1. This is an application which purports to be under Section 491 of the Criminal P.C. and Article 226 of the Constitution. The petitioner is one Seetharaman who has been arrayed as accused No. 6 in Criminal Case No. 9023 of 1966 on the file of the City Magistrate, Bangalore. We are informed that the said case is still in the preliminary stages of the enquiry before the learned Magistrate. According to the charge-sheet, the allegations against the present petitioner are as follows:
That between 21.8.1965 and 22.3.1966, the-petitioner (A-6) along with the other (incused persons entered into a criminal conspiracy at Bangalore, Trichy, Kudli, Mysore and other places with the common object of manufacturing forged ten rupee currency notes knowing them to be forged, to purchase or sell forged ten rupee currency notes and that thereby they all committed an offence punishable under Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code. The other charge so far as the present petitioner is concerned was that he prepared blocks of rupees ten currency notes at Madurai knowing or having reason to believe-that they were intended to be need for counterfeiting currency notes and delivered them to A 5 at Dharmapuri prior to 9.8.1965 and he was found in possession of a printed proof of ten rupee currency note when his premises at Dharmapuri was searched by C.W. 15 and thereby he committed an offence punishable-under Section 489D of the Indian Penal Code.
It may be stated that the proof of the ten rupee counterfeit currency note referred to above and which is stated to have been seized from his premises by C.W. 15, was in the course of a search of the premises of the petitioner on 15.2.1966. So far as the preparation of the blocks of counterfeit tea rupee currency notes are concerned, according to the allegations made by the' prosecution against the present petitioner, the said blocks had been prepared by the petitioner at Madurai. Two blocks are stated to have been recovered. One was a completed block and the other was stated to be an incomplete block. (It may be stated that in Sessions Case No. 183 of 1966 in the Court of the Assistant Session-Judge, Madurai Division at Dindigul, the completed block had been marked as M.O. 8 and the complete block had been marked as M.O. 41. From the judgment of that learned Assistant Sessions Judge, a copy of which has been produced before us, it is seen that the unfinished block marked as M.O. 41 in that Sessions Case had been seized from the house of the present petitioner, on 15.2.1966. The completed block M.O. 8 which had been sold by the petitioner and had thereafter been given to the printer-(who is A-5 in the criminal case before the City Magistrate) was produced by the printer on 2.2.1966, after he had been arrested by C.W. 15 (Inspector of Police, Dindigul North).
The petitioner was a block maker. He had participated in a conspiracy for the preparation of a block for the manufacture of counterfeit ten rupee currency notes, in pursuance of that conspiracy he had manufactured the above said two-blocks (marked as M.O. 8 and M.O. 41 in the Dindigul Sessions Case) and had said the same to some of the persons who were tried in the said Dindigal Sessions Case. The completed block had been given to the printer who also was an accused in the Dindigual Sessions Case and who has been arrayed as accused No. 5 in Criminal Case pending before the City Magistrate. The petitioner had also prepared the incomplete proof of a ten rupee note, by the use of the completed block. As already stated he had prepared another unfinished block. It is relevant to state that all these materials had been recovered in the course of the investigation by the Dindigul Police which ultimately resulted in the Sessions Case before the Assistant Sessions Judge at Dindigul. The petitioner having accepted the pardon tendered to him under Section 887, Criminal I.P.C. had given evidence for the prosecution in that Sessions Case and had been examined as P.W. 9. All these facts can be gathered from the Judgment of the learned Assistant Sessions Judge, Dindigul, From the allegations made as against the petitioner in the charge-sheet, as well as from the facts which have been set out in the judgment in the above Sessions Case, the participation by the present petitioner in the offences which were the subject-matter of the trial in the said Sessions 'Case was only between 21st March 1965 and 15th February 1968 (which was the date on which the house of the petitioner was searched boy the Inspector of Police, Dindigul.
No allegations have been made in the charge-sheet (in the criminal case) that there was any participation by the present petitioner in any conspiracy subsequent to 15th February 1966. Nor has any allegation been male that after the said date he had manufactured any block or had in any way taken part in the process of printing any counterfeit currency notes or in uttering the came. Mr. B.M. Ramachandra Rao, the learned Advocate appearing for the petitioner, has contended before us that in the copies of the statements of witnesses recorded in the course of the investigation and furnished to the accused under the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, there is no allegation to the effect that the petitioner has participated to any extent, subsequent to 15th February 1966 either in preparing any block for the manufacture of counterfeit currency notes or had taken any part in the process of preparing any counterfeit currency notes or in any conspiracy entered into for that purpose, or had abetted is uttering any counterfeit currency notes. In view of this contention of Mr. Ramachandra Rao, we requested the learned State Public Prosecutor appearing on behalf of the State, to look into all the papers available with him and to tell us whether there was any statement or material in the records of the investigation, to show that subsequent to 15th February 1966 the present petitioner had in any way committed any act on the basis of which he could be charge fur any of the offences alleged against him in the charge sheet. After taking time for that purpose, the learned State Public Prosecutor submitted before us that there was no such material in the records of the investigation.
