Ranchhodlal Vs. State of Madhya
Pradesh  INSC 277 (27 November 1964)
27/11/1964 DAYAL, RAGHUBAR
DAYAL, RAGHUBAR SUBBARAO, K.
AYYANGAR, N. RAJAGOPALA
CITATION: 1965 AIR 1248 1965 SCR (2) 283
RF 1972 SC 496 (2)
Criminal Procedure Code, 1898, (Act 5 of
1898), ss. 222, 233, 234 and 235--Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Act 45 of 1860), s.
409--Criminal Breach of Trust--Separate Trials--Sentence Awarded--To run
The appellant was convicted in four cases for
an offence under s. 409 I.P.C. He was sentenced to imprisonment and line in the
first two cases. The sentences imposed in the other two cases for the offence
under S. 409 I.P.C. were to run consecutively. The High Court dismissed the
HELD : (i) There had been no illegality in
the Court's trying the appellant in four cases regarding amounts embezzled
within a few months and in not ordering the various sentences awarded in
different Sessions Trials to run concurrently. [288 C] The normal rule is that
there should be a charge for each distinct offence, as provided in s. 233 of
Section 222 mentions what the contents of the
charge should be. It is only in certain circumstances that the court is
authorised to Jump up the various items with respect to which criminal breach
of trust was committed and to mention the total amount misappropriated within a
year in the charge. When so done, the charge is deemed to be the charge of one
offence. [286 H-287 B] (ii)Section 234 is an enabling provision and is an
exception to a. 233 of Code of Criminal Procedure. There is nothing illegal in
trying each of the several offences separately.
[287 E] (iii)Assuming without deciding, that
these offences could be said to have been committed in the course of the same
transactions, the separate trial for certain specific offences is not illegal.
Section 235 too is an enabling section. [287 F-G]
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal
Appeals Nos. 218 to 221 of 1964.
Appeals by special leave from the judgment
and orders, dated May 21, 1964 of the Madhya Pradesh High Court (Indore Bench)
at Indore in Criminal Appeals Nos. 30 and 31 of 1962 Nos.
246 and 258 of 1963 respectively.
Jai Gopal Sethi, R. C. Mukati and R. L.
Kohli, for the appellant (in all the appeals).
I. N. Shroff, for the respondent (in all the
284 The Judgment of the Court was delivered
by Raghubar Dayal, J. The appellant, in these four appeals by special leave,
was convicted in four cases of an offence under s. 409 I.P.C. and was sentenced
to 4 years' rigorous imprisonment and fine in the first two cases on January
17, 1962, by the First Additional Sessions Judge, Ujjain, Shri H. B. Aggarwal.
He was also convicted in these two cases of offences under s. 467 read with s.
471 and s. 477A I.P.C.
The sentences imposed for these offences were
to run concurrently with the sentence of imprisonment for the of- fence under
s. 409 I.P.C. The sentences imposed in the two cases for the offence under s.
409 I.P.C. were to run consecutively as no order had been made by the Sessions
Judge for the sentence in the case in which judgment was pronounced later, to
run concurrently with the sentence imposed in the other case.
In each of the other two cases, the appellant
was sentenced to 3 years' rigorous imprisonment under S. 409 I.P.C. by Shri
Dube, First Additional Sessions Judge, Ujjain, on July 20, 1963. The Sessions
Judge ordered the sentences in these two cases to run concurrently, but did not
order them to run concurrently with the sentence awarded in the first case on
January 17, 1962.
The appeals against the conviction of the
appellant in the four cases were dismissed by the High Court. With respect to
the sentence in the appeal against the first conviction in Sessions Trial No. 35
of 1961, the High Court said :
"Coming to the sentences, the basic
offence is criminal breach of trust under section 409 IPC and a sentence of
four years' rigorous imprisonment cannot, in these circumstances, be considered
excessive. If anything, I would call it somewhat lenient." The sentence of
fine of Rs. 1,000 was considered to be 'feeble'.
