State Rep. by
Tahsildar-Cum-Sales Officer Vs. M. Janakiraman & ANR.  INSC 263 (9
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 557-558 OF 2002
State Rep. by Tahsildar-Cum-Sales Officer ..Appellant Versus M. Janakiraman and
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT,
in these appeals is to the judgment of acquittal recorded by a learned Single
Judge of the Madras High Court. The respondents were accused in C.C.No.195 of
1991 on the file of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Pondicherry. Both of them were
convicted for offences punishable under Sections 31, 33, 37(a) and 38(1) of
Pondicherry Excise Act, 1970 (in short the `Act') and each of them were
sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months under each head and
the sentences were ordered to run concurrently and fine of Rs.10,000/- with
default stipulation was imposed. Appeals were preferred by the accused persons
and learned IInd Additional Sessions Judge, Pondicherry affirmed the conviction
so far as offence punishable under Sections 31, 33 and 37(a) are concerned. But
the sentences were modified. The accused persons filed a Criminal Revision
petitions before the Madras High Court.
facts in a nutshell are as follows:
On 28.4.1990 at 7.30
a.m. Tahsildar (Excise) Visanathan (PW-5) alongwith his officials and police party
went on a routine raid and they received information that some people were
indulging in manufacturing illicit Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMPL) at
Aranganoor. They reached Aranganoor and when they went near the unfinished
house of accused No.1 Janakiraman, they noticed the smell of arrack coming from
that house. On seeing them, a person who was standing there, ran away and they
found a lady there. On enquiry, they came to know that she was Vasantha @
Kumari, the daughter-in-law of Janakiraman and the person who ran away from
there, was accused No.2 Settu another son of Janakiraman and the house belonged
to accused No.1. Janakiraman. Excise Officer, Viswanathan (P.W.5) found a room
in the house locked. When enquired, Vasantha told them that the key was with
accused No.2 who ran away from there.
Thereupon, the lock
was broken and they went inside and saw 2000 bottles containing illicit liquor
(manufactured brandy) and they also found apparatus and other items for
manufacturing illicit brandy alongwith empty bottles. Viswanathan (P.W.5)
seized the materials under cover of Mahazar in the presence of Vasantha and
Assistant Inspector. P.W registered a case in Crime No.4 of 1990 under Sections
31, 33, 37(a) and 38(1) of the Act and sent the samples for chemical analysis.
He examined the witnesses and made the final report. The trial Court and the
first Appellate Court found the accused persons guilty.
The High Court by the
impugned order allowed the Revision Petitions.
support of the appeals, learned counsel for the appellant-State submitted that
the High Court's judgment is practically non-reasoned. It does not refer to the
factual scenario or the evidence. Mere reference has been made to certain
judgments of the High Court and this Court without even indicating as to how
they are relevant for the purpose of this case.
Learned counsel for
the respondents supported the judgment of the High Court.
find that the only reason indicated by the High Court to direct acquittal reads
"Chapter VIII of
Pondicherry Excise Act deals with detection, investigation and trial of
offences and its empowers the excise officers to conduct search to seize the
articles liable for confiscation, to arrest without warrant to conduct
investigation and to complete it since the excise officer is empowered to
conduct search and is also entitled to make investigation and complete the same
in accordance with law. The fact that the complainant himself conducted
investigation in the present case would not vitiate the proceedings. The
contention of the petitioners that the procedure adopted by PW-5 in filing the
complaint and conducting the investigation are vitiated by illegality cannot be
evidence of the witnesses and the conclusions of the trial Court and the first
Appellate Court have not been referred to at all. When two courts had found the
accused persons guilty, the High Court has even not indicated as to how the
conclusions of the trial Court and the Appellate court were without any basis or
not sustainable. The manner of disposal of the Revision Petitions leaves much
to be desired. Above being the position, we set aside the impugned judgment of
the High Court and remit the matter to the High Court for a fresh consideration
and disposal by a reasoned order.
Needless to say that
the factual scenario and the evidence has to be analysed by the High Court
while deciding the revision petitions afresh.
appeals are allowed to the aforesaid extent.
(Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT)