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State Vs. Ranjit Singh and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal;Constitution
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Miscellaneous (Main) Appeal No. 1161 of 1983
Judge
Reported in25(1984)DLT323; 1984(6)DRJ267
ActsConstitution of India - Article 22
AppellantState
RespondentRanjit Singh and anr.
Advocates: D.R. Sethi,; M.L. Sachdev and; B.G. Singh, Advs
Cases ReferredNaresh Shridhar Mirajkar v. State Maharashtra
Excerpt:
.....magistrate. the state appealed to the high court.; that the accused will be free to have a counsel of his choice even during the remand proceedings held in jail. 'if the counsel does not want to attend the proceedings in jail, it is not vocative of the accused's right under article 22(1) of the constitution. - - it was also argued that as per reliable information a section of sikh youth was determined to get accused ranjit singh escaped from the clutches of law and to achieve that objective violence might be resorted to. - it is hardly necessary to emphasise that this inherent power must be exercised with great caution and it is only if the court is satisfied beyond a doubt that the ends of justice themselves would be defeated if a case is tried in open court that it can..........produce the respondent accused ranjit singh in his court at tis hazari be set aside and that the chief metropolitan magistrate be ordered to hold his court in central jail, tihar for the purposes of remanding accused ranjit singh in custody till such time the situation becomes normal and it is possible to hold the court in the normal circumstances in tis hazari. after admission notice of this petition was issued to respondents accused ranjit singh and central bureau of investigation, new delhi (for short cbi). ranjit singh is the prime suspect in the case under section 120-b read with ss. 302/307 of the indian penal coded ss. 4/5 of explosive substances act, s. 27 of the arms act and s. 6 of the explosive substances act. (2) ranjit singh was arrested by the c. b. 1. in the nirankari.....
Judgment:

Jagdish Chandra, J.

(1) This petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for short the Code) has been made by the State (Delhi Administration) whereby it is prayed that the order dated December 22, 1983 passed by Shi- P. R. Thakur, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi, ordering the petitioner-State to produce the respondent accused Ranjit Singh in his court at Tis Hazari be set aside and that the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate be ordered to hold his court in Central Jail, Tihar for the purposes of remanding accused Ranjit Singh in custody till such time the situation becomes normal and it is possible to hold the court in the normal circumstances in Tis Hazari. After admission notice of this petition was issued to respondents accused Ranjit Singh and Central Bureau of Investigation, New Delhi (for short CBI). Ranjit Singh is the prime suspect in the case under Section 120-B read with Ss. 302/307 of the Indian Penal Coded Ss. 4/5 of Explosive Substances Act, S. 27 of the Arms Act and S. 6 of the Explosive Substances Act.

(2) Ranjit Singh was arrested by the C. B. 1. in the Nirankari Baba murder case and was produced in the court of Shri P. R. Thakur, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate on 1-12-1983 who remanded him to magisterial custody uptil 14th December 1983. On December 1, 1983 about one thousand persons collected outside the court room of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate but the crowd was kept at bay by the police. The C. B. 1. reported to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate that the arrest of Ranjit Singh had created disturbance amongst Akalis and Nirankaris two factions of the Sikh community and that Ranjit Singh was under threat of extermination. On this representation of the C. B. 1. the learned Chief Metropolitan Magistrate came to the conclusion that remand proceedings in respect of Ranjit Singh ought not to be conducted in his court and that the same should be held in Central Jail, Tihar, New Delhi wherein Ranjit Singh had been lodged, and for this purpose he sought sanction of the High Court through the Sessions Judge, Delhi vide his letter dated 14-12-1983. The necessary sanction was granted by the High Court on 14-12-1983. That order of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate had been passed only on hearing the Cbi at the back of accused Ranjit Singh. Accordingly, the remand proceedings were held in the Central Jail Tihar on December 14, 1983 and Ranjit Singh was remanded to judicial custody till December 24, 1983.

