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Mere non framing of charge under Section 149 IPC will not vitiate conviction in absence of any prejudice to accused: SC

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In a significant development, we saw how just recently on April 1, 2022, the Apex Court in a recent, remarkable, robust and rational judgment titled State of Uttar Pradesh vs Subhash @ Pappu in Criminal Appeal No. 436 of 2022 cited in 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 336 observed that non-framing of a charge under Section 149 of the Indian Penal Code would not vitiate the conviction in the absence of any prejudice caused to the accused. The Apex Court also made it clear that mere defect in language, or in narration or in the form of charge would not render conviction unsustainable, provided the accused is not prejudiced thereby. It also held that if ingredients of the section are obvious or implicit in the charge framed then conviction in regard thereto can be sustained, irrespective of the fact that said section has not been mentioned. [Referred to Annareddy Sambasiva Reddy Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh, (2009) 12 SCC 546] (Para 7).

To start with, this brief, brilliant and balanced judgment authored by Justice MR Shah for a Bench of Apex Court comprising of himself and Justice BV Nagarathna first and foremost puts forth in para 1 that, “Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad in Criminal Appeal No. 1462 of 1985 by which the High Court has allowed the said appeal preferred by the respondent – original accused and has acquitted the respondent for the offences under Section 302 and 148 of Indian Penal Code (IPC), the State of Uttar Pradesh has preferred the present appeal.”

To put things in perspective, the Bench then while elaborating on the facts of the case stipulates in para 2 that, “The facts leading to the present appeal in nutshell are as under:-

.1 One Hari Singh (PW-5) lodged the F.I.R. on 04.12.1980 at 05.15 PM at P.S. Firozabad (South) District, Agra, against the respondent herein – Subhash @ Pappu, Pramod, Munna Lal and three unknown boys. It was alleged in the F.I.R. that on 04.12.1980 at 2:00 PM, Subhash @ Pappu, Pramod and Munna Lal along with three unknown persons came to the shop of one Hari Om situated in Gallamandi Firozabad, armed with sticks, hockey stick and knife. They demanded to provide them sugar and kerosene oil without having any ration card but Bangali (the deceased) present at the shop in the capacity of a servant, refused to provide them those articles, then one of the persons gave him a knife blow and some other a hockey stick blow. Therefore, it was alleged that the named accused persons and other three unknown persons have committed the offence under Sections 147, 148, 323, 324 IPC. Bengali, the victim made his dying declaration on 05.12.1980 at 11:40 AM before Additional City Magistrate Agra at S.N. Hospital Agra, where the victim Bengali was taking treatment. That the injured Bengali died on 04.01.1981.

2.2 After the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigating Officer filed the charge sheet against all the accused persons on 25.01.1981 for the aforesaid offences. However, Subhash @ Pappu and other coaccused named in the F.I.R. were shown absconding. The accused Subhash @ Pappu thereafter surrendered before the Court on 06.02.1981. As the case was exclusively triable by the Court of Sessions, the case was committed to the court of IVth Additional Sessions Judge, Agra, which was numbered as Sessions Case No. 361 of 1982. All the accused came to be tried by the Sessions Court for the aforesaid offences. Accused Subhash @ Pappu was charged for the offences under Section 148 and Section 302 of IPC. The other coaccused Pramod and Munna Lal were charges for the offences under Sections 147, 149 and 302 IPC. As all the accused denied having committed any offence and denied the charges, they were put to trial. To bring home the charges, the prosecution examined in all 10 witnesses as under:-

NameDeposition

PW-1 Dr. Vijay Kumar Who conducted the medical examination of the deceased Bengali

PW-2 Head Constable, Shri Gajendra Who had written the First Information Report as stated by Hari Singh, PW-5

PW-3 Shri V.N. Saxena Technician, S.N Hospital, Agra

PW-4 Shri Ram Ratan Ojha Pharmacist, N.N.M. Hospital, Firozabad

PW-5 Hari Singh Informant

PW-6 Munna Lal

PW-7 Shri Bhopat Singh

PW-8 Dr. Surendra Kumar Agrawal Doctor, who certified Bengali was in his senses and fit at the time of recording of the dying declaration

PW-9 Shri Yudhishthir Sharma Additional Divisional Transport Officer, who recorded the dying declaration

PW-10 Police Constable, Daya Ram

2.3 PW-5, the informant turned hostile. Thereafter the statement of the accused under Section 313 of Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) was recorded. In the statement under Section 313 Cr.P.C., it was the case on behalf of the accused that in the dying declaration, the name of Pappu s/o Baijnath is mentioned and he is Subhash @ Pappu. However, it was not his case that in the village, there is one other person named Pappu s/o Baijnath. It is not in dispute that Subhash @ Pappu is son of Baijnath. Relying upon the dying declaration, the Trial Court convicted the accused Subhash @ Pappu for the offences punishable under Section 302 and 148 IPC. The Trial Court, however, acquitted the accused Pramod and Munna Lal. The Trial Court awarded the sentence of life imprisonment for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC and three years R.I. for the offence under Section 148 IPC so far as accused Subhash @ Pappu is concerned.

