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25 Important SC Judgments On Criminal Law - 2019

Ashok Kini
26 Dec 2019 5:42 AM GMT
25 Important SC Judgments On Criminal Law - 2019
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Magistrate Can Invoke Power U/S 156(3) CrPC even at post-cognizance stage, SC says 43 Yr old precedent wrongly decided

Vinubhai Haribhai Malaviya and others v The State of Gujarat

A three judge bench of the Supreme Court virtually overruled a 43 year old precedent and held that Magistrate can invoke power under section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure even at post-cognizance stage. The bench headed by Justice RF Nariman held that this judgment was rendered without adverting to the definition of "investigation" in Section 2(h) of the CrPC. It was observed that the finding in law in the said judgment that the power under Section 156(3) CrPC can only be exercised at the pre-cognizance stage is erroneous.

Acquittal If IO & Informant Same Person: Benefit Of 'Mohan Lal' Judgment Not Available To Cases Prior To It

Varinder Kumar vs. State of Himachal Pradesh

In an important judgment, the Supreme Court observed that all pending criminal prosecutions, trials and appeals prior to the law laid down in the judgment in Mohan Lal vs. State of Punjab (acquittal if investigator-informant is the same person), shall continue to be governed by the individual facts of the case.

Later, a two judge bench expressed its disagreement with the view taken by a three-judge bench in Mohan Lal vs. State of Punjab where it held that that the accused is entitled to acquittal if informant and the investigator in NDPS cases is the same person. The matter was therefore referred to larger bench. A Constitution Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra is considering the matter at present.

498A Case Can Be Filed At A Place Where A Woman Driven Out Of Matrimonial Home Takes Shelter

Rupali Devi V. State of Uttar Pradesh

Answering a reference pending for about seven years, the Supreme Court held that the courts at the place where the wife takes shelter after leaving or driven away from the matrimonial home on account of acts of cruelty committed by the husband or his relatives, would, dependent on the factual situation, also have jurisdiction to entertain a complaint alleging commission of offences under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code

Magistrate Has Power To Direct An Accused To Give Voice Samples During Investigation Without His Consent

Ritesh Sinha v State of U.P.

In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court held that a judicial magistrate can direct an accused to provide his voice samples for investigation even without his consent. The three-judges bench led by the CJI thus settled the confusion which arose out of the split verdict in the 2012 verdict by a two judges bench.

Section 143A NI Act On Interim Compensation Has No Retrospective Application

GJ Raja vs. TejrajSurana

Settling a confusion in prosecution of cheque bounce cases, the Supreme Court held that Section 143A of the Negotiable Instruments Act on payment of interim compensation to the complainant during the pendency of the case has no retrospective application.

Section 148 Of Negotiable Instruments Act Has Retrospective Effect

Surinder Singh Deswal @ Col. S.S. Deswal vs. Virender Gandhi

In an important judgment, the Supreme Court held that Section 148 of the Negotiable Instruments Act as amended, shall be applicable in respect of the appeals against the order of conviction and sentence for the offence under Section 138 of the N.I. Act, even in a case where the criminal complaints for the offence under Section 138 of the N.I. Act were filed prior to 2018 amendment Act i.e., prior to 01.09.2018.

Police Cannot Attach Immovable Property Under Sec.102 CrPC During Investigation

Nevada Properties Private Limited V. State Of Maharashtra And Anr

The Supreme Court held that police does not have the power to attach immovable property during investigation under Section 102 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The judgment was delivered by the bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna. However, police does have authority to freeze moveable properties of the accused, clarified the bench. The Supreme Court held that the expression 'any property' appearing in Section 102 of the Code of Criminal Procedure would not include 'immovable property'. The bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjiv Khanna observed thus while holding that a power of a police officer under Section 102 of the Criminal Procedure Code to seize any property, which may be found under circumstances that create suspicion of the commission of any offence, would not include the power to attach, seize and seal an immovable property.

 SC Upholds Constitutionality Of Section 23 Of PCPNDT Act, Complete Contents Of Form 'F' Mandatory

Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecological Societies of India V. Union of India

The Supreme Court upheld the Constitutional Validity of Sections 23(1) and 23(2) of the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 . Dismissing a writ petition filed by Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI), the bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Vineet Saran observed that dilution of the provisions of the Act or the Rules would only defeat the purpose of the Act to prevent female foeticide, and relegate the right to life of the girl child under Article 21 of the Constitution, to a mere formality.

