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Baburao Chandavar and ors. Vs. the State - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1977CriLJ1980
AppellantBaburao Chandavar and ors.
RespondentThe State
Cases ReferredUkha Kolhe v. State of Maharashtra
Excerpt:
.....an opportunity of being heard on the question of sentence. 7. it may be observed that under the code of criminal procedure of 1898, there was no express statutory provision available to an accused for being heard on the question of sentence, although, when the question of guilt was argued, an accused had a right to make his submissions regarding sentence as well. for the reasons, best known to the makers, this provision was, however, not incorporated in the code of 1973 (act no. precisely this is the point which has been urged by the learned counsel for the respondent in the present petition. it clearly shows that the beneficial provision of sub-section (2) of section 248 of the code of 1973 had been absolutely ignored. 21. this case is clearly distinguishable as the accused who had..........prejudicial reports were recovered and he was also challaned under rule 46 of the rules. the trial magistrate convicted and sentenced the petitioner and his companions for the various charges.3. an appeal was preferred before the sessions judge, delhi. the same was heard by shri k. b. andley, additional sessions judge, who passed the impugned judgment, as already described in para (1) ibid.4. the learned counsel for the state has raised a preliminary point in the terms that an illegality has been committed by the trial magistrate as he had not complied with the mandatory provision of section 248(2) of the code of criminal procedure, 1973. it is submitted that under the said provision, it was imperative for the trial magistrate to hear the accused on the question of sentence and.....
Judgment:
ORDER

F.S. Gill, J.

1. This revision petition is directed against the judgment of Shri K. B. Andley, Additional Sessions Judge, Delhi, whereby he had maintained the conviction of the petitioner under Rule 43 of the defense and Internal Security of India Rules, 1971 (hereinafter referred to as the Rules) and also Under Section 188 of the I.P.C. He had, of course, affirmed the sentence of imprisonment under the latter charge, but had reduced the one under the former.

2. The prosecution case is that the petitioner along with others had, on 2-10-1975, raised objectionable slogans in disobedience to a prohibitory order promulgated by the District Magistrate Under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. This was done at Gandhi Samadhi, Raj Ghat, Delhi, just after the prayer meeting. It is further alleged that by raising those slogans, the appellant brought into contempt the lawfully constituted Government of India and incited disaffection towards it by acting in a manner as to cause fear or alarm to the public in general. The action of the appellant was considered to be vocative of Order No. F. 1 (10)/75/Judl/Part 5 III 21498-547 dated 3-9-1975 issued by the District Magistrate, Delhi. A case was registered by the police. The petitioner and his companions were consequently arrested and challaned under Rule 43 of the Rules and Section 188 of the I.P.C, It is further alleged that when the room of the petitioner in Park View Hotel, Fatehpuri, Delhi was searched, certain papers and other material containing prejudicial reports were recovered and he was also challaned under Rule 46 of the Rules. The trial Magistrate convicted and sentenced the petitioner and his companions for the various charges.

3. An appeal was preferred before the Sessions Judge, Delhi. The same was heard by Shri K. B. Andley, Additional Sessions Judge, who passed the impugned judgment, as already described in para (1) ibid.

4. The learned Counsel for the State has raised a preliminary point in the terms that an illegality has been committed by the trial Magistrate as he had not complied with the mandatory provision of Section 248(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. It is submitted that under the said provision, it was imperative for the trial Magistrate to hear the accused on the question of sentence and then pass the final order. It is further contended that, the non-compliance of the aforesaid provision is not a mere irregularity but is an illegality which is incurable and vitiates the order of sentence. In support of his contention, the learned Counsel has placed reliance on the oft-quoted and authoritative judgment of the Supreme Court in Santa Singh v. State of Punjab AIR 1976 SC 2386 : : 1976CriLJ1875 .

5. The learned Counsel for the State respondent has further submitted that up to the stage of the passing of the conviction by the learned trial Magistrate, the trial was perfectly in accordance with law, but thereafter an illegality was committed as the accused had not been afforded an opportunity of being heard on the question of sentence. It has accordingly been suggested that the case be remitted to the trial Court for re-trial from the stage the illegality had been committed.

7. It may be observed that under the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1898, there was no express statutory provision available to an accused for being heard on the question of sentence, although, when the question of guilt was argued, an accused had a right to make his submissions regarding sentence as well. Even natural justice so demanded. The present beneficial and salutary provision has, however, been introduced in the Code of 1973 in terms of Sub-section (2) of Section 248. The compliance of this new provision obviously contemplates passing of two separate orders : one of conviction and the other of sentence, after hearing the accused. In other words, unlike the Code of 1898, a composite order incorporating both conviction and sentence cannot be recorded under the new Code. This in substance is the vital distinction in the relevant provisions of the two Codes.

