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In Re: Illuru Lakshmiah and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Revn. Case Nos. 1379 etc. and Cri. R.P. Nos. 1301 etc. of 1949
Judge
Reported inAIR1952Mad101; (1951)IIMLJ235
ActsCode of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1898 - Sections 423, 423(1) and 423(2)
AppellantIn Re: Illuru Lakshmiah and anr.
Appellant AdvocateA. Bhujanga Rao, ;A. Krishna Rao and ;R. Ramalinga Reddi, Advs.
Respondent AdvocatePublic Prosecutor
Cases ReferredHanumappa v. Emperor
Excerpt:
.....sections were not made out but the evidence disclosed at best that they were guilty only of abetment of those offences. and that neither of those two sections cover a case like the one before them, they held following the ruling in reg. the learned judges held that the view of the sessions judge is clearly wrong and the appellate court may 'alter the finding, maintaining the sentence' and that there is nothing to restrict the finding which could be altered to a finding of conviction. the words of the sub-section are clear and there can be no doubt as to their meaning there is no justification for the qualification which the learned judges in the cited case attached to this sub-section'.from this observation of their lordships of the privy council it is contended that the decisions of..........and convicted the accused of hurt and grievous hurt. an appeal was preferred by some of the convicted accused to the high court. sundara aiyar and ayling jj. after reviewing the evidence found that the evidence showed that all the accused were members of an unlawful assembly and were guilty of rioting and that they were all responsible for the injuries inflicted on several prosecution witnesses in the course of the fight. they found specific acts were not proved and after acquitting one accused, they altered the conviction of the other accused by finding them guilty of offences under section 147, 325 and 326 read with section 149, i. p. c. dealing with the contention of the counsel for the appellants that it was not competent for them to convict the accused of being members of an.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Somasundaram, J.

1. Cr. R. O. Nos. 1379 and 1395/1949. These two revision petitions arise out of C. O. No. 25 of 1948 on the file of the Sub Divisional Magistrate, Adoni. The petitioners in Cr. R. O. No. 1379 are the first and second accused in the case and the petitioners in Cr. R. O. No. 1395 are the third and fourth accused in the case. There were nine accused in all in that case and excepting the four accused the rest were acquitted. They were all tried on three charges, the first charge being an attempt to transport millets without a permit from a village called Halaharvi in Beilary District to Kurnool District in violation of the notification mentioned in that charge, The second charge is for the same transport without a permit from the same village which is said to be in Alur taluk to Asparbi village in the same taluk and this is said to be in contravention of the notification mentioned in that charge, The third charge is causing the lorry in which these millets were taken to carry the foodgrains from Beilary District to Kurnool to be driven during night which is said to be contrary to the G. O. mentioned in the charge. The first Court convicted all the four accused on the first charge and sentenced them, the first and second accused to six months rigorous imprisonment and third and fourth accused to four months rigorous imprisonment. It may be stated that the third and fourth accused are the driver and conductor of the lorry whereas the first and second accused are the persons who are said to be taking these food-grains. The trial Court acquitted accused 3 and 4 on the second charge which was for taking the commodity from one village to another without a permit as the petitioners are convicted on the first charge. So far as the first and second accused are concerned, they were acquitted of the third charge, i.e., taking during night. The third and fourth accused, the driver and the conductor were convicted of the third charge and given the same sentence, the sentences to run concurrently. All the four accused preferred appeals to the Sessions Court, the appeal preferred by the first and second accused being C. A. nO 73 of 1949 while C. A. no. 66 of 1949 was preferred by the third and fourth accused. In appeal, the learned Sessions Judge acquitted all the appellants of the first charge and following certain rulings of this Court altered the finding and convicted the accused under the second charge of which, as already stated, they were acquitted by the trial Court on the ground of their having been convicted under the first charge. So far the third and fourth accused are concerned, the Sessions Judge confirmed the conviction on the third charge also. The learned Judge while altering the finding, maintained the sentence of six months passed on the first and second accused and the sentence of four months passed on the third and fourth accused. These revisions are against the judgments in the two appeals.

