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Central Bank of India and Vs. Delhi Development Authority - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Revision Appeal No. 246 of 1980
Judge
Reported in1981CriLJ1476; 20(1981)DLT98
ActsDelhi Development Act, 1952 - Sections 29(1) and 29(2)
AppellantCentral Bank of India and ;n.D. Kapur
RespondentDelhi Development Authority
Advocates: Sunita Harish and; Ghansham Vasisht, Advs
Cases ReferredG.L. Gupta v. U.N. Mehta
Excerpt:
.....user to master plan - section 32 makes person in-charge responsible to company liable for any offence committed - company being one integral personality cannot escape conviction by saying chairman or its head office has not been specifically served summons when any of its branch or person-in-charge has been served summons. - - let me then read section 32 of the act :32.(1) if the person committing anoffence under this act is a company, every person, who, at the time the offence was committed was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly :provided that nothing contained in this sub-section..........too reject this contention. (5) the next contention is that n. d. kapur or r. c. sehgal is a mere branch manager and he has nothing to to with the opening of the branch or taking of the premises on rent. he is only an employee of the bank and works at the instructions of the bank's head office and thereforee, his case is not covered by sections 32 of the act this contention was rejected by the learned additional sessions judge because he found that kapur and r.c. sehgal were in-charge of, and responsible to, the central bank for the conduct of its business at the time of the commission of the said offence. (6) the conviction of the bank was not challenged in the court of the additional sessions judge. but it is urged here that in similar circumstances it was held in dda .v. punjab.....
Judgment:

M.L. Jain, J.

(1) This order will dispose of two revision petitions, No. 246/80 and 247/80.

(2) The Central Bank of India, Branch 58A Jor Bagh, New Delhi, is run in a residential area and thereforee, it was convicted on November 15, 1976 under Section 29(2) read with Sections 14 and 31 of the Delhi Development Act, 1957 (the Act) for user not conforming to the Plan and was sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 1000.00 . On October 31, 1977 the field staff of the Delhi Development Authority again found that the Bank was continuing its branch even after the said first conviction. On that date N.D. Kapur was the Manager of the said Branch. The Bank and the Manger N.D. Kapur were again prosecuted by the DDA. The learned Metropolitan Magistrate convicted them under the aforesaid sections by his order dated July 18, 1979 and sentenced the Bank to a fine at the rate of Rs. 20.00 per day amount ing to Rs. 7000.00 and sentenced N. D- Kapur to pay a fine of Rs. 500.00 in default whereof to undergo simple imprisonment for 60 days. The appeal of the accused Bank and the Manager was dismissed by the learned Additional Sessions Judge on January 18, 1980. Hence, the revision No. 246/80.

(3) The said Bank was running another branch in 63, Babar Road, New Delhi with R. G. Sehgal as its Manager in the residential area against the user prescribed by the Plan. They were convicted under the aforesaid sections of the Act and each one was sentenced on July 12, 1979 to pay a fine of Rs. 1000.00 . Their appeal was dismissed on February 2 1980. Hence, the revision No. 247/80.

(4) The leasned counsel appearing for the revisioners firstly contended that the user of the premises has been regularised by the Land and Development Officer of the Government of India and has been levying extra charges for that reason. The Dda has no jurisdiction to override the powers of the Government of India. The learned Additional Sessions Judge rejected this argument because it was further of the view that if the Central Bank of India has paid any amount to the Land & Development Officer as compensation for the breach of the terms of the lease agreement, it does in no way preclude the Dda to take action for the breach of the provisions of the Master Plan of Delhi and the Zonal Development Plan of the area. In Revision No. 247/80, this argument was not made at all before any of the two courts below. In Revision No. 246/80, it was taken up before the learned Additional Sessions Judge and has been rejected as aforesaid. I am in full agreement with the learned Additional Sessions Judge in the view he has taken because the provisions of the Act will prevail over the terms of the lease on which the land was granted to the Central Bank or their landlord. There is nothing on the record to show that the Branch was in existence before the coming into force of the Master Plan or the Zonal Development Plan. I too reject this contention.

(5) The next contention is that N. D. Kapur or R. C. Sehgal is a mere Branch Manager and he has nothing to to with the opening of the Branch or taking of the premises on rent. He is only an employee of the Bank and works at the instructions of the Bank's head office and thereforee, his case is not covered by sections 32 of the Act This contention was rejected by the learned Additional Sessions Judge because he found that Kapur and R.C. Sehgal were in-charge of, and responsible to, the Central Bank for the conduct of its business at the time of the commission of the said offence.

(6) The conviction of the Bank was not challenged in the court of the Additional Sessions Judge. But it is urged here that in similar circumstances it was held in Dda .v. Punjab National Bank, 1981 RLR 4, that the Branch Manager could not be prosecuted because he cannot be considered to be in charge of the business of the Bank and the Bank could not be prosecuted because no summons was served on the Bank. Let me then read section 32 of the Act :

'32.(1) If the person committing anoffence under this Act is a company, every person, who, at the time the offence was committed was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly : Provided that nothing contained in this sub-section shall render any such person liable to any punishment provided in this Act if he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence.

