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M.S. Sheriff and anr. Vs. M. Govindan and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Misc. Petn. Nos. 1261 and 1263 of 1951
Judge
Reported inAIR1951Mad1060; (1951)2MLJ501
ActsCode of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1898 - Sections 195, 195(3) and 476B; Constitution of India - Articles 134, 134(1), 136 and 372
AppellantM.S. Sheriff and anr.
RespondentM. Govindan and anr.
Appellant AdvocateV.L. Ethiraj and ;R. Ganapathi Aiyar, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateA. Ramachandran, Adv. of ;Row and Reddy
Cases ReferredNarayana v. Kesappa
Excerpt:
.....procedure codes. the state, 1950crilj1270 at ,article 134 constitutes the supreme court a court of criminal appeal in a limited class of cases only and clearly implies that no appeal lies to it as a matter of course or right except in oases specified therein and at page 456 it was pointed out by the same learned judge that the supreme court was not an ordinary court of criminal appeal (italics are ours). to the same effect is the view of gajendragadkar j in w. in the case cited above the appeals under the agra tenancy act lay to tbe district court as well as to the collector. the decision may be important because it giverns numerous other cases or there may be other suits in which similar questions are raised and it is only in such exceptional circumstances that a certificate should..........contention shortly stated is that under section 476b the applicants are entitled as a matter of right to appeal to the supreme court without the leave of this court under article 134(1)(c) of the constitution because this court is subordinate to the supreme court within the meaning of section 195 (3), cr. p. c. that sub-section is as follows :'for the purposes of this section, a court shall be deemed to be subordinate to the court to which appeals ordinarily lie from the appealable decrees or sentences of such former court, or in the case of a civil court from whose decrees no appeal ordinarily lies to the principal court having ordinary original civil jurisdiction within the local limits of whose jurisdiction such civil court is situate ; prorided that (a) where appeals lie to more.....
Judgment:

Satyanarayana Rao, J.

1. These two applications were filed under Arts, 132(1) and 134(1)(c) of the Constitution of India for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court against the orders of this Court in Cr. M. P. Nos. 1703 and 1705 of 1950 directing the prosecution of the present applicants under Section 193, Penal Code. There were two applications Cr. M. P. Nos. 2461 and 2462 of 1949 filed under Section 491, Cr. P. C., requesting this Court to issue directions in the nature of habeas corpus for the release of the petitioners therein. The complaint by those petitioners Govindan and Damodarasami was that they were kept in illegal custody in Rule 2 and Rule 1 police stations of Coimbatore by the Sub-Inspectors of Police of the respective stations and that they should be released. In those applications, the Sub-Inspectors who are the present applicants for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court filed affidavits denying the custody of those persons. There was an elaborate enquiry into the question whether or not Govindan and Damodaraswami were in the custody of the Sub-Inspectors of Police and in our judgment dated 28-4-1950, we found, after detailed examination of the evidence adduced on both sides, that the allegations in the counter affidavits filed by the Sub-Inspectors of Police were false and that Govindan and Damodaraswami were both in their custody on the material date. The petitions, however, were dismissed for other reasons. Govindan and Damodaraswami thereafter moved this Court to direct the prosecution of the Sub-Inspectors of Police for an offence under s. 193, Penal Code. Thosepetitions were heard by us after notice to the Sub-Inspectors of Police to show cause why a prosecution should not be launched and by our order dated 9-3-1951 we directed the prosecution of the Sub-Inspectors of Police under Section 193, Penal Code. These applications for leave are against the Order directing the prosecution of the Sub-Inspectors of Police. Though in the applications now filed Articles 182 and 134 of the Constitution of India were relied on, the arguments before us were confined to Article 134(1)(c) of the Constitution of India and Section 476B, Cr. P. C.

2. Mr. Ethiraj, learned counsel for the applicants raised a very novel and interesting question the decision of which depends upon the proper construction of Section 476B, Cr. P. C. and the arguments before us turned mostly on the construction of that section. The contention shortly stated is that under Section 476B the applicants are entitled as a matter of right to appeal to the Supreme Court without the leave of this Court under Article 134(1)(c) of the Constitution because this Court is subordinate to the Supreme Court within the meaning of Section 195 (3), Cr. P. C. That sub-section is as follows :

'For the purposes of this section, a Court shall be deemed to be subordinate to the Court to which appeals ordinarily lie from the appealable decrees or sentences of such former Court, or in the case of a civil Court from whose decrees no appeal ordinarily lies to the principal Court having ordinary original civil jurisdiction within the local limits of whose jurisdiction such civil Court is situate ; prorided that (a) where appeals lie to more than one Court, the appellate Court of inferior jurisdiction shall be the Court to which such Court shall be deemed to be subordinate, and (b) where appeals lie to a civil and also to a revenue Court, such Court shall be deemed to be subordinate to the oivil or revenue Court according to the nature of the case or proceeding in connection with which the offence is alleged to have been committed.'

