IN RE: P.S. MANI Vs. STATE
HIGH COURT OF MADRAS
In Re: P.S. Mani
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Somasundram, J. -
(1.) THIRU Mani, the petitioner herein, arrived at the Meenambakkam Airport on 13th June 1966 by flight No. 171 accompanied by two other ladies and with a handbag M.O. 1 in his hand. The car MSS 4737 was waiting outside. The petitioner placed the handbag in the front seat of the car. The two ladies brought their luggage's ,viz. 4 suit cases and cloth bundle and kept them by the side of this car. P.W. 1 the Preventive Officer, Madras Customs Department, intercepted the petitioner and the two ladies and took them to the Customs Baggage Examination Hall. The petitioner had with him the air ticket Exs. P -l to P -3 and also the luggage tickets, Ex. P -4. M.O. 2 series, the keys for all boxes, were with him M.O. 3 was opened by him with the key which he had there was a secret chamber in this suit case. The petitioner removed the plasters and 75 bars of gold with foreign markings, kept concealed in the bottom, were seized. Similarly M.O. 7, suit case, which was opened by the petitioner, contained 100 bars of gold with foreign markings concealed in the false bottom. M.O. 1 handbag was then opened. 25 gold bars were seized from, this bag. The total value of the gold thus kept was Rs. 3,24,000/ -. The petitioner did not have with him any permit from the Reserve Bank of India for possession of the large quantity of gold. P.W. 1 took the petitioner and the two ladies to the Control Office. P.W. 7 recorded the statement Ex. P.22 from the petitioner. The Collector, after observing the formalities, confiscated these gold bars and imposed a penalty of Rs. 10,000. Complaint under Sec.135(b)(1) of the Customs Act, 1162, (Act 52 of 1962) and also under Rules 126 (p) (2)(ii) and (iv) of the Defence of India Rules (Gold Control) 1962 read with Rules 125(H) (2) (d) was also filed against the petitioner. P.W. 1 deposed to the circumstances under which the gold bars were seized. When questioned in court, the petitioner stated that he had nothing to do with the boxes or the gold and asserted that he never brought the hand -bag M.O.I. He further stated that the confessional statement, Ex p -22 was snatched from him by threat and coercion. Believing the witnesses examined on the side of the prosecution the learned Sub -Divisional Magistrate, Poonamalle convicted and sentenced the petitioner to undergo rigorous imprisonment, under S. 126P(2)(ii) and also S. 135(b)(i) of the Customs Act, for six months, and also under each count on appeal, the Sessions Judge of Chingleput affirmed this conviction and the sentence. The petitioner now contends that his conviction is not correct.
(2.) THERE can be no doubt that the petitioner had with him all these gold bars at Meenambakkam on 13th June 1966. He had placed the handbag, M.O. I in the front seat of the car. Each bag contained 25 bars of gold with foreign markings. The suit cases were brought by the two ladies who had accompanied the petitioner. The keys, for all these suit cases were with this Petitioner and he had with him the ticks for these ladies also. In fact, he had opened these suit cases with the keys which he had with him. Ex. P -22 is the statement made by him before P.W. 7. There is no reason to think that this statement was snatched from him by coercion or threat or undue influence. The details which he has given in this statement, particularly the names, etc., are matters which he alone could have known. In other words, the person who recorded the statement, could not have known the details which this statement Contains. This itself indicate that it is a statement made voluntarily by the petitioner. He has admitted his possession of these gold bars in this statement. He has stated that these bags were handed over to him by some Radhakrishnan at Bombay and that Radhakrishnan has instructed the petitioner to carry these bags without making any fuss over them. The courts below have correctly held that this Petitioner had with him the gold bars that were seized by P.W.1. The value of the gold thus seized is Rs. 3,24000/ -. Hence the conviction under S. 135(b)(i) and under S. 126P(2)(ii) and (iv) of the Defence of India Rules (Gold Control) are correct and they are confirmed. Mr. Natarajan, appearing on behalf of the petitioner contends that at the worst the petitioner is only a carrier and hence he could not be convicted under S 126 P(2)(ii) and (iv) of the relevant Rules. The defence of the petitioner in court was one of total denial, i.e. he had stated that he had nothing to do with those gold bars or the suit cases. That apart, S. 126 -P(2)(ii) states:
Whoever has in his possession or under his control any quantity of gold in contravention of any provision of this Part, shall be punishable with imprisonment for not less than six months and not more than 2 years and also with fine.
Thus the minimum sentence of 6 months is prescribed by the Rules. The courts below have sentenced the petitioner only for 6 months. There is no case for interference with the sentence. Hence the revision fails and the same is dismissed.
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