While taking a pragmatic approach, the Bombay High Court has as recently as on August 25, 2021 in a learned, laudable, latest and landmark judgment titled Sunil Hirasingh Rathod Vs State of Maharashtra in Criminal Appeal No. 1137 of 2018 along with Criminal Appeal No. 1039, 1102 and 1114 of 2018 reiterated in a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PC Act) that mere recovery of tainted money from the accused in the absence of proof of demand is not sufficient to sustain the conviction. It must be apprised here that the Bombay High Court has observed that in a criminal trial, an accused doesn’t have to prove his case with the same rigour with which the prosecution is required to prove theirs. It said that once the accused gives a reasonable and probable explanation, the prosecution must prove the explanation is false. It must be mentioned here that the observation was made by a Single Judge Bench comprising of Justice Bharati Dangare of Bombay High Court in the backdrop of ‘permissible level of presumption of motive’ under Section 20 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
To start with, a Single Judge Bench of Justice Bharati Dangare of Bombay High Court who authored this brief, brilliant, balanced and bold judgment sets the ball rolling by first and foremost observing in para 1 that, “Through the above mentioned four Appeals, five accused persons assail the judgment and order of conviction and sentence passed in Special Case No. 60 of 2015 by the Special Judge, Mumbai on 18th August 2018 and seek their acquittal, on reversing the impugned judgment holding them guilty of the offence punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 Appeal No. 1039 of 2018 is filed by two appellants, Vilas Ganpati Khillari, Assistant Engineer and Balaji Gurupadabba Birajdar, Sub-Engineer working in MCGM, F/North Zone, E Ward, Byculla. In Appeal No. 1137 of 2018, the applicant is one Sunil Rathod, Executive Engineer, MCGM, F/North Zone, E Ward, Byculla, Mumbai. Appeal No.1102 of 2018 is instituted by Satish B. Palav working as Liaison Officer through Architect engaged by the complainant and fourth Appeal vide No.1114 of 2018 is filed by Narayan J. Patil, a private person.
In view of the order passed on 22th October 2018 in Criminal Application No.1611 of 2018, in Appeal No.1137/2018, the hearing of the Appeal was expedited. The office made the Appeal ready for final hearing in the month of April 2021 along with the connected Appeals. By consent of all the parties, the Appeals were taken up for hearing.”
To put things in perspective, the Bench then envisages in para 3 that, “The appellants are described by their nomenclature during the trial, in view of the distinct appeals which they have filed.
Before proceeding to the challenge to the impugned judgment, the prosecution case can be briefly summarized as under :-
4 In the month of October 2014, the Accused no.1 was serving on the post of Assistant Engineer, MCGM, FNorth Zone, E-Ward, Byculla, Mumbai, while the Appellant No.2 was serving as Sub-Engineer in the very same office in which the Appellant Sunil Rathod was serving as Executive Engineer. The accused nos.1 to 3 were public servants within the meaning of Section 2(c) of Prevention of Corruption Act, whereas the appellant no.4 is a private person, an Architect by profession and engaged in liasoning work between various persons and MCGM Officials. Accused no.5 was working as helper with one of the Architects in Mumbai.
The complainant (PW 1) and his partner PW 2 are into construction business being carried out in the name and style as “Tirupati Developers”. The business is run as a partnership firm, which is registered, having its office at Dombivali and the prosecution case revolve around a development work being undertaken by the said firm in respect of one Date Bhavan located at 167-B, City Survey No.144-B, 10, Babasaheb Ambedkar Road, Mumbai. An application was moved for permission for redevelopment and construction work from the Government of Maharashtra. After obtaining the said permission, applications were moved with the MCGM for the project to be undertaken. The case of the prosecution is that the Accused nos.1 to 3 were handling the work of grant of Intimation Of Disapproval (IOD) for the complainant’s firm and that the accused no.1 and 2 demanded sum of Rs.15 lakhs and Rs.10 lakhs respectively from the complainant on 10th October 2014 for issuance of IOD for their project and since the complainant had no intention to pay the bribe amount as demanded, he lodged a complaint with the office of Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).
For the purpose of verification of the demand, the panch witnesses were directed to accompany the complainant and accordingly, they visited the office of the accused persons on 10/10/2014, 16/10/2014, 17/10/214 and 18/10/2014 and the prosecution claim that the demand of bribe amount by the accused nos.1 and 2, was verified. The conversation between the complainant and the accused persons came to be recorded. The eventual trap was laid on 20/10/2014, during which the prosecution claim that the accused no.1 accepted the bribe amount of Rs.10 lakhs from the complainant through accused no.4 Shri Palav, whereas the accused no.2 Balaji Birajdar accepted bribe amount of Rs.5 lakhs from the complainant, and he transmitted the amount outside his office through Accused no.5 Narayan Patil. As per the instructions given to the complainant, when the pre-decided signal was received, the raiding team of the ACB arrived along with the panchas and the bribe amount came to be recovered from accused no.4, whereas Accused No.2 who had handed over the amount to accused no.5, was called with the amount and accordingly, an amount of Rs.5 lakhs came to be recovered from him. The bribe amount was scanned under U.V rays and traces of Anthracene Powder was found on the person of the accused nos.1 and 2 along with accused nos.4 and 5.
5 The trap by ACB and the recovery of bribe money culminated in registration of FIR at the instance of the complainant with ACB, BN, Mumbai, vide C.R. No. 74 of 2014, invoking Sections 7, 13(1)(d) and 12(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. On completion of investigation, charge-sheet came to be filed before the learned Special Judge, Mumbai and the case was registered as Special Case No.60 of 2015.
6 Charge came to be framed against the accused persons initially on 29th November 2016 and additional charge was framed on 4th June 2018. It would be appropriate to refer to the charge levelled against the accused persons for effective appreciation of the case of the prosecution.
Accused nos.1 to 3 are charged under the P.C. Act, in their capacity as public servants. They are charged under Section 7 of the P.C. Act for demanding and attempting to obtain sum of Rs.15 lakhs and Rs.10,000/- respectively from the complainant on 10/10/2014 as gratification other than legal remuneration as a motive or reward for showing favour to the complainant for starting redevelopment work at Date Bhavan which they were authorized to give. Further, the accused no.1 also faced charge for demand and attempt to obtain an amount of Rs.15 lakhs on 16th October 2014 as a gratification or reward for issuing IOD and thereby committing offence under Section 7. of the Act. Both the aforesaid accused persons are further charged for demanding and accepting bribe on 20th October 2014 at 3.30 p.m from the complainant. The said accused persons are also charged with Section 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act by obtaining pecuniary advantage on 20/10/2014 at 3.30 p.m in the BMC Office, Byculla, Mumbai. As far as accused no.3, the Executive Engineer is concerned, he is charged for abetting accused nos.1 and 2 in commission of the offence by threatening the complainant to comply with the aforesaid demand on the aforesaid date, time and place, and by giving guarantee of performance of job to the complainant in satisfaction of the illegal demand and thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 12 of the P.C. Act. The private person Satish Palav (Accused no.4) is charged for accepting an amount of Rs.10,000/- on 20/10/2014 from the complainant by and on behalf of accused no.1. and for remaining present with him while the amount of Rs.5 lakhs was accepted by accused no.2. He is charged under Section 12 of the P.C. Act. As far as accused no.5 is concerned, he is charged for helping accused no.2 in moving away the tainted amount of Rs.5 lakhs from his drawer outside his office so as to cause disappearance of the amount and thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 12 of the P.C. Act.
The additional charge was framed against accused no.2 under Section 7 of the Act for demanding an amount of Rs.10 lakhs on 18/10/2014 and for conceding to the request of the partners of the firm to reduce the amount and accept the same as illegal gratification other then legal remuneration and thus for committing an offence under Section 7 of the Act.
As all the accused persons, pleaded not guilty, they were subjected to trial in the Special Court.
7 At the commencement of the trial, the Public Prosecutor tendered a list of documents to be relied upon by the prosecution and accused nos.1 to 3 barring their service record, did not admit any documents, whereas accused nos.4 and 5 did not admit a single document.
The prosecution laid its case before the Special Court through 11 witnesses; the complainant being examined as PW 1 along with his partner Jagdish Raje being examined as PW 2. PW nos.3 and 4 are the technicians with the ACB who recorded the voice sample and the verification, pre-trap and post-trap panchnama. PW 5, PW 7 and PW 8 are the Nodal Officers of the Service Provider who produced CDR of the mobile phones. Two panch witnesses who participated in the raid are examined as PW 6 and PW 9. The Investigating Officer of ACB is examined as PW 10, whereas Scientific Officer at FSL on the point of the recorded conversation is examined as PW 11. The sanction to prosecute the accused persons issued by the Commissioner of Municipal Corporation qua accused nos.1 to 3 is also produced on record by the prosecution. The statement of all the accused persons came to be recorded under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure where apart from denying the prosecution case, all five accused persons submitted a written say in support of their defence, with a plea of false implication and to establish their innocence.
8 On appreciation of the material placed before it, learned Special Judge found the accused guilty of charge framed and recorded a finding of guilt and on hearing the accused on sentence, imposed the sentence. The accused nos.1 and 2 on being convicted under Section 7 of the P.C. Act are sentenced to suffer RI for 3 years and to pay fine of Rs.15,000/-, and in default to suffer SI for 3 months. As far as their conviction under Section 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of the Act is concerned, both the accused are sentenced to suffer RI for 4 years and to pay fine of Rs.5,000/- and in default to suffer SI for three months. Sentences imposed are directed to run concurrently. Accused no.3 is convicted for the offence punishable under Section 7 of the Act and sentenced to suffer RI for 3 years with fine of Rs.10,000/-, in default to suffer SI for 3 months, though never charged u/s.7 of the Act. Accused nos.4 and 5 on being convicted under Section 12 of the Act are sentenced to suffer SI for three years and fine of Rs.5,000/- in default to suffer SI for three months.
It is against this judgment, the present four Appeals are instituted by the five accused persons.”
Be it noted, the Bench then observes in para 48 that, “The inconsistencies in the version of the prosecution witnesses are not in form of mere marginal variation but the inconsistencies and the omissions which amount to contradictions in material particulars go to the root of the case and materially affect the case of the prosecution. The version of PW 1 and PW 2 which itself is full of inconsistencies and the version of complainant read with the version of PW 6 and PW 9 who were assigned the task of following the complainant to verify the demand, make the case of the prosecution doubtful and render the testimony of PW 1/complainant, liable to be discredited.”
