Transfer of criminal investigation to CBI

Writ petition in Supreme Court seeking transfer:

The petitioner, the President of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (hereinafter referred to as “GJM”), has filed this Writ Petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India praying for transfer of investigation of all First Information Reports lodged against the petitioner and other members of GJM, to any independent investigation agency.

Principle for transfer:

This Court does not direct transfer of investigation just for the asking nor is transfer directed only to satisfy the ego or vindicate the prestige of a party interested in such investigation. The decision whether transfer should or should not be ordered rests on the Court’s satisfaction whether the facts and circumstances of a given case demand such an order. Continue reading “Transfer of criminal investigation to CBI”

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Right to die with dignity.

Permission for passive Euthanasia

Dignity of an individual has been internationally recognized as an important facet of human rights in the year 1948 itself with the enactment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Human dignity not only finds place in the Preamble of this important document but also in Article 1 of the same. It is well known that the principles set out in UDHR are of paramount importance and are given utmost weightage while interpreting human rights all over the world. The first and foremost responsibility fixed upon the State is the protection of human dignity without which any other right would fall apart. Continue reading “Right to die with dignity.”

Sanction for prosecution of corrupt Government Official

Prosecution of corrupt official.

The right of private citizen to file a complaint against a corrupt public servant must be equated with his right to access the Court in order to set the criminal law in motion against a corrupt public official.

This right of access, a Constitutional right should not be burdened with unreasonable fetters. When a private citizen approaches a court of law against a corrupt public servant who is highly placed, what is at stake is not only a vindication of personal grievance of that citizen but also the question of bringing orderliness in society and maintaining equal balance in the rule of law. Continue reading “Sanction for prosecution of corrupt Government Official”

Power of Court to release on personal bond.

Can an accused seek to be released on personal bail bond without an application to be released on bail?

Section 88 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is as under:

88. Power to take bond for appearance. When any person for whose appearance or arrest the officer presiding in any Court is empowered to issue a summons or warrant, is present in such Court, such officer may require such person to execute a bond, with or without sureties, for his appearance in such Court, or any other Court to which the case may be transferred for trial.

‘May’ if mandatory or confers discretion on the court?

Continue reading “Power of Court to release on personal bond.”

Conviction for murder on circumstantial evidence

Facts of the case:

After death of her husband, Meena Devi was living with her children viz. Jeewan Lal (PW-1) and Rekha Devi (PW-2) along with the accused Raj Kumar in the joint family. In their evidence, PW-1 and PW-2 clearly stated that on 23.08.2007, respondent came in drunkard condition and threatened to kill them. Jeewan Lal (PW-1) who is the son of deceased Meena Devi clearly stated that he had heard the cries of his mother and also seen accused taking his mother towards the house of accused Om Parkash. On 25.08.2007, body of Meena Devi was found hanging from a pine tree in the nearby forest. PW-24-Dr. Vivek Banyal who conducted the autopsy has clearly said that “anti-mortem injuries were caused due to gagging and hanging process of dead body was post-mortem”.

Evidence of the case

Continue reading “Conviction for murder on circumstantial evidence”

Offence under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act

SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act as it existed prior to Amendment of 2016:

The gravamen of Section 3(2)(v) of SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act is that any offence, envisaged under Indian Penal Code punishable with imprisonment for a term of ten years or more, against a person belonging Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe, should have been committed on the ground that “such person is a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or such property belongs to such member”. Prior to the Amendment Act 1 of 2016, the words used in Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act are “……on the ground that such person is a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe”.

Effect of Amendment of 2016:

Continue reading “Offence under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act”

Summon to Investigator to produce all material collected during investigation.

Summons to produce document or other thing:

Criminal trial:

It is settled law that at the stage of framing of charge, the accused cannot ordinarily invoke Section 91 (of Cr.P.C.). However, the court being under the obligation to impart justice and to uphold the law, is not debarred from exercising its power, if the interest of justice in a given case so require, even if the accused may have no right to invoke Section 91. To exercise this power, the court is to be satisfied that the material available with the investigator, not made part of the chargesheet, has crucial bearing on the issue of framing of charge.

Summon at the stage of framing of charge:

In State of Orissa versus Debendra Nath Padhi (2005) 1 SCC 568, it was observed: Continue reading “Summon to Investigator to produce all material collected during investigation.”

Criminal Trial must be conducted on day to day basis

Adjournment in Criminal Trial not permissible.

Section 309 o Cr. P.C. is as under:

Power to postpone or adjourn proceedings.
(1) In every inquiry or trial, the proceedings shall be held as expeditiously as possible, and in particular, when the examination of witnesses has once begun, the same shall be continued from day to day until all the witnesses in attendance have been examined, unless the Court finds the adjournment of the same beyond the following day to be necessary for reasons to be recorded.
(2) If the Court, after taking cognizance of an offence, or commencement of trial, finds it necessary or advisable to postpone the commencement of, or adjourn, any inquiry or trial, it may, from time to time, for reasons to be recorded, postpone or adjourn the same on such terms as it thinks fit, for such time as it considers reasonable, and may by a warrant remand the accused if in custody:

Provided that no Magistrate shall remand an accused person to custody under this section for a term exceeding fifteen days at a time: Provided further that when witnesses are in attendance, no adjournment or postponement shall be granted, without examining them, except for special reasons to be recorded in writing:

Provided also that no adjournment shall be granted for the purpose only of enabling the accused person to show cause against the sentence proposed to be imposed on him.]

