IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL No.2155 of 2009
RAMA RANI(Legal Representative of late Shyam Lata) ….Appellant
ARUN KUMAR SHARMA & ANR. ….Respondents
CRIMINAL APPEAL No.2156 of 2009
J U D G M E N T
SANJAY KISHAN KAUL, J.
1. The legal conundrum created by two orders passed on the same day in two Criminal Revision Petitions by the same Judge has given rise to the present appeals. The original appellant, Shrimati Shyam Lata claimed to be the owner and in possession of Shop No.54/1, Mohalla West Rajputana, Rampur Road, Main Bazar, Roorkee. Shrimati Shyam Lata alleged that her real brothers, viz., Arun Kumar Sharma and Subodh RIMINAL APPEAL Nos.2155 & 2156 of 2009 Page 1 of 9 Kumar Sharma, the first two respondents had evil designs on her shop and on 24.5.2004 confronted the appellant with the threat to either sell the shop to them or sign the rent receipts. On the appellant’s refusal on that date, which was also so on 2.6.2004, they threatened and abused her and further manhandled her. It is alleged that the brothers prepared a fictitious rent receipt by forging thereon the signatures of the appellant and left a photocopy of the same at the appellant’s house with the view to lay a false claim of tenancy. The appellant gave a written complaint to the SSP, Haridwar on 2.6.2004 in respect of the incident and a case was registered, being Case Crime No.85/2004 under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 323, 504 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘IPC’) at Gang Nahar, District Roorkee on 4.6.2004.
2. The second respondent, Arun Kumar Sharma, on the other hand, filed a suit, being Civil Suit No.78/2004 in the Court of Civil Judge (Junior Division), Roorkee for permanent injunction to restrain the appellant from evicting him from the premises, claiming himself as a tenant of the shop on the basis of what the appellant alleges to be a forged rent receipt referred to aforesaid.
3. The Case Crime No.85/2004, was investigated and the Investigating Officer (for short ‘IO’) applied to the Court of Civil Judge (Junior Division) for sending the original rent receipts filed in the court to an expert for comparison of signatures of the appellants with the signature on the alleged forged rent receipt filed by respondent No.2 in the court. This application was, however, turned down on 6.8.2004 by the learned Civil Judge but a modified relief was granted for permission to take photographs of the signatures on the receipt by a handwriting expert for the purposes of comparison. The handwriting expert from the Forensic Laboratory, Agra reached the Court of the Civil Judge, Roorkee on 14.9.2004 to take the photographs of the signature on the receipt but it is alleged that the Civil Judge refused permission to take photographs of the signatures. Consequently the IO submitted a final report on 29.4.2005 in the criminal case stating that in the absence of permission to get the signatures, there was no evidence to find that the signatures were forged as they could not be compared.
4. The appellant filed objections against this final report on 12.12.2005. Simultaneously the original appellant also filed Criminal Revision RIMINAL APPEAL Nos.2155 & 2156 of 2009 Page 3 of 9 No.317/2004 against the order dated 14.9.2004 refusing permission to the handwriting expert to take photographs of the signatures. This Criminal Revision was allowed by the order dated 4.3.2006 by the Sessions Judge, Roorkee and the Civil Judge was directed to send the entire record of the case to the Court of the Judicial Magistrate, Roorkee so that the required photographs may be taken and further investigations takes place.
5. The aforesaid order dated 4.3.2006 of the Sessions Judge, Roorkee was assailed by the second respondent by filing Criminal Revision No.51/2006.
6. The other parallel development which took place was that the Judicial Magistrate, Roorkee by the order dated 13.3.2006 allowed the objections of the appellant filed against the final report and directed further investigation under Section 173(8) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Cr.P.C.’) in pursuance of the order of the Sessions Judge dated 4.3.2006. This order of the Judicial Magistrate, Roorkee was also challenged by the second respondent in the High Court in Criminal Revision No.70/2006.
