Rukmini Narvekar Vs.
Vijay Sataredkar & Ors.  INSC 1698 (3 October 2008)
REPORTABLE IN THE
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS.
_1576-1577 OF 2008 [@ Special Leave Petition (Criminal) Nos.7387-88 of 2007]
Rukmini Narvekar .. Appellant (s) -versus- Vijaya Satardekar & Ors. ..
Markandey Katju, J.
appeals have been filed against the common judgment of the learned Single Judge
of the Bombay High Court (at Goa) dated 3.8.2007 in Criminal Writ Petition
Nos.7/2007 and 8/2007.
learned counsel for the parties and perused the record.
Nos. 1 & 2 in both these appeals are husband and wife, being Ranjit
Satardekar and his wife Vijaya Satardekar. An FIR dated 25.2.2002 was filed
against these respondents by one Rukmini Narvekar (the appellant herein) under
various provisions of the IPC including Sections 409, 420, 423, etc. A true
copy of this FIR is annexed as P6 in this appeal. The gist of this FIR is that
the complainant is an illiterate person and so was her husband Raghunath
Narvekar. It is alleged that the respondent Ranjit Satardekar, who is an
advocate, fraudulently and dishonestly induced the complainant and her deceased
husband to place their signatures and thumb impression on some papers in the
office of the Executive Magistrate at Sawantwadi without explaining the
contents thereof, and falsely misrepresenting that the same was necessary to
give him necessary authority to represent them in the court in Goa in Inventory
Proceedings on the death of Andre Andrade which were going on pertaining to the
estate left by him. It may be mentioned that Andre Andrade had several children
including one daughter who was married to Raghunath Narvekar but their marriage
was dissolved on 16.2.1973 and thereafter Raghunath Narvekar married the
complainant. Under the Goa law, Raghunath Narvekar and the complainant
inherited 10% share in the estate left by the deceased Andre Andrade and the
remaining 10% went to Vijaya 3 Andrade who had been married to Raghunath
Narvekar and was being represented by Ranjit Satardekar, advocate, in the
allegation in the FIR was that Ranjit Satardekar had falsely misrepresented to
the complainant and her husband that the document which was being executed by
them was for enabling Ranjit to represent them in the Inventory Proceedings in
progress on the death of Andre Andrade, although what was actually executed by
them was a Power of Attorney. This Power of Attorney was used by the accused
for executing a sale deed in favour of his wife Vijaya Satardekar and Sadiq
Sheikh in the year 1991, but the said sale deed was presented for registration
only in the year 2001. It is alleged that the complainant came to know only in
August 2001 for the first time about the execution of the sale deed in 1991.
Thus it is alleged that the property of the complainant was purported to have
been sold away by Ranjit Satardekar, advocate by deceit and misrepresentation
for which he deserved to be punished under Sections 409, 420 and other
provisions of the IPC.
the basis of the aforesaid FIR, the police investigated the case and filed a
chargesheet against both Ranjit Satardekar and Smt.Vijaya Satardekar as well as
two others. Thereafter, cognizance was taken of the offence alleged in the
chargesheet and process was issued by the Judicial 4 Magistrate, First Class,
Panaji under Sections 468/471/420/120-B read with Section 34 of the Indian
the order taking cognizance and issuing process against the accused, they filed
a Criminal Revision before the Sessions Judge, Panaji, which was dismissed by
his judgment dated 19.6.2007. Against that order a writ petition was filed
which was allowed by the impugned judgment of the learned Single Judge of the
High Court dated 3.8.2007. Hence this appeal.
have heard detailed arguments on both sides and we are of the opinion that
judgment of the High Court cannot be sustained so far as it has quashed the
complaint and proceedings against Ranjit Satardekar, but it has to be sustained
so far as it relates to Vijaya Satardekar.
Mukul Rohatgi, learned senior counsel for the appellant has submitted that in
the impugned judgment the learned Single Judge of the High Court largely relied
on the evidence proceedings in Civil Suit (No.97 of 2004, New No.101 of 2004).
