Vs. State by Dy. Superin. Of Police, Madras  INSC 234 (25 March 2010)
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS.
909-910 OF 2003 RAVICHANDRAN ...APPELLANT VERSUS WITH
CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 805-806 OF 2003 CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 807-808 OF 2003
CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 911-912 OF 2003 CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 1515-1516 OF 2003 AND
CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 1527-1528 OF 2003 ORDER
All these appeals involve similar and connected facts. Since, the
legal issues that arise for our consideration are also similar, we proceed to
dispose of all these appeals by this common judgment and order.
Before we delve into the facts of the case, it would be
appropriate for us to deal with the miscellaneous applications that have been
filed in this Court and also the statement of the learned counsel for the
appellant in Criminal Appeal Nos. 805-806 of 2003.
Criminal Miscellaneous Petition Nos. 6391 to 6394 of 2010 in
Criminal Appeal Nos. 1515-1516 of 2003 and Criminal Miscellaneous Petition Nos.
6396-6399 of 2010 in Criminal Appeal Nos. 1527-1528 of 2003 are applications
filed by the legal representatives of the accused No. 1 namely, Kumaraguru
seeking for substitution of their names in place of the deceased appellant-
accused No. 1. During the pendency of the appeals in this Court,
appellant-accused No. 1 died on 9th April, 2007. The present applications have
therefore been filed by his legal representatives seeking for substitution of
their names in place of the deceased appellant accused No. 1. In support of the
aforesaid prayer, the legal representatives of the deceased appellant-accused
No. 1 have relied upon the provisions of Section 394 of the Criminal Procedure
Code, 1973. For the reasons stated in the said applications, the applications
are allowed. The names of the applicants who are the legal representatives of
the deceased-appellant accused No. 1 are, 3 thus, allowed to be brought on
record. The said applications stand disposed of in terms of the aforesaid
It is pointed out that during the pendency of the appeals in this
Court, accused No. 3 namely, Tamizhselvan who was the owner of shop No. 18 had
died. In that view of the matter, so far as the appeals against accused No. 3 are
concerned, i.e. Criminal Appeal Nos. 805-806 of 2003, they stand abated. The
same are dismissed, accordingly. The owner of shop No. 30, Kandasamy, accused
No. 3 in the first appeal has not filed any appeal in this Court against the
order of conviction and sentence passed against him. It has been stated that he
has served out the sentence awarded to him.
Brief facts, which are necessary to dispose of the present
appeals, are that the appellants herein were charged under the provisions of
Section 120-B, Section 420 read with Section 120B, Section 477A read with
Section 120B IPC and under Section 5(1) (d) and 5(2) of the Prevention of
Corruption Act, 1947 in SLP. C.C. No. 1 of 1985. In C.C. No. 3 of 1985, charges
were framed against the appellants herein under clause 4(a) of the Pondicherry
Essential Commodities (Display of Stocks, Price and Maintenance of Accounts)
Order, 1975 read with Section 7(1)(a)(ii) of the essential commodities act, 1955.
case of the prosecution is that the appellants herein, i.e., accused Nos. 1 and
2 prepared the permit for issuance of palmolein oil and the counter foil
thereof was retained in the office. Both the aforesaid permits and the counter
foil were in the handwriting of accused No. 2 which are also initialed and
signed by A1 and A2.
however, in the permit it was detected that there was interpolation and forgery
in respect of shop No. 30. One of such permits indicates that the palmolein oil
was meant to be issued in favour of Shop No. 38. The counter foil retained in
the office indicates that it was meant to be issued and was in fact issued in
favour of shop No. 38 but in the permit, it was detected later on that the same
was converted and interpolated as shop No. 30. Delivery of the palmolein oil
was also taken on behalf of shop No. 30.
In view of the aforesaid interpolation and forgery in the said
documents, two separate cases were registered under the aforesaid provisions.