3. The argument is that in view of Article 134 of the Constitution the Supreme Court must be treated as a Court to which appeals ordinarily lie from the appealable sentences of this Court and therefore this Court must be deemed to be subordinate to the Supreme Court. Under Article 134(1) of the Constitution, an appeal lies to the Supreme Court

'from any judgment, final order or sentence in a criminal proceeding of a High Court in the territory of India if the High Court-

(a) has on appeal reversed an order of acquittal of an accused person and sentenced him to death; or

(b) has withdrawn for trial before itself any case from any Court subordinate to its authority and has in such trial convicted the accused person and sentenced him to death; or

(c) certifies that the case is a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court.'

Before the Constitution came into force, the Privy Council was not a Court of appeal in criminal matters against the decisions of the High Court and under the Government of India Act, 1935, if the case involved a substantial question of law, whether it was a oivil or a criminal case, as to the interpretation of the Governmentof India Act, or any Order in Council made thereunder, an appeal lay to the Federal Court if the High Court certified to that effect. Appeals to the Privy Council in criminal matters were entertained only with the special leave of the Judicial Committee and that jurisdiction was exercised on the principles enunciated in the well-known Dillets case, (1837) 12 A. C. 459 and the other decisions of the Judicial Committee following it. A restricted and a very limited right of appeal therefore was recognised under s. 205, Government of India Act. Under the present Constitution, Article 132 takes the place of Section 205, Government of India Acts, 1935, and it is made clear by that article that it applies to civil and criminal and even other proceedinga. The requirement regarding the certificate by the High Court is retained. Article 133 deals with the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in appeals from the High Court in regard to civil matters. Article 134 which relates to criminal matters, it will be observed, enlarges the right of appeal and extends it to three matters enumerated in Sub-clause (1) of that article. Otherwise, the decision of the High Court in a criminal proceeding is final. The provision under Article 184 creating a light of appeal restricted and limited though it be was enough, it was argued by learned counsel for the applicants, to constitute the Supreme Court a Court to which appeals ordinarily lie from the appealable sentences of the High Court so as to make this Court a Court s subordinate to the Supreme Court in criminal matters. Can it be said that by the fact that in a limited class of cases an appeal lies to the Supreme Court, that Court is thereby constituted a Court to which appeals 'ordinarily lie' fr m the decisions of this Court in criminal matters? It must be observed that under that article, there is no right of appeal as a nutter of course except in the two cases enumerated in Clauses (a) and (b) of sub Clause (1).

4. What then is the meaning to be given to the expression 'appeals ordinarily lie' occurring in Sub-section (3) of Section 195, Cr. P. C.? The expression is used with reference to civil as well as criminal matters and in order to appreciate the import of that expreesion, it may be useful to bear in mind the scheme of appeals and the gradation of Courts provided by the Civil and Criminal Procedure Codes. In civil matters the right of appeal against decrees passed by any Court exercising original jurisdiction is conferred by Section 96, Civil P. C , and the forum to which the appeals lie is also indicated in the section as the Court authorised, to hear appeals from the decisions of such Court. This authorisation is to be found in the Civil Courts Acts of the various States. In Madras, for example, under Section 13, Madras Civil Couits Act, III [3] of 1873, regular or special appeals shall, when such appeals are allowed by law lie, from the decrees and orders of a District Court to the High Court and from the decreesand orders of subordinate Judges and District Munsifs to the District Court except when the value of the subject matter of the suit exceeds Rs. 5000. Power is reserved to invest the Subordinate Judges' Courts also with appellate jurisdiction against the decisions of the District Munsifs go that we have the District Munsif's Court, above it the Subordinate Judge's Court and higher still, the District Court and thereafter the High Court. Sections 404, 407, 408, 409 and 410 etc., Criminal P. C. provide for appeals from the sentences and orders of an inferior Court to a superior Court and the Courts also are indicated. The gradation of the Courts is complete. In matters in which an appeal is allowed by law, an appeal lies both under the Civil Procedure Code and the Criminal Procedure Code as a matter of right without any restriction such as a certificate or leave of the Court from whose decisions an appeal is sought to be preferred or that of the appellate Court. The expression, therefore, in Section 195 (3), Criminal P.C., 'the Court to which appeals ordinarily lie' must necessarily have reference to a higher Court to which an unrestricted right of appeal against the decisions of an inferior Court is provided. In re Anant Ramchandra, 11 Bom. 438 followed in Ramayya v. Surayya, 28 M. L. J. 486, the expression 'ordinarily lie' was construed as having reference to a tribunal to which a majority of the appeals are presented, i. e., the Court to which the appeals in the usual course will lie as a matter of right. If the superior Court is not entitled to entertain appeals as of right from the inferior Court but the right of appeal is limited to a particular class of cases and the right of appeal i-hedged in by conditions, it is difficult to hold that by such limited jurisdiction, the relationship between the superior Court and the inferior Court, is one of subordination. Merely because of the restricted and limited right of appeal to the Supreme Court under Article 134(1) of the Cons titution, it cannot be said that the Supreme Court is a Court of criminal appeal against the decisions of this Oourt in criminal matters. As observed by Fazl Ali J. in Pritam Singh v. The State, : 1950CriLJ1270 at , Article 134 constitutes the Supreme Court a Court of criminal appeal in a limited class of cases only and clearly implies that no appeal lies to it as a matter of course or right except in oases specified therein and at page 456 it was pointed out by the same learned Judge that the Supreme Court was not an ordinary Court of criminal appeal (italics are ours). To the same effect is the view of Gajendragadkar J in W. H. King v. Emperor, : AIR1950Bom380 where also the learned Judge points out that the Supreme Court was not constituted a Court of criminal appeal under Article 134, notwithstanding the limited jurisdiction conferred by that Article on the Supreme Court to entertain appeals in certain matters.

