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Sachin Saxena Alias Lucky vs State Of Up And Anr.

High Court Of Judicature at Allahabad|30 April, 2008

JUDGMENT / ORDER

JUDGMENT Amar Saran, J.
1. Heard learned Counsel for the revisionist, learned Counsel for opposite party No. 2 and learned AGA.
2. This criminal revision has been filed for setting aside the order dated 24.8.2006 passed by the Addl. Sessions Judge, Court No. 6, Pilibhit, in ST No. 200 of 2006, by which he has refused to discharge the revisionist, as well as the order dated 3.8.2007 framing charges against him under Section 302 IPC, and in the alternative, under Sections 302/34 IPC.
3. The factual background of this case is that there was a dispute between the non charge-sheeted co-accused Gopal Krishna Saxena over the Block Pramukh elections with Raju Pandey, the brother of the informant Brijesh Pandey. On the date of incident, 21.2.2006, Gopal Krishna Saxena had called Raju Pandey on telephone to his residence. The informant and the witnesses Ram Niwas and Pappu Pandey reached the house of Gopal Krishna Saxena by 9 a.m. along with the deceased Raju Pandey. Gopal Krishna was present there along with his sons co-accused Rajat Saxena @ Guddu, and the revisionist Sachin Saxena @ Lucky and Tej Bahadur Singh @ Teju. At the commencement of the talks Gopal Krishna asked Raju to restrain his mother from contesting in the Block Pramukh elections, and to leave the seat of the Samajwadi Party for his favoured candidate, the wife of co-accused Tej Bahadur Singh @ Teju. To this suggestion Raju replied that as the party had selected his mother to be the candidate, she would certainly contest the election. This annoyed Gopal, who cried out that Raju should be murdered as otherwise he would not listen. At that point, two sons of Gopal, viz. the revisionist Lucky @ Sachin and Rajat @ Guddu caught hold of Raju and Tej Bahadur and Gopal picked up their revolvers and both fired on the deceased. When the informant and witnesses tried to move forward, then the revisionist and the other non charge-sheeted accused cried out that if anyone intervened he would be shot dead. Raju Pandey died on the spot inside the house of the revisionist and Gopal Saxena. Thereafter, the accused persons ran away firing their respective weapons.
4. The report of this incident was lodged by the informant Brijesh Pandey at PS Puranpur, at case Crime No. 125 of 2006 under Sections 302, 504 and 506 IPC on 21.2.2006 at 10.15 a.m.
5. Thereafter, S.I. Rajendra Singh reached the spot and made a spot inspection and collected one empty cartridge of 32 bore, two pieces of cotton wool and one old cloth soaked in blood. He prepared recovery memos of the same. He also conducted the inquest on the dead body of Raju. He recorded the statement of the informant Brijesh Pandey immediately thereafter under Section 161 Cr.P.C. Brijesh Pandey corroborated the version given in the FIR. The investigating officer also gathered some hearsay information from Pramod Kumar @ Munne and Rajiv Kumar, both residents of mohalla Kayasthan, qasba and P.S. Puranpur, who supported the version mentioned by the informant. Tej Bahadur @ Teju was arrested on 21.2.2006 at 2 pm and it was also mentioned in the parcha of the case-diary that as this incident appeared to have been committed as a result of complicity of the accused, hence Section 34 IPC was also added and that he would be conducting the subsequent investigation.
6. On 22.2.2006, the revisionist Lucky was arrested and his statement under Section 161 Cr.P.C. recorded. In the statement to the police, he stated that he had shot Raju Pandey with his revolver which he had left on the roof of his house and had run away. On the basis of this statement, the investigating officer made an application before the CJM for recording the statement of the revisionist under Section 164 Cr.P.C. However, after examining Lucky the CJM made a note that the revisionist has refused to make any confessional statement. Then the investigating officer unsucessfully searched for the revolver on the roof of the house. On 22.3.2006 itself the investigating officer recorded the statements of the eye-witnesses Ram Niwas and Pappu Pandey who also corroborated the version given by the informant in the FIR. The investigating officer did not collect any information with respect to this crime after 22.2.2006,and there are only entries in the case-diary of his making efforts for arresting the other accused and their not being present at the places of search and being present elsewhere.
7. On 16.4.2006 vide paper No. 21 of the case-diary it was noted that the complicity of Dr. Tej Bahadur Singh @ Teju was found false and he was submitting a final report under Section 169 Cr.P.C. against the said accused. On 21.4.2006 the I.O. has observed in paper No. 22 that on the basis of the available statements of the informant and witnesses, spot inspection note, post-mortem report etc. there was sufficient evidence for submitting a charge-sheet against the revisionist Sachin @ Lucky under Sections 302, 504, 506/34 IPC. He kept the investigation pending against Gopal Krishna Saxena and Rajat Saxena @ Guddu. On 26.4.2006 he submitted a final report exonerating these two accused too.