It is worth noting that the Bench then observes in para 51 that, “While deciding any case involving the offence under the Anti Corruption Law, one more aspect which is to be borne in mind is that the complainant’s evidence has to be scrutinized meticulously, since giving bribe is also an offence, but, then in order to arrest a person who has demanded and then accepting the bribe, testimony of such persons require to be carefully tested. In Panalal Damodar Rathi vs. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1979 SC 1191, it has been held as under :-
“There could be no doubt that the evidence of the complainant should be corroborated in material particulars. After introduction of Section 165-A of the Indian Penal Code making the person who offers bribe guilty of abetment of bribery, the complainant cannot be placed on any better footing than that of an accomplice and corroboration in material particulars connecting the accused with the crime has to be insisted upon.”
The complainant himself is in the nature of accomplice and his version, prima facie, demand a corroboration in material particulars which is conspicuously absent in the case of the prosecution. Demand of gratification cannot be held to be proved only on the basis of complaint filed and the legal position being well settled to the effect that any absence of proof of demand, mere recovery of tainted money from accused, cannot sustain his conviction.”
Most significantly, the Bench then waxes eloquently to state elegantly in para 52 which forms the cornerstone of this judgment that, “Another settled position of law requires a reiteration. As far as the presumption permissible to be drawn under Section 20 of the P.C. Act is concerned, it can only be drawn in respect of offence under Section 7 and not for the offence punishable under Section 13(1)(d)(i)(ii) of the Act. In any event, it is only on proof of acceptance of illegal gratification that a presumption can be drawn Proof of acceptance of illegal gratification can follow only if there is proof of demand.
The law is well crystallized that demand of illegal gratification is sine qua non for the constitution of an offence under the provisions of the Act It would be useful to refer the observations of the Hon’ble Apex Court in the authoritative pronouncement of State of Maharashtra v. Dnyaneshwar Laxman Rao Wankhede, which read as under :-
“In indisputably, the demand of illegal gratification is a sine qua none for constitution of an offence under the provisions of the Act. For arriving at the conclusion as to whether all the ingredients of an offence, viz. Demand, acceptance and recovery of the amount of illegal gratification have been satisfied or not, the court must take into consideration the facts and circumstances brought on the record in their entirety. For the said purpose, indisputably, the presumptive evidence, as is laid down in section 20 of the Act, must also be taken into consideration but then in respect thereof, it is trite, the standard of burden of proof on the accused vis-a-vis the standard of burden of proof on prosecution would defer. Before, however, the accused is called upon to explain as to how the amount in question was found in his possession, the foundational fact must be established by the prosecution. Even by invoking the provisions of Section 20 of the Act, the Court is required to consider the explanation offered by the accused, if any, only on the touchstone of preponderance of probabilities and not on the touchstone of proof beyond reasonable doubt.”
The burden to be discharged by prosecution before sustaining a conviction of an accused under the Prevention of Corruption Act is completely absent in the present case. Proof of acceptance of illegal gratification can follow only when there is proof of demand. The same is conspicuously lacking in the present case and the primary facts on the basis of which presumption under Section 20 of the Act can be drawn are completely amiss. The mere possession and recovery of currency notes from the accused without proof of demand will not establish the offence under Section 7. Further, the same shall be conclusive insofar as the offence under Section 13(1)(d)(i)(ii) is concerned as in the absence of proof of demand for illegal gratification, use of corrupt or illegal means of abuse of position as public servants to obtain any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage, cannot be held to be established. The demand of gratification cannot be said to be proved only on the basis of the allegations levelled in the complaint in absence of the allegations levelled in the complaint in absence of any corroboration to that effect. Mere recovery of tainted money from the accused in absence of proof of demand is not sufficient to sustain the conviction. The three cardinal principles of criminal jurisprudence are well settled and in case of Rabindra Kumar Dey Vs. State of Orissa, AIR 1977 SC 170, they are highlighted as under :-
(i) that the onus lies affirmatively on the prosecution to proves its case beyond reasonable doubt and it cannot derive any benefit from weakness or falsity of the defence version while proving its case;
(ii) that in a criminal trial, the accused must be presumed to be innocent unless proved to be guilty; and
(iii) that the onus of the prosecution never shifts.
Merely because of the existence of presumption under Section 20, the burden does not shift on the accused. The Evidence Act do not contemplate that the accused should prove the case with the same strictness and rigor as the prosecution is required to prove a criminal charge and it is sufficient if the accused is able to prove his case by standard of preponderance of probabilities as envisaged under Section 5 of the Evidence Act as a result of which he succeeds not because he proves his case to the hilt but because probability of the version given by him throws doubt on the prosecution case and, therefore, the prosecution cannot be said to have established the charge beyond reasonable doubt. Once the accused gives a reasonable and probable explanation, it is for the prosecution to prove affirmatively that the explanation is false. In criminal trial, it is not at all obligatory on the accused to produce evidence in support of its defence and for the purpose of proving his version, he can rely on the admissions given by prosecution witness or documents filed by the prosecution. The prosecution has to stand on its own legs, and if it fails to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, the entire edifice of the prosecution case would crumble down.”
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Sexual violence and victim’s story: Believed or blamed?
Introduction : “Violence is defined as the use of physical force against another person with a high likelihood of resulting in murder, injury, psychological harm, or other undesirable consequences. Furthermore, it is the intentional or probable intentional use of physical force against oneself, another person, or a group that results in or is likely to result in damage, death, psychological harm, poor development, or deprivation. Physical, sexual, or psychological violence, as well as acts of deprivation or carelessness, are all examples of violence. Sexual violence is without a doubt one of the most deadly forms of violence. Physical or sexual abuse by an intimate partner or another criminal is a threat to women all over the globe. Medical injuries, deterioration in mental health, and particular chronic physical illnesses may all result from sexual assault and IPV. In rare instances, such acts of aggression may result in the victim’s handicap or death. Sexual violence occurs in all cultures throughout the globe, but it is defined differently. Physically forcing another person to have sexual intercourse without their permission, having sexual intercourse out of fear of the partner, and/or being forced to perform a sexual act considered degrading are all examples of sexual assault. Although both men and women are victims of sexual assault, women are more likely to be victims, and the offenders are usually male and known to the victim. Because sexual assault is a frequently underreported occurrence, statistics are unlikely to reflect the actual scope of the issue. The data that is accessible is sparse and scattered. For example, police data is often inadequate and restricted. On the other side, data from medico-legal clinics may be skewed toward more violent cases of sexual abuse. Furthermore, the percentage of individuals who seek medical help for acute issues linked to sexual assault is minimal. Shame and humiliation, fear of not being believed, fear of the perpetrator of the crime, fear of the legal procedure, or scepticism that the police would be able to assist them are all reasons for not reporting. Due to severe humiliation and worries about other people’s views, their masculinity, and the fact that they were powerless to prevent the attack, males are much more hesitant to disclose sexual violence. As a result, data on the prevalence of sexual assault against men is particularly scarce. Sexual abuse of children is also frequently unreported. The majority of the information comes from individuals who were asked about their previous experiences.”
Bombay High Court : Sexual violence knows no boundaries, it occurs in every country, across all parts of society, Bharati Dangre, J., while noting a case of sexual harassment caused to a child aged 17 years due to which she took the step of ending her life, rejected the bail of the accused.
THE REASONS FOR THE RISE IN SEXUAL VIOLENCE INCIDENTS IN INDIA ARE AS FOLLOWS
• One of the reasons for India’s sexual violence problem could be the lack of female cops. When a woman is raped, she is more likely to report it to a female cop. In the past, just 7% of female police officers had worked in New Delhi. In fact, there is only one female station house officer in each of Delhi’s 161 district police stations.
• In Indian society, improper dress is blamed for the victim’s situation. This was demonstrated in an Indian judge survey, in which 68 percent of respondents agreed with the same premise. It’s a harsh reality, but it’s also the truth.
• Domestic violence is seen as deserving in Indian society. According to UNICEF, 57 percent of Indian boys and 53 percent of Indian girls believe that beating a wife is justifiable in one of their reports.
• No public safety- In most Indian societies, women who drink, smoke, or go late-night partying are considered as immoral and are the cause of rape. Women in India are obviously not safe in public areas if the general populace believes and accepts this kind of justification for rape. Victims of rape are discouraged from compromising because no family in Indian society is willing to accept that a member of their family has been raped. As a result, victims are frequently advised to avoid the chaos that follows rape in the police station.
• The majority of rapes in India are not even recorded. Despite the fact that laws are being drafted to protect rape victims and provide them with legal rights, there is still a problem with the laws’ execution.
WHAT OBSTACLES DO SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE IN INDIA FACE IN GETTING JUSTICE?
Sexual Violence in South Asia: Legal and Other Barriers to Justice for Survivors, published in 2021, revealed that rape laws are still poorly implemented, and survivors, particularly those from vulnerable populations based on caste, class, or ethnicity, face numerous barriers to justice, including: Corruption among law enforcement officials, the failure of the police to register cases of sexual violence, the continued use of the two-finger test, difficulties in obtaining support services for survivors, such as compensation and victim and witness protection, pressure from families, community, and panchayat members to enter into extra-legal settlements, and many other issues. Control and patriarchy, as well as masculine entitlement, are at the heart of sexual assault. In India, society still frequently places blame on survivors, forcing survivors and their families to remain silent. This is especially true for people who are already on the margins of Indian society, making them particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse. The culture of shame follows survivors into law enforcement, the legal system, and hospitals, silencing their voices even more. 2021 report, Sexual Violence in South Asia: Legal and Other Barriers to Justice for Survivors, you can learn more about the legal and other barriers to justice for survivors in India.
A young girl aged 17 years jumped from the balcony of a flat and succumbed to injuries.
After a span of 96 days of the said incident, mother of the girl lodged a complaint against the applicant attributing to him that he had abetted a commission of suicide by her daughter on a fateful day.