In disposing of the appeal against the
conviction in the second case, Sessions Trial No. 36 of 1961, the High Court
said with respect of the sentence :
"The sentence of imprisonment is also
low; but possibly the Sessions Court took account of the fact that there were
other and similar cases against Ranchhodlal in which there was a possibility of
a conviction." In the third appeal from the order in Sessions Trial No. 55
of 1962, the High Court said :
"If there had been an application for
enhancement of sentence, I would not have hesitated to increase the 285
sentence because this paying himself on the part of the appellant is a very
serious matter. But there being no such prayer by the State, the matter has to
be left at that." In the fourth appeal, the High Court said "The
trial Court has awarded a sentence of three years without fine. It is quite
lenient." The result of the four convictions and sentences passed in these
cases is that the appellant has to undergo imprisonment for 11 years for mainly
committing the offences under s. 409 I.P.C. with respect to different amounts,
in his capacity as Sarpanch of the Mandal Panchayat, Ujjain.
Special leave was granted on the question of
One of the grounds taken in the special leave
petitions was that his being tried in four cases for committing criminal breach
of trust with respect to different amounts, led to the petitioner's prejudice
and harassment inasmuch as he was to undergo sentences, of imprisonment
Sub-section (1) of s. 397, Cr. P.C. provides
that when a person already undergoing a sentence of imprisonment is sentenced
on a subsequent conviction to imprisonment, such imprisonment shall commence at
the expiration of the imprisonment to which he has been previously sentenced,
unless the Court directs that the subsequent sentence shall run concurrently
with such previous sentence. It follows that a subsequent sentence of
imprisonment is ordinarily to commence at the expiration of imprisonment under
the previous sentence, and that the Court recording the conviction has the
discretion to order that the later sentence would run concurrently with the
The Additional Sessions Judge who convicted
the appellant in two cases in January 1962 did not exercise his discretion in
favour of the appellant. The other Sessions Judge who convicted the appellant
in two cases in 1963 exercised his discretion to the extent that he made the sentences
in those two cases concurrent and did not make those sentences concurrent with
the earlier sentences imposed on the appellant in January 1962. The judgments
in the four Sessions Trials are not before us and we are not in a 'Position to
say whether this aspect of the matter was urged before the Sessions Judges when
they recorded the convictions and sentenced the appellant in the four Sessions
It was not urged before the High Court that
the sentences in all the four cases be made to run concurrently. If it had been
urged, the decision might have gone against the appellant if one 286 considers
the remarks of the High Court on the nature of the sentence in each case. The
High Court considered that the sentences were inadequate.
Learned counsel for the appellant has not
urged that there is any illegality in the sentences awarded to the appellant in
the various Sessions cases or in not making them run concurrently with the
sentence awarded in the first Sessions Trial No. 35 of 1961. He has, however,
urged that the various acts of criminal breach of trust which formed the basis
of the convictions took place within a period of a few months, from November
19, 1955 to February 23, 1956, and that therefore the appellant should have
been charged for committing criminal breach of trust with respect to the total
amount he had misappropriated, in view of s. 222 Cr.
P.C. and that if he had been so charged, the
charge for misappropriating the total amount would have been the charge for one
offence and the appellant would have been tried on such one charge at one trial
and, on conviction, would have been awarded only one sentence which would not
have ordinarily exceeded 4 years' rigorous imprisonment.
Section 222 Cr. P.C. reads :
"(1) The charge shall contain such
particulars as to the time and place of the alleged offence, and the person (if
any) against whom, or the thing (if any) in respect of which, it was committed,
as are reasonably sufficient to give the accused notice of the matter with
which he is charged.
(2) When the accused is charged with criminal
breach of trust or dishonest misappropriation of money, it shall be sufficient
to specify the gross sum in respect of which the offence is alleged to have
been committed, and the dates between which the offence is alleged to have been
committed, without specifying particular items or exact dates, and the charge
so framed shall be deemed to be a charge of one offence within the meaning of
section 234 :
Provided that the time included between the
first and last of such dates shall not exceed one year." Sub-section (2)
is an exception to meet a certain contingency and is not the normal rule with
respect to framing of a charge in cases of criminal breach of trust.
The normal rule is that there should be a charge
for each distinct offence, as provided in s. 233 of the Code.
