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Abrar HussaIn and Am. Vs. State - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Revision Appeal No. 455 of 1971
Judge
Reported in1972RLR133
ActsCode of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1973
AppellantAbrar HussaIn and Am.
RespondentState
Advocates: S.P. Kathuria and; D.R. Sethi, Advs
Excerpt:
.....not request magistrate to examine any defense witness on their behalf - magistrate did not ask petitioners if they wished to examine any witness on their behalf at that stage - prosecution made out prima facie case - committal order cannot be quashed on ground that petitioners not given opportunity to adduce evidence on their behalf during committal proceedings. - - but at the same time, it was open to the learned magistrate to hold an enquiry under chapter xviii of the code and to commit the accused to the court of session if he was satisfied that there was a prima facie case against them. the petitioners as well as the other accused were represented by counsel before the learned magistrate. either to direct the magistrate to commit the accused for trial if he is satisfied on a..........no action was taken by the police and, thereforee, he filed a complaint to the magistrate. (2) the learned magistrate made a preliminary enquiry and there after summoned the petitioners and the other two persons to appear before him to answer a charge under section 395 read with section 34 ipc. six witnesses were examined on behalf of the prosecution. the evidence of these witnesses will be referred to at a later stage. the petitioners and the co-accused were examined under section 209 cr. p.c. they denied the allegations made against them. on a consideration of the evidence, the learned magistrate discharged ishaq hussain and mohd. fazal' two of the accused, but committed the petitioners herein to stand their trial in the court of session for an offence under sections 365/34 ipc. the.....
Judgment:

M.R.A. Ansari, J.

(1) Afaq Hussain, second respondent herein, filed a complaint before the Sub Divisional Magistrate, Delhi, against the petitioners alleging that they had committed an offence under section 365 read with section 34 IPC. Accor- ding to the complainant, he had married the daughter of the second petitioner herein in 1968 and that after the marriage, the relations between him and his wife had become strained and that hi? wife had left him and was living with her father. On 6.5.1968 at about 8.15 A.M. when the complainant was going to his office, the first petitioner who was a relation of his wife, had met him and told him that the condition of his wife was very serious and that he should go immediately to village Tanda Badli, District Rampur, U.P. where his wife was lying ill. The complainant thereupon went along with the first petitioner to that village and was taken to the house of the second petitioner where he was wrongfully confined till 12.5.1968, On 10.5.1968, the complainant was forced to sign two non-judicial stamp papers and two blank papers. He was allowed to leave the village only on 12.5 1968. Mean while, the complainant's father had lodged a report with the police on 7.5.1968, that the complainant was missing. After the complainant returned to Delhi, he lodged a report with the police against the petitioners for wronful confinement but no action was taken by the police and, thereforee, he filed a complaint to the Magistrate.

(2) The learned Magistrate made a preliminary enquiry and there after summoned the petitioners and the other two persons to appear before him to answer a charge under section 395 read with section 34 IPC. Six witnesses were examined on behalf of the prosecution. The evidence of these witnesses will be referred to at a later stage. The petitioners and the co-accused were examined under section 209 Cr. P.C. They denied the allegations made against them. On a consideration of the evidence, the learned Magistrate discharged Ishaq Hussain and Mohd. Fazal' two of the accused, but committed the petitioners herein to stand their trial in the court of Session for an offence under sections 365/34 IPC. The petitioners there upon filed a revision petition in the Court of Session and contended that the evidence did not disclose a prima facie case against them for an offence under section 365 Indian Penal Code and that thereforee, the committal order may be quashed. The learned Additional Session Judge, who heard this revision petition, accepted this contention and has submitted a report to this Court with a recommendation that the order of commitment of the petitioners, may be quashed.

(3) Two contentions have been raised before me on behalf of the petitioners, Namely. (i) That the petitioners were not given an opportunity to examine any defense witnesses in the committal Court; and (ii) the the prosecution evidence does not make out a prima facie case under sections 365/35 IPC.