2. On the merits, there is very little to be said in favour of the first and second accused and the only question that was argued so far as they are concerned is that the appellate Court erred in finding the petitioners guilty under the second charge when they were acquitted of the fame by the trial Court and the lower appellate Court has no jurisdiction to convert the acquittal into a conviction under Section 423(1)(b)(2), Criminal P. C. So far as accused 3 and 4 are concerned, the same point is raised so far as their conviction on the second charge is concerned,

3. Before I deal with this point, it is better I dispose of the case of accused 3 and 4 so far as the conviction under the third charge is concerned which is already stated, driving the lorry having foodgrains from Bellary District during the night. It is said to be a violation of G. O. No. 893 dated 3-4-1947. As a matter of fact, it is in pursuance of this G. O. that the Collector and District Magistrate of Bellary passed an order on 15-7-1947 prohibiting the carrying of foodgrains during night, i. e., between 7 P.M. and 6 A.M. on certain roads which included the road on which the petitioners were driving. This notification was published in the District Gazette Extraordinary on 30-7-1947. The occurrence was on 28-7-1947. It is obvious therefore, that the notification itself was long after the occurrence and therefore accused 3 and 4 could not be said to have violated the provisions of the notification which was not in force on the date on which the occurrence took place, Accused 3 and 4 must therefore be acquitted of this charge i.e., the third charge framed against them.

4. Now I will take up the contention that the lower appellate Court under Section 428 (1) (b) (2) cannot alter the finding of acquittal into one of conviction. It must be mentioned that Clause (b) of Section 493(1) deals with appeals against convictions while Clause (a) deals with appeals against acquittals preferred by the State. Under Section 423 (1) (b) (1) the appellate Court can reverse the finding and sentence and acquit or discharge the accused or order him to be retried by a Court of competent jurisdiction subordinate to such appellate Court or commit him for trial. It is under Sub-clause (2) that the lower appellate Court is given power to alter the finding, maintaining the sentence or with or without altering the finding, reduce the sentence. We are not concerned with Sub-clause (a) and therefore it is unnecessary to refer to it. the question for consideration now is what is meant by 'alter the finding, maintaining the sentence' and in what cases and under what circumstances can this power be exercised by the appellate Court. Section 423, Criminal P. C. deals with the powers of the appellate Court, not only with the powers of the High Court hearing the appeals but also with the powers of subordinate Courts which hear the appeals. This question came up for consideration in several-cases both in our High Contt as well as in the High Courts of other states. The earliest decision and perhaps the leading decision which is referred to in subsequent decisions. is Queen Empress v. Jabanulla, 23 Cal. 975. In the above decision Banerjee J. had to concede that the interpretation of the words 'alter the finding, maintaining the sentence' is not free from limitation but is subject to some restrictions in particular cases. At page 979, the learned Judge states as follows :

'Section 123, Clause (b) has no restriction imposed upon it. There is under that clause, only one restriction to the power of the appellate Court on an appeal from a conviction and that is that it cannot enhance the sentence. It is possible to imagine cases in which this restriction may stand in the way of the appellate Court's altering the finding. Thus, if an accused person is charged with having murdered A, and also with having caused grievous hurt to him, and is acquitted of the former offence but convicted of the latter and sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment by the first Court, the appellate Court cannot, on the appeal of the accused, alter the finding into one of guilty of murder, because as it cannot enhance, the sentence, the result will be that a person convicted of murder, for which the only punishment is either death or transportation for life, will be punished merely with imprisonment for seven years a sentence which is not in accordance with law. That, however, is not the case here and so we need not consider it further. But in a case like this, in which no such difficulty arises, I think the appellate Court can, in an appeal from a conviction, alter the finding of the lower Court and find the appellant guilty of any offence of which he may have been acquitted by the Court,'