Mother of the deceased got to know through the friend of her daughter that she had been receiving dirty messages from the applicant. On enquiring the same, daughter also showed her mobile phone which had the messages and a folder in the gallery, right after that the deceased barged out of the room. On inspecting, the screenshots were found in the mobile phone and immediately, by keeping mobile on the bed, the informant followed her daughter, who by that time, jumped from the gallery of another bedroom. On realizing the severity of the shocking incident, the informant became unconscious and she was informed that her daughter was taken to the hospital. The informant recollected that in the hospital, her daughter was little conscious and on being inquired as to why she took the extreme step, she murmured that it was because of “Gaurav uncle”. She did not utter anything further and was administered treatment in the hospital. A Chit which was found on the dressing table of the daughter was also given to police and then the CR was registered invoking Sections 306, 354A, 354-B of Penal Code, 1860 and Section 4 and 8 of the POCSO Act.
FOLLOWING WAS WRITTEN ON THE CHIT
“Mummy, I have not told you about one person, Gaurav Uncle in our house. For no reason, he often came close to me and attempted to touch my private parts. I concealed the same from you, but that was my mistake. I kept mum because I thought if I disclose it to you, it would result in quibble. However, he messaged me. Before one week ago, he was talking to me about bad things. The screen shots of the said message are stored in my mobile in the folder ‘SS’. On receipt of the message, I blocked him, but yesterday night, he texted me. I was unable to understand what I should do and how I should disclose it. After you come to know about this, please do not quarrel and let the things continue to remain as they are. You and Papa should not fight. Bye, Take care. Because even if I blocked him on the mobile, I will have to face him some day. I carry no feelings for him in my mind, still he said so and further Kaki narrating it to aunt and no matter how much I tolerate, I will be blamed”
ANALYSIS, LAW AND DECISION
Bench noted that the deceased was a young girl who was hesitant to disclose the ill-intentions of the applicant, who was her own uncle.
The present matter revolved around an intimate relationship of the deceased with her own uncle, which posed a barrier for the victim girl to report the said incident to anyone in the family, but she chose to disclose it to her close friend. The chit which was scribed by the deceased referred to a message and screenshots of which were found in the mobile phone. From the screenshots, it was evident that a message was forwarded by the applicant which was responded to by the deceased by typing that she was not interested in talking to him. The unhappy tone was set and in the note which was scribed, the deceased had opened her mind to her mother where she spoke about his ill-deeds and also offered an explanation as to why she concealed it from her mother.
Court noted that the deceased had expressed her helplessness since she was apprehensive that even if she had blocked him, she would have to face him again and take the blame though she had no feeling in her mind. “screen shots from the mobile make it apparent that the applicant was harassing the deceased and in spite of her strong protest, was seeking something from her, leaving her in a despondent state.”
“The offence of abetment by instigation depends upon the intention of the person who abet and not upon the act which is done by the person who was abetted.”
“Abetment as contemplated under Section 107 of the IPC, may be by instigation, conspiracy or intentional aid and the words uttered in feet of anger or omission without any intention being attributed cannot be termed as instigation.”
The High Court stated that the young girl felt cornered by the conduct and demeanor of her own uncle, which was unexpected since she held him on a high pedestal as her own father and was unable to vent her anguish on account of the close proximity of the family with that of the applicant.
DECEASED SUFFERED THE CONSEQUENCES MUTELY FOR A YEAR
While concluding the matter, Court made certain significant observations that, a child may be subjected to sexual abuse or exploitation at home too.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to create an atmosphere in the Society where parents, teachers and adults in the company of the child can identify signs of abuse and make sure children receive care and protection. In the present matter, the fear of stigma, not being believed and being blamed, found the deceased in a precarious situation and left her isolated and insecure and which persuaded her to end her life. In view of the above stated discussion, the accused does not deserve liberty and another reason would be his close proximity with the family of the deceased and there would be every likelihood that on release he may pressurize them. [Gaurav v. State of Maharashtra, Criminal Bail]
Every year worldwide, many drive it, social, cultural, and economic contexts. Sexual violence has a core inequality between men and women. Interventions for resource-poor to objectively examine programmes in both developed and emerging nations. Professionals in the health care assisting sex assault victims medically and psychologically – and gathering help prosecutors. The health- abler in places where case-management protocols and guidelines collecting evidence with well-trained workers and where there is good co-operation legal system Finally, the firm commitment government and civil society involvement, as well as a coordinated response throughout to end sexual violence. In many nations, data on sexuality there is a tremendous need everywhere for sexual research violence.
To sum up, sexual violence undermines peace and security. It prevents women and children from engaging in post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation activities. It is a tool of war that may become a way of life, long after the bullets have fallen silent. Violence costs many women their health, livelihood, spouses, families, and social networks. This can undermine the transfer of communal values to subsequent generations. Rape-addicted children can develop into rape-addicted adults. Every year, millions of people are victimised by sexual violence. Interventions are also vital. These are the essential ones. concern main sexual violence prevention, interventions for both men and women strategies to help sexual assault victims to encourage rape perpetrators to be caught and punished, and changing social norms and elevating women.
Sexual Violence in South Asia: Legal and Other Barriers to Justice for Survivors, published in 2021, revealed that rape laws are still poorly implemented, and survivors, particularly those from vulnerable populations based on caste, class, or ethnicity, face numerous barriers to justice, including corruption among law-enforcement officials, the failure of the police to register cases of sexual violence, the continued use of the two-finger test, difficulties in obtaining support services for survivors, such as compensation and victim and witness protection, pressure from families, community, and panchayat members to enter into extra-legal settlements, and many other issues. Control and patriarchy, as well as masculine entitlement, are at the heart of sexual assault. In India, society still frequently places blame on survivors, forcing survivors and their families to remain silent.
REFORMATION IN INDIA’S PUNISHMENT AND SENTENCING POLICY: A SINE QUA NON
“Giving punishment to the wrongdoer is at the heart of the criminal justice delivery system, but in our country, it is the weakest part of the administration of criminal justice.”
– Soman v. State of Kerala
The above mentioned lines are very well depicting the significance of awarding proportionate punishments in the domain of criminal justice system. At the same instance, it is showing its current situation. Nowadays, the problem that is underlying in the criminal law is that the very purpose of punishment is not being fulfilled. Most often, Punishment is considered as the stage where all functionaries as defined by the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (2 of 1974) as well as the victim and the convict acquired the central position. It serves as a link between the criminal justice system and the society as “Justice must not only be done, but must also be seen to be done”. Punishments play a guiding role in avoiding harm to our society, in proper implementation of morals and values and in attaining a peaceful society.
This is not something that is recently developed. From ancient times, the concept of punishing the person who breaches the rules and regulations were in existence. Since then, this mechanism was used in order to regulate the social order and maintain harmony and peace in the society. Back then, the provisions of punishment and sentences were more stringent so as to set the example, giving it the deterrence effect. With the change in the perspective of the society and development, this notion of punishment became rational and tilted more towards the concept of reforming the convict rather than deterring them. Punishments can be divided into various types such as deterrent, rehabilitative, restorative and retributive. The purpose of each type of punishment is different but the ultimate goal is same, that is, to safeguard the society. All this will become crystal clear when in the initial section of this article, we will carefully analyze the meaning of sentence and punishment and policies, thereof, prevalent in India. This will pave the way for the discussion of major challenges faced by current sentencing policy and the need for well-defined sentencing policy as in England, Whales and America. The concluding section of this write-up will talk about the measures enshrined by the legislature, the judiciary and the committees also focusing upon their suggestions.
PUNISHMENT & SENTENCING: MEANING
Punishment and Sentencing, though, two distinct entities but at the end, they both form the union. Most often, they are used interchangeably which lead to contradictions and confusions. That’s why, here, it becomes essential to know what exactly punishment and sentencing constitutes and how they differ from each other.
According to Britannica, “Punishment is the infliction of some kind of pain or loss upon a person for a misdeed (i.e., the transgression of a law or command). Punishment may take different forms ranging from capital punishment, forced labour, flogging, imprisonment and fines.”
Macmillan Dictionary defines the term Sentencing as “an occasion when someone who has been found guilty in a court of law is told what their punishment will be.”
In general parlance, ‘Punishment’ is a method which is legally approved to control the task of crime. ‘Sentences’ are statements contained in the judgments which lay out the punishments for a particular offence according to the law. And, when the sentences get operationalized, it is known as ‘punishment’. The term ‘Punishment’ can be considered as the way of not only penalizing the one who commits any guilt but also a process to prevent the offender repeating further commission of heinous crimes. Thus, it can be rightly said that both sentences and punishments are closely interlinked, where former one is said to be the predecessor in order to actually inflicting the latter one.
SENTENCING AND PUNISHMENT POLICY: FRAMEWORK
Every country has a different set up of criminal justice system. Some are more focused towards harsh punishment that should be inflicted to the perpetrators of the crime where as some nations are concerned about rehabilitating or reforming the convict. Some nations are more concerned about the victims whereas some are concerned about the offenders. However, sentencing and punishing the criminal is most important component of any criminal justice process. For imposing accurate, just and proportionate punishment, a systematic procedure is something must that should be formulated. This structured process adopted by a specific country commonly known as ‘sentencing policy’. The sentencing policy is the culmination of many things like it contains the formula in order to calculate the right or appropriate punishment for a particular offence. Also, it reflects certain principles and other factors which must be taken into account by the court while deciding punishment. Thus, the prime objective of the justice system of any nation is to adopt a fixed regime of sentencing policy which, in turn, regulates all the inhumane activities happening in the society.
Indian justice system stick towards the reformative approach of giving punishment where primary aim of law is to promote rehabilitation, re-educate and reshape the personality of the criminal. Despite of such an inspiring approach, still, there exists no strict set of guidelines for regulating the sentencing policy in India. This is considered as a major lacuna, which not only hampers the basic purpose of criminal justice delivery system but also give rise to numerous violations of various fundamental and human rights. As said by the prominent judge D.P. Wadhva J, “Reformative theory is certainly important but too much stress to my mind cannot be laid down on it that the basic tenets of punishment altogether vanish.” However, the main legislations in India governing the sentencing and punishment system as well as criminal law are The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), The Indian EvidenceAct, 1872,The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC),Probation of Offenders Act, 1958. Some provisions relating to Indian punishment and sentencing are described below-
Section 53, Chapter III of The Indian Penal Code, 1860 specifically states the different kinds of punishments which can be given by the Criminal Court to the offenders liable for various offences. The six mentioned punishments are–
2) Imprisonment for life
3) Imprisonment – Rigorous with hard labour or Simple
4) Forfeiture of property
According to the Section 60 of the IPC, it is the discretion on the part of the competent court to decide the description of the sentences to which an offender is punishable. Further, it lays down the following types-
1) Wholly or partly rigorous; or
2) Wholly or partly simple; or
3) Any part to be rigorous and the rest are simple.