2. 4508 counterfeit ten rupee currency notes are stated to have been brought to Bangalore on 9th August 1965 by the person who is the first accused in the said Criminal Case before the city Magistrate, Bangalore. They were seized by the Bangalore City Police on 22nd February 1966. The investigation, consequent on the said seizure of those counterfeit notes, has resulted in the charge-sheet being placed before the City Magistrate, Bangalore, in C.C. No. 9023 of 1968.
3. It is undisputed that even before the charge-sheet was placed in the Dindigul Sessions Case, the present petitioner had been tendered a pardon under the provisions of Section 337 of the Criminal P.C. and was treated as au approver. He was examined as P.W. 9 by the said Sessions Judge at Dindigul. The learned Assistant Sessions Judge has stated towards the end of his judgment that approver Seetharaman had complied with the conditions of pardon and he directed that Seetharaman be released. The main contention advanced on behalf of the petitioner is that the pardon continues to be operative and the in the facts and circumstances of the case, there is a legal bar to the petitioner being prosecuted for the offences alleged against him in the charge-sheet in the criminal case. The very last date on which the petitioner had anything to do with the blocks for the manufacture of counterfeit currency notes and the proof of a, counterfeit ten rupee currency note was on 15.2.1966. It is not even alleged in the present criminal case before the City Magistrate, Bangalore, that the petitioner had in any way participated in any Criminal act pertaining to the preparation of any blocks or manufacture of counterfeit currency notes or the uttering of the same subsequent to 15th February 1963. As already stated, the pardon was tendered to the petitioner and accepted by him, subsequent to 15th February 1966 that is, the pardon was tendered and accepted on 8.6.1966 (as can be seen from para 25 of the judgment of the learned Assistant Sessions Judge. Dindigal, read together with the list of exhibits appended to that judgment). The fast of the present petitioner having prepared a completed block for the manufacture of counterfeit ten rupee currency notes, his having been in possession of a proof of a ten rupee currency note printed out of that block, and the fact of his having prepared also an incomplete block for the manufacture of counterfeit ten rupee currency notes, were all matters which had been disclosed in the course of the investigation which resulted in the trial before the learned Assistant Session judge of Dindigul. The extent to which the petitioner tad participated in the conspiracy to prepare the said blocks and the counterfeit currency notes for the purpose of putting such currency notes into circulation, had all become known in the course of the said investigation. It was after a full and complete disclosure of all the materials within his knowledge, that the petitioner had been tendered a pardon which was accepted by the petitioner. There is not even an allegation in the criminal case before the learned City Magistrate, that the petitioner had not either complied with the conditions of the pardon or had not made a full and complete disclosure of all the lasts which were within his knowledge. It may also be stated that there is no certificate by the Public Prosecutor as required under Section 339 of Criminal P.C. In these circumstances, it seems to us, that the contention of Mr. Ramchandra Rao that the pardon which had been tendered to the petitioner and had been accepted by him, continues to be operative and that therefore, there is a legal bar to the petitioner being prosecuted for any offence or which he could have been prosecuted before the learned Assistant Sessions Judge of Dindigul, but for the grant and acceptance of the pardon. The learned State Public Prosecutor did not dispute the proposition that as regards any offence in respect of which there is an effective pardon, there cannot be a prosecution of the person protested by the pardon. But, what he tried to suggest was that the petitioner may not have disclosed the fact of these 4508 ten rupee counterfeit currency notes having been printed out of the block which had been prepared by the petitioner. He also sought to contend that the offences against the petitioner as stated in the charge-sheet, are distinct and separate from the offences which were the subject matter of the Dindigal Sessions Case. We do not think that there is any strength in these submissions made by the learned State Public Prosecutor. As already indicated, there is no allegation in the charge, sheet that after 15.2.1966, the petitioner had in any way participated in any criminal act whether by way of manufacture of blocks or manufacture of the counterfeit currency notes or uttering of such notes. Even in the records pertaining to the investigation, there is no material to indicate any such participation; we say so on the basis of the statement made by the learned State Public Prosecutor to the effect that there is no such material in the said accord. There is not even an allegation that the petitioner had any knowledge of the existence of these 4508 ten rupee counterfeit currency notes or that he had concealed such knowledge. We find no force in the contention that the charges in the charge-sheet against the petitioner are distinct and separate from those offences which were the subject-matter of the trial in the Dindingal Sessions case and in respect of which the petitioner had been granted a pardon. In these circumstances, merely because these 4508 counter. I fact currency notes had escaped detection in the course of the investigation by the Dindigal Police and were seized by the Bangalore Police on 22.2.1966, the petitioner cannot be deprived of the protection which available to him under the pardon which had been tendered to him and had been accepted by him on 8.6.1966.
