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In the process of formation of opinion by the court that it is expedient in the interests of justice that an inquiry should be made into, the requirement should only be to have a prima facie satisfaction of the offence which appears to have been committed. It is open to the court to hold a preliminary inquiry though it is not mandatory. In case, the court is otherwise in a position to form such an opinion, that it appears to the court that an offence as referred to under Section 340 CrPC has been committed, the court may dispense with the preliminary inquiry.

Even after forming an opinion as to the offence which appears to have been committed also, it is not mandatory that a complaint should be filed as a matter of course. (See Pritish v. State of Maharashtra [Pritish v. State of Maharashtra, (2002) 1 SCC 253: 2002 SCC (Cri) 140].) In the same decision, the Court also took note of the following observations made by a Constitution Bench of this
Court in Iqbal Singh Marwah v. Meenakshi Marwah, (2005) 4 SCC 370 in relation to the scope of Section 340 of the CrPC:

In view of the language used in Section 340 CrPC the court is not bound to make a complaint regarding commission of an offence referred to in Section 195(1)(b), as the section is conditioned by the words “court is of opinion that it is expedient in the interests of justice”. This shows that such a course will be adopted only if the interest of justice requires and not in every case. Before filing of the complaint, the court may hold a preliminary enquiry and record a finding to the effect that it is expedient in the interests of justice that enquiry should be made into any of the offences referred to in Section 195(1)(b). This expediency will normally be judged by the court by weighing not the magnitude of injury suffered by the person affected by such forgery or forged document, but having regard to the effect or impact, such commission of offence has upon administration of justice. It is possible that such forged document or forgery may cause a very serious or substantial injury to a person in the sense that it may deprive him of a very valuable property or status or the like, but such document may be just a piece of evidence produced or given in evidence in court, where voluminous evidence may have been adduced and the effect of such piece of evidence on the broad concept of administration of justice may be minimal. In such circumstances, the court may not consider it expedient in the interest of justice to make a complaint.” (emphasis supplied) Notably, however, the decision in Amarsang Nathaji did not take note of the contrary observations made in Sharad Pawar (supra).

. In any event, given that the decision of the three- Judge Bench in Sharad Pawar (supra) did not assign any reason as to why it was departing from the opinion expressed by a Coordinate Bench in Pritish (supra) regarding the necessity of a preliminary inquiry under Section 340 of the CrPC, as also the observations made by a Constitution Bench of this Court in Iqbal Singh Marwah (supra), we find it necessary that the present matter be placed before a larger Bench for its consideration, particularly to answer the following questions:

(i) Whether Section 340 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 mandates a preliminary inquiry and an opportunity of hearing to the would-be accused before a complaint is made under Section 195 of the Code by a Court?

(ii) What is the scope and ambit of such preliminary inquiry?

  1. Accordingly, we direct the Registry to place the papers before the Hon’ble Chief Justice for appropriate orders.

State of Punjab vs Jasbir Singh

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.335 OF 2020

(Supreme Court of India )

IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH

Criminal Misc. No.M-43750 of 2019 Date of Decision: 14.02.2020

Karan Chawla …Petitioner (s)

Versus

State of Punjab …Respondent(s)

CORAM:- HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE HARI PAL VERMA

Present:- Mr. S.P.S. Khaira, Advocate for the petitioner.

Ms. Ruchika Sabharwal, AAG, Punjab. ****

* HARI PAL VERMA, J. (Oral) Prayer in the present petition filed under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is for grant of anticipatory bail to the petitioner in case FIR No.0133 dated 18.08.2019 under Sections 376, 354, 511 IPC registered at Police Station Fatehgarh Sahib, District Fatehgarh Sahib.

The aforesaid FIR was registered on the statement of the prosecutrix with the allegations that on 17.08.2019, the prosecutrix suffered an accident and therefore, she was brought to Civil Hospital, Fatehgarh Sahib for treatment. In the Operation Room, when the doctor went away after treating her, a fat boy (the petitioner) Karan Chawla came inside  room, who firstly removed her sister-in-law from the Operation Room and then started molesting the prosecutrix. He bit her lips and removed her legging and started to touch her with finger.The prosecutrix started screaming and told the accused that she will tell her husband. The petitioner threatened her that in case she will tell this incident to anybody, he will kill her. At the same time, her husband and sister-in-law came and the accused suddenly disappeared. Later on, the prosecutrix came to know the name of the accused Karan Chawla, who was doing job in Civil Hospital.

