Conditions for grant of valid sanction for prosecution under PC Act of 1988

Grant of sanction is a sacrosanct act and is intended to provide safeguard to a public servant against frivolous and vexatious litigation.

b) The sanctioning authority after being apprised of all the facts, must be of an opinion that prima­facie a case is made out against the public servant.

c) Thus, for a valid sanction the sanctioning authority must be apprised of all the relevant material and relevant facts in relation to the commission of the offence.

d) This application of mind by the sanctioning authority is a sine qua non for a valid sanction.

e) The ratio of the sanction order must speak for itself and should enunciate that the sanctioning authority has gone through the entire record of the investigation. Thus, the sanction order must expressly show that the sanctioning authority has perused the material placed before it, and after considering the circumstances in the case against the public servant, has granted sanction. Continue reading “Conditions for grant of valid sanction for prosecution under PC Act of 1988”

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Election: non-disclosure of full particulars of criminal cases pending against a candidate, at the time of filing of nomination

Rule of Law in a Democratic Society:

In a respectable and elevated constitutional democracy purity of election, probity in governance, sanctity of individual dignity, sacrosanctity of rule of law, certainty and sustenance of independence of judiciary, efficiency and acceptability of bureaucracy, credibility of institutions, integrity and respectability of those who run the institutions and prevalence of mutual deference among all the wings of the State are absolutely significant, in a way, imperative. They are not only to be treated as essential concepts and remembered as glorious precepts but also to be practised so that in the conduct of every individual they are concretely and fruitfully manifested. The crucial recognised ideal which is required to be realised is eradication of criminalisation of politics and corruption in public life. When criminality enters into the grass-root level as well as at the higher levels there is a feeling that ‘monstrosity’ is likely to wither away the multitude and eventually usher in a dreadful fear that would rule supreme creating an incurable chasm in the spine of the whole citizenry. In such a situation the generation of today, in its effervescent ambition and volcanic fury, smothers the hopes, aspirations and values of tomorrow’s generation and contaminate them with the idea to pave the path of the past, possibly thinking, that is the noble tradition and corruption can be a way of life and one can get away with it by a well decorated exterior. But, an intervening and pregnant one, there is a great protector, and an unforgiving one, on certain occasions and some situations, to interdict – “The law’, the mightiest sovereign in a civilised society.

Non-disclosure of full particulars of criminal cases pending against a candidate:

Continue reading “Election: non-disclosure of full particulars of criminal cases pending against a candidate, at the time of filing of nomination”

Power of police officer to seize immoveable property

Money is moveable property:

Money, as per clause (7) of Section 2 of the Sales of Goods Act, 1930, is neither goods nor movable property, albeit Section 22 of the IPC defines the term ‘movable property’ to include corporeal property of every description, except land and things attached to the earth or permanently fastened to anything which is attached to the earth. The expression ‘movable property’ has not been specifically defined in the Code. In terms of Section 2(y) of the Code, words and meanings defined in the IPC would equally be applicable to the Code. Money, therefore, would be property for the purposes of the Code. Money is not an immovable property.
 

Section 102 Cr.P.C. postulates seizure of the property.

Immovable property cannot, in its strict sense, be seized, though documents of title, etc. relating to immovable property can be seized, taken into custody and produced. Immovable property can be attached and also locked/sealed. It could be argued that the word ‘seize’ would include such action of attachment and sealing. Seizure of immovable property in this sense and manner would in law require dispossession of the person in occupation/possession of the immovable property, unless there are no claimants, which would be rare.

Language of Section 102 of the Code does not support the interpretation that the police officer has the power to dispossess a person in occupation and take possession of an immovable property in order to seize it. In the absence of the Legislature conferring this express or implied power under Section 102 of the Code to the police officer, we would hesitate and not hold that this power should be inferred and is implicit in the power to effect seizure. Equally important, for the purpose of Criminal Appeal arising out of interpretation is the scope and object of Section 102 of the Code, which is to help and assist investigation and to enable the police officer to collect and collate evidence to be produced to prove the charge complained of and set up in the charge sheet. The Section is a part of the provisions concerning investigation undertaken by the police officer. After the charge sheet is filed, the prosecution leads and produces evidence to secure conviction. Continue reading “Power of police officer to seize immoveable property”

Delay in trial of offence under Prevention of Corruption Act.

