Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Raja Vijayaraghavan, J. set aside the order of discharge under Section 258 CrPC, passed by learned Judicial Magistrate First Class.

These revision petitions were registered against the orders of discharge passed by the learned Judicial Magistrate of First Class, Kollam invoking the powers under Section 258 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. It was brought to the notice of the Court by the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court, Kollam that the courts below had disposed of large number of cases invoking Section 258 CrPC. The cases thus disposed of included cases registered under Section 15(c) read with Section 63 of the Abkari Act, Section 27(b) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, Section 279 of the Penal Code, 1860 and Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act. As the manner of disposal of the criminal proceedings had resulted in the failure of justice, suo motu revision petitions were ordered to be registered.

In the proceeding sheet, it was mentioned that the proceedings were stopped due to failure of the prosecution to procure the accused before the court but in the appearance sheet, no mention of summons or non-bailable warrants being returned were made. The order sheet also did not indicate whether the process was actually done or not.

High Court noted that Section 258 CrPC is an enabling section which gives power to a Magistrate of the First Class or with the previous sanction of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, any other judicial Magistrate, to stop the proceedings at any stage without pronouncing a judgment by recording the reasons for the same. The provision states, “when stoppage of proceedings is made after the evidence of the principal witnesses has been recorded, the learned Magistrate shall pronounce a judgment of acquittal. In any other case, the court is empowered to release the accused and such release shall have the effect of discharge”. The provision could be applied only in unusual circumstances wherein, prima facie no case could be made out against the accused or for the reason that the prosecution was bound to fail due to a technical error.

The reason that the accused had absconded or that despite the initiation of coercive proceedings, his presence could not be secured was held to be not enough to invoke Section 258 of the CrPC. It was evident from the proceedings that not enough efforts were made to obtain the presence of the accused. Thus, it was held that the learned magistrate had exceeded his power in invoking Section 258 CrPC and hence the order given by the learned Magistrate was set aside and directions were given to take back the cases on file and proceed with the same in accordance with the law.[Suo Motu v. State of Kerala, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 2239, decided on 20-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: In view of the failure of justice on account of lack of effective cross-examination of prosecution witnesses, Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. quashed the trial court’s order convicting and sentencing the accused (appellant) for offence punishable under Section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

The appellant had challenged the order of the trial court whereby he was convicted and sentenced under POCSO Act. He contended that the manner in which the trial was conducted showed that the principles of natural justice were violated and he was declined a fair opportunity of being defended.

The High Court found that some prosecution witnesses were not cross-examined and for others, there was very sketchy cross-examination. It was noted that the manner in which cross-examination was conducted on part of the accused by the amicus curiae appointed by the trial court clearly showed that he made no serious efforts to defend the accused. It was observed: “If the Amicus Curiae does not or is not in a position to effectively provide assistance to an accused, the Trial Court is obliged to correct the situation. Even the trial court failed to take any remedial steps. The manner in which the cross-examination has been conducted has clearly led to failure of justice.” Holding it to be a clear case of failure of justice, the Court quashed the impugned order and remanded the matter to the Court of Additional Sessions Judge for re-trial from the stage of cross-examination of prosecution witnesses.

Before departing with the case, the High Court recorded appreciation for the assistance rendered by Adit S. Pujari, Advocate appearing on behalf of Delhi High Court Legal Services Committee and also by Meenakshi Dahiya, Additional Public Prosecutor for the State. [Dev Kumar Yadav v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 8485, decided on 10-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: S. Talapatra, J., relying on the Supreme Court decision in Azghar Khan v. State of U.P., 1981 Supp SCC 78, dismissed a criminal revision petition filed against the order of Additional Sessions Judge.

Genesis of the grievance was noted in a complaint filed by petitioner alleging that respondent stole the cheque in controversy which was dishonoured in due course. A case was registered and after investigation, the police submitted the report of terminating the investigation as there was no foundation for allegations made in the complaint. Petitioner challenged the report by filing a protest petition but Sub-Divisional Magistrate refused to direct further investigation. Being aggrieved, the petitioner preferred a criminal revision petition which was dismissed by Additional Sessions Judge observing that there was no ground to interfere in the report. This order was challenged in the present revision petition under Section 482 CrPC.

At the outset, the High Court observed, “By all traits, this is a second revision petition. On the face of it, it is barred by sub-section (3) of Section 397 CrPC.” Reliance was placed on Azghar Khan case which laid down that a second revision petition would not be competent in view of Section 397(3). Moreover, the High Court did not find any failure of justice which could persuade it to interfere in the matter. [Bikash Chandra v. State of Tripura, 2019 SCC OnLine Tri 40, dated 01-02-2019]