Transfer of case from one trial court to other based on complainant’s apprehensions allowed by Thakur and A.K.Goel JJ: Banumathi J dissents

Transfer of case from one trial court to other based on complainant’s apprehensions allowed  by Thakur and A.K.Goel JJ: Banumathi J dissents

A 3 judge bench with a majority of 2:1 allowed a transfer petition filed by the complainant based on his apprehensions of biasness. The majority judgment authored by Justice T.S.Thakur for his lordship and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed transfer of the case from ADJ, Rohini’s Court to Sessions Judge, Tis Hazari Court to be tried. However, in a separate dissenting judgment Banumathi J penned down that the petition was liable to be dismissed.

The brief facts pertaining to the issue before the Court were that the  complainant/appellant lodged an FIR u/s 323/341/354 of IPC and Sec 3(i)(x),(xi) & (xv) of the SC/ST Atrocities Act against the accused/respondents for abusing by uttering objectionable caste based remarks. The Rohini Court discharged all the respondents under the SC/ST Act observing alleged misuse of the provisions of the Act by unscrupulous elements. The revision petition before the Delhi High Court succeeded and the matter was remitted to the trial court to be heard afresh uninfluenced by the observations in the earlier judgment. The complainant then filed transfer petition before District Court, Rohini which declined it stating that no other officer has been notified in the jurisdictional area to hear such cases & subsequently before the Delhi High Court which via impugned judgment also dismissed the petition observing that it has already been declared that the trial court has to adjudge the matter uninfluenced by the earlier judgment so no such order is required.

The question before the Supreme Court was that the order of the High Court declaring fresh trial proceedings uninfluenced by the previous ones is a sufficient safeguard against any possible prejudice or not?

Justice Thakur in his majority judgment observed that in ordinary course if an order passed by a Court is set aside, the observations and findings recorded by it also get obliterated. The High Court made the position clear by expressly writing the same. But presence of situations about the nature of observations made by the court may give rise of apprehensions to the complainant of a non fair view. Such apprehensions are not wholly misconceived. Whether the apprehensions are reasonable enough to direct a transfer was answered in the affirmative. However, to save accused from inconvenience and hardship it was ordered that in case a request for exemption from personal appearance be made, it shall be accepted.

 In the dissenting judgment, Banumathi J wrote that once the High Court has laid down an expressly clear declaration of no past influence, such apprehension by the complainant is untenable. Also, no such apprehension was expressed earlier before the High Court in the revision petition, although u/s 482 of CrPC the High Court has been given inherent powers to do so. The object of the complainant seems to be to adopt dilatory tactics, The judgment said. For asserting the observation that any casual observation made by a presiding officer of trial court would not be a sufficient ground for transfer of cases, judgment in K.P.Tiwari v State of M.P [1994 (Supp 1) SCC 540] was relied holding that no sufficient ground has been made out for the transfer.

Read the Judgment here.