The complainant was the plaintiff No.1 in the said Civil Suit which has been
decreed on 30.12.2006. Shri Rohatgi has submitted that the High Court should
not have relied on the evidence in the aforesaid Civil Suit for the purpose of
quashing the criminal case. On the other hand Shri U.U.Lalit, learned senior
counsel for the respondent has 5 submitted that the said evidence could have
been relied upon on the facts of this case for quashing the criminal
dealing with these submissions we may point out that while there were certain
rulings of two-Judge Benches of this Court, which had held that the findings in
a Civil Suit are binding in a criminal case on the same facts but not vice
versa, this view appears to have been watered down somewhat in the subsequent
decisions of the larger Benches of this Court e.g. the decision of the
Constitution Bench of this Court in Iqbal Singh Marwah and Anr. vs. Meenakshi
Marwah and Anr. 2005(4) SCC 370 (vide para 32) [JT 2005(3)SC 195] as well as
the decision of the three-Judge Bench in K.G. Premshanker vs. Inspector of
Police and Anr. 2002(8) SCC 87 (vide para 30 to 33).
law as to when criminal proceedings can be quashed by the High Court in
exercise of powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C or Article 226 of the Constitution
has been laid down by this Court in State of Haryana and Ors. vs. Bhajan Lal
and Ors. 1992 Supp.(1) SCC 335 (vide para 102 and 103) [JT 1990(4) SC 650].
This decision has been followed subsequently by a series of decisions e.g.
Pepsi Foods Ltd. and Anr. vs. Special Judicial Magistrate and Ors. 1998(5) SCC
749 [JT 1997 (8) SC 705], 6 Minu Kumari and Anr. vs. State of Bihar and Ors.
2006(4) SCC 359 [JT 2006(4) SC 569], etc.
Rohatgi submitted that on a perusal of the FIR in this case it cannot be said
that treating the allegations therein to be correct no prima facie offence is
made out against Ranjit Satardekar. We have carefully perused the FIR and we
agree with the submission of Shri Rohatgi. The allegations in the FIR if
treated to be correct prima facie make out an offence against the respondent,
Ranjit Sataredkar. Shri Lalit, learned counsel for Ranjit Satardekar, however,
submitted that in Bhajan Lal's case (supra) itself the seventh ground given
therein in para 102 of the said decision applies to the facts of this case. The
seventh ground which entitles the High Court to quash the criminal proceedings
is stated in Bhanjan Lal's case (supra) as follows :
criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide and/or where the proceeding
is maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on the
accused and with a view to spite him due to private and personal grudge."
Lalit submitted that the proceedings against Ranjit Satardekar were mala fide
as is evident from the evidence of Dhananjay Narvekar in the Civil Suit where
he has stated that he has received some money from 7 Ranjit Satardekar.
According to Shri Lalit this proves that the sale deed of 1991 was in the
knowledge of the complainant throughout.
have perused the evidence of Dhananjay Narvekar in the Civil Suit and we have
also perused the judgment in the Civil Suit, against which we are informed an
appeal is pending. The evidence of Dhananjay Narvekar is a very detailed one
and some contradictory statements appear to have been be given by him e.g. that
the amount was paid by Ranjit Satardekar as a loan, and this contradicts the
version that the money was paid as a sale consideration. In the judgment of the
Civil Court it has been held that undue influence cannot be ruled out. In these
circumstances it cannot be said that at this stage the proceedings in the
criminal case were totally mala fide and with ulterior motive.
may be mentioned that the pleas which the respondent Ranjit Satardekar took
before the High Court could be taken by him at the time of the trial, and it
would not be proper to pre-empt the criminal proceeding at this stage. Serious
allegations have been made against him in the FIR. The relation of a lawyer and
his client is like a fiduciary relationship, and the lawyer has to act in the
interest of his client. However, it is alleged in the FIR that Ranjit
Satardekar deceived the complainant and her husband in the manner aforesaid.
These are matters which the trial court in the criminal 8 case should look
into, and we are not expressing any opinion either way on this question.
However, we are of the opinion that this was not a fit case for quashing of the
criminal proceedings Ranjit Satardekar in exercise of the powers under Section
482 Cr.P.C or Article 226 of the Constitution.
Mukul Rohatgi submitted that at the time of the framing of the charges only the
material produced by the prosecution side can be looked into by the Court but
the material produced by the defence cannot be looked into. He has placed
reliance on several decisions of this Court in this connection e.g. State of
Orissa vs. Debendra Nath Padhi 2005(1) SCC 568.
have carefully perused the decision of this Court in the State of Orissa vs.
Debendra Nath Padhi (supra). Though the observations in paragraph 16 of the
said decision seems to support the view canvassed by by Shri Rohatgi, it may be
also pointed out that in paragraph 29 of the same decision it has been observed
that the width of the powers of the High Court under Section 482 of Cr.P.C and
Article 226 of the Constitution is unlimited whereunder in the interests of
justice the High Court can make such orders as may be necessary to prevent
abuse of the process of the court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice
within the parameters laid down in Bhajan Lal's case (supra). Thus we have to
reconcile paragraphs 16 and 23 9 of the decision in State of Orissa vs.
Debendra Nath Padhi (supra). We should also keep in mind that it is well
settled that a judgment of the Court has not to be treated as a Euclid formula
vide Dr. Rajbir Singh Dalal vs. Chaudhari Devi Lal University, Sirsa & Anr.
JT 2008(8) SC 621. As observed by this Court in Bharat Petroleum Corporation
Ltd. & Anr. vs. N.R. Vairamani & Anr AIR 2004 SC 4778, observations of
Courts are neither to be read as Euclid's formula nor as provisions of the
statute. Thus in our opinion while it is true that ordinarily defence material
cannot be looked into by the Court while framing of the charge in view of D.N.
Padhi's case (supra), there may be some very rare and exceptional cases where
some defence material when shown to the trial court would convincingly
demonstrate that the prosecution version is totally absurd or preposterous, and
in such very rare cases the defence material can be looked into by the Court at
the time of framing of the charges or taking cognizance.
our opinion, therefore, it cannot be said as an absolute proposition that under
no circumstances can the Court look into the material produced by the defence
at the time of framing of the charges, though this should be done in very rare
cases, i.e. where the defence produces some material which convincingly
demonstrates that the whole prosecution case is totally absurd or totally concocted.
We agree with Shri Lalit that in some very rare cases the Court is justified in
looking into the material produced by the 10 defence at the time of framing of
the charges, if such material convincingly establishes that the whole
prosecution version is totally absurd, preposterous or concocted.
in this case it cannot be said that the evidence in the Civil Suit which was
produced by the defence before the trial court established convincingly that
the prosecution case is totally absurd or preposterous. In our opinion this is
a matter which has to be looked into by the trial Court.
Dr. Monica Kumar & Anr. vs. State of U.P. & Ors. 2008(9) Scale 166 this
Court referred to various decisions on the point of quashing the criminal
proceedings against the accused. In this decision this Court quashed the
criminal proceedings against the accused, though on the allegations in the F.I.R.
prima facie an offence was made out. Thus quashing of the criminal case was
done considering all the facts and circumstances of the case. No doubt, in this
decision the Court has relied on Article 142 of the Constitution, but in our
opinion the result would have been the same irrespective of Article 142.
we allow the criminal appeal in which Ranjit Satardekar is the respondent and
we set aside the judgment of the High Court in respect of Ranjit Sataredkar and
direct that the criminal proceedings against him will 11 go on in the trial
Court. However, the trial Court will not be influenced by any observations made
in this judgment.
regards the other criminal appeal in which Smt. Vijaya Satardekar, wife of
Ranjit Satardekar, is the respondent, we are of the opinion that there is no
material whatsoever either mentioned in the FIR or produced by the prosecution
to show that Vijaya Satardekar was in any way involved in the alleged criminal
offence committed by her husband Ranjit Satardekar. The only allegation against
her is that the sale deed was in her favour. In our opinion this does not prima
facie make out any offence. In our opinion, therefore, the criminal proceeding
against Vijaya Satardekar was rightly quashed by the High Court and the criminal
appeal in which Vijaya Satardekar is respondent is dismissed.
shall be no order as to costs.