(3) Subsequently, accused Ranjit Singh made representation to the Superintendent Jail Tihar staling that his detention in the jail in the fashion it was being done by the court was illegal and that he wanted the proceedings to take place in the open court in the presence of his counsel. That representation also contained a threat from him that if he was not produced in the open court on 24-12-1983, he would resort to a hunger strike and would not produce himself before the magistrate in the jail and for all that the Government would be responsible. The counsel for Ranjit Singh also made an application dated December 20, 1983 before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate praying for a fair trial by producing him in open court so that he could be benefitted by the services of his advocate. Ranjit Singh also asserted the existence of his fundamental right of a fair trial as also to be defended by a lawyer of his own choice. It was also pointed out that his counsel had refused to attend the remand proceedings being held in Tihar Jail.

(4) The C.B.I., in its reply, contended that the production of the accused in the court premises would create a serious law and order problem and might result in demonstration, disturbances and violence. It was also argued that as per reliable information a section of sikh youth was determined to get accused Ranjit Singh escaped from the clutches of law and to achieve that objective violence might be resorted to. The assertion of the want of fair trial in jail was repudiated by the Cbi asserting to the contrary that it was not likely to happen.

(5) The learned Chief Metropolitan Magistrate on hearing both the parties came to the conclusion that the non-production of accused Ranjit Singh in the open court in remand proceedings was likely to cause more serious problems of grave nature including that of law and order than what were apprehended by the Cbi and consequently vide his order dated 20th December 1983 he ordered the production of accused Ranjit Singh in his court at Tis Hazari for 24-12-1983 for judicial remand proceedings. He was induced to pass this order in view of the clash between the maintenance of law and order situation on the one hand and the enforcement of the afore said fundamental right of the accused under Article 22(1) of the Constitution of India not only during trial but also pending investigation and during interrogation and to claim the presence of a lawyer of his choice at the time of any judicial proceedings and further that it was not accused Ranjit Singh who apprehended any danger to his life or for that reason he made any request to the court for conducting the judicial proceedings at a place other than Tis Hazari and on the other hard he was threatening a resort to hunger strike if he was not produced in the open court in Tis Hazari and that he would not allow himself to be produced for remand proceedings in Tihar Jail. The learned Chief Metropolitan Magistrate thus found little substance in the contention of the investigating agency, i.e. the Cbi that the remand proceedings should be conducted inside Tihar Jail, and consequently passed the order aforesaid for the production of accused Ranjit Singh in his court at Tis Hazari on 24-12-1983 for extension, if any, of Ranjit Singh's judicial custody.

(6) Delhi Administration moved this petition dated 23-12-1983 during winter vacation to the High Court and Luthra J. passed an interim order on the same day whereby the operation of the impugned order dated 22-12-1983 of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate was stayed till further orders with a further direction that the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate or any one working in his place to take up remand proceedings in Tihar Jail and notice was ordered to be issued to the respondents for 5-1-1984, both in respect of the main petition and the interim application for stay.

(7) On appearance on 5-1-1984 through counsel the main petition as also the interim application for stay were contested on behalf of accused Ranjit Singh. Section 327 of the Code contemplates the holding of enquiry into or trial of an offence in an open court to which the public generally may have an access but the proviso attached thereto creates an exception if the presiding officer of the court thinks fit to hold the enquiry in camera shutting out thereby the public generally or any particular person. This provision of law is reproduced below :-

'THE place in which any Criminal Court is held for the purpose of inquiring into or trying any offence shall be deemed to be an open Court, to which the public generally may have access, so far as the same can conveniently contain them. Provided that the presiding Judge or Magistrate may, if he thinks fit, order at any stage of any inquiry into, or trial of, any particular case, that the public generally, or any particular person, shall not have access to, or be or remain in, the room or building used by the Court.'

