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Ranchhodlal Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtSupreme Court of India
Decided On
Judge
Reported inAIR1965SC1248; [1965]2SCR283
ActsIndian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 - Sections 409, 467, 471 and 477(A); Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1898 - Sections 222, 233, 234, 235 and 397(1)
AppellantRanchhodlal
RespondentState of Madhya Pradesh
Excerpt:
.....sections 222, 233, 234, 235 and 397 (1) of criminal procedure code, 1898 - appellant got 4 conviction for mainly committing offences under section 409 due to which he has to undergo imprisonment for 11 years - high court dismissed appeals against conviction of appellant in four cases - special leave granted on question of sentence only - appellant urged that he should have been charged for committing criminal breach of trust with respect to total amount he had misappropriated as all such acts took place within period of few months and in relation to same transaction - supreme court observed not justified to take any lenient view about sentence for offence committed by appellant - appellant holding responsible position of sarpanch failed in discharging his duties - apex court held,..........first addition sessions judge, ujjain, shri h. b. aggarwal. he was alsoconvicted in these two cases of offences under section 467 read with section471 and section 477a i.p.c. the sentences imposed for these offences were torun concurrently with the sentence of imprisonment for the offence undersection 409 i.p.c. the sentences imposed in the two cases for the offence undersection 409 i.p.c were to run consecutively as no order had been made by thesessions judge for the sentence in the case in which judgment was pronouncedlater, to run concurrently with the sentence imposed in the other case. 2. in each of the other two cases, the appellant was sentenced to 3 years'rigorous imprisonment under section 409 i.p.c. by shri dube, first additionalsessions judge, ujjain, on july 20, 1963......
Judgment:

Raghubar Dayal, J.

1. The appellant, in these four appeals by special leave, was convicted infour cases of an offence under section 409 I.P.C. and was sentenced to 4 years'rigorous imprisonment and fine in the first two cases on January 17, 1962, bythe First Addition Sessions Judge, Ujjain, Shri H. B. Aggarwal. He was alsoconvicted in these two cases of offences under section 467 read with section471 and section 477A I.P.C. The sentences imposed for these offences were torun concurrently with the sentence of imprisonment for the offence undersection 409 I.P.C. The sentences imposed in the two cases for the offence undersection 409 I.P.C were to run consecutively as no order had been made by theSessions Judge for the sentence in the case in which judgment was pronouncedlater, to run concurrently with the sentence imposed in the other case.

2. In each of the other two cases, the appellant was sentenced to 3 years'rigorous imprisonment under section 409 I.P.C. by Shri Dube, First AdditionalSessions Judge, Ujjain, on July 20, 1963. The Sessions Judge ordered thesentences in these two cases to run concurrently, but did not order them to runconcurrently with the sentence awarded in the first case on January 17, 1962.

3. The appeals against the conviction of the appellant in the four caseswere dismissed by the High Court. With respect to the sentence in the appealagainst the first conviction in Section Trial No. 35 of 1961, the High Courtsaid :

'Coming to the Sentences, the basic offence iscriminal breach of trust under section 409 IPC and a sentence of four years'rigorous imprisonment cannot, in these circumstances, be considered excessive.If any thing, I would call it somewhat lenient.'

4. The sentence of fine of Rs. 1,000 was considered to be 'feeble'.

5. In disposing of the appeal against the conviction in the second case,Sessions Trial No. 36 of 1961, the High Court said with respect of the sentence:

'The sentence of imprisonment is also low; but possiblythe Sessions Court took account of the fact that there were other and similarcases against Ranchhodlal in which there was a possibility of aconviction.'

6. In the third appeal from the order in Sessions Trial No. 55 of 1962, theHigh Court said:

'If there had been an application for enhancementof sentence, I would not have hesitated to increase the sentence because thispaying himself on the part of the appellant is a very serious mater. But therebeing no such prayer by the State, the matter has to be left at that.'