This was cited before Sir Arnold White C. J. in Sami Aiyar v. Emperor, 26 Mad. 478 but was simply distinguished on the ground that the appellate tribunal in that case, the High Court, was a tribunal which had jurisdiction to set aside an acquittal. He held that the words 'reverse the finding and sentence' in Section 423 (1) (b) (1) mean reverse the finding upon which a conviction is based and do not empower the appellate tribunal to reverse and set aside an order of acquittal. Apart from the fact that this judgment does not refer to the words 'alter the finding' there is no discussion of the points and it cannot therefore be of sufficient authority for the contention that alteration of the finding cannot mean alteration of the finding of acquittal into one of conviction. In Padmanabha Panji Kannayya v. Emperor, 33 Mad. 261 Munro and Abdur Rahim JJ, were considering a case where the accused were charged under Sections 467 and 468, Penal Code. The Sessions Judge convicted the accused of those offences but the learned Judges held that the offences under those sections were not made out but the evidence disclosed at best that they were guilty only of abetment of those offences. It was contended before them that they could convict the accused of abetment of the offences. But they held that under Section 433, Criminal P. C. the appellate Court has power to alter a finding and that that power cannot be used arbitrarily but only in accordance with other provisions of the Code, and they say that those provisions are to be found in Sections 237 and 236, Criminal P. O. and that neither of those two sections cover a case like the one before them, They held following the ruling in Reg. v. Chandnur, 11 Bom. H.C.R. 240 that it was not open to a Court to find a man guilty of the abetment of an offence on a charge of the offence itself. But subsequently there were several oases which held that if the facts relied on could support a charge for that offence, there is no objection to an accused being convicted for an abetment of an offence even if he is charged with the substantive offence. Vide decisions cited under Note 8 to Section 236, Criminal P. C. in the A. I. R. Commentaries pages 1416 of vol. II, 1946 edition. In Appanna v. Makalakshmi, 34 Mad. 546 Munro and Krishnaswami Aiyar JJ. expressed their agreement with the decision in Queen-Empress v. Jabanulla, 23 Cal. 975 and also observed that the Calcutta case cannot be distinguished in the manner in which it is sought to be distinguished in Sami Aiyar v. Emperor, 36 Mad. 478 As pointed out above, they also refer to the fact that in Sami Aiyar v. Emperor, 26 Mad. 478 there is no reference to the wording of the Section 493 (1) (b) (2). In Appanna v. Mahalakshmi, 34 Mad. 546 the Court framed two charges under Sections 148 and 326, I. P. C. acquitted the accused under Section 146 but convicted them under Section 325. The accused then appealed to the Sessions Judge who was of the opinion that the accused could have been convicted under Section 147 but thought he could not interfere with the acquittal. The learned Judges held that the view of the Sessions Judge is clearly wrong and the appellate Court may 'alter the finding, maintaining the sentence' and that there is nothing to restrict the finding which could be altered to a finding of conviction. They therefore set aside the acquittal and directed a rehearing of the appeal. In Hanumappa v. Emperor, 35 Mad. 248 the accused were charged under Sections 148, 302, 326 and 149, I. P. C. The trial Court acquitted all the accused of murder and of rioting and convicted all the accused of murder and of rioting and convicted the accused of hurt and grievous hurt. An appeal was preferred by some of the convicted accused to the High Court. Sundara Aiyar and Ayling JJ. after reviewing the evidence found that the evidence showed that all the accused were members of an unlawful assembly and were guilty of rioting and that they were all responsible for the injuries inflicted on several prosecution witnesses in the course of the fight. They found specific acts were not proved and after acquitting one accused, they altered the conviction of the other accused by finding them guilty of offences under Section 147, 325 and 326 read with Section 149, I. P. C. Dealing with the contention of the counsel for the appellants that it was not competent for them to convict the accused of being members of an unlawful assembly or of rioting and hold them constructively guilty of the offence of causing grievous hurt as they were acquitted of those offences by the lower Court, they say that under Section 423 (1) (b) (3) the appellate Court has the power to alter the finding of the lower Court maintaining the sentence. A further contention that this provision entitles the Court to convict an accused of an offence of which he is acquitted is restricted only to cases falling under Section 397 and 238, Criminal P. C. was also repelled.

They say:

'The finding which an appellate Court may alter under Section 423 (b) may relate either to an offence with which the accused was apparently charged in the lower Court or to one of which he might be convicted without a distinct charge. In cases not falling under Sections 237 and 238, Criminal P. C. no doubt the appellate Court cannot convict a parson of an offence with which he was not charged in the first Court but where he has been charged and the first Court has recorded a finding on the charge, there is no reason for holding that the appellate Court cannot alter the finding. There is obviously no injustice in doing so.'

The learned Judges expressed their views in accordance with Queen-Empress v. Jabanulla, 23 Cal. 975. The next decision is In re Baliredai, 37 Mad. 119. In that case, five accused were charged with rioting and murder. The Sessions Judge found them guilty of simple rioting and capable homicide not amounting to murder and convicted them under Sections 147 and 304, I. P. C. The accused preferred an appeal to the High Court and the Court as a Court of revisional jurisdiction gave notice to show cause why they should not be convicted of murder and be sentenced for that offence. The Bench, consisting of Benson and Sundara Aiyar JJ. followed the ruling in Appanna v. Mahalakshmi, 84 Mad. 546 and Queen Empress v. Jabanulla, 23 cal. 979 Referring to the Contention that under Section 439, Criminal P. C., the Court cannot convert a finding of acquittal into one of conviction, they say that Section 423 (b) has no restriction and the only restriction under that clause is that the Court of appeal cannot enhance the sentence. They state at p. 123 as follows:

'The effect of the two sections (meaning 423 and 439, Criminal P. C.) read together is that the High Court when hearing an appeal against a conviction may, under Section 423 (b) alter the finding and then as a Court of revision may under Section 439 enhance the sent once so as to make it appropriate to the altered finding.'