Paragraph 5 of Chapter 1-A, High Court Rules and Orders, Volume Iii was amended by Delhi Gazette Notification dated 3-9-1975 by the Delhi High Court and it refers to the sanction to be given by the High Court when the presiding magistrate excludes the public by holding his court in a building such as jail to which the public is not admitted. This notification is reproduced as under:-

'DELHI Administration, Delhi Delhi High Court NOTIFICATION' Delhi, the 3rd September, 1975 No-194/Rules,-In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 7 of the Delhi High Court Act, 1966 (Act No. 26 of 1966), and all other powers enabling in this behalf, the Delhi High Court hereby substitutes the following paragraph for the existing Paragraph 5 of Chapter 1-A High Court Rules and Orders. Volume Iii :- Section 327 of the Code of Criminal Procedure lays down that the place where a Criminal Court is held 'shall be deemed to be an open Court which the public generally may have access, so far as the same can conveniently contain them, but the discretion to exclude the public from the ordinary court room rests with the presiding Magistrate. When, however, the presiding Magistrate, for any reason, excludes the public by holding his court in a building such as jail, to which the public is not admitted, he should obtain the sanction of High Court thereto through the District and Sessions Judge. By order of the Court M.L. Jain, Registrar.'

(8) Section 482 of the Code visualises the inherent powers of the High Court and it reads as follows :-

'SAVING of inherent powers of High Court :- Nothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent powers of the High Court to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under this Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.'

It is no doubt true that in the exercise of its inherent powers under Section 482 of the Code the High Court is not expected to interfere normally with an order passed by a court subordinate to it. But such exercise of inherent powers has to be there to secure the ends of justice when there appears to be a patent or a .glaring error in the same or when the ends of justice appears to be thwarted thereby. It is the common case of the parties that Nirankarl Baba (deceased) had a large following and Akalis have a sympathetic support for accused Ranjit Singh who is alleged to be the murderer of Nirankari Baba. It is also a matter of wide knowledge and not disputed by either side that there is a great stir in the two factions-Nirankaris and Akalis of the Sikh community on this murder of Nirankari Baba in which Ranjit Singh is a prime suspect and both the factions gathered in very large numbers in Tis Hazari complex and outside and around the court room of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate. The feelings and passions of the members of both the factions are obviously very much enraged. There appears all force and substance in the contention of the investigating agency Cbi that violence is very likely to erupt between the members of these two factions in Tis Hazari with a view to kill accused Ranjit Singh or to get him escape. Under these circumstances, if accused Ranjit Singh disappears from the scene either on account of his killing or escape, the murder case in which he is involved shall die an unnatural death which contingency would be a total negation of the concept of the true administration of justice. The conception of the learned Chief Metropolitan Magistrate that there is no apprehension of his being killed on the part of accused Ranjit Singh and that on the contrary he has protested against his being produced in the court in Tihar Jail and that he would go on hunger strike if he is treated in that fasion, is only subjective of accused Ranjit Singh and not in any manner objective, and it is the objective view of his personal safety that is of the essence of the whole matter and that alone is to be kept in view while appreciating the question of securing the ends of justice in regard to this case. Ranjit Singh's over anxiety to be produced in open court in remand proceedings is no guarantee of his personal safety at the hands of others. If on account of his hunger strike any mob violence takes place anywhere that is for the police to see and control and that would be a factor hardly relevant for the administration of justice in respect of this particular case. Thus, the opinion of the learned Chief Metropolitan Magistrate expressed in the impugned order on this point is glaringly erroneous and if allowed to prevail is likely to thwart the ends of justice which is the only aim of all courts to which they owe their existence. Mob violence has to be seen in the context of the personal safety of accused Ranjit Singh as that would hinder the cause of justice. The concept of judicial proceedings in open court has been propounded only keeping in view the theme of justice and if that theme is likely to be jeopardized by holding the judicial proceedings in open court, justice would require that this general principle should be discarded in the particular case and the exception be resorted to by excluding the public. The factor of personal safety or escape of accused Ranjit Singh not only warrants but renders it almost absolutely necessary that he should be excluded from public in the matter of recording of the proceedings in respect of remand. It has been held in Pratap Singh and others v.The State, : AIR1952Cal90 that 'there may be circumstances in which for reasons of security for the accused or for the witnesses or for the Magistrate himself or for other valid reason the Magistrate may think it proper to hold court inside a jail building or some other building and restrict the free access of the public'. Naresh Shridhar Mirajkar v. State Maharashtra, 0044/1966 : [1966]3SCR744 , relied upo by the learned counsel for both the parties deals with the inherent power of the High Court to hold trials in camera and the relevant observations are reproduced below:-

