Skip to content


Jaggu Ram Vs. the State of Rajasthan - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1973CriLJ711; 1972()WLN286
AppellantJaggu Ram
RespondentThe State of Rajasthan
Cases ReferredThimma v. State of Mysore
Excerpt:
criminal procedure code - sections 234, 235 and 537--accused charged with more than 3 offences at one trial--held, conviction not to be set aside unless prejudice is caused.;simply because the accused has been charged with more than three offences at one trial and convicted, his conviction cannot be set aside unless the court reaches the conclusion that he has been embarrassed in his defence with the result that there was a violation of justice.;the fact that three incidents of cheating and forgeries took place within 3 months would not change the central idea. the forgeries were committed with the object of cheating and, therefore, they were part of the same transaction and the modus operand were the same.;(b) criminal trial - extra-judicial confessions--circumstances when not..........tried at one trial. under section 234, cr.p.c. he could have been charged with and tried at one trial for offences of the same kind not exceeding three. learned counsel further urged that offences are of the same kind when they are punishable with the same amount of punishment under the same section of the indian penal code or of any special or local law. as provided in sub-section (2) of section 234, cr.p.clearned counsel also submitted that the provisions of section 235, cr.p.c. would extend to any number of offences which the accused is alleged to have committed in one series of acts so connected together as to form part of the same transaction. the offences here relate to different periods. because of this material illegality, the counsel adds, the accused has been prejudiced and.....
Judgment:

L.S. Mehta, J.

1. Accused Jagsu Ram, an employee in the Rajasthan Secretariat, is alleged to have drawn more suspension allowance for the months of October, 1965, December. 1965. January, 1966, and February, 1966, by adding in the pay scrolls the digit '1' before the figures 'Rs. 48.50 P.' 'Rs. 48.50 P.,' 'Rs. 50.50 P.' and 'Rs. 75.50 P.' respectively during the relevant periods. In all he drew Rs. 400/-, in excess of the amounts payable to him. On April 4, 1966, he again added the digit '1' in the pay scroll before the figure 'Rs. 64.02 P.' payable to him. Mr. Mukut Kishore, Cashier, P.W. 1. having seen the acquittance roll on April 4, 1966, detected the last forgery. He produced Jaggu Ram before Mr. N.N. Mathur, P.W. 3, Accounts Officer. Secretariat, Jaipur. The appellant confessed his guilt before him. No action was, however, taken by Mr. Mathur on that complaint. He only reprimanded the appellant and ordered that Rs. 64.02 P. only should be paid to him and not Rs. 164.02 P. Later on, after the scrutiny of relevant papers it was discovered that Jaggu Ram had also drawn an excess amount of Rs. 400/, during previous months by adding the digit '1' before the above mentioned figures. Jaggu Ram admitted the fact of his having done so before Mr. Mathur. Thereafter Mr. Mathur took Jaggu Ram to P.W. 4 Mr. Sharaf Ali, Deputy Secretary. G.A.D., Secretariat, Jaipur. Jaggu Ram admitted his culpability before Mr. Sharaf Ali. Mr. Sharaf Ali recorded his statement Ex. P. 13, wherein he deposed that in each of the scrolls Nos. 160 (for October, 1965). 90 (for December, 1965), 71 (for January, 1966) and 61 (for February, 1966) he had added the digit '1' before the actual amount due and recovered Rs. 400/-, in excess, which money he was prepared to repay in monthly instalments. Jaggu Ram also admitted that he had added digit '1' in scroll No. 1 (for April 1, 1966) before the figures 'Rs. 64.02 P.' Ex. P/13 bears the signature of Jaggu Ram as also that of Mr. Sharaf Ali.