Section 235 of CrPC talks about judgment of acquittal or conviction under which it ensures that first accused will have an opportunity of last say then the judge after adjudicating upon relevant mitigating and aggravating factors shall pass sentence on him.
Section 354(1)(b) of the CrPC impose duty on judges to record the reasons for the decision of awarding a particular sentence and clause (3) of the same section states that whenever the conviction is for an offence punishable with life imprisonment or death penalty, special reasons must be recorded for passing such sentence.
SENTENCING POLICY: CHALLENGES AND ISSUES
Prima Facie, the existing sentencing policy does not seem to contain any flaws in it. However, a careful study shows that there are many challenges faced by this unregulated policy of sentencing. Let’s throw some light on the issues faced due to the lack of pronounced sentencing policy in India. The defects can be broadly categorized into following heads –
• Absence of fixed punishment: Under the Indian Criminal Law, the pattern that is prescribed for the punishments of all crimes contains only minimum and maximum penalty for a particular sort of offence. Due to this, a wide gap is generated which majorly affects the administration of sentencing. Exactlywhat sentence should be given from this gap to the offender solely depends on the judge’s discretion. Thus, judge while deciding the cases and awarding the punishments enjoys the latitude of power.
• Discretion of Judge: In India, no doubt several general factors such as severity, liability, guilty mind, etc. must be taken into account by judges while concluding cases. However, final decision is based on the judge’s personal experience, prejudice and considerations. Here, it is not wrong to refer judge as a king because the ultimate discretion lies in his hand only.
• Lack of consistency and faulty rationales: Due to the lack of structured guidelines, many times conflicts and contradictions arises when the courts awards different sentences in cases having almost same circumstances, using different reasoning. This leads to the inconsistency.
• Lack of binding force: While the court from case to case attempt to create a framework to limit discretion of judges and prevent arbitrary award of sentences but the larger bench observed that guidelines mandated by judiciary would go against the intent of legislature. This is the reason why, the apex Court highlighted that guidelines are indicative rather than exhaustive in nature. Therefore, courts have not followed their own sentencing guidelines strictly.
• Immense Disparity and Discrepancy: It has been noticed that in many cases judges imposes the different type of sentence on offenders while being tried under the same offence. This is because of the fact that every judge has their own considerations and reasons to believe whether a particular factor constitutes aggravating or mitigating circumstances for a particular case. Thus, due to the discrepancy and disparity, there exists an imbalance in the criminal justice system which is highly undesirable. As a result of it, offenders spend unnecessary time in prison.
• Indefinite and Scattered procedure: In India, the procedure of criminal law is disintegrated into enormous sections such as CrPC has 484 sections, 2 schedules which in turn contains 56 forms and IPC has more than 500 sections which increase the burden that is already present on the judges due to vast range of pending cases.
• Not defined reliable standards of proof: When it comes to produce sentencing material upon which Court will rely for giving the sentence to the accused still the Courts in India have not well established reliable standards of proof.
• Extracting sentencing material: Indian Courts have placed the whole burden of producing the sentencing material on the parties. If any of the party is not able to produce the sentencing material then the Court without any hesitation take the ex-parte decision. In many instances, the decision is delivered after only considering aggravating factors because of the simple reason that the defence have not produce sentencing material on mitigating circumstances with respect to the accused.
• Ambiguity in the quantum of sentences: In hierarchy of the judicial system, the quantum of sentences entirely changes from up and down. In absence of any proper guidelines, the Trial Court, the High Court and the Supreme Court mostly differ in awarding sentences, thereby causing confusion.
These challenges throw a serious concern on the part of the Indian legislature. This gives a red signal to the Parliament and other authorities to formulate a well-structured sentencing policy to safeguard the rights of the parties involved in a particular case.
NEED FOR STRUCTURED SENTENCING POLICY
From the above presented material, it can rightly be inferred that in India, there lies a huge disparity, inconsistency, arbitrariness and unguided discretionary power when it comes to deciding the punishment and awarding a sentence for a particular offence. It is an undisputable fact that there is a dire need of regulated sentencing policy for curtailing number of lacunas that are already discussed above. There exist the need of well-defined policy for sentencing and punishment even after the completion of the trial while determining the probation period of offenders. Section 360 and section 361 governs the principle of releasing the convicts on the basis of good behaviour and conduct and also states that special reasons must be recorded for the same. Here again, there is noclear-cut definition of ‘good conduct’, it varies from one jail authority to the other and also depends on the circumstances and type of offence committed by the offender. The implementation of the same legislation over two persons resulting in the different consequences despite of having same set of circumstances violates the right to equality defined under article 14 of Indian Constitution. When the person detained in the custody for a longer term than required, it violates another constitutional right. Thus, here, it becomes important to implement the policy which is well regulated, formulated and structured.
Apart from the members of legal fraternity such as lawyers, advocates, judges, activists, various committees also recognized the need for a statutory sentencing policy. On various occasions, several committees have emphasized on the need of well-regulated policy for governing the sentencing and punishment system in India. The committees also stated that punishment should not be harsh rather it must be moderate enough to be effective. The reports of the committees suggest various other aspects which will improve the sentencing and punishment mechanism. In general, committees have pointed out the need to adopt such system that will ensure certainty during the whole process of giving sentences. Let’s briefly take alook on the report published by various committees –
In 2000, the Ministry of Home Affairs established the Committee on Reforms of Criminal Justice System, popularly known as the Malimath Committee for giving recommendations on the prevalent system of criminal justice. In March 2003, Committee issued the report which is of the view that despite of having provisions of maximum and minimum punishment in the Indian Penal Code, the judge enjoys the wide discretion within the statutory limit while inflicting sentences. With regard to selecting the most appropriate sentence, there is no proper guidance provided anywhere for the judges. The members of committee went on to criticize this unguided power and felt the need to minimize it to the some extent by using the law force and authority. Further, the Committee also noticed the fact that not every judge has the same set of mind and attitude while deciding the sentences, for instance, something may be grave for one judge but at the same time may not be as grave for other one. For the depth study of this matter, committee asserted that there is a requirement of an expert committee, which will evaluate the whole concern. This committee consisted of experts pointed out the need for a new code which classify the offences other than the parameters of cognizable and non- cognizable and a policy having the goal of social welfare should be adopted.
The Law Commission of India in its 47th report by reasserting the same states that an appropriate sentence is a culmination of different numerous factors such as the nature and circumstances under which offence is committed; the age, background, mental health, character, education, etc. of the offender; prior criminal record of the offender; prospective of rehabilitation, training or treatment and so forth. Further, the commission recommended for a committee that must be statutory in origin, to lay out the regulation under the Chairmanship of a former judge of Supreme Court or a former Chief Justice of a High Court, whosoever experienced in criminal law and with such other member as necessary. The summary of the report states that there should be a punishment harsher than imprisonment for life but at the same time it must kept in mind that it should be lenient than capital punishment.
Later, the Committee on Draft National Policy on Criminal Justice, popularly known as the Madhava Menon Committee also recognized the need to have a radical change in the law of sentencing. The committee in its report states that there is a need to re-think on the philosophy of sentencing in the criminal justice administration. Equality in every aspects of sentencing must be pursued vigorously. In news report of October 2010, the Law Minister stated that Government of India is in a stage of preparation where it is planning to establish ‘a uniform sentencing policy’ similar to the policy of that USA and UK. However, even after all such recommendations, no effort has been taken towards its creation.
JUDICIAL VIEWS ON SENTENCING POLICY
While the legislature has not given any particular guidelines regarding the sentencing and punishment, the higher Courts from time-to-time have enunciated certain principles regarding this. The Indian Courts, over the period of time, through inconstant and faulty decision making process have indirectly pointed out the need for a sentencing policy. The Courts recognizing the absence of any such regulatedpolicy have provided judicial guidance by setting out certain factors that courts must look into while deciding punishments.
In Soman v. State of Kerala the Court put emphasis on the principles such as proportionality, deterrence and rehabilitation that need to be taken into consideration while giving judgment. Here, proportionality factor also contains the mitigating, aggravating and such other factor. Also,the Court noted that it is not good that our criminal legislation has no legislative or judicially laid down regulations to guide the court trial.
Further, most importantly the court in the State of M.P v. Bablu Natt said that the imposition of the principles laid down in the above case vary from case to case and depend on facts and circumstances of each case.
Moreover, the apex court in the Rajendra Pralhadrao Wasnik v. the State of Maharashtra acknowledge these above mentioned principles but at the same time held that since they are not absolute rules, the judiciary cannot be restrained with them.
In the case of State of Punjab v. Prem Sagar,it was pointed out by Justice S.B. Sinha that our legal system has so far not been able to develop certain principles as regards of sentencing and even the apex Court just made observations to this regard and left the matter untouched whereas other developed countries have done so.
In the famous case of Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab, the Hon’ble Supreme Court apart from the constitutionality of death penalty also addressed on the issue of lack of sentencing guidelines. The majority is of the opinion that it is upon the legislation to standardize the sentencing discretion if it deems fit. However the Court went ahead and formulated the guidelines for imposing death penalty and specifically defining the term ‘special reasons’ in Section 354(3) of CrPC thus set forth the doctrine of ‘rarest of rare case’.
Later, the court in the case of State of Madhya Pradesh v.Mehtab, pointed that there is a development of guidelines by judiciary, but the implementation is so far from reality which raises the major concern regarding the methodology of sentencing in India. Also,it stated that the development of a strict policy would lead to an obstruction of justice. So it is important to have a look on a larger picture which will improve our justice system and a major method through which same can be achieved is the development and implementation of a uniform sentencing policy.
