Monthly Archives: July 2015

Powers of Magistrate Under – Section 156(3) and Section 202 CRPC

In Devarapali Lakshminarayana Reddy v. V. Narayana Reddy, (1976) 3 SCC 252, National Bank of Oman v. Barakara Abdul Aziz, (2013) 2 SCC 488, Madhao v. State of Maharashtra, (2013) 5 SCC 615, Rameshbhai Pandurao Hedau v. State of Gujarat, (2010) 4 SCC 185, the scheme of Sections 156 (3) and 202 has been discussed. It was observed that power under Section 156(3) can be invoked by the Magistrate before taking cognizance and was in the nature of pre-emptory reminder or intimation to the police to exercise its plenary power of investigation beginning with Section 156 and ending with report or charge sheet under Section 173. On the other hand, Section 202 applies at post cognizance stage and the direction for investigation was for the purpose of deciding whether there was sufficient ground to proceed. Ramdev Food Products (P) Ltd. v. State of Gujarat, (2015) 6 SCC 439.

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Dowry – Meaning of

A perusal of Section 2 of the Dowry Prohibition Act shows that this definition can be broken into six distinct parts:
(a) Dowry must first consist of any property or valuable security – the word “any” is a word of width and would, therefore, include within it property and valuable security of any kind whatsoever.
(b) Such property or security can be given or even agreed to be given. The actual giving of such property or security is, therefore, not necessary.
(c) Such property or security can be given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly.
(d) Such giving or agreeing to give can again be not only by one party to a marriage to the other but also by the parents of either party or by any other person to either party to the marriage or to any other person. It will be noticed that this clause again widens the reach of the Act insofar as those guilty of committing the offence of giving or receiving dowry is concerned.
(e) Such giving or agreeing to give can be at any time. It can be at, before, or at any time after the marriage. Thus, it can be many years after a marriage is solemnized.
(f) Such giving or receiving must be in connection with the marriage of the parties. Obviously, the expression “in connection with” would in the context of the social evil sought to be tackled by the Dowry Prohibition Act mean “in relation with” or “relating to”. Rajinder Singh v. State of Punjab, (2015) 6 SCC 477.

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Criminal Trial – Principle of Issue Estoppel

The rule regarding issue estoppel relates to admissibility of evidence in subsequent proceedings which is designed to upset a finding of fact recorded on the previous occasion and mandates that the finding so rendered on earlier occasion must operate as issue estoppel in subsequent proceedings. It makes it impermissible to lead any such evidence at a subsequent stage or occasion. The law on the point was succinctly stated in Sangeetaben Mahendrabhai Patel v. State of Gujarat, (2012) 7 SCC 621:
“The court has time and again explained the principle of issue estoppel in a criminal trial observing that where an issue of fact has been tried by a competent court on an earlier occasion and a finding has been recorded in favour of the accused, such a finding would constitute an estoppels or res judicata against the prosecution, not as a bar to the trial and conviction of the accused for a different or distinct offence, but as precluding the acceptance/reception of evidence to disturb the finding of fact when the accused is tried subsequently for a different offence. This rule is distinct from the doctrine of double jeopardy as it does not prevent the trial of any offence but only precludes the evidence being led to prove a fact in issue as regards which evidence has already been led and a specific finding has been recorded at an earlier criminal trial. Thus, the rule relates only to the admissibility of evidence which is designed to upset a finding of fact recorded by a competent court in a previous trial on a factual issue. Ashwani Kumar v. State of Punjab, (2015) 6 SCC 308.

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Term Possession – With reference to Criminal Law