On August 12, 1966, Mr. Sharaf Ali lodged first information report with the police station Ashok Nagar. The police registered a case and started investigation. On completion of the investigation a challan was presented by the police to the Court of Munsiff-Magistrate, Jaipur City. Learned Munsiff-Magistrate conducted preliminary enquiry and committed accused Jaggu Ram to the Court of Sessions Judge, Jaipur City, to face trial under Sections 420 and 468, I.P.C. The case was tried by the Additional Sessions Judge No. 1, Jaipur City. On January 5, 1968, accused Jaggu Ram was charged under Sections 420 and 467, I.P.C. to which he pleaded not guilty. The charges, related to the amounts pertaining to the months of October, 1965, December, 1963, January 1966 and February, 1966. In support of its case the prosecution examined 5 witnesses. In his statement, recorded under Section 342, Cr.P.C. the accused substantially denied the prosecution allegations. He did not produce any evidence in his defence. After the closure of the case by the prosecution and the defence, counsel for the accused drew the attention of the trial Court to the fact that the accused could not have been tried for more than three offences during one trial, by virtue of the bar Provided by Section 234 read with Section 235, Cr.P.C.

Thereupon the trial Court amended the charge on August 4, 1970. The indictment covered excess payment and forging pay scrolls for the months of October, 1965. January 1966 and February. 1966. After the amendment the accused desired to re-cross-examine two prosecution witnesses, Mr. N.N. Mathur (P.W. 3) and Mr. Sharaf Ali (P.W. 4). He was allowed to do so. On November 27, 1970. the accused closed his defence. Arguments were heard on December 5, 1970 and the judgment was pronounced by the trial Court on December 11, 1970, convicting the appellant under Section 467, I.P.C. and sentencing him to two years' rigorous imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs. 100/-, in default of payment of which to suffer further imprisonment for a period of two months. He was also convicted under Section 420, I.P.C. and sentenced to two years' rigorous imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs. 100/-, in default to undergo further imprisonment for two months. Both the sentences of imprisonment were made concurrent.

2. Aggrieved by the above verdict, accused Jaggu Ram has taken the present appeal. The contention of learned Counsel for the appellant is two-fold. His first grievance is that as many as six charges were framed by the trial Court. Three related to the forgery of pay scrolls and three pertained to the offence of cheating on three different occasions. The accused could not have been charged with six distinct crimes and tried at one trial. Under Section 234, Cr.P.C. he could have been charged with and tried at one trial for offences of the same kind not exceeding three. Learned Counsel further urged that offences are of the same kind when they are punishable with the same amount of punishment under the same section of the Indian Penal Code or of any special or local law. as Provided in Sub-section (2) of Section 234, Cr.P.C

Learned Counsel also submitted that the provisions of Section 235, Cr.P.C. would extend to any number of offences which the accused is alleged to have committed in one series of acts so connected together as to form part of the same transaction. The offences here relate to different periods. Because of this material illegality, the counsel adds, the accused has been prejudiced and his trial deserves to be Quashed. In support of his argument he relied on H.F. Bellgard v. Emperor AIR 1941 Cal 707 and D.K. Chandra v. The State : AIR1952Bom177 . The second complaint of learned Counsel for the appellant is that the prosecution has failed to prove that the digit '1' before each of the above mentioned figures has been added by the accused. The trial Court solely relied upon the extra-judicial confession, alleged to have been made by the appellant before Mr. N.N. Mathur (P.W. 3) and Mr. Sharaf Ali (P.W. 4). These persons were persons in authority and the making of the confession was caused by inducement, threat or promise having reference to the charge against the accused and. therefore, no conviction could have been based upon it.

3. As regards the first point it is no doubt true that the accused was charged with six offences, three related to the offence under Section 420, I.P.C. and three to one under Section 467, I.P.C. It has been observed by a Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court in AIR 1941 Cal 707 (supra) that Section 234, Cr.P.C. contemplates a joint trial for three separate offences under a particular section of the Penal Code. The joint trial is illegal on the ground that it was not desirable to try the accused in one trial for the offences regarding the pay of the gangs for three different months; and on the grounds that the charges framed did not specify with sufficient clarity the nature of the offences alleged to have been committed: and on the ground that the accused were materially prejudiced in their defence by being called upon to meet charges of so general and all embracing character. In : AIR1952Bom177 (supra) it has been laid down that each of the Sections 234, 235 and 236 is self contained and to combine the operation of these sections would necessarily involve the widening of the scope of each and would result in the destruction of the essential elements of these sections.