Dealing with Section 439 (4) they say it applies only to a complete acquittal and not a partial acquittal. To the same effect is the decision of the Full Bench of the Lahore High Court in Bava Singh v. The Crown, 28 Lah. 129 In Allahabad also, a Full Bench consisting of five Judges held by a majority, Mulla and Hamilton JJ. dissenting that the Court of appeal is empowered under Section 423 (1) (b) (2) to alter the finding of acquittal into one of conviction--See Emperor v. Zamir Quasim, I.L.R. (1944) ALL. 403.

5. The main decision on which the learned counsel for the petitioners relies ia support of his contention is a decision of the Privy Council in Suhan Singh v. Emperor, 50 ALL. 722. That is a case where the Sessions Judge tried an accused on a charge of murder but convicted him only under Section 304, Penal Code. On behalf of the Local Government an application for revision of the judgment of the learned Sessions Judge was filed and in that it was sought to enhance the sentence passed on the accused by converting the finding into one under Section 802, Penal Code. The High Court converted the finding to one under Section 302 and sentenced the accused to death. Their Lordships of the Privy Council held that the conviction under Section 304, Penal Court, amounted to an acquittal under Section 302 and that

'In view of the provision contained in Section 439 (4) that nothing in this section shall be deemed to authorise a High Court to convert a finding of acquittal into one of conviction, the learned Judges of the High Court who were dealing only with the application for revision (underlining there in italics) is mine) had no jurisdiction to convert the learned Judge's finding of acquittal on the charge of murder into one of conviction of murder',

The decision in In Re Bali Reddi, 37 Mad. 119 was cited before their Lordships and referring to that, their Lordships state as follows :

''It is not necessary on the present occasion for their Lordships to express any opinion whether the facts of the cited case would justify the decision at which the learned Judges arrived. Their Lordships, however, do think it necessary to say that if the learned Judges of the High Court of Madras intended to hold that the prohibition in Section 439 (4) refers only to a case where the trial has ended in a complete acquittal of the accused in respect of all charges or offences and not to a case such as the present, where the accused has been aquitted of the charge of murder, but convicted of the minor offence of culpable homicide and not amounting to murder, their Lordships are unable to agree with that part of the decision. The words of the sub-section are clear and there can be no doubt as to their meaning There is no justification for the qualification which the learned Judges in the cited case attached to this sub-section'. From this observation of their Lordships of the Privy Council it is contended that the decisions of the Madras High Court holding that under Section 493 (1) (b) (2), the appellate Court can alter the finding of acquittal, are no longer good law and he relies on a decision of Sulaiman C. J. and Bennett J. in Sarda Prasad v. Emperor, : AIR1937All240 and Panu Nayak v. Chintai Malik, : AIR1948Pat435 . The other decisions Padmanabha Panji Kannayya v. Emperor, 33 Mad. 264 and Emperor v. Sheodarsahan Singh, 44 ALL. 332 which are in support of his view are earlier than the Privy Council decision in Kishan Singh v. Emperor, 50 ALL. 722 whereas subsequent to the Privy Council decision in Bawa Singh v. The Crown, I.L.R. (1942) Lah. 129 the learned Judges held following the view expressed earlier by our High Court and in Queen Empress v. Jabonullah, 23 Cal 975 that the appellate Court has such power. The question now is whether on account of the decisions of the Privy Council, the earlier decisions of our High Court in Appanna. v. Mahalakshmi, 34 Mad. 545 Hanumappa v. Emperor, 35 Mad. 243 and In Re Balireddi, 37 Mad. 119 are no longer good law. [6] The decision of the Privy Council in Kishan Singh v. Emperor, 50 ALL. 722 is clearly a case wherein Section 423 (1) (b) (2) did not come in for consideration at all. It was a case where the accused who was convicted under Section 304, Penal Code, did not appeal and the State Government too did not prefer an appeal against acquittal of the accused for the offence under Section 309. The State, on the other hand, chose to move the High Court in its revisional jurisdiction and Bought to enhance the sentence by getting an alteration also in the find-ing of acquittal of the offence under Section 302. The Privy Council, therefore, was dealing only with the powers of the High Court under 439. They were not dealing with the powers of an appellate Court. The two powers are distinct and separate. The appellate Court under Section 423 cannot enhance the sentence whereas the revisional Court can enhance the sentence. The revisional Court can-not alter the finding of acquittal into one of conviction except where it exercises the power of an appellate Court, whereas to an appellate Court an express power was given 'to alter the finding maintaining the sentence'. Now what is the meaning to be given to this phrase 'alter the finding'. It is stated that the alteration of finding means only the finding from one conviction to another conviction in cases where such a change is permissible. Such a course will be legally sustainable only in cases which fall within the purview of Sections 236 and 238, Criminal P. O., though of course Hanumappa v. Emperor, 35 Mad. 243 has held that it need not be restricted to these provisions. Even assuming such a course is permissible only in a case which falls under the above sections, when the trial Court convicts an accused of a certain offence, it means an implied acqittal of the other offences of which he could be tried or convicted under the provisions of those sections. Once it is an acquittal, either express or implied by the trial Court, if it is said that it cannot be altered except by an appeal against acquittal, there is no case or class of cases to which the alteration of finding can apply The phrase will be merely a dead letter in the section. As pointed out by Iqbal Ahmed C. J. in Emperor v. Zamir Quasim, I.L.R. (1914) ALL. 403 '