8. The next question relates to the effect of non-compliance of the provisions of Sub-section (2) of Section 248 of the Code of 1973, It is the common ground of both the sides that the case has necessarily to be remitted to the trial Magistrate for re-trial. But the present controversy has converged on the interpretation of the word 're-trial' occurring in Clause (b) of Section 386 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1973. Does it mean de novo trial, or, in the circumstances of a particular case, does it signify re-trial from the stage the illegality has occasioned? These are the two diverse constructions advanced on behalf of the two sides.

9. If the view of the learned Counsel for the petitioner is allowed to prevail and the word 're-trial' is held to mean starting the trial ab initio, it would relegate the parties to the stage when the trial starts. That does not seem to manifest the intention of the Legislature, when it is gauged in the light of the historical background of the relevant provisions.

10. Before the amendment of the Code of Criminal Procedure by Act No. 26 of 1965, there existed a provision in terms of Section 350 according to which, on the transfer of a Magistrate, a de novo trial was obligatory to be held and all the evidence had to be recalled, but by the said amending Act, which came into force on 1st January, 1956, a radical change in the procedure was brought about, as, unlike the past, a succeeding Magistrate could act on the partly recorded evidence by his predecessor. This avoided de novo trial.

11. In this connection, It will also be relevant to refer to the 'Statement of Objects and Reasons', when the bill for the amendment of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, was introduced in the Parliament on 7-10-1970. While listing some of the more important changes proposed to be made with a view to speeding up the disposal of criminal cases, it was stated in Clause (j) as under :--

The facility of part-heard cases being continued by successors-in-office now available in respect of Courts of Magistrates is being extended to Courts of Session.

For the reasons, best known to the makers, this provision was, however, not incorporated in the Code of 1973 (Act No. 2 of 1974). But it does give an idea about the mind and trend of the Legislature to avoid de novo trial for saving both time and expense.

12. The corresponding provision of the present Clause (b) of Section 386 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is Clause (b) of Sub-section (1) of Section 423 of the Code of 1898. Both are identical provisions. The decisions under the old Code are, thereforee, relevant. Shri Mittal, learned Counsel for the respondent has cited Pannalal Kedia v. Nebi Singh (Pat) and Mariyam v. State of Kerala 1961 (2) Cri LJ 97 (Ker), where re-trial was ordered from the stage the illegality had been committed. Precisely this is the point which has been urged by the learned Counsel for the respondent in the present petition.

13. For the trial of a criminal case, specific procedure is prescribed in Chapter XIX of the Code. The accused has to be heard before framing a charge. The accused is then asked to plead guilty or otherwise to the charge. If he pleads not guilty, prosecution evidence is to be recorded Under Section 242 of the Code and defense evidence Under Section 243. The examination of the accused is, however, provided Under Section 313 of the Code before an accused enters upon his defense. These are the various stages which have to be crossed during the course of a trial.

14. After an accused has closed Ms defense, Section 248 comes into operation. If on appreciation of the evidence the charge is proved, a conviction or finding of guilt, shall be recorded by the trial Court.

15. It may be pointed out here that Section 235 of the Code Is an analogous provision which applies to the cases triable by Court of Session ; whereas Section 248 deals with cases taken cognisance of by the Magistrates. In Sub-section (2) of Section 235 of the Code of 1973, the word 'conviction' has been used, while for the same purpose the expression 'finding the accused as gulity' has been used in Sub-section (2) of Section 248. So 'finding the accused guilty' or 'convicting the accused' can conveniently be treated synonymous in character. While pointing out the use of different terminology in Sections 235 and 248 of the Code, my eye is on Santa Singh's case : 1976CriLJ1875 decided by the Supreme Court. In this case the provisions of Section 235 and not 248 had come under consideration.

16. After an accused has been found guilty and an order to that effect has been passed, the Magistrate cannot straightway record an order of sentence. He has to pause there because the Statute enjoins that he should hear the accused on the question of sentence. 'Hearing' on the question of sentence has been interpreted by the Supreme Court in Santa Singh's case : 1976CriLJ1875 (supra) to mean not only oral submissions, but also production of material bearing on the sentence. This would give an opportunity to the prosecution and the accused to place before the Court facts and material relating to the various factors and relevant on the question of sentence.