(Markandey Katju) New
October 03, 2008
12 13 IN THE SUPREME
COURT OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1576-1577 OF
2008 (@ Special Leave Petition (Crl)Nos.7387-7388 of 2007) Rukmini Narvekar ...
Appellant Vijay Satardekar and ors. ...Respondents
1. I have carefully
gone through the draft judgment prepared by my learned Brother and though I
agree with his interpretation of the provisions of Section 227 of the Code of
Criminal Procedure, hereinafter referred to as "Cr.P.C." and wish to
express my own views in the matter. Section 227 Cr.P.C., which is in Chapter
XVIII of the Code, which deals with trials before a Court of Sessions, relates
to the opening stages of a trial at the time of framing of charge against the
accused which is done under Section 228. Section 227 which is relevant for our
purpose provides as follows:
If, upon consideration of the record of the case and the documents submitted
therewith, and the prosecution in this behalf, the Judge considers that there
is not sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused, he shall discharge
the accused and record his reasons for so doing."
2. The aforesaid
provision has fallen for consideration of this Court in several cases on the
question as to whether at the stage of framing of charge, the Court in seisin
session of the matter is required to consider any material, other than that
indicated in the Section.
3. In the three-Judge
Bench decision of this Court in State of Orissa vs Debendra Nath Padhi [(2005)
1 SCC 568], to which my learned Brother has also referred, it has been
mentioned as to how the matter came to be referred to the larger Bench.
Till 1996, the
consistent view which had been taken by this Court is that at the time of
framing of charge the trial court can consider only such material as are placed
by the investigating agency having regard to the very language of Section 227.
At that stage, the defence could only be heard but could not be given an
opportunity to produce evidence for the consideration of the Court. However, a
different view was expressed by a two-Judge Bench of this Court in Satish Mehra
vs. Delhi Administration [(1996) 9 SCC 766. The learned Judges observed that if
the accused were able to produce any reliable material at the stage of taking
cognizance or framing of charge which might fatally affect the very sustainability
of the case, it is unjust to suggest that no such material should be looked
into by the Court at that stage. It was, therefore, held that the trial court
would be within its power to consider even material which the accused may
produce at the stage contemplated in Section 227 of the Code. It was because of
a discordant note being struck to an otherwise established principle in the
Satish Mehra case (supra) that in Debendra Nath Padhi's case (supra) an order
was passed referring the said question to a larger Bench and the same was taken
up for consideration in the said case itself by a three-Judge Bench.
4. While referring to
Sections 227 and 228 Cr.P.C. relating to Sessions triable cases, the
three-Judge Bench also considered the provisions of Sections 239 and 240
Cr.P.C. relating to trial of warrant cases by Magistrates, which are almost
identical to Sections 227 and 228 Cr.P.C. The decision rendered in Debendra
Nath Padhi's case (supra) makes it very clear that the dominant issue being
dealt with in the case was with regard to the right enjoyed by an accused to
produce evidence for the consideration of the Court at the stage of framing of
5. Interpreting the
expression "the record of the case" and the word "case"
used in Section 227 of the Code, the learned Judges held that the said
expressions clearly meant the records and the documents or articles produced
with it, as indicated in Section 227 Cr.P.C. It was observed that no provision
in the Code gives the accused the right to file any material or document at the
stage of framing of charge. The right is only granted at the stage of the
6. The learned Judge
then went on to examine the earlier cases where the common view taken was that
at the stage of Sections 227 and 228 of the Code all that the 15 Court is
required to see is whether there is sufficient ground for conviction of the
accused or whether the trial is sure to end in his conviction. The learned
Judge while considering the other decision also referred to the decision of
this Court in State Anti-Corruption Bureau vs. P. Suryaprakasan [(1999)
SCC(Cri)373], wherein it was explained that at the time of framing of charge,
the trial court is required to and can only consider the Police report referred
to in Section 173 of the Code and the documents sent with it. It was emphasised
that the only right available to the accused at that stage was that of being
heard and nothing beyond that.