2.4 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the judgment and order of conviction and sentence convicting the accused Subhash @ Pappu, the accused Subhash @ Pappu preferred the Criminal Appeal before the High Court. By the impugned judgment and order, the High Court has acquitted the accused Subhash @ Pappu for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC as well as Section 148 IPC mainly on the ground that in the dying declaration it was not stated, who inflicted the knife blow in the stomach of the deceased and on the contrary, it was stated that Pappu s/o Baijnath hit him by a hockey stick. Therefore, the High Court opined that as there is no allegation against Subhash @ Pappu that he inflicted the knife blow in the stomach of the deceased and that there are contradictions in the deposition of the witnesses examined on who gave the knife blow in the stomach of the deceased, the high Court has acquitted the accused.

2.5 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court, the State has preferred the present appeal.”

Truth be told, the Bench after hearing the learned counsel for the respective parties at length as stated in para 5 then envisages in para 6 that, “At the outset, it is required to be noted that as per the dying declaration recorded by Assistant Divisional Transport Officer on 05.12.1980, six/seven persons attacked the deceased. Even in the F.I.R., lodged by Hari Singh (PW-5), it was specifically mentioned that six persons attacked his brother Bengali, who assaulted him with hockey stick and knife. It is true that Hari Singh (PW-5) – informant turned hostile. However, at the same time, we see no reason to doubt the dying declaration recorded by Assistant Divisional Transport Officer on 05.12.1980. The submission on behalf of the accused relying upon the decision of this Court in the case of Laxman (supra) that the day on which the dying declaration was recorded, there was no extreme emergency and/or his condition was not so serious or there was any danger to his life and therefore there was no reason and/or cause to record the dying declaration and therefore the dying declaration is not believable, has no substance. In the case of Laxman (supra), which has been relied upon by learned counsel appearing on behalf of the accused there is no absolute proposition of law laid down by this Court that, in a case when at the time when the dying declaration was recorded, there was no emergency and/or any danger to the life, the dying declaration should be discarded as a whole. In the present case, as the deceased was having a stab injury by a knife, there was a possibility of danger to his life and therefore, by way of prudence, if the dying declaration was recorded on 05.12.1980, there is no reason to doubt the dying declaration, which was recorded by Assistant Divisional Transport Officer. Therefore, in our view the Trial Court has rightly relied upon and/or believed the dying declaration recorded by Assistant Divisional Transport Officer on 05.12.1980.

6.1 From the dying declaration it emerges that six to seven persons attacked the deceased including Pappu s/o Baijnath. Thus, from the dying declaration, prosecution has been successful in establishing and proving that Subhash @ Pappu s/o Baijnath was present at the time of the incident; he was part of the unlawful assembly and that he participated in the commission of offence.”

Briefly stated, the Bench then enunciates in para 7 that, “It is true that while framing the charge, the respondent accused was not specifically charged for the offence under Section 302 r/w Section 149 IPC. However, it is to be noted that while framing the charge, the Trial Court specifically observed that accused did commit murder by knowingly and intentionally causing death of Bengali and thereby committed the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC (vide charge framed on 06.10.1983). It also appears from the record that the respondent – accused was also charged for the offence under Section 148 IPC, vide charge framed on dated 04.05.1983, in which it has been mentioned that the accused and others were members of an unlawful assembly and in carrying out the common object of that assembly i.e. to murder Bengali, committed the offence of rioting with a deadly weapon, namely, knife to stab Bengali and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 148 IPC.”

Be it noted, the Bench then holds in para 7.1 that, “From the aforesaid charges framed it can safely be said that the ingredients for the offence under Section 302 r/w Section 149 and Section 148 of IPC were specifically brought to the notice of the accused. Therefore, at the most, it can be said to be a defective framing of the charge by not specifically charging under Section 149 IPC. Therefore, Section 464 Cr.P.C. is attracted to the instant case. Section 464 Cr.P.C. reads as under: –

“464. Effect of omission to frame, or absence of, or error in, charge.– (1) No finding, sentence or order by a Court of competent jurisdiction shall be deemed invalid merely on the ground that no charge was framed or on the ground of any error, omission or irregularity in the charge including any misjoinder of charges, unless, in the opinion of the Court of appeal, confirmation or revision, a failure of justice has in fact been occasioned thereby.

(2) If the Court of appeal, confirmation or revision is of opinion that a failure of justice has in fact been occasioned, it may-

(a) in the case of an omission to frame a charge, order that a charge be framed and that the trial be recommended from the point immediately after the framing of the charge;

(b) in the case of an error, omission or irregularity in the charge, direct a new trial to be had upon a charge framed in whatever manner it thinks fit:

Provided that if the Court is of opinion that the facts of the case are such that no valid charge could be preferred against the accused in respect of the facts proved, it shall quash the conviction.”