Indian criminal justice has no doubt adopted the mechanism of sentencing as a restorative justice. But it is not considered much by the judges. Indian system, depending upon its convenience often fluctuatesbetween the three theories of punishment, namely, deterrence, retributive and reformative. This itself shows that justice system, particularly criminal, is in a state of ambiguity and is also directionless. There is a huge docket explosion in the statistics of the crime rate all over the world and India is no exception. Apart from this, India has also been experiencing an alarming increase in delay and arrears of pending cases. There are many reasons responsible for this problem. One of the major concerns is requirement of a fixed sentencing and punishment policy, a concept on which this whole article is based.
As we have already discussed, in detail, the number of infirmities faced by the current sentencing and punishment policy. There exists an exigency to fix those shortcomings to get an effective policy. There is a need for a policy which strikes balance between the rights of an accused and the rights of the citizens. So this is the high time that legislature must come forward to prepare a road map and take vital steps to draft a systematic and clear policy. While formulating a policy, the legislature should also take aid from the successful policies of various other jurisdictions such as US, UK and embed it in India according to the Indian needs. It is also mandated that this draft must be in the line to the proposals and work done by the Malimath Committee, the Madhava Menon Committee and the Law Commission of India in this regard. It is important to note that legislature cannot do this task in isolation. The judiciary would also play an important role in this exercise by ensuring that discretion power vested with them must be used in the interest of justice and should not be misused.
The criminal law mostly contemplated as an expression of the relationship between the society and its subjects. Therefore, it becomes necessary to revise this law through the principled and guided amendments. As said by Justice Chandrachud, “The need of the hour to mitigate the problem of pendency is to think out of the box”. Thus, policy makers must take immediate steps to counter the problems arising from indefinite punishment and sentencing system so that the people of the nation don’t lose their faith in the judiciary and also judiciary serve justice properly. With the help of this article, an endeavour is made to build a proper legislation for executing just and fair sentence and removing any kind of disparity before, after and during the trial.
Young police officer lynched to death by mob has put humanity, spirit of Kashmiriyat to shame: J&K & Ladakh HC
‘It is a case where a young police officer has been lynched to death by a mob of miscreants of which the appellant is alleged to be a part, thereby putting the humanity in general and spirit of Kashmiriyat in particular to shame. Bail in such heinous and serious offences cannot be granted as a matter of course.’ If bail is given even in such cases then who will fear the ‘rule of law’?
In a brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment titled Peerzada Mohammad Waseem Vs Union Teritory of J&K in CrlA(D) No.10/2021 that was reserved on 26.08.2021 and then finally pronounced on 02.09.2021, the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has denied bail to a man accused of lynching a Deputy SP of 3rd Battalion Security after observing that his act has put humanity and spirit of Kashmiriyat to shame. While calling it a heinous and serious offence, Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Sanjay Dhar observed most candidly, commendably, cogently and convincingly that, “It is a case where a young police officer has been lynched to death by a mob of miscreants of which the appellant is alleged to be a part thereby putting the humanity in general and spirit of Kashmiriyat in particular to shame. Bail in such heinous and serious offences cannot be granted as a matter of course.” If bail is given even in such cases then who will fear the “rule of law”? The best example to cite here is what happened in Kashmir Valley in 1990 when lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits were either killed or forced to leave as refugees in their own country as their houses were burnt, women were raped and still we saw little action on the ground! This was when Kashmiriyat was worst vandalized and burnt in reality as we all saw for ourselves!
To start with, this learned, laudable, latest and landmark judgment authored by Justice Sanjay Dhar for himself and Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court sets the ball rolling by first and foremost observing in para 1 that, “Through the medium of instant appeal under Section 21(3) of the National Investigation Agency Act (hereinafter referred to as the NIA Act), appellant has challenged the order dated 12.05.2021 passed by learned Additional Sessions Judge, TADA/POTA (Special Judge Designated under NIA Act), Srinagar, whereby bail application of the appellant has been dismissed.”
While elaborating on the facts of the case, the Bench then puts forth in para 2 that, “The facts giving rise to the filing of the instant appeal are that on 22.06.2017, while the holy festival of Shabe Qadar was being observed in Jamia Masjid, Nowhatta, the appellant and the co-accused raised inflammatory slogans against the Government of India and they caught hold of deceased Mohammad Ayoub Pandit Dy. S. P. of 3rd Battalion Security, who had been deployed in the area to supervise the manpower for access control at Jamia Masjid on the occasion of Shabe Qadar. The deceased was beaten up, dragged and lynched to death by the mob, of which the appellant was a part. His pistol was also snatched and the dead body was dragged and left at Batagali Nowhatta. Police registered FIR No.51/2017 for offences under Section 302, 148, 149, 392, 341 RPC read with 13 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and investigation of the case was set into motion. After conducting investigation of the case, the challan was presented before the trial court against 20 accused. Out of these, 17 accused were arrested and produced before the trial court at the time of presentation of challan whereas one accused Sajad Ahmad Gilkar was killed in an encounter prior to presentation of the challan. Two more accused including appellant herein absconded and they could not be produced before the Court at the time of presentation of the challan.”
To put things in perspective, the Bench then enunciates in para 3 that, “In terms of order dated 12.12.2017, the learned trial court framed charges for the offences mentioned in the charge sheet against 17 accused who had been produced before it at the time of presentation of the challan. During pendency of the trial, the appellant was also arrested and produced before the trial court. Charges against him for offences under Section 302, 148, 392, 341 RPC read with Section 13 ULA(P) Act were framed by the trial court in terms of its order dated 16.05.2019. The appellant/accused pleaded not guilty and trial against him also commenced.”
While continuing in the same vein, the Bench then envisages in para 4 that, “It appears that after recording of statements of some of the prosecution witnesses, the appellant/accused moved an application before the trial court for grant of bail on the ground that material prosecution witnesses to the extent of his case have turned hostile and, as such, he deserves to be enlarged on bail. The bail application came to be dismissed by the learned trial court vide its order dated 16.09.2020. The appellant preferred an appeal against the said order before this Court which was registered as CrlA(D) No.17/2020. Vide order dated 26.02.2021 passed by this Court, the order of learned trial court was set aside and the appellant was given liberty to move a fresh application before the trial court.”
As we see, the Bench then observes in para 5 that, “It appears that the appellant moved another application before the trial court on similar grounds as were projected by him in his earlier bail application and the same has been rejected by the learned trial court vide the impugned order dated 12.05.2021.”
Be it noted, the Bench then points out in para 9 that, “The contention of learned counsel for the appellant that the appellant was impleaded as an accused at the time of filing of supplementary challan and he was not an accused in the original challan is factually incorrect. In the first charge sheet itself filed by the Investigating Agency before the trial court, the name of appellant is shown in Column No.2 indicating therein that the said accused has not been arrested. In fact, after the presentation of the challan, the learned trial court has, vide its order dated 16.10.2017, issued general warrants of arrest against two accused including the appellant herein after recording satisfaction that there are no immediate prospects of his arrest. So, it is not a case where appellant/accused has been implicated in the case after presentation of the charge sheet but it is a case where involvement of the appellant/accused is based upon the evidence collected by the investigating agency which forms part of the first challan itself.”
Furthermore, the Bench then hastens to add in para 10 that, “The record further shows that the contention of the learned counsel for the appellant that he has moved an application before the learned trial court in terms of Section 272 of J&K Cr. P. C, wherein he has admitted the remaining part of the evidence which the prosecution proposes to lead in support of its case, is also factually incorrect. We could not lay our hands on any such application on the trial court record nor there is any interim order of the trial court evidencing the said fact.”
It is worth noting that the Bench then remarks in para 11 that, “That takes us to the merits of the contention of the appellant that material witnesses who have deposed about the involvement of the appellant having turned hostile, as such, no amount of evidence that may be led by the prosecution in support of its case would lead to his conviction. In this regard, a perusal of the trial court record shows that protected witnesses Mark E, F and K, who, during investigation of the case, have in their statements recorded under Section 164 of Cr. P.C, deposed about the involvement of appellant in the occurrence being part of the unlawful assembly, have turned hostile when their statements were recorded before the Court. All these three witnesses have admitted having made statements under Section 164 Cr. P. C before the Magistrate in which they have implicated the appellant/accused. Protected witnesses Mark F and K have stated that they made these statements under pressure from police whereas protected witness Mark E has stated that he does not recollect what was stated by him. These three witnesses have been cross-examined by the prosecution as well as by the defence. The question arises as to whether at the time of considering the bail application, it is open to this Court to give a finding even on prima facie basis with regard to reliability and evidentiary value of the statements of these witnesses.”
Quite significantly, the Bench then makes it a point to state in para 12 that, “At the stage of granting bail, a detailed examination of evidence and elaborate documentation of the merit of the case cannot be undertaken. What is the effect of statements of hostile witnesses would be a moot point to be decided during the course of trial of the main case and cannot be decided during bail proceedings. The mere fact that material witnesses have turned hostile, in our opinion, by itself is not sufficient to grant bail because of the simple reason that this Court cannot imagine what would happen till the disposal of the case. If the Court were to accept or to rely upon the evidence of the prosecution recorded by the trial court, it would amount to appreciation of evidence on record which is impermissible in these proceedings. Till the completion of evidence and the trial, appreciation of evidence at the time of granting or rejecting bail, this Court cannot step into the shoes of the trial court for the purposes of appreciating the material on record.”
Adding more to it, the Bench then makes it clear in para 13 that, “What would be the effect of prosecution evidence led so far, is an issue which cannot be determined by this Court and the same has to be determined by the learned trial court at the conclusion of trial. Even the Investigating Officer, who is a star witness in the case, is yet to be examined and without examining him, this Court cannot even frame a prima facie opinion as to the merits of the prosecution case. It is a settled law that conviction of an accused can be based even on the statements of hostile witnesses and the Investigating Officer provided the same inspire confidence. This question can be determined only by the trial court and not by this Court in these proceedings.”
As an aside, the Bench then brings out in para 14 that, “Learned counsel for the appellant has contended that the appellant has been in custody for quite some time now and in the face of the fact that material witnesses have turned hostile, it may work harshly against the appellant if he is kept in custody till the remaining evidence of the prosecution is recorded, particularly when there are no chances of his conviction.”
