Bombay High Court Mr.Aklak Ahmed Fakruddin Patel-vs-State Of Maharashtra on 28 September, 2010
Bench: R. S. Dalvi
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
Criminal Application No.1662 of 2010
Mr.Aklak Ahmed Fakruddin Patel .. .. Applicant v/s.
State of Maharashtra .. .. .. Respondent
Mr.M.K. Kocharekar for Applicant.
Mr.J.P. Kharge, APP for State.
CORAM : SMT.ROSHAN DALVI, J.
Date of reserving the order : 6th September, 2010 Date of pronouncing the order : 28th September, 2010
1. The Applicant-accused has challenged the order of the Sessions Court in Case Nos.484 of 1998 and 1328 of 1996 directing that both the cases should be merged and a common charge was framed on 16th April 2010.
2. The Applicant along with his parents came to be charged with offences under Sections 498-A and 306 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) upon an FIR being filed in that behalf. The 2 Cri-Appln-1662
Applicant also came to be charged under Section 302 read with Section 304-B of the IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act under a private complaint filed against him. Both the complaints related to the same transaction of he having abetted the suicide of his wife and he having ultimately murdered her.
3. The parents of the Applicant have been discharged in the criminal case filed upon the FIR lodged with the Police. The Applicant, therefore, alone faces trial. He faces trial under the aforesaid two sections for the aforesaid two offences but within the course of the same transaction.
4. Initially when the Applicant faced one charge along with his parents in the criminal prosecution lodged by the Police and another charge singly, it was directed that the two charges under the two separate cases, one being the Police case and another being the private complaint, shall be tried separately. Thereafter since the Applicant was the only accused in both the cases under the aforesaid charges, the learned Sessions Judge has merged the charges and framed a single trial. The Applicant challenges the order requiring him to be tried in a single trial. 3 Cri-Appln-1662
5. The only point of law, which is required to be considered, is whether for the aforesaid offences under a single transaction or series of transactions the Applicant can be tried in a single trial. Section 220 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (Cr.P.C.) (which is identical to Section 235 of the earlier Criminal Procedure Code of 1898) relates to the trial for more than one offence and runs thus:
220.Trial for more than one offence. (1) If, in one series of acts so connected together as to form the same transaction, more offences than one are committed by the same person, he may be charged with, and tried at one trial for, every such offence.
(2) . . . .
(3) If the acts alleged constitute an offence falling within two or more separate definitions of any law in force for the time being by which offences are defined or
punished, the person accused of them may be charged with, and tried at one trial for, each of such offences.
(4) If several acts, of which one or more than one would by itself or themselves constitute an offence, constitute when combined a different offence, the person accused of them may be charged with, and tried at one trial for the offence constituted by such acts when combined, and for any offence constituted by any one, or more, of such acts.
6. Section 8(a) relating to framing of charge in the Criminal Manual sets out the procedural requirements for the framing of the charge and shows how charges under separate heads are required to be framed for several offences when a person is tried for different offences committed in the course of the same transaction together in one trial. Section 8(a) runs thus:
8.(a) (1) . . . . . .
(3) Where several persons are tried
together for different offences
committed in the course of the same
transaction, there should be a
separate head of charge for each of
(4) Where five persons or more are
charged with committing an offence,
it would ordinarily be desirable to
frame charges in the alternative,
both under section 34 and Section 149
of the Indian Penal Code. An
alternative charge may also framed
against the accused, who is or who
are alleged to have committed the
particular act constituting the
7. It is, therefore, clear that in a single trial against the same accused there can be several charges in respect of various acts, if they are 5 Cri-Appln-1662
connected together as to form the same transaction. In such a case, more offences than one committed by the same person can be tried in a single trial. They may be filed under separate sections of the IPC, by which the various offences committed by the person are defined or punished. Similarly for various acts constituting different offences when combined can be tried in one trial.
8. It, therefore, cannot be said that there can be a single charge of a single offence against the accused in one trial and for two separate charges, two separate trials must be conducted.
9. It is contended on behalf of the Applicant that under Section 218 for every distinct offence there should be a separate charge being tried separately and hence there should be a separate trial.
