PUNJAB STATE WAREHOUSING CORP. Vs. BHUSHAN CHANDER
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: PUNJAB & HARYANA)
Punjab State Warehousing Corp.
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(1.) The singular question that has emanated in this appeal, by special leave, is whether the High Court has correctly accepted the submission advanced on behalf of the first respondent, who was convicted for offences punishable under Section 409/467/468/471 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (for short, 'IPC') and had been awarded sentence for each of the offences with the stipulation that they would run concurrently, that he being an employee of the appellant Corporation is a public servant and the trial had commenced without obtaining sanction under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) and hence, the trial in entirety was invalid and as a result the conviction and sentence deserved to be set aside.
(2.) As far as the factual narration is concerned, suffice it to state that the Managing Director of the Corporation had written a letter on 28.6.1989 to the concerned police authority to register a case against the first respondent for offences punishable under Sections 409/467/468 and 471 of the IPC or any other appropriate provision of law. During investigation, the investigating agency found that the accused who was working as a Godown Assistant in the Corporation had misappropriated 11 gunny bales value of which was Rs.38,841/-; that he had tampered with the record of the department; and accordingly the police authorities filed the charge-sheet for the aforesaid offences before the court of competent Judicial Magistrate. The learned Magistrate on the basis of evidence brought on record, found that the prosecution had been able to bring home the guilt against the accused and accordingly sentenced him to suffer rigorous imprisonment for three years under Section 467 and 409 IPC and two years under Section 468/471 IPC with separate default clauses. The judgment of conviction and order of sentence was assailed in appeal before the learned Session Judge, Firozpur and the matter was finally heard by the learned Additional Session Judge, who appreciating the evidence on record, concurred with the conviction but modified the sentence of three years imposed under Section 409 and 467 IPC to two years.
(3.) Being dissatisfied, the first respondent preferred Criminal Revision No. 359/2001 in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh. Before the revisional court, the only contention that was raised pertained to non- obtaining of sanction under Section 197 CrPC. It was argued before the learned Single Judge that in view of the decisions in State of Maharashtra v. Dr. Budhikota Subbarao, 1993 3 SCC 339, Rakesh Kumar Mishra v. State of Bihar and others, 2006 1 SCC(Cri) 432 Sankaran Moitra v. Sadhna Das and another, 2006 2 SCC(Cri) 358 Om Kumar Dhankar v. State of Haryana, 2007 3 RCR(Cri) 496 the requisite sanction having not been obtained, the trial was vitiated. On behalf of the Corporation as well as the State of Punjab, it was argued that the sanction under Section 197 CrPC was not necessary to prosecute the first respondent and to substantiate the said stand, reliance was placed on Dr. Lakshmansingh Himatsingh Vaghela v. Naresh Kumar Chadrrashanker Jah, 1990 4 SCC 169 N. Bhargavan Pillai (dead) by Lrs. and another v. State of Kerala, 2004 2 CriCC 575 State of U.P. v. Paras Nath Singh, 2009 6 SCC 372 Raghunath Anant Govilkar v. State of Maharashtra, 2008 11 SCC 289 and Choudhury Parveen Sultana v. State of West Bengal, 2009 3 SCC 398.;
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