No time limit can be stipulated for disposal of the criminal trial. The delay caused has to be weighed on the factual score, regard being had to the nature of the offence and the concept of social justice and the cry of the collective.

In the case at hand, the appellant has been charge-sheeted under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 for disproportionate assets. The said Act has a purpose to serve. The Parliament intended to eradicate corruption and provide deterrent punishment when criminal culpability is proven. The intendment of the legislature has an immense social relevance. In the present day scenario, corruption has been treated to have the potentiality of corroding the marrows of the economy. There are cases where the amount is small and in certain cases, it is extremely high. The gravity of the offence in such a case, in our considered opinion, is not to be adjudged on the bedrock of the quantum of bribe. An attitude to abuse the official position to extend favour in lieu of benefit is a crime against the collective and an anathema to the basic tenet of democracy, for it erodes the faith of the people in the system. It creates an incurable concavity in the Rule of Law. Be it noted, system of good governance is founded on collective faith in the institutions. If corrosions are allowed to continue by giving allowance to quash the proceedings in corruption cases solely because of delay without scrutinizing other relevant factors, a time may come when the unscrupulous people would foster and garner the tendency to pave the path of anarchism.

It can be stated without any fear of contradiction that corruption is not to be judged by degree, for corruption mothers disorder, destroys societal will to progress, accelerates undeserved ambitions, kills the conscience, jettisons the glory of the institutions, paralyses the economic health of a country, corrodes the sense of civility and mars the marrows of governance.

Continue reading “Delay in trial of offence under Prevention of Corruption Act.”

Departmental proceedings after acquittal

Acquittal under Prevention of Corruption Act:

Acquittal by a criminal court would not debar an employer from exercising the power to conduct departmental proceedings in accordance with the rules and regulations. The two proceedings, criminal and departmental, are entirely different. They operate in different fields and have different objectives. In the disciplinary proceedings, the question is whether the Respondent is guilty of such conduct as would merit his removal from service or a lesser punishment, as the case may be, whereas in the criminal proceedings, the question is whether the offences registered against him under the PC Act are established, and if established, what sentence should be imposed upon him. The standard of proof, the mode of inquiry and the rules governing inquiry and trial in both the cases are significantly distinct and different. Continue reading “Departmental proceedings after acquittal”

Parking problems in Delhi: Directions by Supreme Court

Till the late 1970s motor cars were the prerogative of the rich. Most people who could afford motor cars lived in houses with drive­ ways and garages. But as the economy of the country has improved and the earning capacity of people has risen there are more and more vehicles on the road. At the same time due to paucity of space and the astronomical rise in land prices the size of dwelling houses has become smaller and smaller. The biggest casualty in this conflict between increasing number of cars and dwindling availability of land is “parking space” for vehicles. Even in those houses which had garages, these were converted to rooms utilised for other purposes. Then cars started getting parked in drive­ways but as the number of members of the households expanded, from drive­ways the cars have now spilled over to the roads outside the house. This is not the only problem. The municipal authorities, for reasons best known to them, without carrying out any study with regard to the carrying capacity of the colonies/areas/towns/cities/metropolises are permitting additional constructions including additional floors in these colonies. Setbacks are being decreased or abolished. The constructed area is rising vertically and horizontally. Resultantly where, about 50 years ago, there was a single storey house with one family and one car, there is now a four storey­ structure, if not higher with may be 8 flats and 16 cars if not more. This has created many problems and one of the most serious problems is that of parking.