10. Section 220 is an exception to Section 218. This case is concerned with the applicability of Section 220 (1), (3) and (4) of the Cr.P.C.
11. It may be mentioned that even when the Applicant has insisted upon two separate trials, in one of these trials, he has been charged under Section 498-A as well as Section 306. He does not take exception to 6 Cri-Appln-1662
the framing of those two charges in a single trial. It, therefore, would have to be seen essentially whether the charges of cruelty to the wife, abetment of suicide and murder can be tried in a single trial, it having been resulted from the same transaction or a series of transactions.
12. The answer to this question would be best understood from illustrations of various distinct charges against the same accused under separate sections of the IPC setting out separate offences under the same transaction being tried together.
13. In the earliest of such cases being the case of Kashiram Jhunjhunwalla vs. (Firm) Hurdul Rai Gopal Rai, AIR 1935 Calcutta 312, it was held that the offence of misappropriation in respect of several items could be joined with the charge of falsification to accounts which is one in a series of acts. It was held that the transaction meant a group of facts so connected together as to involve several certain items viz. unity, continuity and connection. That was a case where three transactions involving two offences within a period of 12 months came to be clubbed together to be tried in one trial. These offences were committed by the Applicant who was a manager and cashier of the firm 7 Cri-Appln-1662
and in such capacity being entrusted with cheque books of the firm so that he wrote certain cheques for misappropriating certain accounts and falsifying the accounts. The ultimate conclusion of the Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court was thus:-
In my opinion there was no illegality in the trial of the two charges in one trial along with the charge of criminal breach of trust.
14. In the case of Babulal Choukhani vs. The King- Emperor, 1938 (Vol.40) Bombay Law Reporter 787, which was an appeal to the Privy Council from the High Court of Calcutta, it was held that the charges of conspiracy and theft committed in the course the same transaction could be tried together. It was observed that when several persons conspired to commit offences and committed overt acts in pursuance of the conspiracy those acts were committed in the course of the same transaction and when the charge of conspiracy was not proved the trial in respect of the charge of theft could proceed.
15. As against the aforesaid cases, in the case of Jagan Nath & anr. vs. State of Haryana, 1983 Criminal Law Journal 1574, offences resulting in rape and death 8 Cri-Appln-1662
at difference places were held not triable in a single trial because they were committed in series of acts not connected together to form the same transaction and the offence of rape was an independent act and a separate offence with different ingredients altogether.
16. In the case of Sandeep Kumar & ors. vs. State of U.P. & anr. 2004 (2) Crimes 317, the Allahabad High Court held that when the accused fired a shot at the complainant who was standing near the door of his house restraining him from going to the Police Station to lodge the report and when the complainant went to the Police Station the accused took the complainant by force upto his house and caused injuries to him, the offences under Sections 452 and 307 of the IPC as well as the offences under Sections 148, 323 and 149 and 307 read with Section 149 of the IPC could all be tried in one trial as they were in a series of acts connected together to form the same transaction.
17. In the case of Gorey Lal vs. State of U.P., 1994 Criminal Law Journal 1337, joint trial for the offence of murder and voluntarily causing hurt under Sections 300 and 323 of the IPC was allowed. In that case upon the commission of murder, the accused 9 Cri-Appln-1662
came to be chased and was subsequently arrested. It was held that the offence committed at the time of arrest would also be continuation of the first offence of murder. Hence even though the first offence was completed, the offences committed thereafter were ordered to be tried together in a single trial.
18. Similarly in the case of State of Haryana vs. Naresh alias Pappi, 1996 Criminal Law Journal 3164, the offences of kidnapping and rape under Sections 363, 366 and 376 were allowed to be tried together in a single trial under Section 220 of the Cr.P.C. It was observed that action of enticing the married woman with the intent to have sexual intercourse with her and the act of having sexual intercourse with her are so connected with each other that they form integral parts of the same transaction. Consequently, in view of Section 220(3), the accused could be tried and convicted in a single trial.