4. By Act No. 26 of 1955 word 'charge' in Clause (a) of Section 537, Cr.P.C. has been omitted and a new Clause (b) has been inserted, which runs as follows:

(b) of any error, omission, or irregularity in the charge, including any misjoinder of charges: or

Thus, after the amendment misjoinder of charges has been made curable defect under Section 537 and cannot be treated as an illegality vitiating the trial. In support of this proposition reference is made to The State of Andhra Pradesh v. Ganeswara Rao : [1964]3SCR297 wherein it has been observed by their Lordships of the Supreme Court:

Merely because the accused persons are charged with a laree number of offences and convicted at the trial the conviction cannot be set aside by the appellate Court unless it in fact came to the conclusion that the accused persons were embarrassed in their defence with the result that there was a failure of iustice.' In the State of Andhra Pradesh v. Subbaiah : 1961CriLJ302 , it has been held that where the alleged offences have been committed in the course of the same transaction, the limitation placed by Section 234, Cr.P.C. cannot operate. In K.V. Krishnamurthy Iyer v. The State of Madras : AIR1954SC406 the Supreme Court upheld the order of the High Court of Madras in quashing the charges in the exercise of its inherent powers even before the conclusion of the trial. In that case an objection was taken at an early stage when there was an ample time to rectify the order and the charges were 67 in number and spread over a long period of time. But in the case before this Court an objection was taken to multiplicity or misjoinder of charges after the defence was closed. In such circumstances what the Court had to consider was whether prejudice had in fact been caused to the accused by reason of the multiplicity of charges or misjoinder, if any, of the charges. In Willie (William) Slaney v. State of Madhya Pradesh : 1956CriLJ291 , their Lordships of the Supreme Court were in agreement on the point that Sections 537 and 535, Cr.P.C. covered every case in which there was departure from the rules set out in Chapter XIX, ranging from error, omissions, and irregularities in charges that might have been framed and were not included and a total omission to frame a charge at all at any stage of the trial. The whole question was again examined in Birichh Bhuian v. State of Bihar : AIR1963SC1120 . In that case his Lordship Subba Rao, J., speaking for Court, made it clear.-

Section 537 Prohibits the revisional or the appellate Court from setting aside a finding, sentence or order passed by a Court of competent jurisdiction on the ground of such a misjoinder unless it has occasioned a failure of justice.

The above authorities meet the argument based on R. v. Dawson (1960) 1 All ER 558. Simply because the accused has been charged with more than three offences at one trial and convicted, his conviction cannot be set aside unless the Court reaches the conclusion that hp has been embarrassed in his defence with the result that there was a violation of justice. In this case after the amendment of the charge on August 4, 1970, the accused desired to recross-examine two prosecution witnesses Mr. N.N. Mathur (P.W. 3) and Mr. Sharaf Ali (P.W. 4) and then he closed his evidence. No Prejudice, under the circumstance, can be said to have been caused to the accused. For these reasons I cannot, accept the argument of learned Counsel on the ground of Multiplicity or misjoinder of charges. There was no failure of justice and the appellant had his full say in the matter and he was not prejudiced in any way.

5. It may also be noted here that a careful examination of the charge discloses that there was only one object which the appellant had in his mind and that was to cheat the State Government. The fact that three incidents of cheating and forgeries took place within 3 months would not change the central idea. The forgeries were committed with the object of cheating and therefore, they were part of the same transaction and the modus operand was the same: see Section Swaminathan v. State of Madras : 1957CriLJ422 .

6. Coming now to the second point raised on behalf of the appellant, it is true that none of the prosecution witnesses has seen the accused adding the digit '1' before the above mentioned figures. The accused, however, confessd his guilt before P.W. 1 Mukut Kishore, Cashier. Mukut Kishore was not a person in authority nor did he hold out any promise, threat or inducement to the accused. Mukut Kishore says that first the accused admitted his guilt by adding the digit '1' before Rs. 64.02 in the acquittance roll of April, 1966. Thereafter he confessed his guilt in respect of the pay scrolls for the months of October. 1963, January 1966 and February, 1966. The rolls are marked Exs. P. 4, P. 7 and P. 2 respectively. The corresponding entries in the bills are marked Exs. P. 9, P. 11 and P. 12 and the figures mentioned therein are respectively Rs. 48.50 P., Rs. 50.50 P., and Rs. 75.50 P. The accused was admittedly a suspended employee. He was not entitled to the allowances to the extent to which he had drawn. The accused admits his signatures in the rolls. He drew his suspension allowance in excess of the amounts which were actually payable.

