Awesome judgment from Hon’ble Apex Court whereby a person is discharged under section 227 Cr.P.C. from the offence under Prevention of Corruption Act.
From Para 3
The short point which arises for determination in this case is the scope and ambit of an order of discharge to be passed by a Special Judge under section 227 of the Code. The appeal does not raise any new question of law and there have been several authorities of the High Courts as also of this Court on the various aspects and grounds on which an accused person can be discharged, but as section 227 of the Code is a new section and at the time when the application for special leave was filed, there was no direct decision of this Court on the interpretation of section 227 of the Code, the matter was thought fit to be given due consideration by this Court.
From Para 5,
Thus, it would appear that the legislature while dispensing with the procedure for commitment enquiry
under the Code of 1898 has conferred a dual responsibility on the Trial Judge who has first to examine the case on the basis of the statement of witnesses recorded by the police and the documents filed with a view to find out whether a prima facie case for trial has been made out and then if such a case is made out to proceed to try the same. In our view the legislature has adopted this course in order to avoid frivolous prosecutions and prevent the accused from being tried of an offence on materials which do not furnish
a reasonable probability of conviction.
From Para 7,
At the stage of section 227, the Judge has merely to sift the evidence in order to find out whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused. The sufficiency of ground would take within its fold the nature of the evidence recorded by the police or the documents produced before the court which ex facie disclose that there are suspicious circumstances against the accused so as to frame a charge against him.
Few terms used by Hon’ble Justices of Apex Court in earlier judgments are
- … Magistrate … is not to act as a mere Post office or a mouthpiece of the prosecution
- Magistrate holding an enquiry is not intended to act merely as a recording machine.
Following principles have emerged
(1) That the Judge while considering the question of framing the charges under section 227 of the Code has the undoubted power to sift and weigh the evidence for the limited purpose of finding out whether or not a prima facie case against the accused has been made out:
(2) Where the materials placed before the Court disclose grave suspicion against the accused which has not been properly explained the Court will be, fully justified in framing a charge and proceeding with the trial.
(3) The test to determine a prima facie case would naturally depend upon the facts of each case and it is difficult to lay down a rule of universal application. By and large however if two views are equally possible and the Judge is satisfied that the evidence produced before him while giving rise to some suspicion but not grave suspicion against the accused, he will be fully within his right to discharge the accused.
(4) That in exercising his jurisdiction under section 227 of the Code the Judge which under the present Code is a senior and experienced Judge cannot act merely as a Post office or a mouth-piece of the prosecution, but has to consider the broad probabilities of the case, the total effect of the evidence and the documents produced before the Court, any basic infirmities appearing in the case and so on. This however does not mean that the Judge should make a roving enquiry into the pros and cons of the matter and weigh the evidence as if he was conducting a trial.
Union Of India Vs Prafulla Kumar Samal & Anr on 6 November, 1978
Citations: [1979 SCR 2 229], [1979 AIR SC 366], [1979 MLJ CRI 361], [1979 SCC 3 4], [1979 CRILJ 154], [1979 SCC CRI 609]
Other Source links: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1360078/ or https://www.casemine.com/judgement/in/5609abcce4b014971140d5de
Index of Discharge Judgments u/s 227 Cr.P.C. is here.