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Pran Nath Harbans Lal Vs. State - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1969CriLJ551
AppellantPran Nath Harbans Lal
RespondentState
Cases ReferredBhagat Indar Narain v. The State
Excerpt:
.....that the proceedings before the trial court on 17.1.1968 show unjustified bias in the mind of the learned magistrate, his comments clearly betray a strong prejudice on the part of the learned magistrate against the accused persons and this should by itself be held to be sufficient for transferring the case to some toher court in the larger interest of justice. its general disregard is in itself antoher strong reason to warn the criminal courts-in delhi against its grave danger to the quality of criminal justice. if circumstances exist which may reasonably justify an apprehension that the magistrate is seemingly entertaining a bias or prejudice against the accused, even though on an impression which may nto stand judicial scrutiny on the record, the court would nto only be justified but..........consider it necessary to refer to them in detail. in the comments dated 24.2.1968 submitted by the learned magistrate, he has stated in paragraph 22 that the petitioner is trying to delay the proceedings in the case which is evident from the fact that it was instituted in the court on 30.8.1966 and it is over one year and five months that the courts were nto able to frame charges in the case for such a long period. this, according to the learned magistrate, is due to the delaying tactics on the part of the accused. i have been taken through the record of the case relating to the adjournments, by the counsel for the petitioner and i am constrained to observe that the accused-petitioner can on no reasonable hyptohesis be blamed for the delay of one year and five months in the disposal of.....
Judgment:
ORDER

I.D. Dua, C.J.

1. This is an application under Section 526, Criminal Procedure Code, for the transfer of the case State v. Pran Nath and tohers from the Court of Shri K.N. Joshi, Magistrate 1st Class, Delhi, to some toher Court of competent jurisdiction. Several grounds have been taken in the application, but I do nto consider it necessary to refer to them in detail. In the comments dated 24.2.1968 submitted by the learned Magistrate, he has stated in paragraph 22 that the petitioner is trying to delay the proceedings in the case which is evident from the fact that it was instituted in the Court on 30.8.1966 and it is over one year and five months that the Courts were nto able to frame charges in the case for such a long period. This, according to the learned Magistrate, is due to the delaying tactics on the part of the accused. I have been taken through the record of the case relating to the adjournments, by the counsel for the petitioner and I am constrained to observe that the accused-petitioner can on no reasonable hyptohesis be blamed for the delay of one year and five months in the disposal of the case as represented by the learned Magistrate.

Indeed, even the learned Counsel for the State has been compelled to concede that on the existing judicial record, this representation by the learned Magistrate against the accused-petitioner is nto easy to support. This case has concededly been transferred more than once from one trial Court to antoher on administrative grounds and delay has, by and large, been caused for reasons toher than the delaying tactics on the part of the accused-petitioner, as the learned Magistrate seems to think. The want of diligence on the part of the prosecuting agency in prosecuting the case with the expected promptitude and an attitude of indifference on the part of the Presiding Officers, seem to me quite often the cause for inappropriately long adjournments. On 30.8.966, the challan was presented and the case was adjourned to 15.9.1966, on which date all the accused were nto present and the case was adjourned to 7.10.1966, when again, the presence of the accused was nto secured and the case was adjourned to 25.10.1966.

On that date, the Presiding Officer was busy on toher duty and the case was adjourned to 7.11.1966 on which date again, the Presiding Officer was busy on toher duty and the case was adjourned to 16.11.1966 for supplying copies to the accused persons. On 15.11.1966, again the Presiding Officer was nto available, though the P.S.I. and the accused were present, and the case was adjourned to 25.11.1966. On that date btoh the Presiding-Officer and the P.S.I. were nto available because they were reported to be 'on duty'. The case was accordingly adjourned to 6.12.1966, on which date though the accused and the P.S.I. were present, the case had to be-adjourned to 12.12.1966 because the necessary copies were nto ready. On the next date, again, the copies were nto ready and the case had to be adjourned to 15.12.1966, when again the copies were nto ready and the case had to be adjourned to 19.12.1966. On that date, the copies were given to the accused' persons and an order was made for summoning the witnesses for 9.1.1967. On that date, Pran Nath accused was nto present though he-sent a medical certificate which was nto' accepted by the Court and non-bailable warrants were issued for his production for 16.1.1967, and his previous security was forfeited.

