2006 ALL MR (Cri) 1311
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY(AURANGABAD BENCH)

B.R. GAVAI, J.

Shriram S/O. Nagordhar Mahajan Vs. State Of Maharashtra & Anr.

Criminal Application No. 95 of 2006

23rd February, 2006

Petitioner Counsel: Shri. V. D. SAPKAL
Respondent Counsel: Shri. PRAMOD C. PATEL,Shri. N. S. GHANEKAR

Criminal P.C. (1973), S.401(2) - Revision - Principles of natural justice - Before an order is passed to the prejudice of any person, it is necessary for the revisional court to hear him in view of provisions of S.401(2) of Criminal P.C. 2002 ALL MR (Cri) 2230 and Crimes (X) 1994(3) 541 - Referred to. (Para 18)

Cases Cited:
Suresh s/o. Latari Ramteke Vs. State of Maharashtra, 2002 ALL MR (Cri) 2230 [Para 8,13]
Jeet Singh Vs. State of Rajasthan, Crimes (X) 1994(3) 541 [Para 8]
Mohammad Jahangirkhan Pathan Vs. State of Gujarat, Crimes (X) 1994(3) 543 [Para 8,15]
R. P. Sablok Vs. Smt. Kaushalya Devi, 1982 Cri.L.J. 1342 [Para 8,15]
Chandra Deo Singh Vs. Prokash Chandra Bose @ Chabi Bose, AIR 1963 SC 1430 [Para 9,17]
A. K. Subbaiah Vs. State of Karanataka, 1987(4) SCC 557 [Para 12]


JUDGMENT

JUDGMENT :- By order dated 23rd February, 2006, I have allowed the application by quashing and setting aside the order passed by the learned IV Ad-hoc Additional District Judge, Aurangabad dated 17th December, 2005 in Criminal Revision No.244/2005. Vide the said order, the matter is remitted back to the learned Additional Sessions Judge, Aurangabad to decide the revision of the present respondent No.2 on merits after giving notice to the applicants as well as respondent No.2. The reasons for the said order are as under.

2. The short question that arises for consideration is whether the learned revisional Court was justified in allowing the revision of the present respondent No.2 thereby setting aside the order of the learned Magistrate of non issuance of process for an offence under Section 395 and directing the Magistrate to issue process for an offence under Section 395.

3. The facts, in brief, giving rise to the present application are as under.

The respondent No.2 herein filed a private complaint bearing Criminal MA No.165/2005 before the learned Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Sillod against the applicants under Sections 395, 307, 143, 147, 149, 323, 425, 426, 427, 504, 506, 341, 120(B) and 34 of the Indian Penal Code. On the date of filing of the complaint i.e. 30th August, 2005, the complainant was examined before the Court in support of her complaint. On the said date, the learned JMFC passed an order postponing the issuance of process. After examining six witnesses, learned JMFC, vide order dated 15th November, 2005, issued process under Sections 143, 147, 379, 323, 427, 504, 506 read with Section 149 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and issued bailable warrant. The learned JMFC, vide the said order, also held that no case was made out for an offence punishable under other Sections of the Indian Penal Code and, therefore, refused to issue process for the other offences.

4. The respondent No.2, herein, without adding the applicants in Criminal Revision No.244/2005 before the learned IV Ad-hoc Additional District Judge, Aurangabad, challenged the non issuance of process under Sections 395 and 307 of the Indian Penal Code.

5. The learned revisional Court, vide order dated 17th December, 2005, directed issuance of process under Section 395 of the Indian Penal Code in stead of Section 379 in addition to the other process already issued. The learned Magistrate, accordingly, vide order dated 29th December, 2005, issued the process for the offence punishable under Section 395 in stead of Section 379. Being aggrieved thereby, the applicants have approached this Court.

6. Heard Shri. V. D. Sapkal, the learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the applicants and Shri. N. S. Ghanekar, the learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent No.2.