'IT is hardly necessary to emphasise that this inherent power must be exercised with great caution and it is only if the Court is satisfied beyond a doubt that the ends of justice themselves would be defeated if a case is tried in open Court that it can pass an order to hold the trial in camera.'

(9) The contention of the learned counsel for the respondent accused Ranjit Singh that as contemplated by Section 327 of the Code the power lies only with the concerned magistrate to make sure if the deviation from the general rule of recording proceedings in open court is to be resorted to or not and so that should not and cannot be interfered with by the High Court, is thus not correct for the reasons explained above.

(10) The further obsession of the learned Chief Metropolitan Magistrate regarding the constitutional right of the accused as guaranteed under Article 22(1) of the Constitution of India is also unwarranted and unjustifiable. This constitutional provision is reproduced as under :-

'NO person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed, as soon as may be, of the grounds for such arrest nor shall he be denied the right to consult and to be defended by, a legal practitioner of his choice'.

The learned counsel for the petitioner state dun am bigamously and unmistakably at the Bar that they were not going to infringe any such constitutional right of accused Ranjit Singh who may engage any legal practitioner of his choice during remand proceedings is jail. Against this the learned counsel for the accused contends that the State had created such conditions that counsel of the choice of the accused would feel it humiliating to go to Tihar Jail for the purpose of defending him in remand proceedings and thereby the accused would be deprived of his aforesaid constitutional privilege of engaging a counsel of his choice. He has not been able to make out any such conditions. The accused would be free to have a counsel of his choice even during the remand proceedings but if that counsel does not like to attend those proceedings in jail. that cannot be said to be the fault of the petitioner or anyone else including the investigating agency i.e. CBI. As a matter of fact, it is not going to jail but is going to a court temporarily located in jail premises and appearing before a court wherever it is located, is not humiliation. Thus, the learned Chief Metropolitan Magistrate is again glaringly wrong on this point.

(11) Lastly, the learned counsel for the respondent accused Ranjit Singh invited the attention of the court to Secs. 267, 268 and 269 of the Code. Under Sec 267 a criminal court has the power to make an older requiring the office-in-charge of the prison to produce any prisoner for answering to the charge or for giving evidence. Under Section 268 the State Government is vested with the power to exclude any person or class of persons, by general or special order, from being removed from the prison in which he or they may be confined or detained and on order made under Section 267 shall have effect in respect of such person or class of persons. Under Section 269(d) the Officer in charge of the prison shall abstain from carrying out the court's order in respect of the production of any person in regard to whom an order had been made by the State Government under Section 268. The result of these provisions would be that the judicial proceedings under the Code would be stultified in respect of a person or class of persons in regard to whom the State Government has made the order under Section 268. It was contended by the learned counsel for the respondent Ranjit Singh that the State Government could have passed the order under Section 268 in regard to accused Ranjit Singh and in that contingency remand proceedings could be justifiably held in Tihar Jail. However, this contention of the learned counsel cannot impede the inherent power of the High Court under Section 482 of the Code which is there to secure the ends of justice when there is before it the impugned order of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate which appears to be against the course of justice.

(12) No other point was urged at the Bar. The learned counsel for the C.B.I, adopted the arguments of the learned counsel for the petitioner.

(13) In view of the above discussion, the petition is accepted and consequently the impugned order dated 22nd December 1983 of Shri P.R.Thakur, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi ordering the petitioner to produce respondent Ranjit Singh in his court at Tis Hazari is set aside and a direction is given to him that he shall hold his court in Central Jail, Tihar, New Delhi for the purpose of remanding the accused in sustody. Under the circumstances, there shall, however, be no order as to costs.


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