Adding more to it, the Bench then observes in para 7.2 that, “While interpreting Section 464 of Cr.P.C., this Court in the case of Fainul Khan (supra) has observed and held that in case of omission or error in framing a charge, the accused has to show failure of justice/prejudice caused thereby.”

Most significantly, the Bench then minces no words to hold in para 7.3 that, “In the case of Annareddy Sambasiva Reddy (supra), it was submitted on behalf of the accused that in the absence of a specific charge under Section 149, accused persons cannot be convicted under Section 302 r/w Section 149 as Section 149 creates a distinct and separate offence. This Court negated the said submission and observed and held that mere non-framing of a charge under Section 149 on face of charges framed against appellant would not vitiate the conviction in the absence of any prejudice caused to them. Considering Section 464 Cr.P.C. it is observed and held that mere defect in language, or in narration or in the form of charge would not render conviction unsustainable, provided the accused is not prejudiced thereby. It is further observed that if ingredients of the section are obvious or implicit in the charge framed then conviction in regard thereto can be sustained, irrespective of the fact that said section has not been mentioned.”

As a corollary, the Bench then holds in para 8 that, “Applying the law laid down by this Court in the aforesaid decisions to the facts of the case on hand and on noting the contents of the charges framed against the accused on 04.05.1983 and on 06.10.1983 it shows that the ingredients of Section 149 IPC are satisfied. Therefore, it cannot be said that the accused is prejudiced by non-mention of Section 149 IPC in the charge.”

Notably, the Bench then maintained in para 9 that, “Now, so far as the submission on behalf of the accused that as the weapon – hockey stick alleged to have been used by the accused is not recovered and therefore he may not be convicted is concerned, the aforesaid has no substance. Merely because the weapon used is not recovered cannot be a ground not to rely upon the dying declaration, which was recorded before the Executive Magistrate, which has been proved by the prosecution.”

It is worth noting that the Bench then points out in para 10 that, “Now, the question whether the accused can be convicted for the offence punishable under Section 302 with the aid of Section 149 IPC is concerned, it is true that the prosecution has not established and proved, who actually inflicted the knife blow. However, from the medical evidence on record and even from the deposition of the doctors, it has been established and proved by the prosecution that the deceased sustained an injury by knife blow, which is inflicted by one of the six to seven persons, who participated in commission of the offence. From the dying declaration it has been established and proved that the respondent – accused Subhash @ Pappu was part of the unlawful assembly, who participated in the commission of the offence. Pappu s/o Baijnath – respondent herein was specifically named by the deceased in the dying declaration. Therefore, even if the role attributed to the respondent -accused was that of hitting the deceased by a hockey stick, in that case also for the act of other persons, who were part of the unlawful assembly of inflicting the knife blow, the respondent accused can be held guilty of having committed the murder of deceased Bengali, with the aid of Section 149 IPC.”

Simply stated, the Bench then observes in para 11 that, “Now, the next question, which is posed for consideration of this Court is whether respondent -accused can be convicted for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC r/w Section 149 IPC when the deceased died due to septicemia after a period of thirty days.

11.1 Considering the decision of this Court in the case of Sanjay (supra), the conviction of the respondent accused for the offence punishable under Section 302 r/w Section 149 IPC is not warranted and the case may fall within Section 304 Part I of the IPC.”

While upholding conviction by Trial Court, the Bench then holds in para 12 that, “Now, so far as the conviction of the respondent accused for the offence under Section 148 IPC is concerned, it is the case on behalf of the respondent accused that in the facts and circumstance of the case, Section 148 shall not be attracted as the number of accused chargesheeted/charged/tried were less than five in number, the same has no substance. It to be noted that right from very beginning and even so stated in the dying declaration six to seven persons attacked the deceased. Therefore, involvement of six to seven persons in commission of the offence has been established and proved. Merely because three persons were chargesheeted/charged/tried and even out of three tried, two persons came to be acquitted cannot be a ground to not to convict the respondent accused under Section 148 IPC.

12.1 It is the submission on behalf of the accused that the weapon alleged to have been used by the respondent accused was said to be a hockey stick, which cannot be said to be a deadly weapon and therefore, the respondent – accused cannot be punishable for the offence under Section 148 also has no substance. As per Section 148 of IPC, whoever is guilty of rioting, being armed with a deadly weapon or with anything which used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause death, can be punished under that Section. The term “rioting” is defined under Section 146 IPC. As per Section 146, whenever force or violence is used by an unlawful assembly, or by any member thereof, in prosecution of the common object of such assembly, every member of such assembly is guilty of the offence of rioting. In the present case, six to seven persons were part of the unlawful assembly and they used force or violence and one of them used a deadly weapon, namely, knife and therefore, being a part of the unlawful assembly, the respondent accused can be held to be guilty for the offence of rioting and for the use of force/violence as a member of such an unlawful assembly. Therefore, the respondent was rightly convicted by the Trial Court for the offence under Section 148 IPC.”