Section 222 mentions what the contents of the
charge should be. It is only when it may not be possible 287 to specify exactly
particular items with respect to which criminal breach of trust took place or
the exact date on which the individual items were misappropriated or in some
similar contingency, that the Court is authorised to lump up the various items
with respect to which criminal breach of trust was committed and to mention the
total amount misappropriated within a year in the charge. When so done, the
charge is deemed to be the charge of one offence. If several distinct item with
respect to which criminal breach of trust has been committed are not so lumped
together, no illegality is committed in the trial of those offences. In fact, a
separate trial with respect to each distinct offence of criminal breach of
trust with respect to an individual item is the correct mode of proceeding with
the trial of an offence of criminal breach of trust.
Learned counsel for the appellant also relied
on s. 234 Cr. P.C. and urged that three offences of criminal breach of trust
could have been tried at one trial as s. 234 provides that when a person is
accused of more offences than one of the same kind committed within the space
of twelve months from the first to the last of such offences, whether in
respect of the same person or not, he may be charged with, and tried at one
trial for any number of them not exceeding three. This again, is an enabling provision
and is an exception to s. 233 Cr. P.C. If each of the several offences is tried
separately, there is nothing illegal about it. It may also be mentioned that
the total number of items charged in the four cases exceeded three.
Lastly, reference was made, on behalf of the
appellant, to s. 235 Cr. P.C. and it was urged that all these offences were
committed in the course of the same transaction, and therefore, they should
have been tried at one trial.
Assuming, without deciding, that these
offences could be said to have been committed in the course of the same
transaction, the separate trial of the appellant for certain specific offences
is not illegal. This section too is an enabling section.
Apart from the fact that the separate trials
of the appellant in four cases for committing breach of trust with respect to
several items was not illegal, there is nothing on record to show that the
investigating agency had worked out all the cases of criminal breach of trust
prior to prosecuting the appellant for the offences of which he was tried at
Sessions Trial No. 35 of 1961. If all the offences had not been worked out
prior to that, there could not have been a joint trial for all of them even if
that could have been thought to be more reasonable way of proceeding against
288 The fact that the first two Sessions
Trials ended in a conviction in January 1962 on commitments made sometime in
1961 and that the Sessions Trials ending on July 20, 1963 were on commitments
made sometime in 1962, prima facie indicate that the investigating agency
submitted the charge sheets against the appellant for the offences tried in
1963 after-and possibly long after it had submitted charge-sheet with respect
to the first two cases. There cannot therefore be any design in prosecuting the
appellant for different offences in four cases.
We are, therefore, of opinion that there had
been no illegality in the Court's trying the appellant in four cases and in not
ordering the various sentences awarded in different Sessions Trials to run
concurrently with the sentences awarded in Session Trial No. 35 of 1961.
It has been strongly urged that the total
sentence of 11 years which the appellant has to undergo for committing the
various offences of criminal breach of trust is severe and that if he had been
tried for these offences at one trial after taking advantage of the provisions
of s. 222 Cr.
P.C., the sentence which would have been
awarded to him would not have exceeded 4 years, as that is the normal maximum
sentence awarded for an offence under s. 409 I.P.C.
An offence under s. 409 I.P.C. is punishable
up to imprisonment for life or imprisonment up to 10 years. The measure of the
sentence is usually governed by the nature of the offences committed and the
circumstances of their commission and it cannot be held as a hard and fast rule
that a. sentence is not to exceed a certain period of imprisonment when the law
has itself laid down the extent up to which a sentence can be inflicted for a
certain offence and has left discretion to the Court to adjust the sentence
according to the circumstances of each case. We need not detail the
circumstances of these cases, but would simply note that they do not justify
taking any lenient view about the sentences for the offences committed by the
appellant who held a very responsible position as Sarpanch of the Societies and
as such had to deal with the proper disbursement of public money for the
purposes of public benefit. He miserably failed in discharging these duties in
the manner expected of him. A deterrent sentence is always essential so that
others in such responsible Positions and having occasions to deal with large
sums of public money do not victim to greed and dishonesty.
We, therefore, dismiss these appeals.