In view of the above discussion Supreme Court issued the following directions:­

Continue reading “Parking problems in Delhi: Directions by Supreme Court”

Anticipatory bail in allegations of money laundering by ex Minister, P. Chidambaram

Money-laundering is the process of concealing illicit sources of money and the launderer transforming the money proceeds derived from criminal activity into funds and moved to other institution or transformed into legitimate asset.

It is realised world around that money laundering poses a serious threat not only to the financial systems of the countries but also to their integrity and sovereignty. The Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002 was enacted in pursuance of the Political Declaration adopted by the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly held in June 1998, calling upon the Member States to adopt national money-laundering legislation and programme, primarily with a view to meet out the serious threat posed by money laundering to the financial system of the countries and to their integrity and sovereignty.

The predicate offences are under Sections 120B IPC and 420 IPC, Section 8 and Section 13(2) read with Section 13(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act. Case is registered against the appellant and others under Sections 3 and 4 of PMLA. The main point falling for consideration is whether the appellant is entitled to the privilege of anticipatory bail.

Decision of Supreme Court:

Continue reading “Anticipatory bail in allegations of money laundering by ex Minister, P. Chidambaram”

Framing of Charge in a Criminal Trial

At the stage of framing of charge guilt of accused is not relevant.

Section 227 itself contains enough guidelines as to the scope of enquiry for the purpose of discharging an accused. It provides that “the Judge shall discharge when he considers that there is no sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused”.

The “ground” in the context is not a ground for conviction, but a ground for putting the accused on trial. It is in the trial, the guilt or the innocence of the accused will be determined and not at the time of framing of charge. The court, therefore, need not undertake an elaborate enquiry in sifting and weighing the material. Nor is it necessary to delve deep into various aspects. All that the court has to consider is whether the evidentiary material on record if generally accepted, would reasonably connect the accused with the crime. No more need be enquired into.”

Held:

Applying the law laid down by this Court in the aforesaid decisions and considering the scope of enquiry at the stage of framing of the charge under Section 227/228 if the CrPC, we are of the opinion that the submissions made by the learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant on merits, at this stage, are not required to be considered. Whatever submissions are made by the learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant are on merits are required to be dealt with and considered at an appropriate stage during the course of the trial. Some of the submissions may be considered to be the defence of the accused. Some of the submissions made by the learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant on the conduct of the victim/prosecutrix are required to be dealt with and considered at an appropriate stage during the trial. The same are not required to be considered at this stage of framing of the charge. On considering the material on record, we are of the opinion that there is more than a prima facie case against the accused for which he is required to be tried. There is sufficient ample material against the accused and therefore the learned Trial Court has rightly framed the charge against the accused and the same is rightly confirmed by the High Court. No interference of this Court is called for.

[Source: Tarun Jit Tejpal vs The State Of Goa decided by SC on 19 August, 2019]

Investigation by Complainant Police Officer, if vitiates the Criminal Trial?

The appellant cannot be discharged at this stage on the aforesaid ground mainly that the Investigating Officer and the complainant/informant are the same and thus the trial is vitiated.

At the outset it is required to be noted that after conclusion of the investigation, the Investigating Officer had filed the charge­sheet against the accused for the offences under Sections 354, 354A, 354B, 341, 342, 376 (2) (f) and 376 (2) (k) of the IPC. That thereafter, learned Trial Court has framed the charge against the appellant­original accused for the aforesaid offences, in exercise of its powers under Section 227/228 of the CrPC. Framing of the charge against the accused for the aforesaid offences was the subject matter before the High Court. By the impugned Judgment and Order the High Court has dismissed the Revision Application and has confirmed the Order passed by the learned Trial Court ordering to frame the charge against the accused for the aforesaid offences. Hence, the appellant­original accused is before this Court by way of present appeal.