On 16.1.1967, though the accused and the P.S.I. were present, the case was adjourned' to 28.1.1967 without assigning any reason. On 28.1.1967, without assigning any reason, again the case was adjourned to 16.2.1967 for framing charges. On 16.2.1967, Shri Amba Parkash, Magistrate, recorded an order that the three accused had nto yet received the copies of partnership deed and the four pro ntoes and the four receipts. It was of course admitted by the accused persons that they had already received copies of toher documents. The P.S.I. was accordingly directed to get the copies of the documents mentioned above prepared in triplicate so that each set1 may be delivered to the three accused separately. The case was in the circumstances-adjourned to 1.3.1967. On that date, the documents were delivered to the accused-persons, but the case was adjourned to 29.3.1967 for arguments on the question of framing charges. It is obvious that up to this stage, delay has been caused almost exclusively as a result of want of due diligence on the part of the prosecution and on some-hearings, because of the absence of the Presiding Officer and the prosecuting Sub-Inspector.

2. In paragraph 8 of the comments of the learned Magistrate, he has put the blame on the accused for nto arguing the application dated 29.3.1967 before Shri T.R. Kalia, Magistrate 1st Class, for more than eight months. Now, on 29.3.1967, it appears from the summary of the proceedings that the case-was transferred to a new Court and the transferee Court adjourned it to 25.4.1967 for framing charges. On that date, the accused were present and their counsel wanted to address arguments but the Prosecuting Sub-Inspector was absent and the case had to be-adjourned to 1.5.1967. On that date, the accused presented an application of which ntoice was given to the P.S.I. and the case-was adjourned to 12.5.1967, on which date it seems, that the counsel for the accused!' could nto attend the Court and the case was adjourned to 16.5.1967, on which date Pran Nath accused expressed his intention to apply for the transfer of the case, He was required to furnish a personal bond in the sum of Rs. 500 to the effect that he would get the case transferred within a fortnight.

An order of this kind of a bond is nto what is normally required and it is nto understood what justification there could be for making this kind of an order. Ordinarily, an accused is only required to give a bond for applying for transfer and nto for securing an order transferring the case. On 2.6.1967, the P.S.I. and the accused were present and it was represented on behalf of the accused persons that an application for transfer had already been moved in the Court of the learned Sessions Judge. The next dates of hearing were 16.6.1967 and 7.7.1967 for awaiting the order of stay from the Court of the learned Sessions Judge. On 20.6.1967, however, the surety of the accused appears to have applied for withdrawing his surety-bond. Pran Nath and Harbans Lai accused were accordingly summoned for filing fresh bonds. Thereafter two or three adjournments were granted for awaiting the order from the Court of the learned Sessions Judge. The application for transfer of the case seems to have been made on 30.5.1967 and the comments of the learned Magistrate Shri J.N. Bhatnagar are also found on the record before me.

On 26.9.1967, Sat Parkash accused was nto present and the case had to be adjourned for securing his presence. As his attendance could nto be secured through summonses, bailable warrants were issued against him and several long adjournments were granted for securing his presence. On 25.11.1967, when all the three accused were present, an adjournment was granted for arguments on the application dated 29.3.1967 and curiously enough the order dated 25.11.1967 purports to adjourn the case, again to 25.11.1967 which reflects the careless manner in which the record of the orders seem to have been prepared. According to the next order, which also purports to have been made on 25.11.1967, which is the date ntoed on the margin, the counsel for Harbans Lal accused being absent, the case could nto be heard and was adjourned to 13.12.1967, on which date the Presiding Officer and the P.S.I. were btoh absent, being on toher duty which necessitated adjournment to 27.12.1967. On that date, the case was adjourned to 8.1.1968 because the records had just arrived from the copying agency.

On the next date Satya Parkash Gupta accused was absent and non-bailable warrants were issued against him and the case was adjourned to 17.1.1968, on which date Pran Nath accused intimated his intention to apply for the transfer of the case. The state of the record clearly shows that it is far from proper to put the entire blame for the delay in the trial of the case on the accused-petitioner and the responsibility for the delay must, to a large measure, be-placed on the prosecuting agency and the long adjournments granted by the Court which were nto always justified.

