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Municipal Corporation of Delhi Vs. Amrit Lal - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Appeal No. 41 of 1979
Judge
Reported in1981CriLJ422
Acts Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 - Sections 21
AppellantMunicipal Corporation of Delhi
RespondentAmrit Lal
Cases ReferredDelhi Development Authority v. Punjab National Bank
Excerpt:
.....would be best suited to have the custody of the child. the high court has taken into consideration both the questions relating to the comity of courts as well as the interest of the minor child, which, no doubt, is one of the most important considerations in matters relating to custody of a minor child. - delhi municipal corporation act, 1957 (the act) creates a corporate body which has all the attributes of 'legal immortality'.blackstone says that corporate bodies enjoy a kind of 'legal immortality' because they maintain a perpetual succession and go on for every even though the individuals composing them may come or go......of delhi, to be known as the municipal corporation of delhi. (2) the corporation shall be a body corporate with the name aforesaid having perpetual succession and a common seal with power, subject to the provisions of this act, to acquire, old and dispose of property and may by the said name sue and be sued.' 7. a corporate body cannot be a public servant within the meaning of section 21 of the indian penal code. a corporation is a legal entity. it acts through human agents. the agent can be public servant. but in this case the agent is not the complainant. 8. the municipal prosecutor was authorised by the local authority to institute the complaint petition. the principle that he who does an act through another is deemed in law to do it himself, fully applies. thereforee, the.....
Judgment:

Avadh Behari Rohatgi, J.

1. This is an appeal by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (Corporation) from an order of acquittal passed in favor of the respondent by the Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi dated 28th August, 1978.

2. A complaint was filed by the Corporation against the respondent under Sections 4 and 16 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1954 in the court of the Magistrate. This was a done on behalf of the Corporation by Shri R. N. Gujral, Assistant Municipal Prosecutor. The learned Magistrate acquitted the respondent. From his decision the Corporation appeals to this Court.

3. Mr. Monga on behalf of the Municipal Corporation does not dispute that this appeal was not filed within 60 days. It was filed much after the period of 60 days. Now sub-section (5) of Section 378 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, provides that :

'(5) No application under sub-section (4) for the grant of special leave to appeal from an order of acquittal shall be entertained by the High Court after the expiry of six months, were the complainant is a public servant, and sixty days in every other case, computed from the date of that order of acquittal.' This sub-section means that where the complainant is a public servant the period of limitation is six months and 'in every other case' the period of limitation is 60 days.

4. The real question is whether in the present case the Municipal Corporation was the complainant or Sh. R. N. Gujral, Assistant Municipal Prosecutor, was the complainant. There can be no doubt that in the eye of the law the Municipal Corporation of Delhi was the complainant before the Magistrate. This question has been settled by the Supreme Court in Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Jagdish Lal, : 1970CriLJ1 . There it was held that the Delhi Municipal Corporation was the complainant 'in the contemplation of law', though the prosecutor one Mr. Mathur had instituted the complaint in his own name. The Supreme Court held that Sh. Mathur was acting in a representative capacity and the complainant was the Delhi Municipal Corporation. Ramaswami, J. speaking for the court said :

'It is true that Shri S0ham Sunder mathur filed the complaint petition on August 20, 1960. But in filing the complaint Shri mathur was not acting on his own personal behalf but was acting as an agent authorised by the Delhi Municipal Corporation to file the complaint. It must, thereforee, be deemed in the contemplation of law that the Delhi Municipal Corporation was the complainant in the case.'

5. In view of this authoritative pronouncement it must be held that the complainant was none other than the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

6. Now the Municipal Corporation of Delhi is a local body. It is also a corporate body. Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 (the Act) creates a corporate body which has all the attributes of 'legal immortality'. Blackstone says that corporate bodies enjoy a kind of 'legal immortality' because they maintain a perpetual succession and go on for every even though the individuals composing them may come or go. The corporate body has a name and seal. It is a creature of the law. It has an indefinite duration. It can own land. It can sue and be sued in its own name. This is the essence of the legal conception of corporation. Section 3 of the Act says :

'3 (1) With effect from such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint, there shall be a Corporation charged with the Provincial Government of Delhi, to be known as the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

(2) The Corporation shall be a body corporate with the name aforesaid having perpetual succession and a common seal with power, subject to the provisions of this Act, to acquire, old and dispose of property and may by the said name sue and be sued.'

7. A corporate body cannot be a public servant within the meaning of Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code. A corporation is a legal entity. It acts through human agents. The agent can be public servant. But in this case the agent is not the complainant.

8. The Municipal prosecutor was authorised by the local authority to institute the complaint petition. The principle that he who does an act through another is deemed in law to do it himself, fully applies. thereforee, the complainant is the local body and not Shri Gujral.

9. Under Section 20 of the Food Act a local authority can launch a prosecution for an offence under that Act. The local authority in this case means the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. The Act to which the local authority owes its origin makes the Municipal Corporation a corporate body. A corporate body is a legal abstraction. As Chief Justice Marshall in Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1816) 4 L Ed 629 said :

'A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible and existing only in contemplation of law.'

A corporate body as no physical existence. It has no soul to be damned and no body to be kicked. So a corporation cannot be public servant under Section 21, I.P.C. A public servant has a soul and a body. He is a human being. In a world of real men and women he very much exists, tough man's existence on this earth is fleeting, fugitive, and fitful. On his death his rights and interests perish with him. He has an earthly existence in every sense. The agents of the Corporation e.g. Commissioner, councillor alderman, municipal officer and employees are public servants (See S. 500 of the act). But it is impossible to hold that the local authority is a public servant. The conclusion thereforee we come to is that the complainant in this case was not a public servant. The benefit of the extended period of 6 months which the legislature has allowed to public servants cannot possibly be given to the local authority. This we have held in Delhi Development Authority v. Punjab National Bank, Criminal Appeal No. 421 of 1976 decided on 29-10-1980 : Reported in 1981 Rajdhani LR 4. It is unnecessary to embark on an elaborate discussion over again.

10. As the complainant in this case is not a public under Section 378(5) is 60 days. This appeal was filed much after the expiry of 60 days computed from the date of order of acquittal, after allowing the period spent in obtaining the certified copy.

11. Mr. Monga says that he may be allowed time to file an application for condensation of delay. We see no reason to grant this request in view of the clear pronouncement of the Supreme Court in the Corporation's own case (1970 Cri LJ 1) of which they cannot possibly plead any ignorance.

12. Secondly, it is an appeal from an order of acquittal and the law does not favor that an order of acquittal should remain in jeopardy longer than what is prescribed by the law of limitation for this purpose. As the Law Commission has observed in 48th report on appeals against acquittal :

In our view proper regard should be had to the need for putting reasonable limits on the period for which the anxiety and tension of a criminal prosecution should be allowed to torment the mind of the accused. There is a qualitative distinction between conviction and acquittal, and appeals against acquittals should not be allowed in the same unrestricted manner as appeals against convictions.'

13. We, thereforee, hold that the appeal is barred by time and accordingly dismiss it.

14. Appeal dismissed.


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