Truth be told, it cannot be just glossed over that the Bench then specifically points out in para 15 that, “A perusal of the trial court record shows that it is only in May, 2019, that charges have been framed against the appellant/accused and until that date, he was absconding. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the normal work of trial courts got seriously hampered and in spite of this, a large number of witnesses have already been examined by the prosecution in the case. Therefore, it cannot be stated that there has been any delay in trial of the case.”
Most significantly, what forms the cornerstone of this remarkable, robust and rational judgment is then illustrated best in para 16 wherein it is held that, “Apart from the above, we also need to take into account the gravity of the offence and the circumstances in which the offence has been committed by the accused including the appellant herein. It is a case where a young police officer has been lynched to death by a mob of miscreants of which the appellant is alleged to be a part, thereby putting the humanity in general and spirit of Kashmiriyat in particular to shame. Bail in such heinous and serious offences cannot be granted as a matter of course.”
Finally and as a corollary, the Bench then holds in the last para 17 that, “For the foregoing reasons, we do not find any merit in this appeal and the same is, accordingly, dismissed.”
In conclusion, every Indian must feel proud that this notable judgment by Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Sanjay Dhar of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has made it absolutely clear that there has to be zero tolerance for mob lynching. Kudos to them for this! The Court very rightly refused bail to the offender. If they are not deal most firmly then we will only see the rise of Talibani forces in our country also whom even hard line Muslims like the most famous AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi demands should be declared a terror organization!
Of course, it goes without saying that Owaisi has hit the “biggest and tightest slap” with “full force” on the ‘face’ of all such “Muslim Maulvis” and “other Muslims” and so called “secular leaders” who are welcoming Taliban like former CM Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti among others who are demanding that India maintain bilateral relations with Taliban as they have become a reality now! Shame to UN if it watches all this like a mute and helpless spectator! Violence in any form can never be justified and if India starts justifying Taliban then this will ensure the return of hardline Islam in India just like it existed prior to the advent of Britishers during Aurangzeb’s rule among others which India can never afford under any circumstances as it will ensure that democracy is buried and India is converted into a hard line Islamic state or India is partitioned again and again which no true Indian no matter whether he is a Hindu or Muslim or anyone else would ever justify under any circumstances just like imposing monogamy on Hindus alone in 1955 can never be justified under any circumstances and this my best friend Sageer Khan resented most!
It is high time and monogamy also must be imposed on one and all straightaway as the population explosion is rocking our country and hitting us hard which alone explains why Sageer Khan felt most strongly that it should be abolished for one and all as this will ensure that India progresses, prospers and emerges powerful! Even Delhi High Court had recently called for uniform civil code! If uniform civil code is going to take time then why can’t polygamy be outlawed just like Pandit Nehru most commendably outlawed polygamy and polyandry for Hindus in 1955 even though Dr BR Ambedkar in his Hindu Code Bill favoured retention of polygamy among Hindus in his Hindu Code Bill 1951 due to which I term Pandit Nehru as “Real Father And Real Reformer Of Hindus”?
It merits no flogging again and again that law must be same for one and all as Sageer Khan used to often underscore so that no Hindu like eminent film actor Dharmender among others are forced to convert to Islam just for the sake of marrying and same was the case of son of former Haryana Chief Minister and Congress leader Bhajan Lal! Kowtowing in front of “hardline Islam” which Taliban preaches will definitely destroy our nation as Sageer Khan often pointed out way back in 1993-95 and now even Owaisi just recently has gone all out in making it absolutely clear and thundering that Taliban is a “terror organization” which has to be mocked with full force and it must be declared so by the Centre right now without wasting any time! Very rightly so!
Non-communication of right to make representation against detention order violates constitutional right: MP HC
While fully, firmly and finally endorsing the Constitutional right to make representation against the detention order, the Indore Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court has in a learned, latest, laudable and landmark judgment titled Lokendra Singh v/s The State of Madhya Pradesh & Others in Writ Petition No. 12166/2021 delivered just recently on September 6, 2021 has quashed a detention order on the ground that it did not contain a stipulation informing the detenue about his right to prefer a representation against his detention by the detaining authority. It must be mentioned here that a Division Bench comprising of Justice Sujoy Paul and Anil Verma relied on a catena of judicial precedent to support their observations which they drew and they shall be discussed later on. It must also be apprised here that it was the petitioner’s case that the detention order did not mention that a representation can be sought before the same authority, thereby violating a valuable right of the petitioner under Article 22 of the Constitution of India.
To start with, the Division Bench comprising of Justice Sujoy Paul and Anil Verma of Indore Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court who authored this brief, brilliant, balanced and bold judgment sets the ball rolling by first and foremost observing in the opening para that, “The singular point raised by the petitioner is that in the detention order dated 07.06.2021, the learned District Magistrate has not mentioned that detenue – Narendra Thakur can prefer representation against the detention order before the same authority namely District magistrate thereby violating a valuable right of the petitioner flowing from Article 22 of the Constitution of India. This point is squarely covered by a recent Full Bench Judgment of this Court passed in W.P. No.22290/2019 (Kamal Khare v/s The State of Madhya Pradesh) which is followed in W.P. No.9630/2021 (Gurubachan Singh Saluja v/s The State of Madhya Pradesh & Others) by this Court.”
It certainly cannot be just glossed over that the Division Bench then very rightly points out in the next para that, “Shri Vivek Dalal, learned Additional Advocate General for the respondents / State fairly admitted that the detention order does not contain any such stipulation that petitioner can prefer representation against the detention order before the same authority. He further agreed that on this ground, Full Bench in Kamal Khare (supra) has held that the detention order stands vitiated because of infringement of said right.”
Quite significantly, the Bench then observed in the next para that, “This Court in Gurubachan Singh Saluja (supra) followed the Full Bench decision and opined as under:-
“6) In one of the aforesaid matters (WP No.9792/2021), this Court held as under:-
31) Indisputably, the detention order does not contain any stipulation that the detenu has right to prefer representation before the same authority namely, District Magistrate. The reliance is placed on the recent Full Bench judgment of this Court passed in the case of Kamal Khare (supra). To counter this argument, the bone of contention of learned AAG was that the said Full Bench decision is distinguishable. Full Bench judgment is based on a constitution bench judgment in the case of Kamleshkumar Ishwardas Patel v. Union of India, (1995) 4 SCC 51. In Kamleshkumar (supra), the Apex Court was dealing with the provisions of COFEPOSA Act and the PIT NDPS Act and not with NSA Act. Hence, the said constitution Bench judgment could not have been relied upon.
32) We do not see much merit in this argument because similar argument was advanced by the Govt. before Full Bench in the case of Kamal Khare (supra) which is reproduced in extenso in para-14 of the said judgment. The similar argument could not find favour by the Full Bench.
33) In Kamleshkumar (supra), Apex Court opined as under:-
“6. This provision has the same force and sanctity as any other provision relating to fundamental rights. (See: State of Bombay v. Atma Ram Shridhar Vaidya [1951 SCR 167, 186 : AIR 1951 SC 157] .) Article 22(5) imposes a dual obligation on the authority making the order of preventive detention: (i) to communicate to the person detained as soon as may be the grounds on which the order of detention has been made; and (ii) to afford the person detained the earliest opportunity of making a representation against the order of detention. Article 22(5) thus proceeds on the basis that the person detained has a right to make a representation against the order of detention and the aforementioned two obligations are imposed on the authority making the order of detention with a view to ensure that right of the person detained to make a representation is a real right and he is able to take steps for redress of a wrong which he thinks has been committed. Article 22(5) does not, however, indicate the authority to whom the representation is to be made. Since the object and purpose of the representation that is to be made by the person detained is to enable him to obtain relief at the earliest opportunity, the said representation has to be made to the authority which can grant such relief, i.e., the authority which can revoke the order of detention and set him at liberty. The authority that has made the order of detention can also revoke it. This right is inherent in the power to make the order. It is recognised by Section 21 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 though it does not flow from it. It can, therefore, be said that Article 22(5) postulates that the person detained has a right to make a representation against the order of detention to the authority making the order. In addition, such a representation can be made to any other authority which is empowered by law to revoke the order of detention.
14. Article 22(5) must, therefore, be construed to mean that the person detained has a right to make a representation against the order of detention which can be made not only to the Advisory Board but also to the detaining authority, i.e., the authority that has made the order of detention or the order for continuance of such detention, which is competent to give immediate relief by revoking the said order as well as to any other authority which is competent under law to revoke the order for detention and thereby give relief to the person detained. The right to make a representation carries within it a corresponding obligation on the authority making the order of detention to inform the person detained of his right to make a representation against the order of detention to the authorities who are required to consider such a representation.
38. Having regard to the provisions of Article 22(5) of the Constitution and the provisions of the COFEPOSA Act and the PIT NDPS Act the question posed is thus answered: Where the detention order has been made under Section 3 of the COFEPOSA Act and the PIT NDPS Act by an officer specially empowered for that purpose either by the Central Government or the State Government the person detained has a right to make a representation to the said officer and the said officer is obliged to consider the said representation and the failure on his part to do so results in denial of the right conferred on the person detained to make a representation against the order of detention. This right of the detenu is in addition to his right to make the representation to the State Government and the Central Government where the detention order has been made by an officer specially authorised by a State Government and to the Central Government where the detention order has been made by an officer specially empowered by the Central Government, and to have the same duly considered. This right to make a representation necessarily implies that the person detained must be informed of his right to make a representation to the authority that has made the order of detention at the time when he is served with the grounds of detention so as to enable him to make such a representation and the failure to do so results in denial of the right of the person detained to make a representation.”