Finally, the Bench then concludes by holding in para 13 that, “In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, present appeal succeeds in part. The impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court acquitting the accused for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC is hereby quashed and set aside. The respondent accused is held guilty for the offence under Section 304 Part I r/w Section 149 IPC and for the offence under Section 148 IPC. The respondent accused is sentenced to undergo ten years R.I. for the offence punishable under Section 304 Part I r/w Section 149 IPC with a fine of Rs. 5,000/- and in default to undergo further six months R.I. The respondent accused is also sentenced to undergo three years R.I. for the offence under Section 148 IPC with fine of Rs. 5,000/- and in default to undergo further two months R.I. Both the sentences to run concurrently. The respondent to surrender within a period of four weeks to undergo the remaining part of the sentence as per the present judgment and order. Present appeal is allowed accordingly to the aforesaid extent only. However, in the facts and circumstances of the case, there shall be no order as to costs. Pending application, if any, also stands disposed of.”

All said and done, the Apex Court Bench has made it crystal clear in this notable judgment that mere non-framing of charge under Section 149 IPC will not vitiate conviction in absence of any prejudice to the accused. It certainly merits no reiteration that all the courts must definitely follow the key points what have been laid down by the Apex Court Bench comprising of Justice MR Shah and Justice BV Nagarathna so very clearly in this leading case. No denying it!

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Former AAP Minister Moves Delhi High Court, Seeks Removal Of Kejriwal From CM’s Post

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In the case Sandeep Kumar v. Arvind Kejriwal and Others, the Delhi High Court observed a petition filed by Aam Aadmi Party MLA Sandeep Kumar seeking the removal of Arvind Kejriwal from the post of Chief Minister of Delhi. Arvind Kejriwal is presently in judicial custody related to an Enforcement Directorate (ED) case concerning the excise policy. This is the third petition seeking such a prayer, with the previous two pleas being rejected by the Division bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan.

Sandeep Kumar approached the court as a Court of first instance in writ jurisdiction, not as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), in his individual capacity. He, being a lawyer by profession, claims to be a founding member of the Aam Aadmi Party and a social worker.

The plea filed seeks the issuance of a writ of quo warranto against Kejriwal, calling upon him to show by what authority, qualification, and title he is holding the office of the Chief Minister of Delhi. Additionally, the plea prays for an inquiry to dislodge Kejriwal from the office of the Chief Minister, with or without retrospective effect.

Kumar claims that as a voter of the Delhi Assembly Election, he is personally aggrieved for having a Chief Minister for his Union Territory who has incurred an ‘incapacity to hold the post’ and ‘who can never function as the Chief Minister from custody or prison’ as envisaged by the Constitution of India.

The petitioner argues that Kejriwal has incurred an incapacity to carry out his functions as the Chief Minister of Delhi under the Constitution and therefore, he cannot hold the post. The plea emphasizes that the right to have a government in accordance with the Constitution is a Constitutional Right of every citizen and voter.

Arvind Kejriwal was arrested on the night of March 21 and subsequently remanded to judicial custody until April 15. However, the court refused to entertain a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking Kejriwal’s removal from the post of Chief Minister, observing that there is no scope for judicial interference in the matter, and it is for other organs of the State to examine the issue.

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Delhi High Court Reserved Verdict On Arvind Kejriwal’s Plea Challenging ED Arrest In Liquor Policy Case

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The Delhi High Court in the case Arvind Kejriwal v. Directorate Of Enforcement observed and has reserved verdict on the plea moved by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate, ED in the money laundering case related to the alleged liquor policy scam case.

The bench headed by Justice Sharma in the case observed and has denied any interim relief to Kejriwal and only issued notice on his plea challenging the arrest, as well as his interim application seeking immediate release.

In the present case, Kejriwal is currently in judicial custody. Kejriwal was being arrested on the night of March 21.

The Trial Court in the case remanded him to six days of ED custody, which was extended by further four days. On April 01, he was remanded to judicial custody till April 15.

It has been stated by the Enforcement Directorate, ED that Kejriwal is the kingpin and the key conspirator of the excise scam and there were reasons to believe on the basis of material in its possession that he was guilty of the offence of money laundering.

It has also been alleged that the Aam Aadmi party was the ‘major beneficiary’ of the proceeds of the crime and has committed the offence through Kejriwal.

The response stated that, the Aam Aadmi Party, AAP is the major beneficiary of the proceeds of crime generated in the Delhi Liquor Scam. The Sh Arvind Kejriwal was and is not only the brain behind the AAP but also controls its major activities, he was also one of the founding members and was also involved in the decision making of the policy as evident from the statements of the witnesses.