(4) In order to appreciate the first contention, it is necessary to state the relevant facts. As already stated, the complaint was filed under section 265/34 IPC. An offence under section 364 Indian Penal Code is not exclusively triable by the Court of Session. According to 8th Col. of Schedule 2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, it is triable by a Court of Session, Presidency Magistrate or Magistrate of the 1st Class. It was, thereforee, an offence which the learned Magistrate was himself competent to try. But at the same time, it was open to the learned Magistrate to hold an enquiry under Chapter xviii of the Code and to commit the accused to the Court of Session if he was satisfied that there was a prima facie case against them. The learned Magistrate, after holding the preliminary enquiry, issued summonses to the petitioners to appear before him to answer a charge under section 355 and 323 IPC. At this stage, it was not specifically indicated whether the learned Magistrate was holding an enquiry under Chapter xviii or whether he was holding a trial under Chapter Xxi of the Code. When the accused were examined after the prosecution evidence, they were not specifically asked whether they wished to examine any defense witnesses. Nor did the accused themselves either orally or in writing, make a request to the Magistrate to examine any defense witnesses. If the learned Magistrate was holding a trial under Chapter Xxi of the Code, then under section 256(1) Criminal Procedure Code ., the Magistrate has to call upon the accused to enter upon his defense and produce his evidence. But if the Magistrate was holding an enquiry under Chapter xviii, the Magistrate has merely to record such evidence as may be produced on behalf of the accused and no duty is cast upon him to specifically ask the accused whether he wishes to examine any defense witnesses.) The grievance of the petitioners is that at no stage of the proceedings before the learned Magistrate were they informed that only an enquiry under Chapter xviii was being held and that they were under the impression that they were being tried under Chapter Xxi and that they would be given an opportunity to adduce evidence in defense. It is, thereforee, contended that the committal order of the Magistrate without giving an opportunity to the petitioners to adduce evidence was illegal.

(5) It appears that no special procedure is prescribed for the Courts in Delhi for registering cases which are triable by the Court of Session and cases which are triable by the Magistrate. In some other States, namely, Madras and Andhra Pradesh, cases which are triable by the Court of Session either exclusively or otherwise and in which the Magistrate has to hold an enquiry under Chapter xviii of the Code, they are registered as preliminary register cases and cases which the Magistrate himself is competent to try as calendar cases. When the summonses or warrants are issued against the accused, not only are the offences themselves, i.e., the sections of the Indian Penal Code and other statutes, mentioned in the summonses or warrants, but the number of the case, namely, whether it is a preliminary register case or a calendar case, is also mentioned. thereforee the accused is made aware from the very beginning whether the Magistrate is holding an enquiry under Chapter xviii or is holding the trial himself either under Chapters Xx or Xxi or Xxii of the Code. If the Magistrate while holding a trial is of the view by reason of the nature of the offence that it should be tried by the Court of Session, then he immediately converts the calendar case into a preliminary register case and follows the procedure prescribed under Section 347(1) Cr. P.C. It seems to me to be desirable that a similar procedure should be prescribed for the Courts in Delhi and that necessary rules should be framed.