34) The Full Bench after considering the constitution Bench judgment opined as under:-
“20. The Supreme Court in Life Insurance Corporation of India v. D.J. Bahadur and Others, (1981) 1 SCC 315 dealing with the aspect whether the Life Insurance Corporation Act, 1956 is a special statute qua the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 when it came to a dispute regarding conditions of service of the employees of the Life Insurance Corporation of India held that the Industrial Disputes Act would prevail over the Life Insurance Corporation of India Act as the former relates specially and specifically to industrial disputes between the workmen and employers. Relevant discussion in paragraph No.52 of the report would be useful to reproduce hereunder:-
“52. In determining whether a statute is a special or a general one, the focus must be on the principal subject-matter plus the particular perspective. For certain purposes, an Act may be general and for certain other purposes it may be special and we cannot blur distinctions when dealing with finer points of law. In law, we have a cosmos of relativity, not absolutes – so too in life. The ID Act is a special statute devoted wholly to investigation and settlement of industrial disputes which provides definitionally for the nature of industrial disputes coming within its ambit. It creates an infrastructure for investigation into, solution of and adjudication upon industrial disputes. It also provides the necessary machinery for enforcement of awards and settlements. From alpha to omega the ID Act has one special mission – the resolution of industrial disputes through specialised agencies according to specialised procedures and with special reference to the weaker categories of employees coming within the definition of workmen. Therefore, with reference to industrial disputes between employers and workmen, the ID Act is a special statute, and the LIC Act does not speak at all with specific reference to workmen. On the other hand, its powers relate to the general aspects of nationalisation, or management when private businesses are nationalised and a plurality of problems which, incidentally, involve transfer of service of existing employees of insurers. The workmen qua workmen and industrial disputes between workmen and the employer as such, are beyond the orbit of and have no specific or special place in the scheme of the LIC Act. And whenever there was a dispute between workmen and management the ID Act mechanism was resorted to.”
30. Now coming to the question as to what would be the effect of not informing the detenu that he has a right of making representation, apart from the State Government and the Central Government, also to the detaining authority itself, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in Kamlesh Kumar Ishwardas Patel (supra) even examined this aspect in paragraph No.14 of the report and categorically held as under:-
Please read concluding on thedailyguardian.com
“14. Article 22(5) must, therefore, be construed to mean that the person detained has a right to make a representation against the order of detention which can be made not only to the Advisory Board but also to the detaining authority, i.e., the authority that has made the order of detention or the order for continuance of such detention, who is competent to give immediate relief by revoking the said order as well as to any other authority which is competent under law to revoke the order for detention and thereby give relief to the person detained. The right to make a representation carries within it a corresponding obligation on the authority making the order of detention to inform the person detained of his right to make a representation against the order of detention to the authorities who are required to consider such a representation.”
33. In view of the above, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in Kamlesh Kumar Ishwardas Patel (supra) analyzed the effect of not informing the detenu of his right to make a representation to the detaining authority itself in paragraph No.47 of the report and held that this results in denial of his right under Article 22(5) of the Constitution of India, which renders the detention illegal. The relevant paragraph No.47 is reproduced hereunder:-
“47. In both the appeals the orders of detention were made under Section 3 of the PIT NDPS Act by the officer specially empowered by the Central Government to make such an order. In the grounds of detention the detenu was only informed that he can make a representation to the Central Government or the Advisory Board. The detenu was not informed that he can make a representation to the officer who had made the order of detention. As a result the detenu could not make a representation to the officer who made the order of detention. The Madras High Court, by the judgments under appeal dated 18-11-1994 and 17.1.1994, allowed the writ petitions filed by the detenus and has set aside the order of detention on the view that the failure on the part of the detaining authority to inform the detenu that he has a right to make a representation to the detaining authority himself has resulted in denial of the constitutional right guaranteed under Article 22(5) of the Constitution. In view of our answer to the common question posed the said decisions of the Madras High Court setting aside the order of detention of the detenus must be upheld and these appeals are liable to be dismissed.”
35) Another Division Bench in WP No.5866/2015 (Salma vs. State of MP) opined as under:-
“On the last date of hearing opportunity was granted to the learned counsel for the State to examine the law laid down b the Apex Court, which has been made applicable in the various cases by the Division Bench of this Court, in the matter of compliance of provisions of Article 22 (5) of the Constitution of India in the matter of detention itself, intimating the detenu that he/she is entitled to make a representation before the Detaining Authority himself against the order of detention. Such law was considered and made applicable in view of the law laid down by the Apex Court in the matter of State of Maharashtra and others Vs. Santosh Shankar Acharya (2000) 7 SCC 463, vary same law was made application by this Court in W.P. No.1830/2015, W. P. No.3491/2015, W .P. No.3677/2015 & W. P. No.3683/2015 in the following manner :
Notably, both these points have been considered by the Supreme Court in the case of State of Maharashtra and others vs. Santosh Shankar Acharya (2000) 7 SCC 463 in para 5 and 6 in particular. The Supreme Court following the dictum in the case of Kamleshkumar restated that noncommunication of the fact to the detenu that he could make a representation to the detaining Authority so long as order of detention has not been approved by the State Government in case the order of detention has been issued by the Officer other than the State Government, would constitute infringement of right guaranteed under Article 22(5) of the Constitution and this ratio of the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in Kamlesh kumar would apply notwithstanding the fact that same has been made in the context of provisions of COFEPOSA Act. In para 6 of the reported decision, the Supreme Court rejected the similar objection canvassed by the learned counsel for the State relying on Veeramanâ s™ case and noted that the said decision does not help the respondents in any manner. Inasmuch as, in that case the Court was called upon to consider the matter in the context of situation that emerged subsequent to the date of approval of the order of detention by the State Government and not prior thereto. In none of the cases on hand the observation in the case of Veeramani will have any application. Suffice it to observe that the detention order and the disclosure of the fact that detenu could make representation to the detaining Authority before the State Government considered the proposal for approval has abridged the right of detenu under Article 22(5) of the Constitution. As a result, the continued detention of the detenu on the basis of such infirm order cannot be countenanced.
These petitions, therefore, must succeed. The impugned detention orders in the respective petitions are quashed and set aside and respondents are directed to set the petitioners/detenu at liberty forthwith unless required in connection with any other criminal case.” Emphasis supplied
36) In view of these authoritative pronouncements, there is no manner of doubt that the detenu had a valuable right to make a representation to the detaining authority and denial of this opportunity vitiates the impugned order. Resultantly, impugned order of detention dated 10/05/2021 is set aside.
37) In view of foregoing analysis, the impugned order of detention cannot sustain judicial scrutiny.
38) Before parting with the matter, we deem it proper to observe that the main grievance of detenue/complainant was that the District Magistrate while passing the order of detention did not inform him about his valuable right to prefer a representation against the detention order before the same authority namely District Magistrate. Full Bench recognized the said right of the detenue in light of the constitutional bench judgment in the case of Kamleshkumar Ishwardas Patel (supra). Thus, in the fitness of things, it will be proper for the State to ensure that henceforth in the order of detention, it must be mentioned that the detenue has a right to prefer a representation before the same authority.” Emphasis Supplied
7) In view of the Full Bench decision in Kamal Khare (supra) which was followed by Indore Bench in aforesaid matter, we deem it proper to set aside the impugned orders of detention.” Emphasis Supplied.”
Finally, the Division Bench then holds that, “In view of dicta of Full Bench in Kamal Khare (supra), the impugned order dated 07.06.2021 has become vulnerable and is accordingly set aside. The Writ Petition stands allowed.”
In a nutshell, it can thus be said that the Indore Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court comprising of Justice Sujoy Paul and Justice Anil Verma have made it absolutely clear that the non-communication of ‘right to make representation against detention order’ violates Constitutional right under Article 22 of the Constitution of India. It was rightly mentioned that the Constitutional Bench in Kamleshkumar Ishwardas Patel case noted that Article 22(5) must be construed to mean that the person detained has a right to make representation against the order of detention. This representation can be made not only to the Advisory Board but also to the detaining authority and any other authority that is competent under law to revoke the order for detention and thereby give relief to the person detained.
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
One contract, two arbitrations: Res Judicata in international arbitration contradicting public policy
Speed is the essence of arbitration. Parties opt for arbitration believing that it is a timelier dispute resolution cog. Unfortunately, however, this is often not the case. Complex, commercial arbitrations take momentous time to finish off and prosperous parties would then have to corroborate with challenges to the tangibility as well as enforcement of the arbitral award. Arbitrations are an increasingly civil element of long-term commercial relationships. However, the confidentiality of arbitral proceedings means there is a little publicly available aisle in the contour of awards to work for us to understand the complex legal and practical issues that arise in subsequent proceedings when an earlier tribunal has rendered a decision on a particular matter.
So, in general words resolution of the disputes emanating under the international commercial contract via the rotation of arbitration is known as International Commercial Arbitration. In addition, the 1996 Arbitration & Conciliation Act discerns ICA specifically as arbitration of a legitimate linkage which shall be contemplated commercially if either of the bands is a foreign national or an inhabitant or a foreign person in a commercial context, in accordance with section 2(1) (f) for International Commercial Arbitration. It is used as a better alternative to litigation, and the complete process is controlled primarily by the parties themselves instead of following the national legislation or an established procedure rules. Most of the international commercial contracts contain a dispute resolution clause that specifies that if any dispute arises under the contract, it could be resolved through arbitration, rather than litigation.
The rule of res judicata is the enormous regulation which is solidified in all refined countries by the authorised structures. The precepts of the res judicata should be blended to arbitral tribunals since arbitral courts are an alternative to courts and when an award is required to be included in the country’s lawful order.
OVERVIEW: COMMON LAW STILL MUDDIED WATERS OF COURT, SOMEWHAT
That’s an interest that is in principle, Common to all disputes whether common law, civil law, or even international or any other system form whether in litigation or arbitration. However, an international arbitration difficulty arises when you try to drill down in any given case on precisely what has been decided, and what can be revisited the multiplicity of governing laws that have a bearing on rescue gives rise to complexities that tribunals need to resolve as part of their mandate. Questions of rescue as they commonly arise in long term legal relationships can take many forms, including international projects, a natural resource can check concessions partnerships shareholder agreements and various other long-term investments. Unfortunately, the private and confidential nature of arbitration means that judicial guidance is in the way of the waters.
OBLIGATORY LAWS APPLICABLE TO ARBITRATION: A STANDPOINT
Indian laws procure for dispute resolution of any international commercial disputes through arbitration and conciliation act 1996 arbitration involving a foreign party, and with its seat in India will be considered as an ICA. In this case, the first part of the 1996 act of arbitration and conciliation will apply. If the seat is outside India, however, part two of the Act would apply rather than part one. This mechanism aims to nail the commercial disputes between the foreign and Indian entities within the framework of the Indian arbitration laws. Now being an international or domestic arbitration, the arbitration is of two types, number one, institutional arbitration. Secondly, in ad hoc arbitration, the parties agree to have an arbitral institution, administer the dispute. These institutions establish their own arbitration rules which would apply to their arbitration procedures. These rules supplement the existing provisions of the Arbitration Act in matters of procedure, and the other details, as the legislation permits the dispute dealt by There may also be general and specific in nature, the arbitration Institute’s have fixed the arbitrators fees, administrative expenses, qualified arbitration panels rules governing the arbitration proceedings, etc, which exalted in smooth and orderly conduct of arbitration in India.