8. A contrary version about the incident and cause of death of the deceased were set up by the defence. The defence version based on the report lodged by the revisionist's mother Smt. Ravibala Saxena at P.S. Puranpur at case crime No. 126B of 2006 under Sections 395 and 397 IPC was that the deceased Raju Pandey along with 15 or 20 other heavily armed persons had come to the house of the revisionist on 21.2.2006 at 9.30 a.m. for committing robbery there and in the course of the incident the public gathered who fired in defence which struck the deceased Raju Pandey. Another defence report at Case Crime No. 126A of 2006 under Sections 395/397 was lodged by Prakash Chand Singh, brother of the co-accused Tej Bahadur Singh and another FIR was lodged at Crime No. 126 of 2006 under Sections 147, 148, 149, 420 and 452 IPC against 200 to 250 persons of the group of the deceased Raju Pandey by SI Ramendra Singh.
9. It was argued on behalf of the revisionist that as the complicity of the other accused had been found false who had not been charge sheeted by the police, hence no charge could have been framed against the revisionist under Section 302, or in the alternative even under Sections 302/34 IPC. The version in the charge under Section 302 IPC and the alternative charge under Section 302 IPC dated 3.8.07 was that the revisionist Sachin @ Lucky had fired on the deceased Raju Pandey, either singly with his revolver or with the aid of his accomplices. This version based on the confessional statement to the police was at variance from the eye witness account given by the informant and others where the revisionist along with his brother Rajat @ Guddu had caught hold of the deceased when Gopal Saxena and Tej Bahadur Singh fired with their revolvers, hence as the accused could not be convicted on the basis of this changed version, a charge under Section 302 or 302/34 IPC ought not to have been framed against the revisionist who ought to have been discharged, and the order refusing to discharge him on 24.8.06 was illegal.
10. The learned Counsel for the O.P. No. 2 informant on the other hand contended that if the police has acted dishonestly by colluding with the politically well-connected co-accused and the revisionist by failing to submit a charge sheet against the co-accused under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC in spite of there being a prompt report and eye witness accounts of the informant and two other witnesses Ram Nivas and Pappu Pandey nominating the non-charge sheeted accused, by only submitting a charge sheet against the revisionist, it would result in a mockery of justice if now even this solitary charge sheeted accused is permitted to be discharged on a technical plea that only one accused has been charge sheeted and there can be no charge under Section 302 IPC read with Section 34 IPC unless other accused are also charge sheeted. It is the further case of the O.P. 2 that the version in the FIR and in the 161 Cr.P.C. statements of the eye witnesses has been dishonestly changed by the I.O. who has preferred an inadmissible confession to him by the revisionist that he shot the deceased with his revolver in his house which he then left on his roof (which he refused to confirm before the Magistrate to whom he was forwarded under Section 164 Cr.P.C) to the FIR version and the eye witness account, that the deceased was shot by co-accused Gopal and Tej Bahadur and the role of catching hold was assigned to the revisionist and to [email protected] Guddu. This was also done to help the accused and to spoil the prosecution case. It was further contended that great miscarriage of justice would result if either the case against the sole remaining accused is quashed and the order refusing to discharge the revisionist is set aside or the proceedings are kept stayed in order to prevent the examination of the eye witnesses which would have facilitated passing of orders summoning the named non charge sheeted accused Gopal Saxena, Tej Bahadur Singh and Rajat Saxena @ Guddu in the course of the trial. On a plain reading also the FIR and the eye witness account give a far more plausible description of the incident than the version set up by the defence.
11. I may mention here that the legal position is that even if the identity of the other accused cannot be ascertained or confirmed in an incident where the allegations are that a particular accused has participated along with other persons (whether known or unknown), and there are circumstances to suggest participation of a plurality of persons in the incident, there is no fetter on framing a charge or even convicting the said solitary accused under Section 302 with the aid of Section 34 IPC. It would be useful here to quote the inimitable words of V.R. Krishna Iyer J in a three Judge decision of the Apex Court in Harshadsingh Pahelvansingh Thakore v. The State of Gujarat, 1977 CRI. L. J. 352 (SC):
8. Counsel also argued that since three out of the four accused have secured acquittal the invocation of Section 34 is impermissible. The flaw in this submission is obvious. The Courts have given the benefit of doubt of identity but have not held that there was only one assailant in the criminal attack. The proposition is plain that even if some out of several accused are acquitted but the participating presence of a plurality of assailants is proved, the conjoint culpability for the crime is inescapable. Not that the story of more than one person having attacked the victim is false, but that the identity of the absolved accused is not firmly fixed as criminal participants. Therefore, it follows that such of them, even if the number dwindled to one, as are shown by sure evidence to have knifed the deceased, deserve to be convicted for the principal offence read with the constructive provision.