17. The culmination of a trial is taken when an accused has been acquitted or if he is found guilty, when the sentence has been passed. So, even if the accused is held guilty, the last stage of the trial, viz., hearing on the question of sentence remains. The Court cannot disregard this mandatory provision of 'hearing' and pass the order of sentence.

18. In the present case, a composite order had been passed by the learned Magistrate both for conviction and sentence of the petitioner. It clearly shows that the beneficial provision of Sub-section (2) of Section 248 of the Code of 1973 had been absolutely ignored. This was undoubtedly an illegality which cannot be condoned.

19. The learned Counsel for the petitioner has vehemently argued that if the part of the order relating to the sentence is set aside as illegal, then the finding of guilt of the accused also cannot stand and has to be quashed. In support of his contention, he relies on an observation made in Ukha Kolhe v. State of Maharashtra AIR 1963 SC 1531 : 1963 (2) Cri LJ 418 that an order of re-trial wipes out from the record the earlier proceedings. In this case the appellant was tried before a Magistrate for offences of rash and negligent driving when he was under the influence of liquor and thereby causing the death of one person and injuries to four, and also for offences under the Motor Vehicles Act. The trial Magistrate held that the evidence was not sufficient to prove that the appellant was driving the motor vehicle at the time of the mishap, and acquitted the appellant of the offences under the Motor Vehicles Act and also under the Indian Penal Code. But he held that the evidence established that the appellant had, at the material time, consumed illicit liquor and had thereby committed an offence punishable Under Section 66(1)(b) of the Bombay Prohibition Act. He accordingly convicted and sentenced the appellant. On appeal to the Court of Session, the order of conviction was set aside and a re-trial was directed because in view of the Court there had not been a 'fair and full' trial. A revision application filed against the order in the High Court of Bombay was summarily dismissed. The appellant then appealed to the Supreme Court with special leave against the order of the High Court.

20. The controversy had narrowed down to the consideration of the two reports regarding the specimen of blood taken from the body of the appellant at two different times for finding out the concentration of alcohol. It was observed that mere evidence that the person charged with consuming or using an intoxicant or was in a state of intoxication would not be sufficient to bring home the charge Under Section 66(1)(b) of the Bombay Prohibition Act. After considering the various aspects of the matter the Supreme Court passed the following operative order :--

We accordingly set aside the order passed by the trial Magistrate and direct that the Sessions Judge do hear the appeal and dispose of it according to law after giving an opportunity to the prosecution to lead evidence on the matters which are indicated in the course of this judgment. The additional evidence may be taken by the Sessions Judge himself or may be ordered to be recorded in the trial Court. The accused shall be examined Under Section 342 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and be given an opportunity to lead evidence in rebuttal, if he so desired. The Sessions Judge may require the presence of the Chemical Examiner for examination before him or before the Magistrate, if he thinks that examination viva voce of the Chemical Examiner is necessary to do complete justice in the .

Subject to the above modification, the appeal is dismissed.

21. This case is clearly distinguishable as the accused who had been convicted of an offence under the Bombay Prohibition Act had not actually been charged by the trial Court for that offence. The accused had, thereforee, no opportunity to meet the new charge. The case was accordingly sent back for taking additional evidence etc. There is no such situation in the present case as no illegality has been pointed out which had occurred up to the stage of passing of the conviction or giving a finding of guilt. The illegality in the procedure occurred after this stage when the mandatory provisions of Sub-section (2) of Section 248 for affording an opportunity of being heard on the question of sentence was not granted. Thus the Supreme Court case relied on by the learned Counsel for the petitioner has no application to the facts of the present case and the observations relied on by the learned Counsel for the petitioner were in a different context.

22. In my considered view re-trial here means re-trial from the stage the illegality had been committed and not from the stage the trial had started. Here re-trial has a restricted meaning and cannot be enlarged as contended on behalf of the petitioner.

23. Further, there is hardly any need to go into the scope of Clause (e) of Section 386 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for passing any consequential or incidental order that may be just or proper while hearing an appeal Under Section 386 of the Code, nor the question of invoking the inherent powers Under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure arises. Such powers can be exercised when there is no provision in the Act and an illegal order has to be rectified.

24. In the result, I accept this revision petition to the extent that the part of the order pertaining to the sentence is set aside and the case is sent back to the trial Court for re-trial from the stage the illegality, as pointed out above, had been committed,

25. The parties are directed to appear before the trial Court on 24-3-1977.


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