Tarandeep Singh Etc vs State Of Punjab And Ors on 8 September, 2017

IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT
CHANDIGARH

CRR-1980-2016 (OM)
Date of decision: 8.09.2017

Tarandeep Singh and another
…Petitioners

Versus

State of Punjab and another
…Respondents

CORAM: HON’BLE MS. JUSTICE JAISHREE THAKUR

Present: Mr. Kanwaljit Singh, Sr. Advocate, with
Mr. Abhishek Bajaj, Advocate,
for the petitioner.

Mr. M.S. Nagra, AAG, Punjab.

Mr. Pankaj Bhardwaj, Advocate,
for respondent No.3.

****

JAISHREE THAKUR, J.

1. The petitioners herein are aggrieved against the order dated

29.03.2016 passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Ferozepur dismissing

the application filed under section 294 Cr.P.C. by the petitioners.

2. In brief, the facts as alleged are that a marriage was solemnized

between Tarandeep Singh petitioner No. 1 and Amandeep Kaur respondent

No. 2 on 25.11.2013. The marriage did not last long; resultantly respondent

No. 2 got a detailed FIR No. 35 under sections 307/406/498-A/ 342/ 506/

120-B IPC registered at Police Station Ferozepur on 28.01.2014. It was

alleged that an attempt had been made upon her life by the family members

of her husband on account of bringing inadequate dowry. It was further

submitted that on 12.01.2014 when she was present in her bedroom at

House No. 268 Sector 10-A Chandigarh, her husband, father-in-law and

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mother-in-law raised a demand for Rs. 2 crores in cash and a 4 Kanal plot at

IPS colony, Nayagaon and on her refusal to fulfill these demands an attempt

was made on her life. After the registration of the FIR, there was bitter

litigation between the parties which ultimately resulted in the constitution of

a Special Investigation Team (for short ” SIT”) to look into the matter. This

SIT was constituted under the orders of this High Court in LPA No. 630 of

2014. After the presentation of the challan under the aforesaid sections, an

application under section 294 Cr.P.C. was preferred by the petitioners

herein before the Additional Sessions Judge stating that contents of the 3

Compact Discs, walk-in-sheet and bills issued by a restaurant Barbecue

Nation in Sector 26 Chandigarh dated 13.01.2014, be put for admission or

denial to the complainant. It was argued by learned counsel for the

petitioners – accused that the contents of the CD, bills were material to be

looked into before framing of the charges under section 307 IPC. Though no

reply was filed to the said application, it was contested by counsel for the

complainant and the Additional Public Prosecutor for the State that the

application was not maintainable at this stage since charges had not been

framed. The Learned Additional Sessions Judge by the impugned order

dated 29.03.2016 dismissed the application holding that the accused could

not lead defence evidence before framing of the charges. Aggrieved against

the said order the instant revision petition has been preferred.

3. Mr. Kanwaljit Singh, learned Senior counsel assisted by Mr.

Abhishek Bajaj, Advocate argues that Additional Sessions Judge has failed

to appreciate that Section 294 Cr.P.C. has been enacted to speed up trial by

admission and denial of documents. Reliance has been placed upon a

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judgement rendered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Shamsher Singh

Verma vs. state of Haryana 2015 SCC online page 1242 to substantiate the

argument. It has been submitted by learned counsel for the petitioners that

all allegations in the FIR are false and fabricated, since, on 13.01.2014, one

day after the alleged occurrence the husband of the complainant and his

family members were trying to throttle respondent No. 2, there was the

festival of Lohri on which date the parents of the respondent No. 2 were

present and the festival was celebrated. This has been captured on the CD

which would prove that allegations are false. It is argued that on this very

same day i.e. on 13.01.2014 a meal was taken at Barbecue Nation a

restaurant in Sector 26 Chandigarh which would establish that respondent

No. 2, complainant, was happy in her matrimonial home. It is argued that

the object of Section 294 Cr.P.C. is to accelerate the pace of trial and the

admission and denial of documents at the very first instance will save time

spent in trial. It is argued that in case the petitioner was permitted to put the

contents of the CD/walk-in register maintained by Barbecue Nation the

restaurant and the bill of Barbecue Nation to the respondent complainant

and in case she admitted to the correctness of the same it would show that

any offence under section 307 and other sections is not made out.

