The inherent power under Section 482 CrPC cannot be used by the High Court to reopen or alter an order disposing of a petition decided on merits, the Supreme Court has observed.
The bench comprising Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose observed that the High Court has no power to entertain the petition under Section 482 CrPC and alter the sentence imposed by it.
In this case, the Trial court convicted the accused for the offences punishable under Sections 468, 471 and 419 IPC. The trial court came to the conclusion that the accused had got service on the basis of forged documents depriving a deserving unemployed person of getting such employment and, therefore, according to the trial court, this is not a fit case to grant probation. the trial court imposed punishment under various provisions of IPC for different offences but essentially the accused was to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one year and was to pay a total fine of Rs.2000. The Sessions Court dismissed the Appeal. The High Court, while considering his revision petition, affirmed the conviction but reduced the substantive sentence from one year to the period already undergone and enhanced the fine to Rs.10,000/-. Thereafter, in a Section 482 CrPC petition filed by Singh, the High Court extended the benefit of Probation of Offenders Act to him for the purpose that the sentence, which has already undergone would not affect service career of the petitioner.
The issue considered by the Apex Court in the appeal against the High Court order in the State of MP vs. Man Singh was whether a Judge of the High Court can exercise powers under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 to alter the sentence which has been passed by the High Court itself. The court said:
The manner in which the learned Judge entertained the petition under Section 482 CrPC is highly improper and uncalled for. There is no power of review granted to the Courts under CrPC. As soon as the High Court had disposed of the original revision petition, upheld the conviction, reduced the sentence to the period already undergone and enhanced the fine, it became functus officio and, as such, it could not have entertained the petition under Section 482 CrPC for altering the sentence.
The court observed that the High Court has no jurisdiction to review its order either under Section 362 or under Section 482 of CrPC. It added:
The inherent power under Section 482 CrPC cannot be used by the High Court to reopen or alter an order disposing of a petition decided on merits. After disposing of a case on merits, the Court becomes functus officio and Section 362 CrPC expressly bars review and specifically provides that no Court after it has signed its judgment shall alter or review the same except to correct a clerical or arithmetical error . Recall of judgment would amount to alteration or review of judgment which is not permissible under Section 362 CrPC. It cannot be validated by the High Court invoking its inherent powers .
On the other issue, the bench reiterated that before passing an order of probation, it is essential to obtain the report of the Probation Officer concerned. In this case, the High Court in its order directed that the sentence which the accused has already undergone, would not affect his service career. On this issue, the bench said:
We fail to understand under what authority the High Court could have passed such an order. Even in a case where the High Court grants benefit of probation to the accused, the Court has no jurisdiction to pass an order that the employee be retained in service. This Court in State Bank of India & Ors. v. P. Soupramaniane clearly held that grant of benefit of probation under the Act does not have bearing so far as the service of such employee is concerned. This Court held that the employee cannot claim a right to continue in service on the ground that he was released on probation.
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