of Session or High Court. The primary object of section 209 is to make provision for the procedure in such cases. If in the opinion of the Magistrate, there is no evidence to warrant a charge for an offence exclusively triable by a Court of Session, he may 'discharge' the accused in respect of the alleged offence and, having done so, may proceed as regards the minor offence or offences under Chapter XXI or other appropriate chapter. In fact, a Magistrate cannot proceed to act under the latter part of sub-section (1) of section 209 until he has 'discharged' the accused under the former part of the sub-section. This is the course which the Magistrate adopted in the present case.'

8. The same view has been held by the Full Bench of the Madras High Court in In re Nalla Baligadu and others : AIR1951Mad0 , and it was held that where under section 209(1) a Magistrate finds that there are not sufficient grounds for committing the accused for trial and directs such person to be tried before himself or some other Magistrate, the revisional powers under section 437, Criminal Procedure Code can be exercised by the Sessions Court. On behalf of the appellant Mr. Nuruddin Ahmed relied upon the Full Bench decision of the Allahabad High Court in Nahar Singh v. The State : AIR1952All231 in which it was held that the power under section 437, Criminal Procedure Code is exercisable only in a case where the Magistrate, by an express order, discharges and accused person in respect of an offence exclusively triable by a Court of Session. It was observed in that case that the failure of or refusal by a Magistrate to commit an accused person for trial by a Court of Session does not amount to an implied discharge of the accused person so as to attract the power of the Sessions Judge under section 437, Criminal Procedure Code to direct the Magistrate to commit the accused person for trial by the Court of Session on the ground that the offence is exclusively triable by the Court of Session. The view taken in Nahar Singh v. The State : AIR1952All231 , has been followed by the Calcutta High Court in Sambhu Charan Mandal v. The State 60 C.W.N. 708.

9. For the reasons already expressed, we hold that the view taken by the Madras High Court in Krishna Reddi v. Subbamma I.L.R. 24 Mad. 136, and in In re Nalla Baligadu and others : AIR1951Mad0 as to the interpretation and effect of section 209 and 437, Criminal Procedure Code is correct.

10. We pass on to consider the next contention raised on behalf of the appellant, namely, that the order of the Additional Sessions Judge dated July 13, 1960, is ultra vires since he had no jurisdiction to set aside the judgment of the Magistrate acquitting the appellant of the charges under sections 326 and 338, Indian Penal Code. We do not think there is any substance in this point. It is true that the Additional Sessions Judge has no authority to set aside the acquittal of the appellant under the provisions of section 437, Criminal Procedure Code. But the order of the Additional Sessions Judge has been affirmed by the High Court in its order under appeal and under section 439, Criminal Procedure Code the High Court has jurisdiction to interfere with an order of acquittal in revision and to direct that the accused may be retired on the graver offence. Section 439, Criminal Procedure Code reads as follows :-

'439. (1) In the case of any proceeding the record of which has been called for by itself or which has been reported for orders, or which otherwise comes to its knowledge, the High Court may, in its discretion, exercise any of the powers conferred on a Court of Appeal by sections 423, 426, 427 and 428 or on a Court by section 338, and may enhance the sentence; and when the Judges composing the Court of Revision are equally divided in opinion, the case shall be disposed of in the manner provided by section 429.

(2) No order under this section shall be made to the prejudice of the accused unless he has had an opportunity of being heard either personally or by pleader in his own defence.

(3) ............................................ (4) Nothing in this section applies to an entry made under section 273, or shall be deemed to authorise a High Court to convert a finding of acquittal into one of conviction.

.......................................... In our opinion the High Court must be deemed to have itself set aside the order of acquittal under this section and we therefore reject the argument advanced by the appellant on this aspect of the case.

It was lastly contended for the appellant that there can be no commitment for the offence under section 307, Indian Penal Code, in view of the acquittal on the charge under sections 326 and 338, Indian Penal Code. Reliance was placed on section 403 (1), Criminal Procedure Code which states :

'403. (1) A person who has been once tried by a Court of competent jurisdiction for an offence and convicted or acquitted of such offence shall, while such conviction or acquittal remains in force, not be liable to be tried again for the same offence, nor on the same facts for any other offence for which a different charge from the one made against him might have been made under section 236, or for which he might have been convicted under section 237.'

11. There is no substance in the agreement of the appellant because section 403(4) provides that a person acquitted or convicted of any offence constituted by any acts may, notwithstanding such acquittal or conviction, be subsequently charged with, and tried for, any other offence constituted by the same acts which he may have committed if the Court by which he was first tried was not competent to try the offence with which he is subsequently charged. In view of this sub-section it is obvious that there can be a fresh charge and trial under section 307, Indian Penal Code in spite of the acquittal of the appellant on the minor charges. There is hence no reason why an order for commitment under section 307, Indian Penal Code cannot be made by the Additional Sessions Judge in spite of the acquittal of the appellant on the charges under sections 326 and 338, Indian Penal Code.

12. It was also submitted by Mr. Nuruddin Ahmed that apart from section 403(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code the principle of res judicata applied to a criminal trial also and the effect of verdict of acquittal pronounced by the Magistrate on the charges under sections 326 and 338, Indian Penal Code was binding and conclusive in all subsequent proceedings between the parties and the effect of the finding of the Magistrate was that the prosecution had failed to establish that Gourishankar Tiwari was injured in the manner alleged by the prosecution and the prosecution case was not established. It was argued that the same facts could not be proved against the appellant in subsequent proceedings on the charge under section 307, Indian Penal Code. In support of this proposition Counsel relied upon the decision of this Court in Pritam Singh v. The State of Punjab : 1956CriLJ805 and also on the following observations of Lord MacDermott in Sambasivam v. Public Prosecutor, Federation of Malaya [1950] A.C. 458 :-

'The effect of a verdict of acquittal pronounced by a competent Court on a lawful charge and after a lawful trial is not completely stated by saying that the person acquitted cannot be tried again for the same offence. To that it must be added that the verdict is binding and conclusive in all subsequent proceedings between the parties to the adjudication. The maxim 'Res judicata pro veritate accipitur' is no less applicable to criminal than to civil proceedings. Here, the appellant having been acquitted at the first trial on the charge of having ammunition in his possession, the prosecution was bound to accept the correctness of that verdict and was precluded from taking any step to challenge it at the second trial. And the appellant was no less entitled to rely on his acquittal in so far as if might be relevant in his defence.'

13. In our opinion, the principle does not apply to the present case because the order of acquittal of the appellant by the Magistrate must be deemed to have been validly set aside by the High Court for the reasons we have already given. We accordingly reject the argument of the appellant on this point.

14. For these reasons we are satisfied that the order of the High Court dated May 8, 1964, is not defective in law. But in the circumstances of this case we think that it is not expedient that the appellant should be tried after this lapse of time before a Sessions Court for an offence committed as long back as September 30, 1958. We accordingly set aside the order of the Additional Sessions Judge, Arrah dated December 20, 1960, ordering the commitment of the appellant and also the judgment of the Patna High Court dated May 8, 1964, which affirms the order of the Additional Sessions Judge. The appeal is accordingly allowed.

15. Appeal allowed.


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