Right of speedy trial

Speedy trial is a part of reasonable, fair and just procedure guaranteed under Article 21.

This constitutional right cannot be denied even on the plea of non-availability of financial resources. The court is entitled to issue directions to augment and strengthen investigating machinery, setting-up of new courts, building new court houses, providing more staff and equipment to the courts, appointment of additional judges and other measures as are necessary for speedy trial.

Timely delivery of justice is a part of human rights. Denial of speedy justice is a threat to public confidence in the administration of justice.

Judicial service as well as legal service are not like any other services. They are missions for serving the society. The mission is not achieved if the litigant who is waiting in the queue does not get his turn for a long time. Chief Justices and Chief Ministers have resolved that all cases must be disposed of within five years which by any standard is quite a long time for a case to be decided in the first court. Decision of cases of undertrials in custody is one of the priority areas. There are obstructions at every level in enforcement of right of speedy trial – vested interests or unscrupulous elements try to delay the proceedings. Lack of infrastructure is another handicap. Continue reading “Right of speedy trial”

Can court consider the Report of Parliamentary Committee:

Judicial Review of Report of Parliamentary Committee:

The Division Bench expressed thus:-

“72. The controversy has to be seen from the perspective of judicial review. The basic principle of judicial review is to ascertain the propriety of the decision making process on the parameters of reasonableness and propriety of the executive decisions. We are not discussing about the parameters pertaining to the challenge of amendments to the Constitution or the constitutionality of a statute. When a writ of mandamus is sought on the foundation of a factual score, the Court is required to address the facts asserted and the averments made and what has been stated in oppugnation. Once the Court is asked to look at the report, the same can be challenged by the other side, for it cannot be accepted without affording an opportunity of being heard to the Respondents. The invitation to contest a Parliamentary Standing Committee report is likely to disturb the delicate balance that the Constitution provides between the constitutional institutions. If the Court allows contest and adjudicates on the report, it may run counter to the spirit of privilege of Parliament which the Constitution protects.

73. As advised at present, we are prima facie of the view that the Parliamentary Standing Committee  report may not be tendered as a document to augment the stance on the factual score that a particular activity is unacceptable or erroneous. However, regard being had to the substantial question of law relating to interpretation of the Constitution involved, we think it appropriate that the issue be referred to the Constitution Bench under Article 145(3) of the Constitution.‖

5. Thereafter, the two-Judge Bench framed the following questions for the purpose of reference to the Constitution Bench:-

“73.1. (i) Whether in a litigation filed before this Court either under Article 32 or Article 136 of the Constitution of India, the Court can refer to and place reliance upon the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee?

73.2. (ii) Whether such a Report can be looked at for the purpose of reference and, if so, can there be restrictions for the purpose of reference regard being had to the concept of parliamentary privilege and the delicate balance between the constitutional institutions that Articles 105, 121 and 122 of the Constitution conceive?”

Supremacy of Constitution of India:

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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”

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:­

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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]