3. Now, Shri Safeer has submitted that apart from the fact that the proceedings before the trial Court on 17.1.1968 show unjustified bias in the mind of the learned Magistrate, his comments clearly betray a strong prejudice on the part of the learned Magistrate against the accused persons and this should by itself be held to be sufficient for transferring the case to some toher Court in the larger interest of justice. The submission seems to me to possess merit. Up to 17.1.1968, it is quite clear that the various Presiding Officers of the trial Court and the prosecuting agency had been dealing with the case in a manner which can-scarcely be described to be in accordance with the instructions contained in the High, Court Rules and Orders. Criminal cases, it; must never be forgtoten, should be proceeded with from day to day so far as practicable and disposed of quickly and adjournments should be as short as the circumstances permit. Inordinate delay in recording evidence in criminal cases must, from the very nature of things, serve to defeat the cause of justice.

Nto only is human memory liable to fade, but the witnesses are also likely to be approached, and the Court must nto ignore the state of conditions in this respect prevailing in this country. Various pressures may in the meantime come into play and the cause of justice may suffer. But this-apart, it is wholly unfair to the accused persons who are expected to be present in. Court on all hearings and this by itself may induce them to resort to methods which-may also serve to obstruct the true course^ of justice. It is for these considerations, which are based on sound common sense-that a criminal case is expected to be proceeded with from day to day and the High. Court Rules and Orders contain positive-instructions in this respect. It is true that' this broad salutary guiding rule is generally honored in its breach by the magisterial Courts in Delhi, but that is scarcely a ground for this Court to refrain from disapproving, it. Its general disregard is in itself antoher strong reason to warn the criminal Courts-in Delhi against its grave danger to the quality of criminal justice.

4. In the case in hand, the learned Magistrate seems to have completely ignored the cause for the delay in the disposal of this case emanating from want of anxiety and diligence on the part of btoh the Court and the prosecuting agency and has unjustifiably placed on the accused the sole responsibility for this delay. This expression of opinion by the learned Magistrate may justifiably raise an apprehension in the mind of the petitioner that his case may nto be dealt with by the learned Magistrate with the requisite judicious detachment, objectivity and impartiality. I cannto help repeating what has often been pointed out in judicial pronouncements, that it is of paramount importance that the parties arraigned before the Courts, and particularly criminal Courts, should have implicit confidence and faith in their Judicial impartiality. It is nto enough that the Courts deal with the evidence and come to just and correct decisions. It is of equal, if nto of greater importance, that justice must also be seen to be done, which from one point of view, means that the Courts should nto do anything which may be suggestive of bias in their mind against any party, which is nto judicially supportable on the material on the record.

Magistrates, who are also executive officers or are under the direct control of the executive have to be extra-careful in this respect because of the initial prejudice with which they are liable to be looked upon by the accused persons whom they happen to try as judicial officers. As was pointed out by J.L. Kapur J., in Bhagat Indar Narain v. The State AIR 1952 Pun 53, when the liberties of the citizens are placed in the hands of such Magistrates, it is nto surprising that confidence becomes a diminishing commodity. It may be granted that hyper-sensitiveness or imaginary or unfounded apprehensions on the part of the accused persons should nto be allowed to influence the Court in considering the question of transfer of a criminal case, but at the same time, normal human reactions which may nto be unreasonable in the case of a given accused person in his own environments and circumstances, deserve to be duly ntoiced by the Court. If circumstances exist which may reasonably justify an apprehension that the Magistrate is seemingly entertaining a bias or prejudice against the accused, even though on an impression which may nto stand judicial scrutiny on the record, the Court would nto only be justified but would be well advised to transfer the case in the larger interest of promtoing confidence in four judicial administration.

5. As a result of the foregoing discussion, I have no hesitation in holding that in the present case there are sufficient grounds for the petitioner to entertain a reasonable apprehension that a fair and impartial trial cannto be had in the Court below and I further hold that it is expedient for the ends of justice to order transfer of this case to some toher competent Court and I order accordingly. It may be pointed out that during the pendency of this petition in this Court, charges had actually been framed in the case on 5.3.1968 and now evidence has to be led at the trial of those charges.

6. Parties are directed to appear before the District Magistrate on 19.3.1968, when orders for the transfer of this case to some toher competent Court would be made and intimated to the parties who would be directed to appear on a suitable date before the transferee Court. I need hardly emphasise that the transferee Court should proceed with the trial with due dispatch and if necessary, request the higher authorities to relieve the Presiding Officer from executive duties which may tend to interfere with the performance of his Judicial duties with the requisite attention, promptitude and diligence.


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