Decision:

That it is mainly contended on behalf of the appellant that in the present case as the complainant and Investigating Officer are the same and therefore in view of the decision of this Court in the case of Mohan Lal (Supra) the entire criminal proceedings are vitiated and therefore the appellant – original accused is to be discharged. However, it is required to be noted that apart from the fact that the decision of this Court in the case of Mohan Lal (Supra) has been doubted and pursuant to the Order passed by this Court dated 17.01.2019 in SLP (Crl.) D. No.39528 of 2018, the same is referred to the larger Bench. In the subsequent decision in the case of Varinder Kumar (Supra), a three Judge Bench of this Court had an occasion to consider the decision of this Court in the case of Mohan Lal (Supra) and the three Judge Bench of this Court has held that the decision of this Court in the case of Mohan Lal (Supra) shall be applicable prospectively, it is further held that all pending criminal prosecutions, trials and appeals prior to the law laid down in Mohan Lal (Supra) shall continue to be governed by the individual facts of the case. Therefore, the reliance placed upon the decision of this Court in the case of Mohan Lal (Supra) by the learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant/­original accused is misplaced. Now, the submission made by Shri Vikas Singh, learned Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of the appellant/­original accused that the subsequent Bench in the case of Varinder Kumar (Supra) could not have held that the decision of this Court in the case of Mohan Lal (Supra) shall be applicable prospectively is concerned, at the outset, it is required to be noted that this Bench is not considering whether in the subsequent decision in the case of Varinder Kumar (Supra), the Bench could not have considered the prospective applicability of the decision in the case of Mohan Lal (Supra) or not? The three Judge Bench of this Court held that the decision of this Court in the case of Mohan Lal (Supra) would be applicable prospectively and the same shall not affect criminal prosecutions, trials and appeals. We are bound by that decision. Therefore, we are of the opinion that the decision of this Court in the case of Mohan Lal (Supra) shall not be applicable to the facts of the case on hand as criminal prosecution has been initiated in the present case much prior to the decision in the case of the Mohan Lal (Supra). Therefore, the appellant cannot be discharged at this stage on the aforesaid ground mainly that the Investigating Officer and the complainant/informant are the same the trial is vitiated, relying upon the decision of this Court in the case of Mohan Lal (Supra). Even the decision of this Court in the case of Bhagwan Singh (Supra), relied upon by the learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant­ original accused, also shall not be of much assistance to the appellant at this stage. In the case of Bhagwan Singh (Supra) and after the trial this Court held that as the complainant herself was the Investigating Officer, the case of the prosecution would not be free from doubt. It was the case after trial and not at the stage of framing of the charge. Where the complainant himself had conducted the investigation, such aspect of the matter can certainly be given due weightage while assessing the evidence on record but it would be completely a different thing to say that the trial itself would be vitiated for such infraction.

[Source: Tarun Jit Tejpal vs The State Of Goa decided by SC on 19 August, 2019]

Restitution is a remedy against unjust enrichment or unjust benefit.

The concept of restitution is a common law principle and it is a remedy against unjust enrichment or unjust benefit. The court cannot be used as a tool by a litigant to perpetuate illegality. A person who is on the right side of the law, should not have a feeling that in case he is dragged in litigation, and wins, he would turn out to be a loser and wrong­doer as a real gainer, after 20 or 30 years.

It is a settled law that when there is stay of proceedings by court, no person can be made to suffer for no fault on his part and a person who has liability but for the interim stay, cannot be permitted to reap the advantages on the basis of interim orders of the court. In Amarjeet Singh v. Devi Ratan, (2010) 1 SCC 417, it was held that no person can suffer from the act of court and unfair advantage gained by a party of interim order must be neutralised. The Court should never permit a litigant to perpetuate illegality by abusing the legal process. It is the bounden duty of the court to ensure that dishonesty and any attempt to abuse the legal process must be effectively curbed and the court must ensure that there is no wrongful, unauthorised or unjust gain for anyone by the abuse of process of the court. No one should be allowed to use the judicial process for earning undeserved gains or unjust profits. The object and true meaning of the concept of restitution cannot be achieved unless the courts adopt a pragmatic approach in dealing with the cases. The Court observed: Continue reading “Restitution is a remedy against unjust enrichment or unjust benefit.”