7. In the fourth appeal, the High Court said:

'The trial Court has awarded a sentence of threeyears without fine. It is quite lenient.'

8. The result of the four convictions and sentences passed in these cases isthat the appellant has to undergo imprisonment for 11 years for mainlycommitting the offences under section 409 I.P.C. with respect to differentamounts, in his capacity as Sarpanch of the Mandal Panchayat, Ujjain.

9. Special leave was granted on the question of sentence only. One of thegrounds taken in the special leave petitions was that his being tried in fourcases for committing criminal breach of trust with respect to differentamounts, led to the petitioner's prejudice and harassment inasmuch as he was toundergo sentences of imprisonment consecutively.

10. Sub-section (1) of section 397, Cr.P.C. provides that when a personalready undergoing a sentence of imprisonment is sentenced on a subsequentconviction of imprisonment, such imprisonment shall commence at the expressionof the imprisonment to which he has been previously sentenced, unless the Courtdirects that the sub-sequent sentence shall run concurrently with such previoussentence. It follows that a subsequent sentence of imprisonment is ordinarilyto commence at the expiration of imprisonment under the previous sentence, andthat the Court recording the conviction has the discretion to order that thelater sentence would run concurrently with the pervious one.

11. The Additional Sessions Judge who convicted the appellant in two case inJanuary 1962 did not exercise his discretion in favour of the appellant. Theother Sessions Judge who convicted the appellant in two cases in 1963 exercisedhis discretion to the extent that he made the sentence in those two casesconcurrent and did not make those sentences concurrent with the earliersentences imposed on the appellant in January 1962. The judgments in the fourSessions Trials are not before us and we are not in a position to say whetherthis aspect of the matter was urged before the Sessions judges when theyrecorded the convictions and sentenced the appellant in the four SessionsTrials.

12. It was not urged before the High Court that the sentences in all thefour cases be made to run concurrently. If it had been urged, the decisionmight have gone against the appellant if one considers the remarks of the HighCourt on the nature of the sentence in each case. The High Court consideredthat the sentences were inadequate.

13. Learned counsel for the appellant has not urged that there is anyillegality in the sentences awarded to the appellant in the various Sessionscases or in not making them run concurrently with the sentence awarded in thefirst Sessions. Trial No. 35 of 1961. He has, however, urged that the variousacts of criminal breach of trust which formed the basis of the convictions tookplace within a period of a few month, from November 19, 1955 of February 23,1956, and that therefore the appellant should have been charged for committingcriminal breach of trust with respect to the total amount he hadmisappropriated, in view of section 222 Cr.P.C. and that if he had been socharge, the charge for misappropriating the total amount would have been thecharge for one offence and the appellant would have been the tried on such onecharge at one trial and, on conviction, would have been awarded only onesentence which would not have ordinarily exceeded 4 years' rigorousimprisonment.

14. Section 222 Cr.P.C. reads :

'(1) The charge shallcontain such particulars as to the time and place of the alleged offence, andthe person (if any) against whom, or the thing (if any) in respect of which, itwas committed, as are reasonably sufficient to give the accused notice of thematter with which he is charged.

(2) When the accused is chargedwith criminal breach of trust or dishonest misappropriation of money, it shallbe sufficient to specify the gross sum in respect of which the offence isalleged to have been committed, and the dates between which the offence isalleged to have been committed, without specifying particular items or exactdates, and the charge so framed shall be deemed to be a charge of one offencewithin the meaning of section 234 :

Provided that the time includedbetween the first and last of such dates shall not exceed one year.'