Arguments:

The counsel, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju told the Court that investigation qua the sitting CM is at a nascent stage. Thus, he also pointed that Kejriwal has not challenged the latest order remanding him to 15 days judicial custody. He has also challenged the first remand order. Please look at the remand order of 26 March. Today we are on April 3. The second remand order is passed on March 28. That has not been challenged. Thus, the third remand order of judicial custody has not been challenged. So today his custody isn’t pursuant to arrest or first remand order, it’s pursuant to April 1 order which has not been challenged. Therefore, Raju also wondered if Kejriwal can challenge his remand since he did not oppose it. ‘He voluntarily accepts please remand me further. Can he challenge the remand order? Or is it barred by waiver? They are blowing hot and cold at the same time. You cant challenge the remand order and say please pass the order and accept it. They have not challenged the latest orders pursuant to which he is in custody. Thus, custody can’t be said to be illegal.”

The counsel, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for Kejriwal argued before the court that the central probe agency did not comply with Section 50 PMLA which empowers it to issue summons, collect evidence, etc. thus, it being clear that section 50 involves an inquiry. Because it’s inquiry which enables ED to make up mind about arrest and prosecution. No attempt is made to record my section 50 even at my residence. While pointing out the remand application he added ED wants to “find out” the role of Chief Minister. ‘Surely that’s not a ground for today’s arrest… There has to be specific role of the petitioner, even for the company, which I’m denying.’

On the other hand, it has been argued by the ASG that the fact that a PMLA offence has taken place is clear and beyond any doubt. Because as far as first Police Custody and subsequent Police Custody is concerned, court has taken cognizance… Categorical finding that there is money laundering. Cognizance of the offence of money laundering. Nobody has challenged the order.

It has also been contended by the Singhvi that ED forced the approvers Raghav Magunta, Sarath Reddy and Magunta Reddy to make statements against Kejriwal. Further, it has been alleged that two approvers even have links with the ruling party. Adding to it, Singhvi stated that initial statements that did not implicate Kejriwal are not even put on record by the ED. ‘These statements are kept in unrelied. Why should the court not see it? Is it fair? What cannon of fairness are you carrying ED? Out of 13 statements by this Reddy. He says nothing in 11 statements. The judge will go by one statement?’

He also questioned the necessity of arrest amid upcoming general elections. The test is not can arrest. It is demonstrating the necessity to arrest. The should arrest test. The necessity to arrest immediately before elections… the only object is to insult, humiliate and disable… So that the petitioner is unable to participate in the election process and to try to demolish the party before the first vote is cast. The timing reeks of basic structure issue, free and fair election issue and democracy issue. What is this urgency or necessity?

Further, Singhvi stated that it said to be a flight risk, given his deep roots in the society. Responding to this ASG stated that, supposing a political person commits murder two days before elections. This means he can’t be arrested? Basic structure comes into play? Criminals are supposed to be arrested and put in jail. In such cases there is no infringement of basic structure.

Further, it has been argued by ASG that calculation was done as to why 5 percent profit was made 12 percent in the new policy. “Only inference is that it was done so that 7 percent of portion is used for giving kickbacks. The fact that there is a scam is beyond doubt. Howsoever hue and cry you make, its a fact that a scam was there… Finding of the actual proceeds of crime is irrelevant if we make out a case that you were involved in money laundering.

Facts of the Case:

Kejriwal had skipped nine summons issued to him by ED. The Aam Aadmi Party leaders Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh are also accused in the case and are presently in judicial custody. While following his arrest, Kejriwal had promptly moved an urgent petition before the Supreme Court challenging his arrest. However, the same was withdrawn later. Kejriwal has previously moved the Delhi High Court, the division bench wherein it challenged the summons issued to him by the central probe agency. He has also filed an application seeking interim protection. The matter is fixed for hearing on April 22. The Kejriwal has skipped the summons, claiming that they are illegal.

It has also been alleged by the ED that Arvind Kejriwal is the ‘kingpin’ of Delhi excise scam and is directly involved in the use of proceeds of crime accounting to over Rs. 100 crores. It being the case of ED’s that the excise policy was implemented as part of a conspiracy to give wholesale business profit of 12 percent to certain private companies, although such a stipulation was not mentioned in the minutes of meetings of Group of Ministers, GoM. Further, it has also been claimed by the Central agency that there was a conspiracy that was coordinated by Vijay Nair and other individuals along with South Group to give extraordinary profit margins to wholesalers. According to the agency, Nair was acting on behalf of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia.

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Delhi High Court CM Arvind Kejriwal’s ED Custody extended By 4 Days Till April 1 In Liquor Policy Case

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The Delhi High Court in the case Surjit Singh Yadav v. Union Of India observed and has remanded the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to Enforcement Directorate, ED custody till April 01 in the money laundering case which relates to the alleged liquor policy scam case. Arwind Kejriwal was being arrested on the night of March 21, 2024. The Special CBI judge Kaveri Baweja of the Rouse Avenue Courts passed the order after Kejriwal was produced in court on the expiry of his six days of Enforcement Directorate, ED custody.