7. Shri. Sapkal, the learned Counsel submits that the impugned order was wholly unsustainable-in-law. He submit that in view of the specific provisions under sub Section (2) of Section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, no order could be passed to the prejudice of the accused or other person unless he had an opportunity of being heard either personally or by pleader in his own defence. He submits that the learned Magistrate had refused issuance of process against the present applicants under Section 395 of the Indian Penal Code. He submits that the order passed by the revisional Court directing the issuance of process under Section 395 was acting to the prejudice of the present applicants and as such it could not have been passed without giving an opportunity of being heard to the applicants.

8. Shri. Sapkal, the learned Counsel for the applicants relies on the judgments of this Court in the case of Suresh s/o. Latari Ramteke Vs. State of Maharashtra and another (reported in 2002 ALL MR (Cri) 2230), the Rajasthan High Court in the case of Jeet Singh Vs. State of Rajasthan and another (reported in Crimes (X) 1994(3) 541), the Gujarat High Court in the case of Mohammad Jahangirkhan Pathan Vs. State of Gujarat (reported in Crimes (X) 1994(3) 543) and of Delhi High Court in the case of R. P. Sablok Vs. Smt. Kaushalya Devi (reported in 1982 Cri.L.J. 1342).

9. Shri. N. S. Ghanekar, the learned Counsel for the respondent No.2, on the contrary, submits that unless a person is issued process, he does not become an accused and, therefore, not entitled to take part in the proceedings. He submits that in so far as Section 395 is concerned, the learned Magistrate had not issued process under the said Section and, therefore, the applicants were not entitled to be heard in the revisional Court. He relies on the judgment of the Apex in the case of Chandra Deo Singh Vs. Prokash Chandra Bose alias Chabi Bose and another (reported in AIR 1963 SC 1430).

10. To appreciate the rival submissions, it is necessary to refer to sub Section (2) of Section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

"(2) No order under this section shall be made to the prejudice of the accused or other person unless he has had an opportunity of being heard either personally or by pleader in his own defence."

11. From the perusal of Section 399, it can be seen that the Sessions Judge may exercise all or any of the powers which may be exercised by the High Court under Section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. From the bare reading of Section 401(2) and Section 399, it can thus be seen that no order under the revisional jurisdiction could be made to the prejudice of the accused or other person unless he had an opportunity of being heard either personally or by pleader in his own defence. "Person" has not been defined under the Code of Criminal Procedure. Sub-Section (42) of Section 3 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 defines "person' as under.

"(42) "person" shall include any company or association or body of individuals, whether incorporated or not"

Section 11 of the Indian Penal Code defines "person" as under.

"11. "Person". The word "person" includes any Company or Association or body of persons, whether incorporated or not."

12. The Apex Court in the case of A. K. Subbaiah and others Vs. State of Karanataka and others (reported in 1987(4) SCC 557) has held as under.

"Section 401(2) contemplates a situation where a person may not be an accused person before the court below but one who might have been discharged and therefore if the revisional court after exercising jurisdiction under Section 401 wants to pass an order to the prejudice of such a person, it is necessary that the person should be given an opportunity of hearing but it does not contemplates any contingency of hearing of any person who is neither party in the proceedings in the court below nor is expected at any stage even after the revision to be joined as party."

13. This Court in the case of Suresh s/o Latari Ramteke Vs. State of Maharashtra and another (cited supra) was considering a case wherein the complaint filed by the complainant came to be dismissed. Being aggrieved by the dismissal of the complaint, the complainant preferred revision application. The applicant before the High Court had filed an application seeking permission to take part in the said proceedings of criminal revision. The said revision came to be rejected. In this factual position, while allowing the application of the applicant, this Court observed thus.

"Section 401(2) clearly provides that no order under this Section shall be made to the prejudice of the accused or other person unless he has had an opportunity of being heard either personally or by pleader in his own defence."

14. In the case before the Rajasthan High Court, the learned Magistrate had refused to issue process finding that no case is made out in the complaint. The Sessions Court set aside that order in revision without notice to the applicant/accused and remanded the case to the Magistrate. The Court observed thus.