4. Per contra, Mr Pankaj Bhardwaj learned counsel appearing on

behalf of the complainant-respondent No.3 submits that in Cr.P.C. there is

no provision which grants a right to the accused to file any material or

document in his defence at the time of framing of charges. In this regard

learned Counsel for the complainant-respondent No.3 places reliance on

judgments rendered in State Of Orissa Versus Debendra Nath Padhi

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(2005) 1 SCC 568, subsequently followed in B.S.E.S Rajdhani Power

Limited vs. Vijay Kumar Gupta 2009 SCC online Delhi 693.

5. I have heard the counsel for the parties and with their assistance

have gone through the case law.

6. The moot question posed before this court would be whether an

application under Section 294 Cr.P.C is maintainable before charges have

been framed at the instance of the accused/defendant?

7. Section 294 Cr.P.C. reads as:-

294. No formal proof of certain documents.

(1) Where any document is filed before any Court by the
prosecution or the accused, the particulars of every such
document shall be included in a list and the prosecution or the
accused, as the case may be, or the pleader for the prosecution
or the accused, if any, shall be called upon to admit or deny the
genuineness of each such document.

(2) The list of documents shall be in such form as may be
prescribed by the State Government.

(3) Where the genuineness of any document is not disputed,
such document may be read in evidence in any inquiry, trial or
other proceeding under this Code without proof of the
signature of the person to whom it purports to be signed:
Provided that the Court may, in its discretion, require such
signature to be proved.

8. A reading of the Section does not show as to at what stage such

an application can be preferred. As per the procedure laid down in the Code

of Criminal Procedure pertaining to trials, the court is required to evaluate

material and documents available on the record to find out if a prime facie

case is made out. If there is a possibility that the accused might have

committed the offence, it can frame charges. At the stage of framing of

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charges, the court is not required to delve deep into the truthfulness of

allegations made which can only be tested after evidence is led and trial

concluded.

9. The issue regarding the approach to be followed by courts in

framing of charges, discharge of accused under Sections 227, 228, 239, 240,

that is trial before a Court of Sessions and trial of a Warrant case by

magistrate, pertaining to framing of charge and discharge of an accused

came up before the Hon’ble Apex Court in Sheoraj Singh Ahlawat and

Others Versus State Of Uttar Pradesh and Another (2013) 11 Supreme

Court Cases 476 wherein after considering various case law in this regard it

was held that the accused is entitled to urge his contentions only on

materials submitted by the prosecution. It was further held that at the stage

of framing of charges the accused is not entitled to produce any material nor

is the Court required to consider any such material if submitted. The

Hon’ble Apex Court also referred to the judgment rendered in State of

Orissa vs. Debendra Nath Padhi, (2005) 1 SCC 568 in which the question

was decided whether the trial Court can at the time of framing of charges

consider material filed by the accused. The answer was in the negative and

the ratio of the judgment rendered in State of Orissa (supra) was culled out

in para 18 of the judgment rendered in Sheoraj Singh Ahlawat and Others

case (supra) which reads as under :-

“18. We are unable to accept the aforesaid contention. The
reliance on Articles 14 and 21 is misplaced. … Further, at the
stage of framing of charge roving and fishing inquiry is
impermissible. If the contention of the accused is accepted,
there would be a mini-trial at the stage of framing of charge.
That would defeat the object of the Code. It is well settled that

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at the stage of framing of charge the defence of the accused
cannot be put forth. The acceptance of the contention of the
learned counsel for the accused would mean permitting the
accused to adduce his defence at the stage of framing of charge
and for examination thereof at that stage which is against the
criminal jurisprudence. By way of illustration, it may be noted
that the plea of alibi taken by the accused may have to be
examined at the stage of framing of charge if the contention of
the accused is accepted despite the well-settled proposition
that it is for the accused to lead evidence at the trial to sustain
such a plea. The accused would be entitled to produce
materials and documents in proof of such a plea at the stage of
framing of the charge, in case we accept the contention put
forth on behalf of the accused. That has never been the
intention of the law well settled for over one hundred years
now. It is in this light that the provision about hearing the
submissions of the accused as postulated by Section 227 is to
be understood. It only means hearing the submissions of the
accused on the record of the case as filed by the prosecution
and documents submitted therewith and nothing more. The
expression ‘hearing the submissions of the accused’ cannot
mean opportunity to file material to be granted to the accused
and thereby changing the settled law. At the state of framing of
charge hearing the submissions of the accused has to be
confined to the material produced by the police.