7. In order to
identify the parameters of the questions referred to it, the larger Bench
observed that in the case before it the question involved was not about the
jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code where along with the petition the
accused may file unimpeachable evidence of sterling quality and on that basis
seek quashing, but it is about the right claimed by the accused to produce
material at the stage of framing charge. The larger Bench was, therefore, fully
conscious of the limits within which it was required to confine its views and
the judgment was rendered in that context. The same will be evident from the
opening paragraph of the judgment. While deciding the questions referred to it,
the larger Bench made a conscious distinction between a proceeding under
Section 227 Cr.P.C. before the trial court and a proceeding under Section 482
Cr.P.C. and made a reference to the Court's power to consider material other
than those produced by the prosecution in a proceeding under Section 482
Cr.P.C. It is in that context that while holding that the decision rendered in
Satish Mehra's case (supra) was erroneous, the larger Bench held that if the
submission that the accused would be entitled to produce materials and
documents in proof of his innocence at the stage of framing of charge, was to
be accepted, it would be unsettling a law well settled over a hundred years. It
is in that light that the provisions of Section 227 Cr.P.C. would have to be
understood and that it only means hearing the submissions of the accused on the
records of the case filed by the prosecution and documents submitted therewith
and nothing more. The larger Bench arrived ata definite conclusion that the
expression "hearing the submissions of the accused" cannot mean an
opportunity to file material to be granted to the accused and thereby changing
the settled law. At the stage of framing of charge hearing the submissions of
the accused has to be confined to the material produced by the police.
8. The larger Bench
did not leave any scope for a different interpretation of the provisions of
Section 227 as is now being made. Incidentally, the very same arguments which
have been advanced by Mr. Lalit before us on behalf of the accused, were also
advanced by learned counsel before the larger Bench and the same were negated
as far as Section 227 Cr.P.C. is concerned. However, in paragraphs 21 and 29 of
the judgment the larger Bench did indicate that the width of the powers of the
High Court under Section 482 Cr.P.C. and Article 226 of the Constitution is
unlimited whereunder in the interest of justice the High Court 16 could make
such order as may be required to secure the ends of justice and to prevent
abuse of the process of any court.
9. In my view,
therefore, there is no scope for the accused to produce any evidence in support
of the submissions made on his behalf at the stage of framing of charge and
only such material as are indicated in Section 227 Cr.P.C. can be taken into
consideration by the learned magistrate at that stage. However, in a proceeding
taken therefrom under Section 482 Cr.P.C. the Court is free to consider
material that may be produced on behalf of the accused to arrive at a decision
whether the charge as framed could be maintained. This, in my view, appears to
be the intention of the legislature in wording Sections 227 and 228 the way in
which they have been worded and as explained in Debendra Nath Padhi's case
(supra) by the larger Bench to which the very same question had been referred.
10. However, as
indicated by my learned Brother, the complaint made does make out a prima facie
case against accused Ranjit Satardekar and the cognizance taken by the learned
magistrate cannot be faulted and the appeal as far as he is concerned, must be
allowed. However, even prima facie, none of the offences referred to in the
charge-sheet can be made out against accused Vijaya Satardekar and she has been
roped in only with the aid of Section 120B which is also not substantiated.
The appeal as far as
she is concerned, must be dismissed.
11. The appeal is
disposed of accordingly.