The only legitimate inference that can be drawn, in the circumstances of the case, is that it was the accused alone, who added the digit 'I' before the above mentioned amounts. A close scrutiny of the rolls suggests that therein digit '1' had been added with different ink. The argument of the learned Counsel for the appellant is that this ink does not tally with the ink with which Jaggu Ram had put his signatures against the relevant entries. Different are the methods of forgers. He betrays credulous innocence with wizard's falsehood and is an ingenious person. It is not normally expected of him that he would commit forgery by using the same ink at two different places. I am, under the circumstance, not convinced with this part of the argument, advanced on behalf of the appellant.

7. The accused admitted his guilt before Mr. N.N. Mathur (P.W. 3). Accounts Officer as also before the Deputy Secretary, G.A.D. Mr. Sharaf Ali (P.W. 4). There is nothing in the statement of Mr. N.N. Mathur that any promise, or threat or any inducement was exercised at the time of obtaining the confession of the accused, nor is there any indication in the statement of Mr. Sharaf Ali (P.W. 4) that any promise, or threat or inducement was given to the accused for obtaining his confession. Mr. Sharaf Ali has categorically stated that he did not tell the accused that in case he confessed his guilt. he would be pardoned. Both Mr. N.N. Mathur and Mr. Sharaf Ali were responsible officers in the Secretariat. There was no ill-will or enmity between them and the accused. There is no reason why they should falsely implicate the appellant. They had in other words, no motive to concoct the story of confession, which has a ring of truth in it.

8. Confession like other admission is relevant and admissible unless rendered inadmissible by some circumstances of an invalidating character declared by law. Thus a confession is inadmissible if. (a) it is made by an accused to a person in authority: and (b) that it has been caused or obtained by reason of any inducement or threat or promise proceeding from a person in authority. In Wharton's Criminal Evidence, Vol. 2, Page 402. it is stated:

An admission may be used to prove that the accused was conscious of his guilt of the crime charged.

Wills, in his monumental treatise on Circumstantial Evidence. 7th Edition, page 119, opines:

A voluntary confession of guilt if it be full, consistent, and probable, is justly regarded as evidence of the highest and most satisfactory nature. Self-love, the mainspring of human conduct, will usually prevent a rational being from making admissions prejudicial to his interest and safety, unless when caused by the promptings of truth and conscience.' It has been laid down by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Thimma v. State of Mysore : 1971CriLJ1314 , that an unambiguous confession, if admissible in evidence and free from suspicion of falsity, is a valuable piece of evidence possessing a high probative force.

9. In the present case the trial Court rightly held that the confession made by the accused was voluntary and that it did not appear to be the result of inducement, threat or promise as contemplated by Section 24, Evidence Act, and the surrounding circumstances did not indicate that it was inspired by some improper or collateral consideration. Again, in this case P.W. 1 Mukut Kishore. Cashier, was not the person in authority. There could, therefore, be no question of any duress, violence, threat or fear rendering the confession made before him irrelevant. Similar is the case with re-card to the evidence of P.W. 3 Mr. N.N. Mathur. Mr. Sharaf Ali also recorded the extra-judicial confession of the appellant (Ex. P. 13), alleged to have been made voluntarily. Such a written extra-judicial confession has a higher value as proof: vide Underbill's Criminal Evidence. Vol. 2, Article 402. The evidence shows that the appellant appears to have been compelled by some inner urge to admit his criminality. Such a behaviour cannot be considered unnatural. The confession appears to me to be free from any taint, which would throw suspicion on its voluntary character. In that view of the matter, I do not find any sufficient reason in disagreeing with the views of the trial Court, which rightly held that the extra-judicial confession deserves to be acted upon.

10. No other point was raised on behalf of the appellant. I am satisfied that the evidence on the record establishes the appellant's guilt beyond reasonable doubt and the Court below was right in convicting him. On the question of sentence also I do not find any cogent ground for interference. This appeal, therefore having no force stands dismissed.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //