We are sorry to note that such confusion has caused more than a decade’s delay in even the criminal trial commencing, the bench said.
The Supreme Court, while solving the legal conundrum created by two orders passed on the same day in two criminal revision petitions on the same matter, by the same judge of high court, expressed its regret on such a confusion causing more than a decade’s delay in even the criminal trial commencing.
The facts of the case give an interesting read.
In the year 2004, Shyam Lata filed a criminal complaint against Arun Kumar Sharma and Subodh Kumar Sharma alleging that they prepared a fictitious rent receipt by forging thereon her signatures after she refused to sell the shop to them or sign the rent receipts.
Arun Kumar Sharma, for permanent injunction to restrain the appellant from evicting him from the premises, claimed himself to be a tenant of the shop. He had filed the original rent receipts in the said court.
The officer investigating the case filed by Shyam Lata applied to the said civil court for sending the original rent receipts filed in the court to an expert for comparison of signatures of Shyam Lata with the signature on the alleged forged rent receipt. The civil judge turned down this application but granted permission to take photographs of the signatures on the receipt by a handwriting expert for the purposes of comparison. The handwriting expert, when he came to the civil court to take the photographs of the signature on the receipt, the civil judge allegedly refused permission to take photographs of the signatures. The IO submitted a final report before the magistrate court 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.
Shyam Lata filed revision plea before the district court which directed the civil court to send the entire record of the case to the court of the judicial magistrate, so that the required photographs may be taken and further investigations takes place. This order was assailed before the high court by Arun Kumar.
Shyam Lata had also filed objection to the final report filed by IO, which was taken note by the magistrate who ordered further investigation in this case. This order was also challenged in high court by Arun Kumar.
The same judge of the high court heard both the revision petitions filed by Arun Kumar on the same date, but decided it vide separate judgments. With regard to challenge against district court order, the high court did not find any illegality and affirmed the same with minor modification. On the other hand, the order directing further investigation, by the magistrate, was set aside.
So, in effect, the same judge, in one case, directed the IO was to be present with the handwriting expert, take photographs of the signatures for their comparison amounts to further investigation whereas, in the other case, he set naught the further investigation.
However, the IO proceeded with the investigation by obtaining the photographs of signatures by a handwriting expert and submitted the charge sheet before magistrate court. The high court, on plea by Arun Kumar, quashed the criminal proceedings.
Shyam Lata, approached the apex court in appeal, which got allowed by observed 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 CrPC and thereon the proceedings must go on in accordance with law.
The bench of Justice RK Agrawal and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul concluded by remarking: “We are sorry to note that such confusion has caused more than a decade’s delay in even the criminal trial commencing.”