A Male Between The Age of 18 And 21 Yrs Cannot Be Punished For Marrying A Female Adult

The Supreme Court held that a male aged between 18 and 21 years, who contracts into a marriage with a female adult, cannot be punished under Section 9 of Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.

Victim Has Right To Assist The Court In A Trial Before The Magistrate

Amir Hamza Shaikh vs. State of Maharashtra

The Supreme Court observed that, though the Magistrate is not bound to grant permission to a victim to conduct prosecution at the mere asking but the victim has a right to assist the Court in a trial before the Magistrate. The bench comprising of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Hemant Gupta observed that if the magistrate is satisfied that the victim is in a position to assist the Court and the trial does not involve such complexities which cannot be handled by the victim, he/she would be within its jurisdiction to grant of permission to the victim to take over the inquiry of the pendency before the Magistrate.

Section 207 CrPC: Magistrate Cannot Withhold Any Document Submitted Along With Police Report Except When It Is Voluminous

P. Gopalkrishnan @ Dileep vs. State of Kerala.

The Supreme Court observed that a Magistrate cannot withhold any "document" submitted by the investigating officer along with the police report except when it is voluminous. Further, in case of voluminous documents, the accused can be permitted to take inspection of the concerned document either personally or through his pleader in Court, the bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari.

Preliminary Inquiry Not Required To Be Mandatorily Conducted In All Corruption Cases

State of Telangana vs. Sri Managipet @ Mangipet Sarveshwar Reddy

The Supreme Court observed that a preliminary inquiry before registration of First Information Report (FIR) is not required to be mandatorily conducted in all corruption cases. It said that the judgment in Lalita Kumari does not state that proceedings cannot be initiated against an accused without conducting a preliminary inquiry

COFEPOSA: Detention Order Can Be Passed Even If A Person Is In Judicial Custody

Union of India vs. Ankit Ashok Jalan

The Supreme Court observed that even if a person is in judicial custody, he can be detained Detention Laws like COFEPOSA. The Court further noted that the detenus were granted bail by the Court on the very date the orders of detention were quashed by the High Court. Therefore, the apprehension in the mind of the Detaining Authority that the detenus are likely to be released on bail was well founded and fortified, said the bench while setting aside the High Court order.

Wife Divorced By Husband On Ground Of Desertion Entitled To Maintenance 

Dr. Swapan Kumar Banerjee vs. State of WB

The Supreme Court observed that a wife, who has been divorced by the husband, on the ground that the wife has deserted him, is entitled to claim maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The bench comprising Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose, refusing the plea to refer this issue to a larger bench, observed that this view has been consistently taken by the Supreme Court and is in line with both the letter and spirit of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Road Traffic Offences Can Be Prosecuted Under Both IPC & Motor Vehicles Act 

The State Of Arunachal Pradesh Vs. Ramchandra Rabidas @ Ratan Rabidas & Anr.

The Supreme Court observed that road traffic offences can be prosecuted under Motor Vehicles Act as well as Indian Penal Code. The bench comprising Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice Khanna observed thus while setting aside the direction issued by the Gauhati High Court to States of Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh that road traffic offences shall be dealt with only under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act and not under the provisions of Indian Penal Code.

Accused Charged With Food Adulteration Cannot Be Acquitted Merely Because Deficiency Was Marginal

Raj Kumar vs. State of UP

The Supreme Court observed that if the standards prescribed under Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, are not complied with, the accused charged with adulteration cannot be acquitted only on the ground that the deficiency is marginal.

TADA Offences- FIR Cannot Be Registered Without Sanction Of Competent Authority

Ebha Arjun Jadeja vs. State Of Gujarat

The Supreme Court held that an FIR with respect to commission of an offence under Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act cannot be recorded by the police under Section 154 CrPC without sanction of the competent authority. The bar under Section 20-A(1) of TADA Act applies to information recorded under Section 154 of CrPC, the bench comprising Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose held while discharging an accused.