'It is the sentence passed against the accused which alone matters. The law no doubt attaches sanctity to acquittals but there is no invasion of that sanctity if, within the framework of the sentence, a finding of acquittal is converted into one of conviction',

Therefore so long as the sentence is maintained, it is of little importance and it causes no preju. dice whatsoever to the accused if the appellate Court alters the finding. Alteration implies a change According to the dictionary, it means 'a change in character' or 'to make different'. A change must necessarily therefore be to some other offence of which he was either being charged in the lower Court and acquitted or of which he could be charged under the provisions of pg. 236 and 238, Criminal P. C. and an acquittal is implied though no definite finding in respect of it is given by the first Court. Their Lordships of the Privy Council in Kishaneingh v. Emperor, 60 ALL. 722 were dealing only with the revisional jurisdiction of the High Court and not with the appellate jurisdiction of Courts. In my view the decision of the Privy Council has not affected the law which prevailed before that decision with regard to the interpretation of Section 423 (1) (b) (2) and as these decisions particularly those in Appanna v. Mahalakshmi, 34 Mad. 545 ; Hanumappa v. Emperor, 35 Mad 243 and Re Basireddi, 37 Mad. 119 are decisions by a Bench of this Court they are binding on me. I have indicated my view also which is in accord with the view taken in the above decisions. I do not therefore think it necessary to post this case before a Bench. As already stated, accused 3 and 4 are acquitted of the third charge only. The conviction of the four accused on the second charge is confirmed. The sentence of Accused 2 is by no means excessive. Their petition is therefore dismissed. As regards A-3 and A-4 their sentence is reduced to period undergone.

7. Crl. R. C. No. 1380 of 1949: -- This petition is preferred by accused l and 2 in C. C. No. 26 of 1948. The petitioners are the same as the petitioners in Crl. R. C. No. 1879, though the charge is different, viz., that in this case the charge is for having purchased millets without a permit. On the merits there is nothing to be said and no illegality has been pointed out with regard to the conviction. The conviction and sentence are confirmed and the petition is dismissed.

8. Crl R. C. Nos. 1381 and 1388 of 1949:--These two revision petitions are preferred by the first and second accused in C. C. No. 33 on the file of the Sub-divisional Magistrate of Adoni who convicted them of offences under Food Control Orders. The only point is about the alteration of the finding by the appellate Court. As I have held in Crl. R. C. nOS. 1379 and 1395 that it is permissible to alter the finding, the conviction and sentence of the petitioner in Crl. R. C. No. 1361 is confirmed. the conviction of the two accused is confirmed but their sentence is reduced to the period already undergone.

9. Crl. R. C. No 1382 of 1949: -- This revision arises out of C. C. no. 34. I find no reason to interfere either with the conviction. But the sentence is reduced to period undergone.

10. Crl. R. C. No. 1389 of 1949:--This levision arises out of C. C. No. 31. The only question in this case is one of sentence. The conviction is confirmed and the sentence is reduced to the period already undergone.

11. Crl R. C. No. 1390 of 1949:--This revision is by the second accused and the third accused in C. C. no. 23 on the file of the Sub Divisional Magistrate of Adoni. The question in this case is one of sentence. The conviction of accused 2 and 3 are confirmed but the sentences are reduced to the period already undergone.


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