12. As in the present case at least 4 fire arm injuries are alleged to have been received by the deceased in the incident which took place in the house of the revisionist and his co-accused father Gulab Saxena and his brother Rajat @ Guddu, prima facie it does not appear at this stage that this crime could be committed by a single person, the revisionist. Moreover it will be examined during trial whether the fire arm injuries could be due to a single weapon or more than one weapon.
13. Moreover at this stage only the matter as to the justifiability of framing a charge against the revisionist is being considered. It is quite likely as suggested by the learned Counsel for the O.P. No. 2 that after the evidence of the eye witnesses are recorded the other named accused in the FIR may also be summoned in exercise of powers under Section 319 Cr.P.C. as it is suggested by the learned Counsel for the O.P. No. 2 that the other co-accused were not charge sheeted due to the political influence of the accused in a mala fide manner. Notably the present case is also not one where the co-accused have been finally acquitted as yet, but only that the police has submitted a final report against them.
14. At the stage of framing a charge neither the defence case nor a meticulous examination of the evidence is needed and it has only to be seen by the Court whether there is sufficient material to proceed with the trial against the accused. Even if the material collected by the police during investigation casts a strong suspicion of the complicity of an accused, that is sufficient for framing the charge. The statement of law as to the material required for framing a charge has been appositely delineated in paragraph 4 in State of Bihar v. Ramesh Singh, and is being extracted below:
4. Under Section 226 of the Code while opening the case for the prosecution the prosecutor has got to describe the charge against the accused and state by what evidence he proposes to prove the guilt of the accused. Thereafter comes at the initial stage the duty of the Court to consider the record of the case and the documents submitted therewith and to hear the submissions of the accused and the prosecution in that behalf. The Judge has to pass thereafter an order either under Section 227 or Section 228 of the Code. If "the Judge considers that there is not sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused, he shall discharge the accused and record his reasons for so doing", as enjoined by Section 227. If, on the other hand, "the Judge is of opinion that there is ground for presuming that the accused has committed an offence which-
...
(b) is exclusively triable by the Court, he shall frame in writing a charge against the accused", as provided in Section 228. Reading the two provisions together in juxtaposition, as they have got to be, it would be clear that at the beginning and the initial stage of the trial the truth, veracity and effect of the evidence which the Prosecutor proposes to adduce are not to be meticulously judged. Nor is any weight to be attached to the probable defence of the accused. It is not obligatory for the Judge at that stage of the trial to consider in any detail and weigh in a sensitive balance whether the facts, if proved, would be incompatible with the innocence of the accused or not. The standard of test and judgment which is to be finally applied before recording a finding regarding the guilt or otherwise of the accused is not exactly to be applied at the stage of deciding the matter under Section 227 or Section 228 of the Code. At that stage the Court is not to see whether there is sufficient ground for conviction of the accused or whether the trial is sure to end in his conviction. Strong suspicion against the accused, if the matter remains in the region of suspicion, cannot take the place of proof of his guilt at the conclusion of the trial. But at the initial stage if there is a strong suspicion which leads the Court to think that there is ground for presuming that the accused has committed an offence then it is not open to the Court to say that there is no sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused. The presumption of the guilt of the accused which is to be drawn at the initial stage is not in the sense of the law governing the trial of criminal cases in France where the accused is presumed to be guilty unless the contrary is proved. But it is only for the purpose of deciding prima facie whether the Court should proceed with the trial or not. If the evidence which the Prosecutor proposes to adduce to prove the guilt of the accused even if fully accepted before it is challenged in cross-examination or rebutted by the defence evidence, if any, I cannot show that the accused committed the offence, then there will be no sufficient ground for proceeding with the trial. An exhaustive list of the circumstances to indicate as to what will lead to one conclusion or the other is neither possible nor advisable. We may just illustrate the difference of the law by one more example. If the scales of pan as to the guilt or innocence of the accused are something like even at the conclusion of the trial, then, on the theory of benefit of doubt the case is to end in his acquittal. But if, on the other hand, it is so at the initial stage of making an order under Section 227 or Section 228, then in such a situation ordinarily and generally the order which will have to be made will be one under Section 228 and not under Section 227.