On 16.10.2019, when this case was listed before this Court, following order was passed:-

 “Learned counsel for the petitioner refers to the statement of the attending doctor who has commented upon the behaviour of the complainant and her husband, who was allegedly under the influence of liquor, have misbehaved with the para-medical staff.

Dr. Jiwanjot Kaur was the Medical Officer and was performing emergency duty on 17.08.2019 has made a statement that the petitioner who was a Ward Attendant was present in the hospital and was helping her. She further states that husband of the complainant has assaulted the Staff Nurse and the Ward Attendant with the active sport of his relatives.

Notice of motion for 14.02.2020.

Till the next date of hearing, arrest of the petitioner shall remain stayed.”

Learned State counsel, on instructions from SI Amanpreet Kaur Brar, submits that the matter has been looked into by the police and a Special Investigation Team was constituted and on the basis of evidence so  adduced, including recording of the statements of attending doctor, lady attendant, staff nurse, police officials on duty and the security guard, the SIT has come to a conclusion that no such incident of alleged molestation has taken place and accordingly, the police has prepared cancellation report in the matter.

In view of the fact that SIT constituted in the case has not found anything in the case and thereby, cancellation report has also been prepared, the present petition is rendered infructuous

. Accordingly, the present petition is dismissed as infructuous.

However, this Court cannot ignore the fact that number of times, such like false cases are registered. Had there been no fair investigation, the petitioner would have to face trial. The police authorities are at liberty to proceed against the prosecutrix for lodging a false case, in accordance with law.

( HARI PAL VERMA )  JUDGE

Whether speaking / reasoned? Yes / No

Whether reportable? Yes / No

“The High Court ought to have kept in view that `Bail is rule and jail is exception’. There is no gainsaying that bail should not be granted or rejected in a mechanical manner as it concerns the liberty of a person. In peculiar circumstances of this case where closure report was filed twice, the High Court ought not to have declined bail only because the trial court was yet to accept the said report. Further, the examination of witnesses would depend upon the fate of 2nd closure report. Considering the nature of allegations attributed to the appellant and the period he has already spent in custody, we are satisfied that he deserves to be released on bail forthwith.”


Jeetendra Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh & Anr.

[Criminal Appeal No.408 of 2020

arising out of Special Leave Petition (Crl.)No. 10145 of 2019]

  1. Leave granted.
  2. Rejection of third bail application by the High Court of Madhya Pradesh, Indore Bench has prompted the appellant to approach this Court. He has been in custody since 5th January, 2019 in connection with Crime No. 210/2012 registered at Police Station Chhatripura, Indore for offences punishable under Sections 420, 177, 181, 193, 200 and 120B of Indian Penal Code (for short, ‘IPC’).
  3. Briefly stated, the facts are as follows:
  4. Wife of the appellant lodged a case under Sections 498A, 323 and 506 of IPC against him, registered as Crime No. 96/2008, wherein the appellant was arrested. Later, he was released on bail upon furnishing bail bonds of Rs.7,000/along with documents of their residential property as a personal bond by his mother. Subsequently, the matrimonial dispute was amicably settled and as a result, the appellant was acquitted on 23rd April, 2010.
  5. On 20th May, 2012 , Dileep Borade (appellant’s cousin) and his son Vishal Borade lodged a complaint with Police alleging that documents of the residential property furnished as personal bond for appellant’s release on bail in the matrimonial case were forged. This led to registration of Crime No. 210/2012 for which the appellant is incarcerated for more than a year.
  6. From perusal of the record, we note that a closure report was filed by the Police on 24th May, 2013 in Crime No. 210/2012 but the learned Judicial Magistrate after five years ordered further investigation on 20th June, 2018. Consequently, appellant was arrested on 5th January, 2019 and denied bail by the Additional Sessions Judge. The High Court also vide order dated 22nd January, 2019 declined to release him on bail. Appellant filed a second bail application before the High Court, which was dismissed as withdrawn on 10th April, 2019 with liberty to apply again after examination of certain material witnesses. Meanwhile, the police reinvestigated the case and submitted a second report on 2nd September, 2019 stating that no offence has been committed by the appellant and he deserves to be discharged.