15. Sub-section (2) is an exception to meet a certain contingency and is notthe normal rule with respect to framing of a charge in cases of criminal breachof trust. The normal rule is that there should be charge for each distinctoffence, as provided in section 233 of the Code. Section 222 mentions what thecontents of the charge should be. It is only when it may not be possible tospecify exactly particular items with respect to which criminal breach of trusttook place or the exact date on which the individual items were misappropriatedor in some similar contingency, that the Court is authorised to lump up thevarious items with respect it which criminal breach of trust was committed andto mention the total amount misappropriated within a year in the charge. Whenso done, the charge is deemed to be the charge of one offence. If severaldistinct item with respect to which criminal breach of trust has been committedare not so lumped together, no illegality is committed in the trial of thoseoffences. In fact, a separate trial with respect to each distinct offence ofcriminal breach of trust with respect to an individual item is the correct modeof proceeding with the trial of an offence of criminal breach or trust.

16. Learned counsel for the appellant also relied on section 234 Cr.P.C. andurged that three offences of criminal breach of trust could have been tried atone trial as section 234 provides that when a person is accused of moreoffences than one of the same kind committed within the space of twelve monthsfrom the first to the last of such offences, whether in respect of the sameperson or not, he may be charged with, and tried at one trial for any number ofthem not exceeding three. This again, is an enabling provision and is anexception to section 233 Cr.P.C. If each of the several offences is triedseparately, there is nothing illegal about it. It may also be mentioned thatthe total number of items charged in the four cases exceeded three.

17. Lastly, reference was made, on behalf of the appellant, to section 235Cr.P.C. and it was urged that all these offences were committed in the courseof the same transaction, and therefore, they should have been tried at one trial.Assuming, without deciding, that these, offences could be said to have beencommitted in the course of the same transaction, the separate trial of theappellant for certain specific offences is not illegal. This section too is anenabling section.

18. Apart from the fact that the separate trials of the appellant in fourcases for committing breach of trust with respect to several items was notillegal, there is nothing on record to show that the investigating agency hadworked out all the cases of criminal breach of trust prior to prosecuting theappellant for the offence of which he was tried at Sessions Trial No. 35 of1961. If all the offences had not been worked out prior to that, there couldnot have been a joint trial for all of them even if that could have beenthought to be more reasonable way of proceeding against the appellant.

19. The fact that the first two Section Trials ended in a conviction inJanuary 1962 on commitments made sometime in 1961 and that the Sessions Trialsending on July 20, 1963 were on commitments made sometime in 1962, prima facieindicate that the investigating agency submitted the charge sheets against theappellant for the offences tried in 1963 after - and possibly long after - ithad submitted charge-sheet with respect to the first two cases. There cannottherefore be any design in prosecuting the appellant for different offences infour cases.

20. We are, therefore, of opinion that there had been no illegality in theCourt's trying the appellant in four cases and in not ordering the varioussentences awarded in different Sessions Trials to run concurrently with thesentences awarded in Session Trial No. 35 of 1961.

21. It has been strongly urged that the total sentence of 11 years which theappellant has to undergo for committing to the various offences of criminalbreach of trust is severe and that if he had been tried for these offences atone trial after taking advantage of the provisions of section 222 Cr.P.C., thesentence which would have been awarded to him would not have exceeded 4 years,as that is the normal maximum sentence awarded for an offence under section 409I.P.C. An offence under section 409 I.P.C. is punishable up to imprisonment forlife or imp[imprisonment up to 10 years. The measure of the sentence is usuallygoverned by the nature of the offences committed and the circumstances of theircommission and it cannot be held as a hard and fast rule that a sentence is notto exceed a certain period of imprisonment when the law has itself laid down theextent up to which a sentence can be inflicted for a certain offence and hasleft discretion to the Court to adjust the sentence according to thecircumstances of each case. We need not detail the circumstances of thesecases, but would simply note that they do not justify taking any lenient viewabout the sentences for the offences committed by the appellant who held a veryresponsible position as Sarpanch of the Societies and as such had to deal withthe proper disbursement of public money for the purposes of public benefit. Hemiserably failed in discharging these duties in the manner expected of him. Adeterrent sentence is always essential so that others in such responsiblepositions and having occasions to deal with large sums of public money do not tallvictim to greed and dishonesty.

22. We, therefore, dismiss these appeals.

23. Appeals dismissed.


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