After submission of the charge-sheet, trial was conducted and a number of
witnesses i.e. P.W. 1 to P.W. 19 were examined and several documents were also
placed on record which were marked as Exhibits P1 to P57.
All the accused were examined under Section 313 of the Code of
Criminal Procedure and on conclusion of the trial, the trial Court, in Spl.
C.C. No. 1 of 1985, convicted all the accused persons namely A1-A3 for an
offence under Section 120B IPC and sentenced each to undergo three years
rigorous imprisonment and also convicted them under Section 420 read with
Section 120B IPC and sentenced each of them to undergo three years rigorous
imprisonment and also to pay a fine of Rs. 500/- each, in default to undergo
one month simple imprisonment. The accused persons were further also convicted
under Section 477A read with Section 120B IPC and sentenced each to undergo
three years rigorous imprisonment.
A2 and A1 were also convicted under Section 5(1)(d) read with Section 5(2) of
the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 read with Section 120B IPC and sentenced
each to undergo rigorous imprisonment for three years and to pay a fine of Rs.
500/- each, in default to undergo simple imprisonment for one month. Kandasamy
A3 was convicted under Section 5(1)(d) read with Section 5(2) of the Prevention
of Corruption Act, 1947 read with Section 109 IPC and sentenced to undergo
three years rigorous imprisonment and to pay a fine 6 of Rs. 500/-, in default
to undergo simple imprisonment for one month. All the sentences were directed
to run concurrently.
With respect to Spl. C.C. No. 3 of 1985, accused Nos. 1 and 2 were
convicted under clause 4(a) of the Pondicherry Essential Commodities (Display
of Stock, Prices and Maintenance of Accounts) Order 1975 read with Section
7(1)(a)(ii) of the Essential
Commodities Act, 1955 read with Section 109 of I.P.C.
and sentenced each to undergo R.I. for 6 months.
No. 3 was convicted under clause 4(a) of the Pondicherry Essential Commodities
(Display of Stocks, Prices and Maintenance of Accounts) Order 1975 read with
Section 7(1)(a)(ii) of Essential
Commodities Act, 1955 and he was sentenced to undergo
R.I. for 6 months.
Aggrieved by the aforesaid judgment and order passed by the trial
Court, the appellants preferred four separate appeals. Two appeals being C.A.
Nos. 181 and 184 of 1994 were filed by accused No. 1. The other two appeals
being C.A. Nos. 220 and 222 of 1994 were filed by accused Nos. 2 and 3 jointly.
The 7 High Court by its judgment and order dated 31.12.2003 dismissed all the
Aggrieved by the aforesaid judgment and order of conviction and
sentences, the appellants before us filed the appeals which were entertained.
All the appeals have been listed for hearing and we have heard the learned
counsel appearing for the parties.
Counsel for the appellants have submitted before us that the
judgments are required to be set aside as none of the accused persons could be
said to be guilty of the offences alleged against them. It is pointed out that
although the aforesaid permit as also the counter foil were prepared by accused
No. 2 and were signed by both the accused no. 2 and accused No. 1, yet there is
no conclusive proof that the interpolation and forgery was done by both the
accused persons. It was also pointed out during the course of arguments by the
learned counsel appearing for the appellants that so far as accused No. 3 is
concerned, he died during the pendency of the present appeals and he did not
file any appeal himself before the Court.
So far as
accused No. 4 is concerned, counsel appearing on his 8 behalf has drawn our
attention to the fact that although he is the brother of A3 there is no
evidence to show that he in fact knew that the aforesaid permit which was
delivered by him in the office of the Federation was in any manner interpolated
Mr. P.P. Malhotra, the Additional Solicitor General of India
appearing for the respondent-CBI tried to contend that it is the concurrent
finding of facts of the two Courts below and therefore, the findings should not
and cannot be interfered with by this Court. He also submitted that the findings
on record fully prove and establish the guilt of the two accused persons and
that there is enough material on record to show that the documents in question
were forged at least with the knowledge and consent of the accused persons and
therefore, the conviction and sentences passed against them are legal and
In the light of the aforesaid submissions, we have considered the
entire record of the case. We have carefully scrutinised the evidence adduced
in the present cases. After going through the same, we are of the considered
opinion that there is no 9 evidence on record to indicate any link to prove and
establish that the interpolation and forgery was done by any of the accused
persons namely, A1, A2 or A4. Only because A4 is the brother of A3 does not in
any manner prove and establish that he had knowledge that the permit was
interpolated when he had presented it before the office of the Federation.