5. Learned counsel for the applicants invited our attention to some decisions of this Court and other Courts as throwing light on the interpretation of Sub-section (3) of Section 195, Criminal P. C. in Munisami Mudaliar v. Rajaratnam Pillai, 45 Mad. 928, which had to deal with old Section 195(6) and (7), Civil P. C., it was held that a Division Bench of the appellate side of the High Court could entertain appeals from a decision of a single Judge sitting on the Original Side of the High Court and that a single Judge to that extent was subordinate to the Division Bench as appeals would ordinarily lie from a single Judge on the original side to the Division Bench of the appellate side of the High Court. Coutts-Trotter J. was careful enough to observe at page 335 that by this subordination it was not meant to hold that a single Judge was subordinate to a Division Bench in any other sense and for the purpose of any other section or any other Act. It was restricted only to matters falling under Section 195. Under Clause 15, Letters Patent, an appeal ordinarily lies from a judgment of the single Judge to the Division Bench. The decision, therefore is correct, if we may say so with respect in holding that appealswould ordinarily lie from a single Judge to a Division Bench in those circumstances. In Kalyanji v. Ramdeen Lala, 48 Mad. 395, all thatwas decided was that an appeal against an order of a Judge of the Presidency Small Clauses Court Madras, directing prosecution under 8. 476 Criminal P. C. for offences under Sections 193 and 196, Penal Code, lies to the appellate side of the High Court and not to the Full Bench of the Small Cause Court under Section 38, Presidency Small Cause Courts Act and that is for the simple reason that the right conferred by Section 38 of the Act to direct a new trial was not in the nature of an appeal. There is a decision of a single Judge of the Allahabad High Court in Amanul Huq v. Girdhar Gopal : AIR1934All896 in which it was held that even if the decree was appealable to a limited extent, as when an appeal lies to a District Judge against the decision of a Collector, the case would come within the ambit of Section 195(3). The question was not examined on principle and there is no discussion of the point in the case and it is, therefore, difficult to accept the decision as laying down the law correctly But the question seems to be covered by proviso (b) to Section 195 (3). Criminal P.C. which contemplates appeals against decrees partly to a civil Court and partly to a Revanue Court. If appeals lie to a civil Court and also to a revenue Court, it is provided that such Courts shall be subordinate to the civil or revenue Court according to the nature of the case or proceeding in connection with which the offence is alleged to have been committed. In the case cited above the appeals under the Agra Tenancy Act lay to tbe District Court as well as to the Collector. In certain matters, the appeals had to he filed before the Collector while in others they had tobe filed in the District Court. The decision, therefore, may be treated as covered by the proviso (b) to Section 195 (3), Criminal P. C. That does not however support the contention of the applicants. Unless there is a clear indication in the constitution to alter the law as it stood before and to constitute the Supreme Court a Court of criminal jurisdiction to which appeals would ordinarily lie from decisions of the High Court, it should not be, in our opinion, presumed that by the existence of a right of appeal in a limited class of cases, it is converted into a Court of criminal appeal The contention, therefore, of Mr. Ethiraj that his clients are entitled to an automatic right of appeal under Section 476B, Criminal P. C., in our opinion cannot be accepted.