7. It appears that logically both the Criminal Revision No.51/2006 and the RIMINAL APPEAL Nos.2155 & 2156 of 2009 Page 4 of 9 Criminal Revision No.70/2006 were taken up together and heard simultaneously by the same learned Judge of the High Court and were decided by two separate judgments of the same date, i.e., 1.8.2006. In Criminal Revision No.51/2006, it was observed that the learned Judge found no illegality, impropriety or incorrectness in the direction contained in the order of the Sessions Judge but modified the effects of the directions inasmuch as instead of sending the entire record of the case of the Court of the Judicial Magistrate, Roorkee, the IO could be present before the court along with a handwriting expert on a particular date to be fixed by the trial court and the handwriting expert could take photographs of the disputes as well as specimen signatures of Shrimati Shyam Lata. However, curiously insofar as the other Criminal Revision No.70/2006 is concerned, which sought to impugn the rejection of the final report and directed further investigation, that order was set aside to decide the matter afresh relating to the final report.
8. The aforesaid is what we have referred to as the legal conundrum created as on the one hand, the order in Criminal Revision No.51/2006, the direction to the IO was to be present with the handwriting expert, take photographs of the signatures for their comparison amounts to further investigation whereas the order in Criminal Revision No.70/2006 amounted to setting at naught the further investigation.
9. Be that as it may, in view of the directions to the IO to get the signatures compared by obtaining the photographs by a handwriting expert, the needful was done and the IO submitted a chargesheet in the Court of the concerned Magistrate against respondent Nos.2 & 3 and the Magistrate took cognizance of the chargesheet under Section 190(1)(b) of the Cr.P.C.
10. The first two respondents thereafter moved the High Court by filing a petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. and their endeavour succeeded vide order dated 15.12.2006 whereby the order taking cognizance in the chargesheet filed by the police after completion of investigation has been quashed. The learned Judge adopted the reasoning that since the order of the Magistrate dated 13.3.2006 had been set aside by the earlier order passed in Criminal Revision No.70/2006, the investigation carried out on the basis of that order was wholly illegal.
11. The two appeals are, thus, directed against the order dated 1.8.2006 in Criminal Revision No.70/2006 setting aside the direction for further investigation and the order dated 15.12.2006 in C-482 No.878/2006 where the order taking cognizance of the chargesheet has been set aside.
12. During the pendency of the present appeals, Shrimati Shyam Lata passed away and her daughter Shrimati Rama Rani was brought on record.
13. We have heard learned counsel for the parties and there is no doubt about the confusing nature of contradictory orders passed by the High Court. The direction made in Criminal Revision No.51/2006 only modified the original direction of the Sessions Judge dated 4.3.2006 to the extent that instead of sending the entire record of the case to the Court of the Judicial Magistrate, Roorkee, the IO was directed to obtain photographs of the signatures from the record itself accompanied by a handwriting expert. The naturally corollary to this would be that further investigation would be carried out by the IO and the result brought before the court concerned which is what was done. The simultaneous order of 1.8.2006 in Criminal Revision No.70/2006 setting at naught the direction for further investigation was, thus, not required. It is this order which has caused the order dated 15.12.2006 in Section 482 Cr.P.C. proceedings launched by the second respondent. We say nothing more other than that this confusion and contradiction has to be removed by setting at naught the order dated 1.8.2006 in Criminal Revision No.70/2006 as well as the subsequent order dated 15.12.2006 passed in petition No.C-482 No.878/2006 in Section 482 Cr.P.C. The result would be that in pursuance of the further investigation the report which is filed by the IO has logically resulted in the Magistrate taking cognizance under Section 190(1)(b) of the Cr.P.C. and thereon the proceedings must go on in accordance with law.
14. We are sorry to note that such a confusion has caused more than a decade’s delay in even the criminal trial commencing.
15. The appeals are accordingly allowed leaving the parties to bear their own costs.
(Sanjay Kishan Kaul)
November 30, 2017.
S U P R E M E C O U R T O F I N D I A
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS
Criminal Appeal No(s). 2155/2009
SMT RAMA RANI Appellant(s)
ARUN KUMAR SHARMA & ANR. Respondent(s)
Crl.A. No. 2156/2009 (II)
Date : 30-11-2017 These matters were called on for pronouncement of judgment today.
Mr. Rajesh, AOR
Mr. Rameshwar Prasad Goyal, AOR
Mr. Ravinder Kumar Yadav, AOR
Mr. Jatinder Kumar Bhatia, AOR
Mr. Ashutosh Sharma, Adv.
Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul pronounced the judgment while sitting in Chambers (Court No. 13)
Appeals are allowed in terms of signed Non-Reportable Judgment.
(TAPAN KUMAR CHAKRABORTY)
(Signed non-reportable judgment is placed on the file)