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Mini trial not permissible when framing of charge and/or considering the discharge application: SC

The High Court was required to consider whether a prima facie case has been made out or not and whether the accused is required to be further tried or not. At the stage of framing of the charge and/or considering the discharge application, the mini trial is not permissible. At this stage, it is to be noted that even as per Section 7 of the PC Act, even an attempt constitutes an offence. Therefore, the High Court has erred and/or exceeded in virtually holding a mini trial at the stage of discharge application. (Para 11)


STATE OF RAJASTHAN V. ASHOK KUMAR KASHYAP

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 407 OF 2021 (Arising from S.L.P.(Criminal) No. 3194 of 2021) Diary No. 8524/2020

Decided on April 13, 2021


A Supreme Court bench consisting of Justice Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud and Justice M.R. Shah decided the present case.


The respondent herein - original accused was serving as a patwari. The complainant Jai Kishore and another on 31.08.2010 submitted a written report before the Additional Superintendent of Police, Anti-Corruption Bureau. The appellant had submitted an application with complete certificates for the endorsement of a domicile and OBC certificate before the respondent, who in lieu of the endorsement demanded a bribe of Rs 2,800. A charge sheet was filed based on investigation under Section7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act (hereinafter “PC Act”).


The sessions judge confirmed the same and charged the respondent for offence under Section 7 of the PC Act. Feeling aggrieved with the decision, the respondent preferred a revision application before the High court. The High court by an impugned order allowed the revision application and set aside the order passed by the Special Judge bench. Dissatisfied by such a quashing and setting aside of the order framed by the Special judge bench, the current appeal has been preferred by the State.


Mr.Vishal Meghwal, representing the State, submitted that the High Court has erred in discharging the accused of the charged offence when there is ample material and evidence on record against the accused and sufficient grounds are available for proceeding against the accused. It was contended that the transcript recording displays the demand of illegal ratification by the respondent-accused. He submitted that a mere attempt to receive a bribe attracts Section 7 of the PC Act and hence the High Court has erred in evaluating the evidence on merits at the stage of considering a discharge application which is impermissible.


The Counsel representing the respondent-accused in his submissions supported and validated the High Court’s actions and maintained that no charges can be deduced from the transcript recording the conversion between the parties. It was also submitted that the accused refused the issual of residence and caste certificate having learnt that the complainant was the resident of Agra, but demanded a false residence certificate and caste certificate illegally to be made in the State of Rajasthan. It was argued that the accused had refused the request of the complainant on 29.08.2010 and therefore, there was nothing pending before the accused and the decision regarding his application were already taken.


The Court heard both sides.


The Court stated:

Having considered the reasoning given by the High Court and the grounds which are weighed with the High Court while discharging the accused, we are of the opinion that the High Court has exceeded in its jurisdiction in exercise of the revisional jurisdiction and has acted beyond the scope of Section 227/239 Cr.P.C. While discharging the accused, the High Court has gone into the merits of the case and has considered whether on the basis of the material on record, the accused is likely to be convicted or not. For the aforesaid, the High Court has considered in detail the transcript of the conversation between the complainant and the accused which exercise at this stage to consider the discharge application and/or framing of the charge is not permissible at all. (Para 11)


The Court held:

The High Court materially erred in negating the exercise of considering the transcript in detail and in considering whether on the basis of the material on record the accused is likely to be convicted for the offence under Section 7 of the PC Act or not. As observed hereinabove, the High Court was required to consider whether a prima facie case has been made out or not and whether the accused is required to be further tried or not. At the stage of framing of the charge and/or considering the discharge application, the mini trial is not permissible. At this stage, it is to be noted that even as per Section 7 of the PC Act, even an attempt constitutes an offence. Therefore, the High Court has erred and/or exceeded in virtually holding a mini trial at the stage of discharge application. (Para 11)


The Court set aside the impugned judgment.



Shreya Shetty GR

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