The term “possession” consists of two elements. First, it refers to the corpus or the physical control and the second, it refers to the animus or intent which has reference to exercise of the said control. One of the definitions of “possession” given in Black’s Law Dictionary is as follows:
“Possession.—Having control over a thing with the intent to have and to exercise such control. Oswald v. Weigel, 219 Kan616. The detention and control, or the manual or ideal custody, of anything which may be the subject of property, for one’s use and enjoyment, either as owner or as the proprietor of a qualified right in it and either held personally or by another who exercises it in one’s place and name. Act or state of possessing. That conditions of facts under which one can exercise his power over a corporeal thing at his pleasure to the exclusion of all other persons.
The law, in general, recognizes two kinds of possession: actual possession and constructive possession. A person who knowingly has direct physical control over a thing, at a given time, is then in actual possession of it. A person who, although not in actual possession, knowingly has both the power and the intention at a given time to exercise dominion or control over a thing, either directly or through another person or persons, is then in constructive possession of it. The law recognizes also that possession may be sole or joint. Of one person alsone has actual or constructive possession of a thing, possession is sole. If two or more persons share actual or constructive possession of a thing, possession is joint.”
In the said Dictionary, the term “possess” in the context of narcotic drug laws means:
“Term “possess” under narcotic drug laws, means actual control, care and management of the drug. Collini v. State, 487 SW 2d 132. Defendant ‘possesses’ controlled substance when defendant knows of substance’s presence, substance is immediately accessible, and defendant exercises ‘dominion or control’ over substance. State v. Hornaday, 105 Wash 2d 120.
Possession as necessary for conviction of offence of possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute may be constructive as well as actual, United States v. Craig, 522 F 2d 29. The defendants must have had dominion and control over the contraband with knowledge of its presence and character. United States v. Morando-Alvarez, 520 F 882.
Possession as an element of offence of stolen goods, is not limited to actual manual control upon or about the person, but extends to things under one’s power and dominion. McConnel v. State, 48 Ala App 523.
Possession as used in indictment charging possession of stolen mail may mean actual possession or constructive possession. United States v. Ellison, 469 F 2d 413.
To constitute ‘possession’ of a concealable weapon under statute prescribing possession of a concealable weapon by a felon, it is sufficient that defendants have constructive possession and immediate access to the weapon. State v. Kelley, 12 Or App 496.
In Stroud’s Dictionary, the term “possession” has been defined as follows:
“ A person does not lose ‘possession’ of an article which is mislaid or thought erroneously to have been destroyed or disposed of, if, in fact, it remains in his care and control. (R v. Buswell, (1972) 1 WLR 64 : (1972) 1 All ER 75). Mohan Lal v.State of Rajasthan, (2015) 6 SCC 222.

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Applications under Section 156(3) Crpc – To be supported by Affidavit

Section 156(3) applications are to be supported by an affidavit duly sworn by the applicant who seeks the invocation of the jurisdiction of the Magistrate. That apart, in an appropriate case, the Learned Magistrate can verify the truth and also can verify the veracity of the allegations. This affidavit can make the applicant more responsible. Such kind of applications are being filed in a routine manner without taking any responsibility whatsoever only to harass certain persons. It becomes more disturbing and alarming when one tries to pick up people who are passing orders under a statutory provision which can be challenged under the framework of the said Act or under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. But it cannot be done to take undue advantage in a criminal court as if somebody is determined to settle the scores.
There has to be prior applications under section 154(1) and 154(3) while filing a petition under Section 156(3). Both the aspects should be clearly spelt out in the application and necessary documents to that effect shall be filed. The warrant for giving a direction that an application under Section 156(3) be supported by an affidavit is so that the person making the application should be conscious and also endeavour to see that no false affidavit is made. It is because once an affidavit is found to be false, he will be liable for prosecution in accordance with law. This will deter him to casually invoke the authority of the Magistrate under Section 156(3). That apart the veracity of the same can also be verified by the Learned Magistrate, regard being had to the nature of allegations in the case. As a number of cases pertaining to fiscal sphere, matrimonial dispute/family disputes, commercial offences, medical negligence cases, corruption cases and the cases where there is abnormal delay/laches in initiating criminal cases, as are illustrated in Lalita Kumari v. State of U.P., (2014) 2 SCC 1 are being filed. That apart, the Learned Magistrate would also be aware of the delay in lodging of the FIR. Priyanka Srivastava v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (2015) 6 SCC 287.

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Initial Investigation, Further Investigation and Reinvestigation

The “initial investigation” is one which the empowered police officer shall conduct in furtherance of registration of an FIR. Such investigation itself can lead to filing of a final report under Section 173(2) of the Code and shall take within its ambit the investigation which the empowered officer shall conduct in furtherance of an order for investigation passed by the court of competent jurisdiction in terms of Section 156(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
“Further Investigation” is where the investigating officer obtains further oral or documentary evidence after the final report has been filed before the court in terms of Section 173(8). This is a kind of continuation of the previous investigation. The basis of “further investigation” is discovery of fresh evidence and in continuation of the same offence and chain of events relating to the same occurrence incidental thereto. In other words, it has to be understood on complete contradistinction to a “reinvestigation” “fresh” or “denovo” investigation. The scope of further investigation is restricted to the discovery of further oral or documentary evidence. Its purpose is to bring the true facts before the court even if they are discovered at a subsequent stage to the primary investigation. The report submitted in pursuance of further investigation is commonly described as “supplementary report” as the subsequent investigation is meant and intended to supplement the primary investigation conducted by the empowered police officer. Another significant feature of further investigation is that it does not have the effect of wiping out directly or impliedly the initial investigation conducted by the investigating agency. Udai Bhan Karwariya v. State of U.P., 2015 (89) ACC 805.

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