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Court on Its Own Motion Vs. Sh. Shankroo - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtHimachal Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1983CriLJ63
AppellantCourt on Its Own Motion
RespondentSh. Shankroo
Excerpt:
- .....i decided to issue a notice of enhancement one of the reasons for issuing this notice was that illicit felling of trees is rampant in the state and the connivance of some forest officials and others is common knowledge. in the meantime the respondent filed an appeal against his conviction and sentence though he had pleaded guilty. the learned sessions judge found that the procedure adopted by the then chief judicial magistrate, nahan, camp at rajgarh, was defective. the defect was that the respondent was not given the substance of the accusation with which he was charged. i find that at serial no. 6 of the form maintained in terms of section 263 of the cr. p.c. the offence complained of is shown as : '33 i. f. act'. this was indeed a serious breach of the procedure. it was the duly.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Vyas Dey Misra, C.J.

1. When it came to my notice that the respondent has been only fined for offence under Section 33 of the Indian Forest Act, I decided to issue a notice of enhancement One of the reasons for issuing this notice was that illicit felling of trees is rampant in the State and the connivance of some forest officials and others is common knowledge. In the meantime the respondent filed an appeal against his conviction and sentence though he had pleaded guilty. The learned Sessions Judge found that the procedure adopted by the then Chief Judicial Magistrate, Nahan, Camp at Rajgarh, was defective. The defect was that the respondent was not given the substance of the accusation with which he was charged. I find that at serial No. 6 of the form maintained in terms of Section 263 of the Cr. P.C. the offence complained of is shown as : '33 I. F. Act'. This was indeed a serious breach of the procedure. It was the duly of the trial court to give the substance of the offence by mentioning necessary facts which constituted the offence.

2. After going through the judgment of the learned Sessions Judge acquitting the respondent on the ground that the procedure adopted by the trial court was not correct, I had a mind to interfere since I felt that the proper order should have been to order a retrial. It appears that the judicial officers are not in the habit of giving serious attention to the rampant illicit felling of trees in the Stale and are accustomed to take these offences lightly. I have still to come across a case where a judicial officer has awarded sentence of imprisonment for such offences. The judiciary must keep alive as to what is happening around them, The illicit felling of trees has resulted in denuding the wealth of the nation and causing other miseries to the people. Such offence should have been taken seriously.

3. However. Mr. Bhawani Singh, learned Counsel for the respondent, has pointed out two serious defects. One is that the challan is barred by lime. The offence is stated to have been committed on 26th March. 1979 but. the challan was presented in the court on 11th Aug., 1980. The offence under Section 33 of the Forest Act is punishable with imprisonment, for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees.' or with both Under Section 468 of the Cr. P.C. the period of limitation has been prescribed. Courts are prohibited from taking cognizance of an offence after the expiry of the period of limitation provided under this section. Under Sub-section (2) (b) the period of limitation is one year if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year. Therefore, the court could lake cognizance of the offence in question within one year of the commission of the offence. Since the challan was filed after one year, the court had no jurisdiction to lake cognizance of the same. In these circumstances, I have to discharge the notice given by me since it is no use sending the case back for retrial.

4. Before parting with the case, I am constrained to remark that the Chief Judicial Magistrate does not seem to be aware of the punishment which is provided under Section 33 of the Forest Act since the fine levied is of Rs. 1,000/-. Under Section 33 of the Act the fine could extend only up to Rs. 500/-. This shows the slipshod method in which such cases are dealt with. Moreover, the connivance of the forest officials concerned is writ large because they sleep over the challans and let the period of limitation expire and ensure acquittals. This speaks volume of the so-called anxiety of the State to stop the illicit felling of the trees. I hope that suitable action will be taken against the erring officials. Let a copy of this order be sent to the State Government.


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