STATE OF GUJARAT Vs. THAKORBHAI SUKHABHAI
HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
STATE OF GUJARAT
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(1.)This appeal arises out of an order passed on 29-1-1965 by Mr. R.I. Lallajee Judicial Magistrate First Class Gandevi in Criminal Case No. 1027 of 1964 whereby the accused-respondent came to be acquitted under sec.245(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code for the offences punishable under secs. 66(b) and 85(1)(2) of the Bombay Prohibition Act. The Criminal Appeals Nos. 425 to 428 of 1965 are similar to the present one and they involve the same questions which we are required to be considered in this appeal. All of them are therefore heard together and a common judgment is recorded in this appeal.
(2.)The accused in ail these cases were charge-sheeted by the police on 19-10-64 in respect of their having been found drunk and behaving in a disorderly manner on a public road under the influence of drink so as to be liable for offences punishable under secs. 66(b) and 85(1)(2) of the Bombay Prohibition Act. The offences by the accused in all the cases are alleged to have been committed on different dates. Their pleas came to be recorded on 21-10-64 and since they pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against each of them the matters came to be adjourned for evidence. However all the cases came up for hearing before the learned Magistrate on 29-1-1965. On that day the learned advocate for the accused in each case pointed out to the Court that the doctors certificate from the police papers shows that though blood was taken on the day he was arrested it was sent to the Chemical Analyser Gujarat State after seven days. The learned Magistrate thus looked into the police papers and finding therefrom that since the blood taken in a phial was not forwarded within seven days as prescribed under Appendix A rule 4(2) he thought that on that material the accused cannot be convicted for such offences. Without therefore recording any evidence whatever he passed an order acquitting the accused of the charges levelled against them under sec. 245(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code. That order of acquittal is challenged by the State in all these appeals.
(3.)Mr. Nanavati the learned Assistant Govt. Pleader contends that the order of acquittal passed under sec. 245(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code by the learned Magistrate on a perusal of police papers and without recording any evidence of the prosecution is contrary to law and it is therefore liable to be set aside. Reliance was placed in support thereof on three cases to which I shall refer hereafter. It is common ground that the procedure to be followed in respect of these cases is one contemplated for summons cases laid down in Chapter XX of the Criminal Procedure Code. Sec. 242 of that Chapter provides that when the accused appears or is brought before the Magistrate the particulars of the offence of which he is accused shall be stated to him and he shall be asked if he has any cause to show why he should not be convicted. That was done by the learned Magistrate and since he did not plead guilty to the same the case was adjourned for recording evidence to the next date as required under sec. 243 of the Code. In those circumstances i.e. when no such admission was made by the accused the Magistrate has to proceed and follow the procedure laid down in sec. 244. This sec. 244 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides that the Magistrate shall proceed to hear the complainant if any and take all such evidence as may be produced in support of the prosecution and also to hear the accused and take all such evidence as he produces in his defence and it is only thereafter that if the Magistrate upon taking the evidence referred to in sec. 244 and such further evidence if any as he may on his motion causes to be produced and if he thinks fit examining the accused finds the accused not guilty he shall record an order of acquittal under sec. 245 of the Code. Thus on a plain reading of secs. 243 244 and sec. 245(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code it is abundantly clear that once the accused denies to have committed any offence and in other words claims to be tried the only course that the Magistrate has to follow is to hear the complainant if any and take all such evidence as may be produced in support of the prosecution and also to hear the accused and take all such evidence as he may produce in his defence. The use of words shall proceed to hear makes it obligatory on the Magistrate to hear the complainant and take all such evidence led by him as required under sec. 244(1). Not only that but if we go to sec. 245(1) of the Code it refers to the words upon taking the evidence referred to in sec. 244 which make it clear that the Magistrate has to take evidence as required under sec. 244; and it is only then that he can pass an order of acquittal under sec. 245(1) of the Code. What is contemplated is taking of evidence by the Magistrate and that cannot stand complied with by only looking into the police papers of the case and acquitting the accused as some defect about the phial containing the blood of the accused having not been sent to the testing officer in time as required under a certain rule. The police papers do not form part of a record of the case and what they contained is no evidence in law. Now it is clear that no evidence is recorded either of the complainant or any of the prosecution witnesses that may have to be produced by the complainant in any of these cases. The learned Magistrate has thus obviously lost sight of the simple procedure which in law he is required to follow in hearing any summons case and that the order passed on the basis of perusing police papers of the case is illegal and cannot stand.
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