Framing of Charge

Application of mind

Framing of charge is the first major step in a criminal trial where the court is expected to apply its mind to the entire record and documents placed therewith before the court. Taking cognizance of an offence has been stated to necessitate an application of mind by the court but framing of charge is a major event where the court considers the possibility of discharging the accused of the offence with which he is charged or requiring the accused to face trial. There are different categories of cases where the court may not proceed with the trial and may discharge the accused or pass such other orders as may be necessary keeping in view the facts of a given case.

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Robbery with Air Gun

Section 392 of the Penal Code which provides for robbery is as under:

“Whoever commits robbery shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine; and, if the robbery be committed on the highway between sunset and sunrise, the imprisonment may be extended to fourteen years.”

As per Section 397, the sentence of imprisonment to be awarded under Section 392 cannot be less than 7 years if at the time of committing robbery the offender uses any deadly weapon or causes grievous hurt to any person or attempts to cause death or grievous hurt to any person.

Meaning of ‘uses’

A difficulty arose in several High Courts as to the meaning of the word “uses” in Section 397. The term ‘offender’ in that section, as rightly held by several High Courts, is confined to the offender who uses any deadly weapon- The use of a deadly weapon by one offender at the time of committing robbery cannot attract Section 397 for the imposition of the minimum punishment no another offender who had not used any deadly weapon. Continue reading “Robbery with Air Gun”

Fundamental Right to Privacy: Does it exist?

Right to privacy debate

Whether citizens of India have a fundamental right of privacy?

The controversy about right to privacy has been argued in a larger constitution bench of nine judges and judgement has been reserved. But what exactly is the controversy?

The fourth Amendment in the Constitution of USA provide following clause:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Constitution of India has no such clause but in some of the cases the right to privacy has been read into the right to life because the life means a meaningful life and not merely an animal existence. Thus to make life more than animal existence, privacy is held to be part of right to life guaranteed by article 21 o Constitution of India, which is as under:

No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

Continue reading “Fundamental Right to Privacy: Does it exist?”

Criminal Conspiracy: Meaning and proof.

Definition of Conspiracy

Section 120A of IPC  defines criminal conspiracy which reads thus:

“120A. Definition of criminal conspiracy.- When two or more persons agree to do, or cause to be done,-

1) an illegal act, or

2) an act which is not illegal by illegal means, such an agreement is designated a criminal conspiracy:

Provided that no agreement except an agreement to commit an offence shall amount to a criminal conspiracy unless some act besides the agreement is done by one or more parties to such agreement in pursuance thereof. Continue reading “Criminal Conspiracy: Meaning and proof.”

Exercise of jurisdiction of judicial superintendence

Jurisdiction of High Court under article 227.

Article 227 is as under:

227. Power of superintendence over all courts by the High Court
(1) Every High Court shall have superintendence over all courts and tribunals throughout the territories interrelation to which it exercises jurisdiction
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions, the High Court may
(a) call for returns from such courts;
(b) make and issue general rules and prescribe forms for regulating the practice and proceedings of such courts; and
(c) prescribe forms in which books, entries and accounts shall be kept by the officers of any such courts; Continue reading “Exercise of jurisdiction of judicial superintendence”

What is the meaning of word “production” and “manufacture”?

Extraction if amounts to manufacture or production?

Does extraction and processing of iron ore  amount  manufacture or production of any article or thing?

Production means amongst other things that which is produced; a thing that results from any action, process or effort, a product; a product of human activity or effort”. From the wide definition of the word “production”, it has to follow that mining activity for the purpose of production of mineral ores would come within the arnbit of the word “production” since ore is “a thing”, which is the result of human activity or effort.

In CIT v. N. C. Budharaja and Co. (1993) 204 ITR 412 (SC): AIR 1993 SC 2529: 1994 SCC Supl. (1) 280 it was held that the word ,production” is much wider than the word “manufacture”. It was said (page 423) :

“The word production has a wider connotation than the word manufacture. While every manufacture can be characterized as production, every production need not amount to manufacture …. Continue reading “What is the meaning of word “production” and “manufacture”?”

Arbitrary and discriminatory lagislation

Violation of equality clause in the Constitution.

Validity of economic legislation leaving a section of people.

Fourteenth Amendment of Constitution of USA and view of Supreme Court of USA:

When local economic regulation is challenged solely as violating the Equal Protection Clause, this Court consistently defers to legislative determinations as to the desirability of particular statutory discriminations. … Unless a classification trammels fundamental personal rights or is drawn upon inherently suspect distinctions such as race, religion, or alienage, our decisions presume the constitutionality of the statutory discriminations and require only that the classification challenged be rationally related to a legitimate state interest. States are accorded wide latitude in the regulation of their local economies under their police powers, and rational distinctions may be made with substantially less than mathematical exactitude. Legislatures may implement their programme step-by-step … in such economic areas, adopting regulations that only partially ameliorate a perceived evil and deferring complete elimination of the evil to future regulations … In short, the judiciary may not sit as a super-legislature to judge the wisdom or undesirability of legislative policy determinations made in areas that neither affect fundamental rights nor proceed along suspect lines …, in the local economic sphere, it is only the invidious discrimination, the wholly arbitrary act, which cannot stand consistently with the Fourteenth Amendment.