In order to prove that the interpolation and the forgery was done
by A1 and A2, the prosecution has led evidence of P.W. 3 and P.W. 6 who have
stated that they knew the handwriting, signatures, initials and mode of writing
the figures of A1 and A2. Before we deal with the testimony of P.W. 3 and P.W.
6 on the point of handwriting, signatures, initials of the accused persons, we
wish to refer to two judgments of this Court. In 660], this Court held as
There is also oral evidence identifying the signature of the returned candidate
on Exhibits P3 and PW 11/1, particularly in the deposition of Habib, PW 23. He
has not spoken to his familiarity with the handwriting of the appellant.
Opinion evidence is hearsay and becomes relevant only if the condition laid
down in Section 47 of the Evidence Act is first proved. There is some conflict
of judicial opinion on this matter, but we need not resolve it here, because,
although there is close resemblance between the signature of Rahim Khan on
admitted documents and 10 that in Exhibits P3 and PW 11/1, we do not wish to
hazard a conclusion based on dubious evidence or lay comparison of signatures
by Courts. In these circumstances, we have to search for other evidence, if
any, in proof of circulation of the printed handbills by the returned
candidate, or with his consent."
held as under:- "11. We are firmly of the opinion that there is no rule of
law, nor any rule of prudence which has crystallised into a rule of law, that
opinion-evidence of a handwriting expert must never be acted upon, unless
substantially corroborated. But, having due regard to the imperfect nature of
the science of identification of handwriting, the approach, as we indicated
earlier, should be one of caution. Reasons for the opinion must be carefully
probed and examined. All other relevant evidence must be considered. In
appropriate cases, corroboration may be sought. In cases where the reasons for
the opinion are convincing and there is no reliable evidence throwing a doubt,
the uncorroborated testimony of an handwriting expert may be accepted. There
cannot be any inflexible rule on a matter which, in the ultimate analysis, is
no more than a question of testimonial weight. We have said so much because
this is an argument frequently met with in subordinate courts and sentences
torn out of context from the judgments of this Court are often flaunted."
P.W. 6 stated in his examination-in-chief that he knew the accused
persons, viz., A1 to A3 and that A2 was working in Civil Supplies Inspector's
Office in the rank of UDC and that he had earlier worked with him in the
Finance Department. P.W. 11 6 has however, nowhere stated in the
examination-in-chief that the present instance of interpolation or forgery was
in the hand of A2. In the cross-examination, P.W. 6 stated that although he had
worked along with A2 in the Finance Department, but he was working in a
different Section of the Department. He has clearly stated that he was working
in the Budget Section called F1 whereas A2 was working in the Motor Conveyance
Section called F2 Section. It has also been brought to our notice that in the
cross-examination, it was said that the files dealt by A2 and F2 Section in the
Finance Department never came to the F1 Section where P.W. 6 was working.
Therefore, in our considered opinion the interpolation as also the initials
appended thereto have not been proved and established to be in the hand of A2
In that view of the matter, we are of the considered opinion that
the prosecution has miserably failed to prove and establish that the alleged
interpolation and forgery was done by either A1, A2 or A4.
As earlier noted by us, Criminal Appeal Nos. 805-806 of 2003 stand
abated. We allow all the other appeals and set aside the 12 orders of
conviction and sentences passed against each of the accused persons.
The bail bonds stand discharged.
............................................J. [DR. MUKUNDAKAM
............................................J. [H.L. DATTU]
MARCH 25, 2010.