"There are ex-parte proceedings and the same are set aside then there is no need to hear the accused. True Section 200 onwards occurring in Chapter XV of the Code of Criminal Procedure the whole process is of ex-parte nature without calling the so called accused to be heard in the matter because it is for the Magistrate to examine whether it is a fit case for issuing process and after the process is issued the accused has always had no opportunity of answering to those allegations. But the very fact that the Legislature has enacted Sub-section (2) of Section 401 Cr.P.C. with the intention that not only that the accused who is likely to be prejudiced should be heard but any other person should also be heard in the matter. The idea behind it is that perhaps the Legislature thought it to give it an extended meaning and, therefore, both these expressions have been used i.e. no order to the prejudice of the accused or any other person shall be made unless he has had an opportunity of being heard. Once the ex-parte order of not issuing the process exists in favour of the so called accused though he was not heard but the same is sought to be reversed. That will definitely operate to the prejudice of the accused and that for advancement of the cause of justice if notice is given to the accused and if he is heard then that will advance the cause of justice. This will be more in consonance with the principles of natural justice."

15. The same were also the facts before the Gujarat High Court in the case of Mohammad Jahangirkhan Pathan Vs. State of Gujarat (cited supra). In the said case also, the learned Magistrate held that the case is not made out and accepted the final report. However, the learned revisional Court while exercising the revisional jurisdiction remanded the case to the Magistrate. The Court found that this was not permissible in view of the provisions of sub Section (2) of Section 401. The Delhi High Court in the case of R. P. Sablok Vs. Smt. Kaushalya Devi (cited supra) took a similar view that whenever an order prejudicial to the interest of any person is passed, it was necessary to give notice to the person concerned.

16. It can thus be seen that in the facts of the present case, in so far as the offence punishable under Section 395 is concerned, the learned Magistrate had already passed an order and held that no case is made out for issuance of process under the said section and had declined to issue the process for the said section. The learned revisional Court, therefore, while passing the impugned order and directing the issuance of process against the applicants under Section 395, had passed order which operates to the prejudice of the present applicants. It was thus necessary to give an opportunity of hearing to the present applicants. From the judgments of the Apex Court cited supra, so also the various High Courts, it can be seen that it is a consistent view that whenever an order is passed to the prejudice of the party concerned, it is necessary that he has to be heard while passing the said order. It has also been held by various High Courts that this is inconsonance with the principles of natural justice and advancement of the cause of justice.

17. In so far as the judgments cited by Shri. N. S. Ghanekar, the learned Counsel for the respondent No.2 of the Apex Court in the case of Chandra Deo Singh Vs. Prokash Chandra Bose alias Chabi Bose and another is concerned, the case pertains to preliminary enquiry into the complaint under Section 202 of Cr.P.C.. The Apex Court in the said case held that, since the very question for consideration is whether a person should be called upon to face an accusation, he had not right to take part in the proceedings nor had the Magistrate any jurisdiction to permit him to do so. The same is not the case here. The learned Magistrate had already held that there was no sufficient material to issue process under Section 395 and had refused to issue process for the said section. However, the learned revisional Court directed issuance of process under Section 395. It is further to be noted that in the present case, the learned revisional Court did not even leave it to the discretion of the Magistrate by remanding the matter but has directed the Magistrate to issue the process.

18. It that view of the matter, the order passed by the learned revisional Court was patently in violation of the mandate of sub Section (2) of Section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. It is to be noted that in Section 439(2) of the Old Criminal Procedure Code of 1898, the only word used was "the accused". The words, "or other persons" are mentioned for the first time in the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973. It can thus be clearly seen that the legislative intent of introducing the words "or any other person" also appear to give an opportunity of being heard to any person who is likely to be prejudicially affected by the order of the revisional Court. This appears to be necessary for advancement of the cause of justice and in consonance with the principles of natural justice. I have, therefore, no hesitation to hold that before the order is passed to the prejudice of any person, it is necessary for the revisional Court to hear him in view of the provisions of sub Section (2) of Section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

19. Since the impugned order is passed without hearing the applicants, the same is liable to be quashed and set aside.

Application allowed.