NDPS: Non-Compliance Of Section 50 During 'Personal Search' Cannot Invalidate Recovery From Vehicle

State Of Punjab vs. Baljinder Singh

The Supreme Court observed that merely because there was non-compliance of Section 50 of the Narcotic and Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act as far as "personal search" of the accused was concerned, no benefit can be extended so as to invalidate the effect of recovery from the search of the vehicle. The bench comprising Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice Krishna Murari observed that the mandate of Section 50 of the NDPS Act is confined to "personal search" and not to search of a vehicle or a container or premises.

Post Conviction Mental Illness Is A Mitigating Factor To Commute Death Sentence

Accused X vs. State of Maharashtra

The Supreme Court held that post conviction mental illness will be a mitigating factor while considering appeals of death convicts. The bench comprising Justice NV Ramana, Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and Justice Indira Banerjee commuted death penalty of a person convicted of rape and murder of two minor girls.

Only Lawyers With Minimum 10 Yrs Practice Shall Be Considered For Representing Accused In Trial Of Offences Punishable With Death Or Life Term  

Anokhilal vs. State of Madhya Pradesh

The Supreme Court issued guidelines in the matter of appointment of amicus curiae to defend the accused in serious criminal cases.

i) In all cases where there is a possibility of life sentence or death sentence, learned Advocates who have put in minimum of 10 years practice at the Bar alone be considered to be appointed as Amicus Curiae or through legal services to represent an accused.

ii) In all matters dealt with by the High Court concerning confirmation of death sentence, Senior Advocates of the Court must first be considered to be appointed as Amicus Curiae.

iii) Whenever any learned counsel is appointed as Amicus Curiae, some reasonable time may be provided to enable the counsel to prepare the matter. There cannot be any hard and fast rule in that behalf. However, a minimum of seven days' time may normally be considered to be appropriate and adequate.

iv) Any learned counsel, who is appointed as Amicus Curiae on behalf of the accused must normally be granted to have meetings and discussion with the concerned accused. 

Section 362 CrPC Does Not Bar Inherent Power Of High Court To Recall An Order

New India Assurance Co. Ltd. vs. Krishna Kumar Pandey

The Supreme Court has observed that the High Court has inherent power under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to recall an order and the provisions of Section 362 Cr.P.C. would not bar it from exercise of such powers.

Right To Get Sample Tested Also Available To Vendor Of Misbranded Food Article When Its Testing Is Integral To Prove The Offence:

M/s Alkem Laboratories Ltd. vs. State of Madhya Pradesh

The Supreme Court  observed that, where examination of the contents/ingredients of the food article is integral to proving the offence 'misbranding', the procedure prescribed under Sections 11-­13 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act has to be complied with, regardless of whether 'adulteration' is alleged or not. 

Body Corporates Like City Municipal Council/Corporation Can Be Prosecuted U/s 47 Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act

Karnataka State Pollution Control Board vs. B. Heera Naik

The Supreme Court observed that Body Corporate like City Municipal Council and Corporation can be prosecuted under Section 47 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. In this case, the Karnataka High Court had quashed the complaint filed by Karnataka State Pollution Control Board on the ground that Commissioner of Municipal Council, Chief Officer or Council cannot be termed as Head of the Department and they cannot be prosecuted under Section 48 of the Act, 1974

Private Counsel Engaged By Victim To Assist Public Prosecutor Cannot Make Oral Argument/Cross Examine Witnesses

Rekha Murarka vs. State of West Bengal

The Supreme Court observed that, though a victim can engage a private counsel to assist the prosecution, such counsel could not be given the right to make oral arguments or examine and cross-examine witnesses. The bench of Justice Mohan M. Shanthanagoudar and Justice Deepak Gupta observed thus while upholding the Calcutta High Court judgment dismissing the application made by a victim in a criminal case seeking permission for her counsel to cross-examine witnesses after the Public Prosecutor.

SC Allows Centre's Review Against Dilution Of SC/ST Act [Read Judgment]

Union of India vs. State of Maharashtra

A three judge bench of the Supreme Court consisting of Justices Arun Mishra, M R Shah and B R Gavai allowed Centre's petition seeking review of its March 20, 2018 judgement which had virtually diluted provisions of arrest under the SC/ST Act. The March 20 judgment had held that arrest of a public servant under SC/ST Act should be after approval of the appointing authority and of a non-public servant after approval of the SSP and that a preliminary enquiry must be held by the DSP to see whether the allegations make out a case under SC/ST Act.

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