15. Reliance was placed before the learned trial judge as well as before this Court by the learned Counsel for the revisionist on a single-judge decision of this Court in the case of Shobha Nath v. Achhu Ram and Ors: 1984 A.Cr.R (paragraph 7), wherein it was held by this Court that an offence under Sections 395/397 IPC could not be committed by a single individual and that the learned Addl. Munsif Magistrate was right in refusing to commit the case to the Court of Session on this ground and sending it back to the CJM for appropriate orders. It may be noted that in the aforesaid case of Shobha Nath it has been observed in paragraph 4 that the Addl. Munsif Magistrate did not either commit or refuse to commit the respondent Achhu Ram under Section 209 Cr.P.C. and had simply sent back the case to the CJM and as no final order had since been passed refusing to commit Achhu Ram no cause of action had accrued to the applicant to file the revision and that interference by the High Court at that stage was premature. I also think that the learned Sessions judge had rightly distinguished the case of Shoba Nath (supra) by holding that an offence under Section 395 IPC requires the involvement of at least 5 persons, but in the present case there is no such condition precedent in a case of murder. The learned judge further observed that if the offence is said to be committed by the revisionist Sachin @ Lucky alone, then there was sufficient ground for framing a charge against him under Section 302 IPC as even the dead body of the deceased Raju Pandey had been recovered from his house with bullet wounds and it would only be decided in the case of trial as to how the incident took place and whether the version given by the prosecution or the versions suggested by the defence is correct. I see no illegality or error in the view taken by the learned Sessions Judge in this respect.
16. One other case cited by the applicant's counsel, Surendra Chauhan v. State of M.P., 2000(40) ACC 894 in which reference was made by counsel to 3 or 4 lines in paragraph 10 where it had simply been stated that to apply Section 34 IPC apart from the fact that there should be two or more accused, two factors must be established: i) common intention and ii) participation of the accused in the commission of the crime. I do not see how the few lines torn out of context render any assistance to the revisionist. As mentioned above the complicity of the other accused and whether this was an act of a single accused or more than one accused and their sharing a common intention will all need to be considered during trial, and the matter cannot be pre-judged at the stage of framing of charges. Even in Surendra Chauhan's case the accused who had taken the girl for abortion before an unqualified doctor who died in consequence of the medical procedures was held guilty under Section 314 read with the aid of Section 34 IPC for sharing a common intention with the quack for causing her death whilst trying to get her miscarriage done.
17. At this stage as I have pointed out relying on the decision of State of Bihar v. Ramesh Singh (Supra) it could not be said that there was no sufficient material to proceed with the trial against the revisionist, or to frame a charge against the revisionist for committing the murder of Raju at his residence at a particular time either singly or alternatively with the assistance of some other persons.
18. It was further observed in the said order that on the basis of the FIR and statements under Section 161 Cr.P.C. of the witnesses Brijesh Pandey, Ram Niwas and Pappu Pandey, there was sufficient material also to frame an alternative charge under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC. However, so far as the allegations under Sections 504 and 506 IPC were concerned, the Court was of the opinion that there was no clear evidence regarding the said offence, hence there was no sufficient material for framing charges under those sections. Hence the Court was of the opinion that there was no ground for discharging the revisionist in this case. Section 221(1) Cr.P.C. also clearly permits framing alternative charges when it is doubtful as to which offence has been committed in the course of an act or a series of acts. It reads as follows:
221(1): Where it is doubtful what offence has been committed.-(1) If a single act or series of acts is of such a nature that it is doubtful which of several offences the facts which can be proved will constitute, the accused may be charge with having committed all or any of such offences, and any number of such charges may be tried at once; or he may be charged in the alternative with having committed some one of the said offences.
19. Under Section 221(2) Cr.P.C. it has been provided that even when an accused has been charged with one offence, but in the course of trial from the evidence it appears that he may have committed another offence for which he may have been charged under the provisions of Section 221(1) Cr.P.C. he could even be convicted under the latter offence although he was not charged for it. Section 221 (2) reads thus:
221 (2): If in such a case the accused is charged with one offence, and it appears in evidence that he committed a different offence for which he might have been charged under the provisions of Sub-section (1), he may be convicted of the offence which he is shown to have committed, although he was not charged with it.