19. In the case of Shri Sharan P. Khanna vs. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd., decided on 29th July 2010 in Criminal Writ Petition No.1767 of 2007, this Court held that the trial under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act and 420 IPC, which were totally different even though the two offences were 10 Cri-Appln-1662
committed during the same transaction and could have been tried together, could be tried separately if two separate complaints were filed. It was, therefore, held that trying the accused one after another under the aforesaid two transactions in two complaints were correct and the second trial was not vitiated. It was held that Section 220 of the Cr.P.C. was an enabling provision giving the discretion to Court to try two or more offences together in a single trial but was not mandatory. Therefore, two trials for the two offences were allowed to proceed.
20. In the case of E. Balakrishnan Naidu vs. State of Andhra Pradesh, AIR 1992 SC 1581 the charges against the accused under Sections 302, 304B, 306 and 498A were tried in a single trial.
21. In this case also the charges have been framed against the Applicant under Section 302 read with Section 304-B of the IPC and Section 498-A read with Section 306 of the IPC. The offences for which the accused is charged is by acts so connected together as to form the same transaction.
22. The judgment of the Supreme Court would determine if this course of action is justified or allowable. In 11 Cri-Appln-1662
this case of Aftab Ahmed Khan vs. The State of Hyderabad, AIR 1954 SC 436 the accused was charged with having committed offences of murder, attempt to murder, confinement and extortion. The Supreme Court in appeal inter alia considered the plea of the accused relating to misjoinder of these charges in the same trial. The case against the accused was that he caught hold of two persons, proceeded to a place, took them in custody and upon seeing two persons came there, he shot at them, killing one. He pursued them and brought two of them back to the former place. He confined them and released them the next morning after extorting of Rs.200/- from one of them. It was held that the case showed that the accused committed a series of acts. These acts constituted one transaction in which the distinct offences were committed over a period of two days. It was held that the case fell squarely within Section 235 (of the Code of 1898) by which such joinder was permissible. It was observed that Section 235 provided that if in one series of acts so connected together as to form the same transaction, more offences then are committed by the same person, he may be charged with and tried at trial for every such offence. It was also observed that the offences were committed in such a way as to form the same transaction.
The Supreme Court observed thus:
The fact that the offence of extortion was committed at a different place and at a
different time does not any the less make the act as one committed in the course of the same transaction.
23.This analogy can be tested upon the fact that the evidence which would be led by the witnesses who would be required to depose, would be the same to prove the offences even in different trials. Must the accused suffer the rigour of standing two trials for evidence led by the same witnesses to prove each of these offences separately ? That would be grossly inconvenient, nay unjust to the accused, not to speak of the duplication of judicial time and prosecution effort in the exercise to do justice.
24.The Supreme Court considered the acts of irregularities in the justice system including the irregularity, if any, in the joinder of charges in the case of Willie (William) Slaney vs. The State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1956 SC 116 upon considering the earlier Privy Council cases referred to in the case of Abdul Rehman (supra) in paras 6, 46 and 47 thus:-
6. Before we proceed to set out our answer and 13 Cri-Appln-1662
examine the provisions of the Code, we will pause to observe that the Code is a code of procedure and like all procedural laws, is designed to further the ends of justice and not to frustrate them, by the introduction of endless technicalities. The object of the Code is to ensure that an accused person gets a full and fair trial along certain well-established and well-understood line that accord with our notions and natural justice. If he does, if he is tried by a competent court, if he is told and clearly understands the nature of the offence for which he is being tried, if the case against him is fully and fairly explained to him and he is afforded a full and fair opportunity of defending himself, then, provided there is substantial compliance with the outward forms of the law, mere mistakes in procedure, mere inconsequential errors and omissions in the trial are regarded as venal by the Code and the trial is not vitiated unless the accused can show substantial prejudice. That, broadly speaking, is the basic principle on which the Code is based.