Explanation 1.- If sufficient evidence has been obtained to raise a suspicion that the accused may have committed an offence, and it appears likely that further evidence may be obtained by a remand, this is a reasonable cause for a remand.

Explanation 2.- The terms on which an adjournment or postponement may be granted include, in appropriate cases, the payment of costs by the prosecution or the accused.

Mandate of day to day trial

12. Thus, the legal position is that once examination of witnesses started, the court has to continue the trial from day to day until all witnesses in attendance have been examined (except those whom the party has given up). The court has to record reasons for deviating from the said course. Even that is forbidden when witnesses are present in court, as the requirement then is that the court has to examine them. Only if there are “special reasons”, which reasons should find a place in the order for adjournment, that alone can confer jurisdiction on the court to adjourn the case without examination of witnesses who are present in court.

Continue reading “Criminal Trial must be conducted on day to day basis”

Restrictions on grant of bail under PMLA if valid

Section 45 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act is unconstitutional.

Section 45 of the 2002 Act, which was brought into force in 2005, originally read as follows:

“45. Offences to be cognizable and non- bailable.-

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974),-

(a) every offence punishable under this Act shall be cognizable;

(b) no person accused of an offence punishable for a term of imprisonment of more than three years under Part A of the Schedule shall be released on bail or on his own bond unless-

(i) the Public Prosecutor has been given an opportunity to oppose the application for such release; and

(ii) where the Public Prosecutor opposes the application, the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that he is not guilty of such offence and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail:

Provided that a person, who, is under the age of sixteen years, or is a woman or is sick or infirm, may be released on bail, if the Special Court so directs:

Provided further that the Special Court shall not take cognizance of any offence punishable under section 4 except upon a complaint in writing made by- (i) the Director; or (ii) any officer of the Central Government or a State Government authorised in writing in this behalf by the Central Government by a general or special order made in this behalf by that Government.

(2) The limitation on granting of bail specified in clause (b) of sub-section (1) is in addition to the limitations under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) or any other law for the time being in force on granting of bail.”

The change made by Section 45 is that, for the purpose of grant of bail, what was now to be looked at was offences that were punishable for a term of imprisonment of three years or more under Part A of the Schedule, and not offences under the 2002 Act itself. At this stage, Part A of the Schedule contained two paragraphs – Para 1 containing Sections 121 and 121A of the Indian Penal Code, which deal with waging or attempting to wage war or abetting waging of war against the Government of India, and conspiracy to commit such offences. Paragraph 2 dealt with offences under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. Part B of the Schedule, as originally enacted, referred to certain offences of a heinous nature under the Indian Penal Code, which included murder, extortion, kidnapping, forgery and counterfeiting. Paragraphs 2 to 5 of Part B dealt with certain offences under the Arms Act 1959, Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. When the Act was originally enacted, it was, thus, clear that the twin conditions applicable under Section 45(1) would only be in cases involving waging of war against the Government of India and offences under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. Even the most heinous offences under the Indian Penal Code were contained only in Part B, so that if bail were asked for such offences, the twin conditions imposed by Section 45(1) would not apply. Incidentally, one of the reasons for classifying offences in Part A and Part B of the Schedule was that offences specified under Part B would get attracted only if the total value involved in such offences was Rs.30 lakhs or more (under Section 2(y) of the Act as it read then). Thereafter, the Act has been amended several times. The amendment made in 2005 in Section 45(1) was innocuous and is not an amendment with which we are directly concerned. The 2009 Amendment further populated Parts A and B of the Schedule. In Part A, offences under Sections 489 A and B of the Indian Penal Code, relating to counterfeiting were added and offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908 and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, which dealt with terrorist activities, were added. In Part B, several other offences were added from the Indian Penal Code, as were offences under the Explosives Act 1884, Antiquities and Arts Treasures Act 1972, Securities and Exchange Board of India Act 1992, Customs Act 1962, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986, Transplantation of Human Organs Act 1994, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, Emigration Act 1983, Passports Act 1967, Foreigners Act 1946, Copyright Act 1957, Trademarks Act 1999, Information Technology Act 2000, Biological Diversity Act 2002, Protection of Plant and Farmers Rights Act 2001, Environmental Protection Act 1986, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution Act) 1974, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution Act) 1981 and Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms of Continental Shelf Act, 2002.

By the Amendment Act of 2012, which is Act 2 of 2013, a very important amendment was made to the Schedule by which the entire Part B offences were transplanted into Part A.

Unreasonable classification

The classification of three years or more of offences contained in Part A of the Schedule must have a reasonable relation to the object sought to be achieved under the 2002 Act. Continue reading “Restrictions on grant of bail under PMLA if valid”