The Delhi High Court in the case declined any interim relief to Kejriwal and only issued notice on his plea challenging the arrest and remand. The counsel, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju told the court that the sitting CM was giving “evasive replies” during interrogation and the agency needs to confront him with some individuals who have been summoned from Goa. Thus, ED sought 7 more days of custody. He doesn’t get exonerated if he is a CM. There is no different standards for a CM. Right to arrest a CM is no different from an ordinary man.”

Yesterday, the Enforcement Directorate, ED summoned AAP’s Goa unit chief Amit Palekar and some other party leaders for questioning. Thus, they have been asked to appear at the agency’s Goa office on March 28, 2024. Further, the Kejriwal while appearing in person submitted before the court that he is not opposing remand. He claimed the entire case is a ‘political conspiracy’ and there is no such material against him. It has also been alleged by the Delhi CM that the central probe agency was collecting selective material and even the approver was forced to make a statement against him. Further, the central probe agency submitted before the court that Kejriwal has refused to share the password of his mobile phone.

Adding to it, Kejriwal responded that ED cannot force him to unlock his electronic gadgets. Delhi High Court Rejected PIL For Removal Of Arvind Kejriwal From Post Of Chief Minister The Delhi High Court rejected the Public Interest Litigation, PIL moved seeking removal of Arvind Kejriwal, who has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate, ED in the liquor policy case, from the post of Chief Minister of Delhi. The Division bench comprising of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora in the case observed and has stated that the petitioner failed to show any bar in the law which prohibits the arrested CM from holding office. The CJI orally stated that, ‘Show us, where is the prohibition. Show us any legal bar which you’re canvassing’.

Further, the bench stated that there is no scope for judicial interference in the matter and the executive is examining the issue. The court in the case observed that if there is a constitutional failure, President or Governor will act on it…Is there any scope for judicial interference in this? The LG is examining the issue. It will go to the President. It belongs to a different wing. There is no scope for judicial interference in this. In the present case, the petition is moved by one Surjit Singh Yadav, a Delhi resident claiming to be a farmer and social worker. It has been claimed by him before the court that a Chief Minister accused of a financial scandal should not be permitted to continue in public office. Kejriwal is presently in ED custody which ends on March 28, 2024. It has been submitted by Yadav in the PIL that Kejriwal’s continuation in the post would not only lead to obstruction of due process of law and disrupt the course of justice, but also would lead to a breakdown of the constitutional machinery in the State as Kejriwal does not satisfy most of the limbs of Article 163 and 164 of the Constitution of India owing to his incarceration.

Further, the plea stated that the Respondent No.4 has virtually forfeited his office as a Chief Minister of account of being arrested and as he is in the Custody he has disabled himself from performing the duties and responsibilities of being a public servant and as such he ought not to continue as a Chief Minister. Therefore, the AAP Ministers have been making statements in the media that Kejriwal will not resign from the post and if need be, he will run the government from inside the prison.

It has been submitted by Yadav that a jailed CM would be incapable of transacting any business that the law enjoins upon him and if he is allowed to do so, any material, irrespective of its secretive nature, would have to be scanned thoroughly by the prison authorities before it reaches Kejriwal’s hands and such an act would amount to direct breach of oath of secrecy administered to the CM under the Third Schedule of the Constitution. Further, the plea stated that the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules, 1993 empowers a CM to call for files from any department of the Cabinet and if Kejriwal continues as CM, he would be well within his rights to demand for the investigation of files wherein he has been arraigned as an accused.

The plea states that, such a situation is against the ethos of Criminal Jurisprudence. Therefore, Yadav had prayed the Court to issue a writ in the nature of Quo Warranto, calling upon Kejriwal to answer under what authority he is holding the post of CM and consequently remove him. However, Yadav has also filed another PIL seeking to prevent Kejriwal from issuing directions or orders while in ED custody. About The Case: The Kejriwal had skipped nine summons which were issued to him by the Enforcement Directorate, ED.

The Aam Aadmi Party leaders Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh are also accused in the case and are presently in judicial custody. The Kejriwal while following the arrest of him had promptly moved an urgent petition before the Supreme Court challenging his arrest. Later, the same was withdrawn. Therefore, Kejriwal has previously moved the Delhi High Court (division bench) challenging the summons issued to him by the central probe agency. Further, the Kejriwal has also filed an application seeking interim protection.

The matter was fixed for hearing on April 22. It has been alleged by ED that two criminal complaints had been filed against Kejriwal in city’s Rouse Avenue Courts alleging non-compliance of the summons by him. Kejriwal has skipped the summons, claiming that they are illegal. It has been alleged by the ED that Arvind Kejriwal is the ‘kingpin’ of Delhi excise scam and is directly involved in the use of proceeds of crime accounting to over Rs. 100 crores.

It being the case of ED that the excise policy was implemented as part of a conspiracy to give wholesale business profit of 12 percent to certain private companies, although such a stipulation was not mentioned in the minutes of meetings of Group of Ministers, GoM. It has been claimed by the Central Agency that there was a conspiracy that was coordinated by Vijay Nair and other individuals along with South Group to give extraordinary profit margins to wholesalers.