FINAL AWARD: INITIATING ARBITRATIONS UNDER MULTIPLE ARBITRATION AGREEMENTS
The filing of arbitrations established in multiple arbitration agreements, incorporated in two (or more) diverse agreements, in a single arbitration proceeding may be conceivable, but must be accomplished with caution.
ADR is an undertaking to ad lib machinery which ought to be competent of rendering substitute to the conventional outlines of untangling confrontations. The genealogy of the alternative resolution of disputes may be described in India. Corpses like the Panchayat, a group of people in a geriatric or persuasive hamlet who agree on a quarrel among locals, are still not exceptional today. The appointed judicial agent was the Kazi, which adjudicated disagreement between persons under the Principles of Muslim Law in Indian culture. There are several instances documented where the Kazi decided on a matter outside the law by getting the parties to approve a solution reached through conciliation without really adding that colour to the judgement. The 1996 Arbitration and Conciliation Act is a Parliament attempt to adopt an overall strategy to the settlement of alternatives to disputes in India. It is an act that enables conflict settlement either through arbitration or conciliation. In connection with international arbitration, the doctrine of res judicata might be combined. Res judicata fits in with the symposia on “post-award issues” solely to the extent that it concerns the repercussions of arbitrative awards. In this context, questions are arising as to whether a given arbitral award is res judicata in the same arbitrage (whereas the question arises of the effects in the subsequent phases of the same arbitrations of partial or interim awards), other arbitrations (whether or not based on the same arbitration agreement) and proceedings before domestic courts. Additional aspects of the doctrine which do not involve awards and which are therefore beyond the scope of this discussion are the res judicata effects of domestic judgments (for example findings of nullity or ineffectiveness of an Arbitrative Agreement) in arbitral or domestic courts and the res judicata effects in Arbitration Process.
The Final Award is the climactic ruling in an arbitration that has significant sequels, in the perception that it is the climax of an animosity, or a dispute shelved to an arbitral tribunal or a sole arbitrator, and it will concuss the contracts between the parties and may not chiefly be played against. In addition to stapling the legal or factual antagonisms between the parties, the Final Award may also speculate upon the version of contract stints or distinguish the respective liberties and obligations of the parties to a contract.
In other words, the arbitrator’s judgement on the application of the concept should also be respected by the court.
But while analysing circumstances of res judicata and restricting their powers accordingly, Arbitrators should meticulously do their analyses, since their wrong conclusion in relation to a prior award or judgement would likewise contradict public policy.
Obliviating the oral regime
‘Judgments cannot be treated as mere counters in the game of litigation.’
The above excerpt from the judgment of Lord Atkinson in ‘Somasundaran vs. Subramanian; AIR 1926 PC 136’, encapsulating the sanctity and solemnity of the court orders and judgments, was quoted with approval by Justice Chinnappa Reddy in ‘State of Maharashtra vs. Ramdas Shrinivas Nayak; (1982) 2 SCC 463’, where the Supreme Court was seized of the questionwhether the State of Maharashtra could be allowed to resile from the concession made before the High Courtas recorded in the judgment. During the course of hearing before the Court, Shri A.K. Sen, who hadappeared for the State of Maharashtra before the High Court, protested that he never made any such concession and invited the Court to peruse the written submissions made by him in the High Court. However, the Supreme Court declined the request and categorically observed that, “we cannot and we will not embark upon an enquiry. We will go by the judges’ record.”. The Court mentioned that the “Matters of judicial record are unquestionable” and that it is restrained by judicial decorum and public policy from launching an inquiry as to what transpired in the High Court. It was further observed by the Court that, “We are bound to accept the statement of the Judges recorded in their judgment, as to what transpired in court. We cannot allow the statement of the judges to be contradicted by statements at the Bar or by affidavit and other evidence. If the judges say in their judgment that something was done, said or admitted before them, that has to be the last word on the subject.”. The Supreme Court accorded utmost precedence to the judicial record; not allowing it to be contradicted by either the lawyer or the litigant, except the judge herself.
The recent judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Courtdated 31st August 2021 in ‘Salimbhai HamidbhaiMenon vs. Niteshkumar Maganbhai Patel & Anr.; 2021 SCC OnLine SC 647’, embarks on the same spirit and principle enunciated in R.S. Nayak(supra), and observes that, “Judges speak through their judgments and orders. The written text is capable of being assailed. The element of judicial accountability is lost where oral regimes prevail. This would set a dangerous precedent and is unacceptable.”. This observation came to be made by the Court apropos the procedure followed by the High Court in issuing an oral direction restraining the arrest of the first respondent. While the text of the order of that particular date did not contain any such direction, however, the subsequent order passed by the High Court adverted to such oral direction and directed immediate release of the accused. The Supreme Court found it ‘irregular’ and observed that a specific judicial order was necessary for grant of an interim protection against arrest to the accused. It also observed that, “Oral observations in court are in the course of a judicial discourse. The text of a written order is what is binding and enforceable.”. The Supreme Court, in this matter, has gone even a step further from R.S. Nayak(supra) and said that even a Judge cannot contradict the judicial record and are accountable for their actions.
Albeit, the Supreme Court has confined itself to the shortcomings of issuing oral direction in a criminal proceeding and the concomitant necessity of a written order, and has distinguished a criminal proceeding from a civil proceeding based on the infusion of interests of State and society in prosecution of the former, the same yardstick has been consistently applied by the Supreme Court in civil cases also. The principle is well settled that statements of fact as to what transpired at the hearing recorded in the judgment of the court, are conclusive of the facts so stated and no one can contradict such statements by affidavit or other evidence. If a party thinks that the happenings in Court have been wrongly recorded in a judgment, it is incumbent upon the party, while the matter is still fresh in the minds of the Judges, to call the attention of the very Judges who have made the record. That is the only way to have the record corrected. If no such step is taken, the matter must necessarily end there.
In ‘Associated Tubewells Ltd. v. R.B. GujarmalModi; AIR 1957 SC 742’, the Supreme Court had deprecated the practice of referring to a conversation which took place in Court but not found a place in the written order, stating that,
“3. We cannot, however, part from this matter without placing on record our very strong disapproval of the course that the advocate — a very Senior Counsel of this court — has adopted in making this application. In the review application he has referred in detail as to what, according to him, happened in court on the prior occasion and what each Judge said in the course of the arguments. The review application sets out at length what the presiding Judge said and expressed in the course of the arguments and what his views were and what the other Judges of the Bench said and expressed and what the view of each was. These statements are followed by a confident assertion how and why the application was dismissed.
5. Judges of this Court cannot be dragged into a controversy as to whether the statements ascribed to them are correct, or express correctly and fully what they had in view. …. ..It is not consistent with the dignity of the Court and the decorum of the Bar that any course should be permitted which may lead to controversy as to what a Judge stated in Court and what view he held. Such matters are to be determined only by what is stated in the record of the Court. That which is not so recorded cannot be allowed to be relied upon giving scope to controversy. To permit the atmosphere of the Court to be vitiated by such controversy would be detrimental to the very foundation of the administration of justice.”
The Supreme Court, with its earlier judgments, had set the tone for the course to be followed by the judges in abstaining from issuing oral directions. Now, with its latest pronouncement in Salimbhai(supra), the Supreme Court has decisively and succinctly laid down thereasons for eschewing such conduct, and observed that,“Oral directions of this nature by the High Court are liable to cause serious misgivings. Such a procedure is open to grave abuse. Most High Courts deal with high volumes of cases. Judicial assessments change with the roster. Absent a written record of what has transpired in the course of a judicial proceeding, it would set a dangerous precedent if the parties and the investigating officer were expected to rely on unrecorded oral observations.”.
A couple of months ago, the author also has had the misfortune of being caught up in such an ugly spectacle. There was no written order/direction by the Ld. Judge, yet the Counsel for the other side insisted than an oral direction was indeed issued. To the great dismay and discomfiture of the author, the Ld. Judge observed that this is a long-standing practice of this (Delhi) High Court that, at times, the Court issues oral directions and the parties abide by such directions. Hopefully, with the latest pronouncement of the Supreme Court, such things would cease in all High Courts, including the Delhi High Court. It can be very embarrassing for the Court and the Counsel. Your humble author can only add that in this day and age of virtual hearings, the written orders assume even a greater significance. It requires no gainsaying that VC is prone to frequent disturbances and disconnections, and this could potentially and occasionally lead to oral directions of the Court or oral undertaking of the Counsels going unnoticed, unheard or unregistered by the parties concerned. And when such oral directions/undertakings are not recorded in the written order, it may lead to a myriad of consequences and complexities; one such we have already seen in Salimbhai(supra). This may well change with the live transcription or telecast of court proceedings, as is done in the Central and State legislature/s and jurisdiction of other democracies like Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, Germany and US. While web portals like Bar&Bench, LiveLaw etc. have been transcribing the court proceedings in a few matters, there has been no occasion for the Court/lawyers hitherto to rely upon or refer to such transcriptions as means of confirming the oral directions/observations made by the Court. It’s anybody’s guess whether the Courts would repose their faith and trust in these online transcripts, or introduce a Court approved transcription/recording of proceedings. But until then, Hon’ble Justice D.Y. Chandrachud has sounded a cautionary note for all Courts to follow, and rightly so.
The Court mentioned that the “Matters of judicial record are unquestionable” and that it is restrained by judicial decorum and public policy from launching an inquiry as to what transpired in the High Court. It was further observed by the Court that, “We are bound to accept the statement of the Judges recorded in their judgment, as to what transpired in court. We cannot allow the statement of the judges to be contradicted by statements at the Bar or by affidavit and other evidence. If the judges say in their judgment that something was done, said or admitted before them, that has to be the last word on the subject.”. The Supreme Court accorded utmost precedence to the judicial record; not allowing it to be contradicted by either the lawyer or the litigant, except the judge herself.
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