Decided on October 18,1979



M.K.SHAH - (1.) Accused Nos. 1 to 13 (except accused Nos. 4 6 and 13 who were child accused) pleaded guilty. Their plea was accepted and they were convicted and sentenced on their own plea. Thereafter after recording some evidence charge was framed against accused no. 14 i. e. the present respondent and at the conclusion of the trial the learned Magistrate placed reliance on the statements of some of the co-accused and recorded a finding of guilty for the said offence under sec. 135 of the Customs Act against accused no. 14 and he was sentenced to undergo R. I. for 9 mo- nths and a fine of Rs. 200.00 i.e. R. I. for one month by the learned Magistrate First 51ass Khambhalia on 27-5-1976.
(2.) The matter was carried in appeal by accused no. 14 before the Court of the Sessions Judge at Jamnagar. The learned Sessions Judge after hearing both the sides came to the conclusion that the order of conviction and sentence passed on the basis of the statements of the co-accused was not sustainable. He therefore allowed the appeal set aside the order of conviction and sentence and hence this appeal by the Union of India.
(3.) Mr. Chhaya the learned Public Prosecutor appearing for the Union submitted that the learned Sessions Judge erred in holding that the stat- ements of the co-accused could not be used against accused no. 14 because their plea of guilty having been accepted and they having been convicted it cannot be said that they were tried jointly in the same trial with acc- used no. 14. Mr. Chhayas contention is that all the accused were put up for trial in one case i. e. case No. 844 of 1974. Barring the juvenile ac- cused who were ordered to be tried by the Juvenile Court the rest of the accused pleaded guilty except accused no. 14. The fact that their plea was accepted and they were convicted and sentenced on their own plea and that thereafter the trial proceeded against accused no. 14 cannot mean that the trial ceased to be a joint trial of all the accused except the ac- cused who were ordered to be tried by the Juvenile Court. In Mr. Chhayas submission till the trial ended by the final order which was passed by the learned Judicial Magistrate First Class on 27th May 1976 all the accused including accused no. 14 were co-accused in a case being case No. 844/ 74 before the learned J. M. F. C. Khambhalia and that therefore the pr- ovisions of sec. 30 of the Indian Evidence Act would come into play and the learned Magistrate was therefore justified in considering and relying on the confessions of the co-accused.;

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