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Supreme Court: Plea To Stay Citizenship Amendment Act

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The Supreme Court in the case was hearing the application filed to stay the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 and the Citizenship Amendment Rules 2024.

The bench comprising of CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra was hearing the present matter. In the present case, the court was hearing the 237 writ petitions challenging the CAA, filed in 2019.

Therefore, these petition before the Court on October 31, 2022. The Union Government notified the Citizenship Amendment Rules 2024 to implement the CAA and notified the formation of committees at the State or UT levels to process the applications on March 11.

The petitioner are Political party Indian Union Muslim League (IUML, the lead petitioner in the case), Democratic Youth Front of India (DYFI, youth wing of the CPI(M)), All Assam Students Union, Assam opposition leaders Debrabata Saika and Abdul Khaleque, State of Kerala, AIMIM head Asaduddin Owaisi, Socialist Democratic Party of India etc.,

The Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal told the court that there was no question of a pause back then since the rules were not notified. Adding to it, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta then said that the fact that the rules were notified before the elections was irrelevant.

The party leader Jairam Ramesh has stated that, the pposition has slammed the Narendra Modi government over the timing of the law’s implementation – four years after it cleared the Parliament. The move is “evidently designed to polarise the elections, especially in West Bengal and Assam”.

Further, the Trinamool Congress chief and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee stated that she doubts the legality of CAA and alleged a conspiracy to “snatch citizenship rights. The Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee says that, BJP leaders say CAA gives you rights. But the moment you apply for citizenship, you become illegal migrants and you will lose your rights. You will lose rights and be taken to detention camps. Please think before you apply. The Centre has trashed the Opposition’s allegations. Stressing that the CAA is not “unconstitutional”, Home Minister Amit Shah has accused the Opposition of resorting to the “politics of lies”.

Amit Shah stated that, On the timing of the law’s implementation, “BJP made it clear in its 2019 manifesto that it will bring CAA and provide Indian citizenship to refugees (from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan). BJP has a clear agenda and under that promise, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed in both houses of Parliament in 2019. It got delayed due to Covid.” Further, Amit Shah stated that, minorities of the country “need not be afraid because CAA has no provision to take back the rights of any citizen”.

Court Hearing:

The bench passed an order appointing separate nodal counsels for petitions which relates t0o States of Assam and Tripure. The Adv Ankit Yadav appointed for the petitioners’ side and Adv Kanu Agarwal for the Petitioners.
Sibal: the moment something like this happens, give us liberty to move here.
CJI: We are here.
Jaising : Would your lordships be pleased to say that any citizenship granted will be subject to the outcome of the petitions.
SG : No, no.
CJI : They don’t have the infrastructure in place, the committee..
SG : This attempt was made outside the court four years back. Misleading people that you will be out of NRC. Same thing Mr. Pasha did. NRC is not an issue here. Grant of citizenship is. Please don’t do this. Nizam Pasha : Muslim members left out of NRC will be prejudiced.. 19 lakhs people left out of NRC, it applies to them.
SG : NRC is not an issue
CJI : They are not willing to make a statement, that is why we keep on April 9.
Sibal : If something happens, we will come..
CJI : What we will do is we will keep on April 9, 2024.
Jaising : In the meantime no citizenship.
SG : I am not making any statement.
SC : We direct the proceedings be listed on April 9, 2024.
Sibal : In meantime no citizenship be granted.
SG: Realistically speaking, I need 4 weeks.
CJI : You can file response in one case, opposing interim prayer.
SG : Many matters have different contentions.
Sibal : Then make a statement that no citizenship will be granted
CJI dictates order : On 22.01.2020 notice was issued. The rules have been
recently notified. This has given rise to applications for stay. SG submits that 4 weeks’ time be granted to file response. The request of 4 weeks’ time is opposed on the ground that in the meantime if citizenship is granted, it will be irreversible.
Sibal : There are serious issues of constitutionality.
Sr Adv Ranjit Kumar (for migrant) : From Balochistan, I came to India because I was persecuted. If I am given citizenship, how is it affecting them?
Jaising : They will get the right to vote!.

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Delhi High Court: ED summons cannot be quashed merely because documents required for confrontation or probe not specified in it

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The Delhi High Court in the case Mr Talib Hassan Darvesh v. The Directorate Of Enforcement observed and has said that the summons issued by Enforcement Directorate, ED cannot be quashed merely because relevant documents are required for investigation or confrontation with an accused who have not been specified in them.

The bench of Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta in the case observed and has stated that the summoning, in exercise of statutory powers, cannot be stalled merely on mere apprehension that the accused may be arrested and prosecuted on basis of summons issued after registration of ECIR in the proceedings which are initiated by the Enforcement Directorate, ED. The court in the case observed and has denied the interim relief to Talib Hassan Darvesh, the accused in the money laundering case.