(2)Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where an offence under this Act has been committed by a company and it is proved that the offence has been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company, such director, manager, secretary or other officer shall also be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly. Explanationn,-For the purposes of this section- (a) 'company' means a body corporate and includes a firm or other association of individuals; and (b) 'director' in relation to a firm means a partner in the firm.

(7) Provisions like the aforesaid have been introduced in several statutes and I have had an occasion to interpret one, namely, the unamended section 17 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, in Ram Kumar v. State.and M. C. D. 1979 (2) F. A. C. 56, I had shown how the criminal liability of the companies wended through three stages; the last being that of legislation. The said section 17 as amended in 1976 come to be examined by the Supreme Court in State (Delhi Admn) v. 1. K. Nangia and another, 1980 (1) F. A. C. 1. It appears that Ram Kumar (supra) in Punjab National Bank (supra) and as regards Nangia (supra) they simply observed that in a food case, different considerations apply. The matter is no more prone to be decided by the old English decisions which have no relevance other than chronological and has to be governed by the express and specific provisions of the statute. According to the aforesaid provisions if the effence is committed by a company which includes a body of persons incorporated or otherwise, then the following are guilty :-

1.The company (as an individual).

2.Every person who was in-charge of and responsible to the company for the conduct of its business. He can escape punishment if he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.

3.Any director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company with whose consent, connivance, or neglect the offence was committed.

(8) The Central Bank is a corporation and thereforee, a company within the meaning of section 32 (supra). Accused Kapur and Sehgal being the Branch Managers are officers of the company. They were in charge of and responsible to the company for the conduct of the business of its branch. They shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence unless they show that the offence was committed without their knowledge or that they exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence. They will be guilty also if the offence was committed with their consent or connivance of neglect. Accused Kapur in his statement under section 313 Cr. P. C. admitted the fact of previous conviction of the Bank. He also examined himself as Dwi and deposed that before he joined the Branch, the Bank had already been prosecuted by Dda and thereforee he ought 'to have 'known that the Bank already stood convicted. The continuing breach thereforee was being connived at by him. So is the case with Sehgal. He also examined himself as DW1. He had admitted that the Bank had paid charges to L. & D.O.for regularisation of the use complained of. It cannot then bs disputed that the offence was committed with their connivance if not consent. Neither of them has been. able to show that the offence was being cammitted without his knowledge or in spite of due diligence on his part. They are, thereforee squarely covered by the aforesaid provisions of the Act. In Punjab National Bank (supra), it was, however, had that according to section 7 of the Banking Companies (Acquisition & Transfer of Undertakings) Act, 1970, the general superindence, direction and management of the affairs and business of the company vest in the Board of Directors. The decision to open the Branch was taken by them. They took the premises on lease from the landlord and opened the Branch. The Branch Manager, though he exercises some managerial discretion, is yet under the control of the company. He is merely a servant put in charge of the Branch. He is not responsible for the conduct of the business of the company and cannot, thereforee, be held guilty of the offence with which he has been charged. But this approach though compassionate, does not accord with the clear mandate of the statute and the construction placed by the Supreme Court which are binding on all concerned. According to G.L. Gupta v. U.N. Mehta, : [1971]3SCR748 , a person in charge must mean that the person should be in over all control of the day-to-day business of the company. The liability is attracted even if such person is abroad when the offence is committed unless there is evidence that he gave up charge in favor of another person. A Branch Manager is a Manager; .a person in charge of and responsible for the conduct of the day-to-day business of the Bank carried on its branch. He cannot escape liability. R.C. Sehgal in his statement u/s 313 Cr. P.C. on a specific question has admitted this position. N.D. Kapur refused to admit this position in his statement u/s 313 Cr. P.C. but in his deposition as Dwi he had to yield that he was the senior most officer working at the branch.

(9) In Punjab National Bank (supra) it appears that the head office of the Bank was not served with the summons of the complaint because the summons were never served on the Chairman of the Bank. It was only the Branch Manager who appeared in answer to the summons. He defended the case throughout. The Branch Manager had no authority to defend the case on behalf of the head office. He could defend it only for himself. A short answer to this contention is to call attention to section 63 Cr. P.G. 1973, which provides that service of summons on a Corporation may be serving it on the Secretary, local manager, or other principal Officer of the Corporation or by letter sent by registered post addressed to the Chief Officer of the Corporation in India in which case the service shall be deemed to have been effected when the letter would arrive in ordinary course of post. Now, the Branch Manager is a local Manager and if he has been served, the service shall be deemed to have been effected on the company itself. Both N.D. Kapur and R.G. Sehgal have accepted service of the summons directed to the Bank. They have also engaged counsel of the Bank as the Vakalatnamas clearly show. They were defending not only themselves but the Bank as well. Thus the Bank was properly represented. There is no doubt that section 32 will cover the directors or the Chairman also, but if they have not been prosecuted, it does not mean that the Bank as a corporate body cannot be prosecuted. Rather, it can be as the section itself provides. The Bank. whether it is functioning in a Branch or in the head office shall all the same be liable under the law, being one integral corporate personality. It cannot escape the liability by saying that the Chairman or the directors or the head office has not been served or has not been prosecuted.

(10) The petitioners in the two revisions have been rightly convicted. I see no force in these revisions petitions and they are hereby rejected.


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