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In Re: Rukmani Ammal and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtChennai
Decided On
Judge
Reported inAIR1916Mad1059; 29Ind.Cas.98
AppellantIn Re: Rukmani Ammal and anr.
Excerpt:
criminal procedure code (act v of 1898), sections 4(h), 199--complaint--petition by husband simply for coercing wife, whether a complaint--magistrate directing police inquiry--charge sheet preferred before another magistrate--jurisdiction. - .....house of the second accused with her jewels and some property. keshachari went to the house of the deputy magistrate at about 9 p.m. and the 1st accused, his wife, was there. he presented a complaint (exhibit e) describing himself as the complainant and the present 1st and 2nd accused as the accused. the complaint runs as follows: the 2nd accused enticed away the 1st accused, the wife of the complainant. the 2nd accused made away with the jewels valued at rs. 2,050 and 3 silver vessels.... the 1st accused abetted this theft. so i charge the 1st accused under sections 498 and 379/109 and the 2nd under section 379, indian penal pray inquiry and justice.' according to the evidence of the deputy magistrate, he received exhibit e and explained the gist of it and the consequences to the 1st.....
Judgment:

Kumaraswami Sastri, J.

1. This is an application to revise the order of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Vellore, on the grounds that he had no jurisdiction to try the charges against the accused and that his order dated 8th October 1914 is illegal.

2. On the 13th February 1914, the 1st accused, who is the wife of the deceased Seshachari, Inspector of Police, is alleged to have left her husband's house, gone to the house of the second accused with her jewels and some property. Keshachari went to the house of the Deputy Magistrate at about 9 P.M. and the 1st accused, his wife, was there. He presented a complaint (Exhibit E) describing himself as the complainant and the present 1st and 2nd accused as the accused. The complaint runs as follows: The 2nd accused enticed away the 1st accused, the wife of the complainant. The 2nd accused made away with the jewels valued at Rs. 2,050 and 3 silver vessels.... The 1st accused abetted this theft. So I charge the 1st accused under Sections 498 and 379/109 and the 2nd under Section 379, Indian Penal Pray inquiry and justice.' According to the evidence of the Deputy Magistrate, he received Exhibit E and explained the gist of it and the consequences to the 1st accused and told her that he would take the sworn statement of Seshachari and after going through that formality, he would take cognisance of the offence and issue a warrant for her arrest. This is what he says as to what subsequently happened: 'The 1st accused then said she would deliver up the properties. There was, therefore, then no cause for further action in the matter. She went away with the late Mr. Seshachari. Seshachari did not afterwards come to the until the 20th idem. He mentioned to me that his wife had not delivered the jewels and that she was staying away from him in a separate house. He expressed that all endeavours at reconciliation had failed and he requested that I should take action on his complaint. I was going to take his sworn statement, when he happened to look at my watch on my table and said it was Rahu Kalam and that he would come again later on and make the sworn statement before me.' In cross-examination he states: I wrote on it (Exhibit E) 'sworn statement of T.M. Seshachari.' I wrote it with a view to examine him on oath. After writing this down, I explained the situation to accused, and as she agreed to surrender the properties, I did not record the sworn statement. After the woman agreed to surrender the properties, Seshachari did not press me to record a sworn statement. Seshachari did not tell me that he would recover the jewels from the woman and that no further action need be taken.'

3. Seshachari committed suicide the next day and his son preferred a formal complaint to the 2nd Class Magistrate charging the two accused under the sections above mentioned. When he was examined by the Magistrate he stated as follows: 'My father presented only this statement (Exhibit E) to Mr. Saldanha on Friday. He did not present the complaint. Subsequently thinking that he may smoothly get back the properties he came away, saying that he would present a complaint. He was accordingly inquiring for the clue. He was saying that he would go and give the complaint this morning, meanwhile he shot himself.'

4. On receiving the complaint of the present complainant the second Class Magistrate took cognisance of the offence and issued a warrant for the 1st accused's arrest and apprehension. After issuing the warrant on the 22nd, he asked the Station House Officer to investigate the case. While matters were in this state, the Police laid a charge sheet before the Deputy Magistrate under Sections 498 and 379 of the Indian Penal Code and he proceeded to inquire into the case. Objection was taken to the jurisdiction of the Deputy Magistrate on two grounds, namely, (1) that there was no complaint as required by Section 199 of the Criminal Procedure Code so as to give the Court jurisdiction to take cognisance of the offence under Section 498 and (2) that the second Class Magistrate having had cognisance of the case and having referred it to the Police for inquiry and report, the Police had no power to prefer a charge sheet before the Deputy Magistrate and that the Deputy Magistrate had no jurisdiction to take cognisance of the offence.

5. The first question is whether Exhibit E is a complaint, satisfying the provisions of Section 199 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which requires that a complaint should be made by the husband of the woman, or in his absence, by some person who had care of such woman on his behalf at the time when such offence was committed. 'Complaint' is defined in Section 4 of the Criminal Procedure Code as the allegation made orally or in writing to a Magistrate, with a view to his taking action under the Code, that some person, whether known or unknown, has committed an offence and the short point is whether when Seshachari went to the Magistrate's house at night and presented Exhibit E, he did so with a view to the Magistrate taking action under the Criminal Procedure Code or whether his object was simply to intimidate his wife and get the return of the jewels without having recourse to criminal proceedings. On a careful consideration of the evidence of the Deputy Magistrate, I am of opinion that the object of Seshachari was not to get the Magistrate to take action, but simply to have recourse to him for coercing his wife to give back the jewels which she had taken. He and his wife were in the house of the Deputy Magistrate at about 9 P.M. and when the Deputy Magistrate wanted to take the sworn statement of Seshachari as required by Section 209 of the Criminal Procedure Code, he was expressly asked not to do so on the ground that the accused had agreed to give back the jewels. The Magistrate himself says that he thought there was no cause for taking any further action in the matter. It is difficult to believe that, if the Magistrate was approached in his official capacity and the object of Seshachari was to prefer a complaint, the Magistrate would hike allowed the parties to compound the offence of theft and to leave the place quietly together. The evidence of Seshachari's son, to which I have referred, also shows that, after the failure of negotiations with the accused for the return of the jewels, he wanted to file another formal complaint before the Magistrate. Even assuming that Exhibit E was sufficient as a complaint under Section 199, Criminal Procedure Code, of an offence under Section 498 of the Indian Penal Code, I am of opinion that when the parties left the place together, the husband agreeing to drop the proceedings owing to his wife having agreed to give back the jewels, a fresh complaint would be necessary and that it is not open to persons after the husband's death to revive the proceedings which admittedly had been dropped. Having regard to the evidence in the case and the conduct of the parties, I am of opinion that there was DC complaint under Section 199, Criminal Procedure Code, such as would entitle the Magistrate to take cognisance of the case after the death of Seshachari. I would, therefore, quash the charge under Section 418, Indian Penal Code.

6. As regards the charge of theft the second Class Magistrate had cognisance of the case and it is difficult to see how the Police, to whom the charge of theft was referred for inquiry and report, can change the forum by preferring a charge sheet before the Deputy Magistrate. The case ought to be formally transferred and till then I do not think the Deputy Magistrate had any jurisdiction to try it. I think that the proper course is to quash all proceedings taken by the Deputy Magistrate and to transfer the case, in so far as it relates to theft against the 1st accused which was filed before the Sub-Magistrate, to the Deputy Magistrate for disposal.


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