[Source: City of New Orleans v. Dukes 427 U.S. 297 (1976)]

The courts should not adopt a doctrinaire approach which might well choke all beneficial legislation and that legislation which is based on a rational classification is permissible. A law applying to a class is constitutional if there is sufficient basis or reason for it. In other words, a statutory discrimination cannot be set aside as the denial of equal protection of the laws if any state of facts may reasonably be conceived to justify it. Continue reading “Arbitrary and discriminatory lagislation”

Arrest in “harassment for dowry” cases

Section 498-A of Penal Code.

Section 498A was inserted in the statute with the laudable object of punishing cruelty at the hands of husband or his relatives against a wife particularly when such cruelty had potential to result in suicide or murder of a woman as mentioned in the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Act 46 of 1983. The expression ‘cruelty’ in Section 498A covers conduct which may drive the women to commit suicide or cause grave injury (mental or physical) or danger to life or harassment with a view to coerce her to meet unlawful demand.8 It is a matter of serious concern that large number of cases continue to be filed under Section 498A alleging harassment of married women.

Big relief to relatives of accused:

Many of such complaints are not bona fide. At the time of filing of the complaint, implications and consequences are not visualized. At times such complaints lead to uncalled for harassment not only to the accused but also to the complainant. Uncalled for arrest may ruin the chances of settlement.

Directions by Supreme Court:

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Proof of recovery of contraband under NDPS Act

In a case of sudden recovery, independent witness may not be available. But if an independent witness is available, and the prosecution initially seeks to rely upon him, it cannot suddenly discard the witness because it finds him inconvenient, and place reliance upon police witnesses only. In the stringent nature of the provisions of the Act, the reverse burden of proof, the presumption of culpability under Section 35, and the presumption against the accused under Section 54, any reliance upon Section 114 of the Evidence Act in the facts of the present case, can only be at the risk of a fair trial to the accused.

The presumption against the accused of culpability under Section 35, and under Section 54 of the Act to explain possession satisfactorily, are rebuttable. It does not dispense with the obligation of the prosecution to prove the charge beyond all reasonable doubt. The presumptive provision with reverse burden of proof, does not sanction conviction on basis of preponderance of probability. Section 35 (2) provides that a fact can be said to have been proved if it is established beyond reasonable doubt and not on preponderance of probability. That the right of the accused to a fair trial could not be whittled down under the Act. Continue reading “Proof of recovery of contraband under NDPS Act”

Validity of Appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries in India

Ceiling on number of Ministers.

Article 164(1A) of the Constitution of India is as under:

The total number of Ministers, including the Chief Minister, in the Council of Ministers in a State shall not exceed fifteen per cent of the total number of members of the Legislative Assembly of that State:

Provided that the number of Ministers, including the Chief Minister, in a State shall not be less than twelve;

Provided further that where the total number of Ministers, including the Chief Minister, in the Council of Ministers in any State at the commencement of the Constitution (Ninety-first Amendment) Act, 2003 exceeds the said fifteen per cent or the number specified in the first proviso, as the case may be, then the total number of Ministers in that State shall be brought in conformity with the provisions of this clause within six months from such date as the President may by public notification appoint.

Jumbo Cabinet in Assam.

Assam Parliamentary Secretaries (Appointment, Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance, 2004

On 3.11.2004, the Assam Parliamentary Secretaries (Appointment, Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance, 2004 was promulgated which inter alia provided as under:

The Chief Minister may, having regard to the circumstances and the need of the situation, at any time appoint such number of Parliamentary Secretaries and assign to each of them such duties and functions as he may deem fit and proper.

Section 4 declares that Parliamentary Secretary should be of the rank and status of a Minister of State and exercise such powers, discharge such functions and perform such duties as may be assigned to him by the Chief Minister.

Section 4 – A Parliamentary Secretary shall be of the rank and status of a Minister of State and shall exercise such powers, discharge such functions and perform such duties as may be assigned to him by the Chief Minister by way of a notification published in the official Gazette.

Now this is apparently provides what Article 164(1A) expressly prohibits. So is it valid?

Creation of Political Executive

Another argument is that the Political Executive (both national and state level) is the creation of the Constitution itself. Articles 74(1) 6, 75(1)7, 163(1)8 and 164(1)9 of the Constitution create the offices of the Prime Minister, Chief Minister and other Ministers respectively. The framers of the Constitution were aware of the different offices in vogue (such as Parliamentary Secretaries, Deputy Ministers etc) in various parliamentary democracies but chose to make provisions for only the office of ‘Minister’. Continue reading “Validity of Appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries in India”