(6) But even in the absence of such a procedure, the question for consideration would be whether the petitioners were in fact not aware that the Magistrate was only holding an enquiry under Chapter xviii and that he was not holding a trial under Chapter Xxi of the Code. The petitioners as well as the other accused were represented by counsel before the learned Magistrate. The prosecution case was closed on 2.2.1971 and according to the order sheet, the case was posted to 9.2.1971 for pre-charge arguments. No arguments were, however, heard on 9.2.1971 and the case was adjourned to 16.2.1971 again for arguments. It does not appear from the order sheet whether any arguments were in fact heard on 16.2.1971. But the note made by the Magistrate in the order sheet on that date shows that the case was fixed for 22.2.1971 for the examination of the accused under section 209 Cr. P.C. and all the accused including those whose presence hitherto was exempted were directed to appear on that date. Then the case appears to have undergone a number of adjournments. Then on 20.4.1971, the order sheet shows that the accused were examined under section 210 Cr. P.C. and that the case was fixed for 5.6.1971 for pre-charge arguments. Then arguments were ultimately heard on 1.7.1971 and on 3.7.1971. the learned Magistrate framed a charge against the petitioners under sections 365/34 Indian Penal Code and committed them to stand their trial in the Court of Session for the said offence. From the above narration, it is clear that whatever might be the position at the earlier stages, the position was clarified by the order of the Magistrate on 16.2.1971 to the effect that the accused were going to be examined under section 209 Criminal Procedure Code . which is under Chapter xviii of the Code and it was, thereforee, open to the petitioners, represented as they were by counsel, to make a request to the Magistrate to examine any defense witnesses. That as a matter of fact, the petitioners, were at no stage under the impression that the learned Magistrate was not holding an enquiry under Chapter Xxi is clear from the fact that in the revision petition filed by them. in Court of Session, it was not alleged that they were under the impression that the learned Magistrate was holding the trial under Chapter XXI. On the other hand, in the revision petition, it was alleged by the petitioners that even at the time of the arguments before the commitment, the fact was brought to the notice of the learned Magistrate that he was fully competent to try the case and that there was no special or compelling ground for commitment of the petitioners for trial in the court of Session. It cannot, thereforee, be said that the petitioners were tried in the first instance under Chapter Xxi of the Code and that at a later stage of the case, the learned Magistrate came to the conclusion that the case was triable by the Court of Session and without following the procedure prescribed under section 347(1) of the Code, the petitioners. were committed to the Court of Session. Admittedly, the petitioners did not request the Magistrate to examine any defense witnesses on their behalf, thereforee the Magistrate did not ask the petitioners if they wished to examine any witnesses on their behalf at that stage. The committal order cannot,. thereforee, be quashed on the ground that the petitioners were not given an opportunity to adduce the evidence on their behalf during the committal procedings.

(7) With regard to the other ground on which the committal order of the learned Magistrate is challenged, namely, that the evidence adduced on behalf of the prosecution did not make out a prima facie case against the petitioners under Section 365 Ipc, it has to be noted that under Section 215 Cr. P.C., a commitment once made by a competent Magistrate can be quashed by the High Court only on a point of law. There is a distinction between an order discharging the accused for offences which are triable by a Court of Session and an order committing the accused to stand their trial in a Court of Session. In the former case, it is open even to the Court of Session under Section 473 Cr. P.C. either to direct the Magistrate to commit the accused for trial if he is satisfied on a consideration of the evidence on record that there was a prima facie case against the accused for an offence which was triable by the Court of Session. The High Court has similar power under Section 439 Cr. P.C. But in the case where a competent Magistrate has passed an order of commitment under Section 213(1) Cr. P.C., such an order can be quashed only by the High Court and that too only on a point of law. In exercising its power under Section 215 Cr. P.C., the High Court cannot consider the evidence in the same manner in which it can consider the evidence where the Magistrate has discharged the accused under Section 213(2) of the Code. If there is no- evidence at all against the accused or if the evidence on the face of it does not disclose an offence which is triable by a Court of Session or if the commitment proceedings are otherwise vitiated by any illegality or irregularity, then it is open to the High Court to quash the commitment order under Section 215 Cr. P.C. The learned Additional Sessions Judge appears to be conscious of the legal position but has advanced certain strange reasons in order to bring this case within the scope of Section 215 Cr. P.C.

(8) Then the learned Additional Sessions Judge goes on to critically examine the evidence of Afaq Hussain. (---) What the learned Additional Sessions Judge has actually done is to examine the prosecution evidence in the same manner as he would examine it in a case where the accused has been discharged under Section 213(2) Cr. P.C. and when he is exercising his powers under Section 437 Cr. P.C. The distinction appears to have been pointed out to the learned Additional Sessions Judge. (---) The learned Additional Sessions Judge has, however, repelled this contention. (---)The learned Additional Sessions Judge, I am constrained to say is merely indulging in jugglery with words. He has merely tried to bring the case within the scope of Section 215 Cr. P.C.

(9) The evidence produced by the prosecution in the committal Court does make out a prima facie case against both the petitioners for an offence under Section 365 read with Section 34 IPC. The prosecution evidence cannot be assessed or weighed in the manner it has been done by the learned Additional Sessions Judge for the purpose of quashing the committal order under Section 215 of the Code. It is for the trial Court to assess and weigh the prosecution evidence and to accept or reject it. I cannot, thereforee, accept the recommendation made by the learned Additional Sessions Judge and I see no valid reason for quashing the committal order. The petition is, thereforee, dismissed. [For Respdt. No. 2 : Sh. K.B. Kalra, Adv.]


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