4. As stated in A.L. Mehra v. State a pardon is an act of grace which exempts the individual on whom it is bestowed, from the punishment the law inflicts for a crime he has committed. It is also stated therein that it is in substance and effect a contact between the State on the one hand and the person to whom it is granted on the other and that if the conditions of the grant of pardon are satisfied, the pardon takes full effect. In : 1960CriLJ524 , The State v. Hiralal Girdharilal Kothari the Supreme Court has stated that a pardon tendered under Section 337 is a protection from prosecution and that failure to comply with the conditions on which it is tendered removes that protection. It is not disputed that if there has been compliance with the conditions upon which the tender of the pardon had been made, the approver would be protected from prosecution with respect to all offences committed in connection with the matter giving rise to the offence for which the pardon was tendered. On acceptance of the pardon, the approver is required to make a thorough and complete disclosure of all the facts within his knowledge bearing upon the offence or offences as to which he gave evidence the said facts being hereinafter referred to as the relevant facts. The object of requiring such a thorough and complete disclosure on all the relevant fasts, is which a view to ascertain whether any corroboration is available elsewhere, to the version given by him. In order that the approver may make a thorough and complete disclosure of all the relevant facts, it may not be correct to take a very narrow view of the effect of a pardon with respect to offences which appeared to have been committed by the approver in connection with the matter giving rise to the offence or offences for which pardon was tendered. All the criminal acts of the petitioner had been known and disclosed by the time the pardon was tendered to him in the course of the investigation which led to the trial before the learned Sessions Judge of Dindigul. The effect of the pardon accepted by the present petitioner was to protect him from prosecution for any of the offences committed by him in connection with the offences for which the others were tried in the Dindigul Sessions Case : but for the immunity accruing from the pardon, the petitioner also could have been tried in that Sessions Case. As long as that pardon continues to be operative. he cannot be prosecuted for any of the criminal acts connected with the offences which were the subject-matter of the Dindigul Sessions trial. From the circumstances above stated and from the allegations in the charge-sheet against petitioner, it is plain that the offences for which the petitioner is now sought to be prosecuted, are offences connected with those which were the subject-matter of the Dindigal Sessions Cage and in respect of which he had been granted a pardon. It has not been suggested on behalf of the State either that the said pardon has been revoked or that no pardon could have been tendered under the provisions of Section 387 of the Criminal P.C., in respect of the offences for which the petitioner is now sought to be prosecuted. As contended by the learned Advocate for the petitioner as long as the pardon continues to be operative, there is a legal bar for the prosecution of the approver is respect of all criminal acts connected with the offences which were the subject matter of the Dindigal Sessions Case.
5. In the course of the arguments, the learned Advocate for the petitioner submitted that this was a fit case in which the Court should exercise its inherent powers under Section 561A of the Criminal P.C. and quash the criminal proceedings as against the petitioner, which are pending before the City Magistrate, Bangalore. Even though the power under Section 561A of the Criminal P.C. should be sparingly used, we are satisfied that this is a proper and fit case in which an order should be made, as prayed for by the learned Advocate for the petitioner. In a decision of the Supreme Court reported in : 1960CriLJ1239 R.P. Kapur v. State of Punjab, the Supreme Court has observed at page 869, as regards the scope of the inherent power of the High Court under Section 561. A, as follows:
It is well established that the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court can be exercised to quash proceedings in a proper case either to prevent the abuse of the process of any court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice. Ordinarily criminal proceedings instituted against the accused parson must be tried under the provisions of the Code, and the High Court would be reluctant to inference with the said proceedings at an interlocutory stage. It is not possible, desirable or expedient to lay down any inflexible rule which would govern the exercise of this inherent jurisdiction. However, we may indicate some categories of oases where the inherent jurisdiction can and should be exercised for quashing the proceedings. There may be cases where it may be possible for the High Court to take the view that the institution or continuance of criminal proceedings against the accused person may amount to the abuse of the process of the court or that the quashing of the impugned proceedings would secure the ends of justice. If the criminal proceeding in question is in respect of an offence alleged to have been committed by an accused person and it manifestly appears that there is a legal bar against the institution or continuance of the said proceeding the High Court would be justified in quashing the proceeding on that ground.
As already stated, the existence of an effective pardon is a legal bar for instituting the prosecution against the petitioner. It would be an abuse of the process of the Court to allow such prosecution to continue against the petitioner and would be necessary, in order to secure the ends of justice, to quash the same. Accordingly, we make an order that the criminal proceedings against the petitioner in the criminal case now pending against him before the City Magistrate, shall stand quashed.
6. The learned State Public Prosecutor sought to contend that the detention of the petitioner in custody was under the judicial orders of the Magistrate and that, therefore, it cannot be viewed as illegal detention. It was contended by him that if that be so, the power under Section 491 of the Criminal P.C. ought not to be exercised by the issue of a direction for the release of the petitioner. But this argument overlooks one important aspect of the case. Consequent on our order quashing the criminal proceedings as against the petitioner, his detention will become improper. Therefore, we see no impediment to the issue of a direction under Section 491, Criminal P.C. requiring that the petitioner should be set at liberty forthwith. This order shall be communicated without delay to respondent 4 who is the Superintendent, Central Jail, Bangalore at which place the petitioner is stated to be detained in custody. A copy of the order shall also be sent to the City Magistrate, Bangalore.