20. Learned Counsel for the revisionist further contended that in both the direct charge under Section 302 IPC and the alternative charge under Section 302 IPC read with Section 34 IPC, which was framed by the Sessions Judge on 3.8.2007 a specific role of firing on Raju Pandey has been assigned to the revisionist Sachin @ Lucky. This may be the position so far as the direct charge under Section 302 IPC simplicitor against the revisionist was concerned. But, so far as the alternative charge under Sections 302 read with 34 IPC was concerned, it simply mentions that on the aforesaid date and time (i.e. 21.2.2006 at 9 am) the revisionist along with the other accomplices in furtherance of their common intention had shot at Raju Pandey with a revolver and thereby had committed an offence under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC. I do not think that under this alternative charge the role of firing was exclusively assigned to the revisionist. Moreover, the value of the evidence, which has to be collected in this case, can only be appreciated in the course of the trial. It is quite possible that in the course of trial the trial Court may not attach much importance to the alleged confession of the revisionist before the police officer mentioned above and it may also hold the same to be hit by Section 25 of the Evidence Act which prohibits proving confessions to a police officer, especially in view of the fact that the revisionist refused to make any confessional statement before the Magistrate concerned when the police sent him before the Magistrate for recording his statement under Section 164 Cr.P.C. It is highly likely that during trial the trial court may attach greater weight to the direct evidence of the informant and other eye witnesses of the incident (which as suggested by the learned Counsel for the O.P. No. 2) appears to have been mischievously side lined by the investigating officer perhaps for extraneous considerations.
21. Significantly it may be noted that in view of Section 213 Cr.P.C. there is no requirement of mentioning the manner in which an offence has been committed when the particulars required in Sections 211 and 212 have been mentioned. Specifically "illustration e) to Section 213" supports this view as according to the illustration there is no requirement to mention the manner in which the murder was committed, but the only requirement is to mention the time and place where A is said to have murdered B. Illustration e) reads thus:
A is accused of the murder of B at a given time and place. The charge need not state the manner in which A murdered B.
22. The requirements of this provision have thus been adequately complied with in the present case, where the aforesaid ingredients have been mentioned in the charge. Furthermore Section 215 Cr.P.C clearly provides that no error in describing either the offence or the particulars required to be stated in the charge shall be regarded as material unless the accused was in fact misled by such error or omission and it has occasioned a failure of justice. Section 215 Cr.P.C. reads thus:
215. Effect of errors.- No error in stating either the offence or the particulars required to be stated in the charge, and no omission to state the offence or those particulars, shall be regarded at any stage of the case as material, unless the accused was in fact misled by such error or omission, and it has occasioned a failure of justice.
23. I do not think that in the facts of the instant case where the section, place, and time of incident have been clearly mentioned in the charge the revisionist has in any manner been misled by any error or omission in the charge and there has been a failure of justice.
24. Furthermore under Section 216 Cr.P.C. a Court may alter or add to a charge at any time before pronouncement of the judgment. Thus plenary powers are available with the Court for altering a charge or the particulars therein at any stage as evidence is forthcoming in a case.
25. Also under Section 464 Cr.P.C. no omission to frame, or absence or error in the charge provides a ground for setting aside a finding, sentence or order unless a failure of justice has been occasioned thereby.
26. Further when the accused is examined under Section 313 Cr.P.C. after the completion of the prosecution evidence, that is the stage for acquainting the accused with the entire case against him that he is called upon to meet. In this view of the matter I find no illegality in the orders refusing to discharge the revisionist and framing a charge against him, and there is no force in this Criminal Revision which is hereby dismissed and the stay order granted earlier is vacated.
27. Learned Counsel for the complainant further submit that the real purpose for filing this Criminal Revision as well as the other applications (some of which had been listed along with this Criminal Revision) was for stalling proceedings in order to prevent summoning of the other co-accused who were named in the FIR but who according to the complainant collusively and dishonestly were not charge sheeted by the police, and who may now be summoned once the evidence of eye witnesses are recorded, in exercise of powers under Section 319 Cr.P.C. I do find that in the present criminal revision, as well as a transfer application filed by the Revisionist the proceedings were stayed, until they were subsequently dismissed or vacated by other subsequent benches. In view of this submission the trial Court is directed to proceed with the trial of this case expeditiously and to try to conclude it within 6 months of the filing of certified copy of this order before it, and to follow the procedure for day to day proceedings set out in Section 309 Cr.P.C. once the recording of the evidence begins. The observations made hereinabove have been made for disposal of this Criminal Revision. The trial Court is of course expected to decide the case on merit uninfluenced by the observations hereinabove.
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Title

Sachin Saxena Alias Lucky vs State Of Up And Anr.

Court

High Court Of Judicature at Allahabad

JudgmentDate
30 April, 2008
Judges
  • A Saran