Before the court, he also sought a stay on the summons which is issued to him by Enforcement Directorate, ED and to restrain the probe agency from taking any further coercive steps against him. Therefore, the Enforcement Directorate, ED opposed the petition which being on the ground that Darvesh cannot be insulated from any coercive action at the initial stage itself and no protective orders could be passed in his favour, ignoring the mandate of Section 45 of PMLA.

It has also been submitted before the court that the proceedings which are initiated by ED were an independent investigation into money laundering allegations based upon the ECIR and the benefit could not be granted which being merely on account of orders granting anticipatory bail to Darvesh in FIR registered by CBI.

The court stated while denying the relief that the summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate, ED cannot be quashed merely because the relevant documents required for purpose of investigation or confrontation to the petitioner, have not been specified in the summons. Adding to it, the court stated that since ECIR is an internal document which is being created before initiation of prosecution against persons involved with process or activity connected with proceeds of crime and it is not necessary to reveal the evidence collected by the Enforcement Directorate, ED at this stage in the summons forwarded to Darvesh.

Further, the court stated that the petitioner is yet to be absolved of scheduled offence by way of discharge, acquittal or quashing and as such protection orders cannot be issued in favour of petitioner ignoring the mandate as it is stated under Section 45 of PMLA, 2002 for grant of bail. Further, the court stated that summoning in exercise of statutory powers cannot be stalled merely on mere apprehension that petitioner may be arrested and prosecuted on basis of summons issued after registration of ECIR, in proceedings initiated by Enforcement Directorate, ED.

The court while considering the facts and circumstances of the case observed and found no grounds for interim relief to be made out at this stage, thus, the court disposed of the plea. Accordingly, the court the petition seeking to quash of the ECIR and summons for hearing on May 07.

The counsel, Advocates Mr. Siddharth Luthra and Mr. Siddharth Agarwal, Sr. Advs. with Mr. Ayush Agarwal, Mr. Udhav Sinha, Mr. Amar Gahlot, Ms. Srishty Jaura, Mr. Nalin Bajaj, Ms. Purvi Garg and Mr. Prashant Singh appeared for the Petitioner. The counsel, Advocates Mr. Zoheb Hossain, Special Counsel for E.D. with Mr. Vivek Gurnani, Mr. Kartik Sabharwal and Mr. Abhigiya represented the respondent.

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Delhi High Court ceases mandate of unilaterally appointed arbitrator under general conditions of contract

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The Delhi High Court, in the case Chabbras Associates vs M/s Hscc (India) Ltd and Anr., observed and rejected the contention presented by the Respondent that the unilateral appointment of the arbitrator made in accordance with the contract cannot be challenged, and the only option available to the petitioner is to challenge the mandate of the arbitrator.

The single bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma observed and emphasized that the unilateral appointment of an arbitrator as stipulated in Clause 25 of the GCC was inherently and blatantly unlawful.

Facts of the Case:

Therefore, the Petitioner approached the Delhi High Court, seeking arbitrator appointment but was directed to exhaust dispute resolution mechanisms in the work agreement or GCC. The Petitioner sought resolution from Respondent No.2, the appealing authority, who rejected the claims on June 14, 2023. The Petitioner, having exhausted all remedies, formally requested the appointment of a fair, neutral, and unbiased arbitrator as per Clause 25 of GCC.

On the other hand, Respondent no.2 unilaterally appointed a Sole Arbitrator without the Petitioner’s concurrence. Further, the Petitioner argued that this appointment violated principles of neutrality, independence, and impartiality.

The respondent argued before the court that the arbitrator’s appointment aligned with the arbitration agreement and since the Petitioner did not challenge the mandate, the petition should be dismissed.

Observations Made by High Court:

The High Court observed and held that it is a well-established legal principle that an arbitration agreement allowing only one party the exclusive right to appoint an arbitrator is inherently flawed and contrary to legislative intent.

The court also referred to the Supreme Court decision in the case Perkins Eastman Architect DPC and Anr. vs. HSCC, wherein the High Court held that the unilateral appointment of an arbitrator is invalid. It firmly held that the provision in Clause 25 of the GCC, empowering unilateral appointment, is vitiated.

The court, while rejecting the contentions of the respondent that the appointment aligned with the contract and challenging the arbitrator’s mandate was the only recourse, held that the unilateral appointment, as per Clause 25 of GCC, was legally flawed. The court stressed that allowing such illegality to persist merely because the petition was filed under Section 11 of the Arbitration Act, and not under Section 14 and Section 15, was not acceptable.

The High Court, considering the facts and circumstances of the case, held that the arbitrator’s mandate shall cease to operate. The court appointed Justice Vipin Sanghi, Former Chief Justice, Uttarakhand High Court, as the sole arbitrator to adjudicate the disputes between the parties.

Advocate Ms. Krishna Parkhani appeared for the Petitioner, while Advocates Mr. Harshit Agarwal, Mr. Kamal Kumar, and Mr. Baldev Singh represented the Respondent no.1 and respondent no.2.

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