23. As a result of aforesaid discussion, in our view, clearly the
law is that at the time of framing charge or taking cognizance
the accused has no right to produce any material.”

10. The judgment rendered in State of Orissa (supra) was further

relied upon by the Delhi High Court in B.S.E.S. Rajdhani Power Ltd. vs.

Vijay Kumar Gupta, 2009 SCC OnLine Del 693, where a similar issue

arose. Criminal complaints were filed by B.S.E.S. Rajdhani Power Ltd.

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alleging that inspections carried out in various premises revealed the

commission of direct theft of electricity. The Special Court constituted

under the Electricity Act dismissed the complaint after allowing an

application filed under Section 294 Cr.P.C. showing that the respondents

had been regularly paying electricity bills raised from time to time. The

order dismissing the complaint and the summoning order was challenged

and the Apex Court returned the categoric finding while relying upon

Debendra Nath Padhi case (supra) that the trial Court can only consider the

material produced by the prosecution at the time of framing of charges and

there is no provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure which grants the

accused any right to file any material or documents at the said stage.

11. In the present case, the petitioners herein seek to rely upon 3

CDs and certain documents to establish the fact that all was well between

the parties on 13.01.2014 a day after the alleged occurrence on 12.01.2014

when petitioner Tarandeep Singh and his parents tried to strangle her with a

dupatta. As has been held in the aforesaid judgments, the accused facing

trial has no right to adduce any evidence at the stage of framing of charges

and it is obligated upon the trial Court to frame charges on the basis of

evidence as produced after investigation by the prosecution.

12. Learned Senior counsel for the petitioners has laid great

emphasis upon a judgment rendered in Shamsher Singh Verma vs. State of

Haryana, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 1242 while arguing that the scope of

Section 294 Cr.P.C. is to expedite trial and save time of the Court in

admission and denial of documents. The judgment as relied upon is

distinguishable on facts and not relevant. In the case of Shamsher Singh

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Verma (supra) FIR No. 232 in respect of offence punishable under Section

354 IPC and one under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act,

2015 came to be registered. After investigation, a charge-sheet was filed

against the appellant, on the basis of which Sessions case No. 33 of 2014

was registered and after hearing the parties, charges were framed on

28.03.2014 in respect of the offences. Prosecution witnesses were examined

in the said case and thereafter, the statement of the accused was recorded

under Section 313 Cr.P.C. The defence also examined four witnesses and

thereafter an application was filed under Section 294 Cr.P.C. before the trial

Court with a prayer to send a recording of a conversation to get the voice of

the appellant matched with the recorded voice in a CD to FSL for

establishing its authenticity. This application was rejected by order dated

21.02.2015 and the same was affirmed by the High Court. It was against the

rejection of the order sending the conversation recorded to FSL that a

criminal appeal was preferred to the Apex Court. In para 9 of the said

judgment the Hon’ble Supreme Court was concerned with the question as to

whether the accused had been denied right of defence or not and it was in

these circumstances while referring to Section 294 Cr.P.C. it came to held

that “object of Section 294 Cr.P.C. is to accelerate pace of trial by avoiding

the time being wasted by the parties in recording the unnecessary evidence.

Where genuineness of any document is admitted, or its formal proof is

dispensed with, the same may be read in evidence.” The Apex Court went

further in defining the word “document”. The matter was disposed of by

holding that the Courts below have erred in law in not allowing the

application of the defence to get played the compact disc relating to

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conversation between father of the victim and son and wife of the appellant

regarding alleged property dispute. The judgment as relied upon is not

applicable in the instant case as the issue raised therein pertained to an

application filed by the accused after the charges had been framed and he

had been given an opportunity to lead his evidence in defence, whereas in

the instant case, the said application has been moved even before the

charges have been framed, which is not sustainable.

13. Therefore, in view of the law laid down, the application for

leading evidence by invoking Section 294 Cr.P.C. is not maintainable

before the framing of charges, hence there is no infirmity in the order passed

by the trial Court.

14. Dismissed.

8.09.2017 (JAISHREE THAKUR)
Satyawan JUDGE

Whether speaking/reasoned Yes.
Whether reportable No.

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