46. In our opinion, sections 233 to 240 deal with joinder of charges and they must be read together and not in isolation. They all deal with the same subject-matter and set out different aspects of it. When they are read as a whole, it becomes clear that sections 237 and 238 cover every type of case in which a
conviction can be sustained when there is no charge for that offence provided there is a charge to start with. They do not deal with a case in which there is no charge at all, and anything travelling beyond that when there is a charge would be hit by sections 233, 234, 235 and 239 read as a whole, for the reasons we have just given. But if that is so, and if section 14 Cri-Appln-1662
535 is excluded where sections 237 and 238 apply, then what is there left for it to operate on except cases in which there is a total omission to frame a charge ? We do not think these sections should be regarded disjunctively. In our opinion, they between them (including sections 535 and 537) cover every possible case that relates to the charge and they place all failures to observe the rules about the charge in the category of curable irregularities. Chapter XIX deals comprehensive with charges and sections 535 and 537 cover every case in which there is a departure from the rules set out in that Chapter. Such departures range from errors, omissions and irregularities in charges that are framed, down to charges that might have been framed and were not and include a total omission to frame a charge at all at any stage of the trial is the foundation on which rules of procedure are based. We say it because that accords with logic and principle and reason and because in touches the deep verities on which the structure of justice is erected and maintained.
47. ….. We see no reason for straining at the meaning of these plain and emphatic provisions unless ritual and form are to be regarded as of the essence in criminal trials. We are unable to find any magic or charm in the ritual of a charge. It is the substance of these provisions that count and not their outward form. To hold otherwise is only to provide avenues of escape for the guilty and afford no protection to the innocent. We agree that a man must know what offence he is being tried for and that he must be told in clear and unambiguous terms and that it must all be explained to him so that he really understands.
The Supreme Court went to the extent of setting out a gross example in paragraph 50 thus:-
50. As an illustration, we give a case in which a Session Judge in a sessions trial having no charge before him from the committal court omits to frame one himself but instead, carefully and painstakingly, explains the particulars and the substance of the offence as in section 242 and complies with the spirit and object of section 271 but omits to observe its technical form. Then, when the witnesses are examined the accused shows by his cross-examination that he knows just what he is being tried for. He is examined fully and fairly under section 342 and his answers show that he is under no delusion. He calls witnesses in defence to meet the very point or points the prosecution seek to make out against him. He puts in a written statement and is defended by an able lawyer who raises no objection from start to finish. Will a technical defect in a case like that vitiate the trial ? If the Code says Yes, then there is an end of the matter. But, in our opinion, the Code very emphatically says No, but even if that is not the case and even if the very plain and clear words of sections 232 and 535 are
susceptible of two meanings, surely they should be construed so as to accord with what will best serve the ends of justice. We have put a case in which there neither is, nor can be, prejudice. Surely it wold be a travesty of justice to brand a conviction in a case like that as illegal. And yet that must be done if these words that are otherwise plain are construed in a stained and unnatural manner. On the other hand, there is nothing in the view we take to imperil or harass an accused however innocent he may be. How does 16 Cri-Appln-1662
the technical formula of a charge afford greater protection than the explaining under section 271(1) and the examination under section 342 ? And yet, on the argument before us, an omission to observe these other rules that are of the substance is curable when there is no prejudice but not the sacred ritual of the framing the charge; once that is there, the accused cannot be heard to say that he did not understand however much that may be the fact. Surely this cannot be right.
25.The noble thought of affording the right of natural justice to the accused have thus been ensconced in the aforesaid words of the Supreme Court which have served as the bedrock of the criminal justice system to subserve the ultimate cause of justice to both the prosecution and the defence.
26.Hence in this case though more offences that one is alleged to have been committed and for which the accused is charged to prevent multiplicity of proceedings as well as to prevent accused from facing trial twice with regard to the offences committed in the course of the same transaction, the two cases have been merged by the learned Sessions Judge and the charges framed so as to try the Applicant in a single trial.
27.It is contended on behalf of the Applicant that initially the merger was not allowed by the Court. 17 Cri-Appln-1662
However, that was when the Applicant was sought to be tried singly in one trial and along with two accused in the other trial. Since the other two accused have been discharged, the acts of the accused alone would have to be considered. These are acts in case of a single transaction. The amalgamated charges which the accused would have to face in a single trial, rather than prejudice the accused would, in fact, enure for his benefit in that the entire evidence would be led in respect of the accused in a single trial. The case, therefore, falls squarely under Section 220 of the IPC enabling the charges to be framed together. The impugned order of the learned Sessions Judge, therefore, cannot be faulted.
23. The Criminal Application is dismissed.
(SMT.ROSHAN DALVI, J.)