6. There is another aspect of tbe matter which disentitles the applicants from claiming an automatic right of appeal under Section 476B, Criminal P. C. Assuming that the contention of the applicants is correct in view of the language of Article 372 of the Constitution, the right of appeal, if any, under Section 476B, Criminal P. C., must yield to the restricted right of appeal under Article 134 as all the laws in force in the territory of India immediately before the commencement of the Constitution are to continue to be in foree but subject to other provisions of tbe Constitution. The right of apteal, therefore, under Article 134 overrides the right if any under Section 476B, Criminal P C.

7. The only other alternative contention is that leave should be granted under Article 134(1)(c) of the Constitution and that we should certify the case to be a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court. The expression that 'the case is a fit one for appeal' occurs also in Clause (c) of Article 133(1) and occurred also in Section 109(c), Civil P. C. The meaning of the expression was considered by the Judicial Cimmittee under Section 109(c), Civil P. C., and also by the High Courts and the principle laid down in order to determine whether a case is a fit one for appeal to the Superior Court or not is that it should raise some question of law of public or private importance, irrespective of the money valuation and it is not even enough that it raises a question of law. The decision may be important because it giverns numerous other cases or there may be other suits in which similar questions are raised and it is only in such exceptional circumstances that a certificate should issue that the case is a fit one for appeal. Under Article 136 the Supreme Court has got very wide power of granting special leave to appeal from any judgment, decree, determination sentence or order in any cause or matter passed or made by any Court or tribunal in the territory of India. It is not restricted to High Courts and the power of tbe Supreme Court to grant special have is unlimited. The principles on which the Federal Court would exercise its jurisdiction in granting special leave have been elaborately considered by Mahajan J. in Kapil Deo Singh v. The King,A. I. R. 1950 P. C. 80 and by Fazl. Ali J. in Pritam Singh v. The State, : 1950CriLJ1270 . In the latter case it is stated by the learned Judgeat p. 459 :

'Generally speaking this Court will not grant special leave unless it is shown that exceptional and special circumstances exist, that substantial and grave injustice has been done and that the case in question presents features of sufficient gravity to warrant a review of the decision appealed against.'

The decision of Mahajan J. referred to above was also cited. Of course, the Supreme Court, as observed by Fazl Ali J. is not bound to follow the principles laid down by the Judicial Oommittee too rigidly; but the principle on which the Supreme Court would act under Article 136 is as stated above.

8. We have adverted to Article 136 and its interpretation by the Supreme Court for the reason that in construing Article 134(1)(c) it will not be correct to assume that the principles governing the grant of a certificate under Article 134(1)(c) and the granting of special leave by the Supreme Court under Article 136 are the same. In some of the decisions, if we may say so with respect, this distinction was overlooked. It is, however, unnecessary to elaborate this question. Article 134(1)(c) came up for consideration by this Court in Re Sakhthivelu 1950-2 Mad. L. Jour. 245 and Re M. Paddaya, : AIR1951Mad329 . In the latter case with reference to Article 134(1)(c) it was observed that the decisions construing Section 109, Civil P. C., such as Banarsi Prasad v. Kashi Kishen Narain, 28 Ind. App. 11 and Radhakrishna Iyer v. Swaminatha Iyer, 48 Ind. App. 31 would equally apply to Article 134(1)(c) and that a certificate of fitness should be granted only in special cases of great public or private importance and that the certificate should also clearly state the grounds on which it is based. There is a later decision in Narayana v. Kesappa, 1951 1 M. L. J. 296, where also the decisions inter-preting Section 109(c), Civil P. C., were applied to construe Article 134(1)(c) and that the question involved must be a question of general or public importance. We do not think it is necessary to refer to the observations of the learned Judges with reference to the interpretation of Article 136 as in our opinion Article 134(1)(c) must be construed independently of Article 136.

9. On the facts of the present case, it is impossible to find any question of public or private importance and even a question of law. On a review of the evidence we came to the conclusion that the affidavits sworn to by the Sub-Inspectors of Police were false and we thought, therefore, that it was expedient in the interests of justice that they should be prosecuted under Section 193, Penal Code. Learned counsel for the applicants was not able to formulate any question of law which would justify the granting of a certificate of fitness under Article 134(1)(c). The applicants, therefore, are not entitled to leave and the applications have to be dismissed.

10. Before closing it must be observed that in these petitions we gave notice to the petitioners in the Habeas Corpus application as the Government has been supporting the ease of the Sub-Inspectors and they were practically the respondents in the Habeas Corpus petitions. In the interests of justice, we thought that the petitioners should be heard in the matter so as to enable us to reach a correct conclusion on the questions raised in these applications.

11. We certify that this order involves a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of Articles 134(1) and 372 of the Constitution and is, therefore, a fit case for appeal to the Supreme Court under Article 132.


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