After filing of this closure report, appellant approached the High Court for a third time. But he was denied bail yet again vide the impugned order on grounds that the second closure report has not been accepted by the Trial Court and that appellant has failed to point out whether material witnesses have been examined or not. The appellant has thus been left with no other option but to approach this Court. While issuing notice, this Court on 14th November, 2019 directed that the appellant be released on interim bail.

  1. Having heard learned counsel for the parties as well as the counsel representing the complainant, we are satisfied that the appellant deserves to be enlarged on bail. The High Court ought to have kept in view that `Bail is rule and jail is exception’. There is no gainsaying that bail should not be granted or rejected in a mechanical manner as it concerns the liberty of a person. In peculiar circumstances of this case where closure report was filed twice, the High Court ought not to have declined bail only because the trial court was yet to accept the said report. Further, the examination of witnesses would depend upon the fate of 2nd closure report. Considering the nature of allegations attributed to the appellant and the period he has already spent in custody, we are satisfied that he deserves to be released on bail forthwith.
  2. The appeal is thus allowed and the impugned order of the High Court dated 16th September, 2019 is set aside. The interim bail order dated 14th November, 2019 is made absolute. The appellant shall stand released on regular bail subject to the bail bonds already furnished by him to the satisfaction of the trial court.

……………………….CJI (S.A. BOBDE)

………………………..J. (B.R. GAVAI)

………………………..J. (SURYA KANT)

. Section 45 of the Evidence Act which makes opinion of experts admissible lays down that when the Court has to form an opinion upon a point of foreign law, or of science, or art, or as to identity of handwriting or finger impressions, the opinions upon that point of persons specially skilled in such foreign law, science or art, or in questions as to identify of handwriting, or finger impressions are relevant facts. Therefore, in order to bring the evidence of a witness as that of an expert it has to be shown that he has made a special study of the subject or acquired a special experience therein or in other words that he is skilled and has adequate knowledge of the subject.

  1. An expert is not a witness of fact. His evidence is really of an advisory character. The duty of an expert witness is to furnish the Judge with the necessary scientific criteria for testing the accuracy of the conclusions so as to enable the judge to form his independent judgment by the application of this criteria to the facts proved by the evidence of the case. The scientific opinion evidence, if intelligible, convincing and tested becomes a factor and often an important factor for consideration along with the other evidence of the case. The credibility of such a witness depends on the reasons stated in support of his conclusions and the data and materials furnished which form the basis of his conclusions.” In light of the observations quoted above and the admission of PW-8 that he was not an expert in post-mortem examination, we are constrained to find that no reliance can be placed on his deposition.

Furthermore, since this is a case based on circumstantial evidence, the burden is on the prosecution to prove all the circumstances so as to complete the chain, and not to leave any scope for the accused to escape from the clutches of law. The law on this point is now well-settled by the decisions of this Court including in the case of Sharad Birdichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra, (1984)4 SCC 116, wherein it was held that the following conditions need to fulfilled for an accused to be convicted based on circumstantial evidence:

“The following conditions must be fulfilled before a case against an accused can be said to be fully established:

(1) the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully established. (2) The facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused, that is to say. they should not be explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty, (3) the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency.

(4) they should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved, and (5) there must be a chain of evidence so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused.

These five golden principles, if we may say so, constitute the panchsheel of the proof of a case based on circumstantial evidence.” In the instant case, the prosecution has not been able to establish a complete chain of circumstantial evidence. The prosecution has not proved the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, and the same must enure to the benefit of the accused.


Cases refereed :

ADUKKALPATTU Mani Vs State of Andhra Pradesh

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1818 OF 2014