Mahendra Singh Dhoni v. Yerraguntla Shyamsundar and Anr.(2017)

 

CaseMahendra Singh Dhoni v. Yerraguntla Shyamsundar and Another, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 450
CourtBefore the Supreme Court of India
BenchDipak Misra, A.M. Khanwilkar, Mohan M. Shantanagoudar, JJ.
Author of the JudgementDipak Misra, J.
Counsel for the petitionerMs Liz Mathew
Counsel for the Co-accussedMr Sanchit Guru
Counsel for the respondentMr Jaideep Singh
Date of Judgement20 April 2017
AbstractThe present case deals with a transfer petition seeking transfer of case from Additional JMFC, Anantpur, Andhra Pradesh to CMM, Bangalore. The important legal provisions which are taken into consideration in the present case are section 295A of Indian Penal Code and Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code. The Supreme Court had relied upon various precedents like Ramji Lal Modi v State of UP and subsequently the complaint was quashed. The cautionary note provided by the Supreme Court in the present case is also noteworthy.
Author of the briefAbhishek Vyas, Student at Gujarat National Law University.
KeywordsSection 295A, Section 482, Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, Offence.

Brief Facts:

  • The present case was a transfer petition, seeking a transfer from Additional JMFC, Anantpur, Andhra Pradesh to CMM, Bangalore.
  • The petitioners were seeking quashing of a criminal case filed against the petitioner on the grounds that a complaint of same nature arising from a different trial court has been entertained and quashed by Supreme Court.
  • The complainant had purchased a monthly business magazine and was disappointed with the main page of the magazine which carried a painting painted with the photo of the petitioner with a caption “God of Big Deals”. There was description underneath which had the characters of some advertisement.
  • The complainant went to the town Police Station to lodge an F.I.R. but as the police declined to register the same, he was compelled to file a complaint petition under Section 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for the offence punishable under Section 295A read with Section 34 IPC.

Issues:

  • Whether the allegations made in the complaint constitute an offence under Section 295A of the IPC.
  • Whether Supreme Court may relegate the trial at some other place or grant petitioner liberty to file an application under Section 482 CrPC for quashing.

Petitioner’s Contentions:

  • If read in entirety, the allegations do not satisfy the essential ingredients of the offence, therefore, there is no justification that the appellant should be compelled to face the trial.
  • On the doctrine of parity, (as the similar complaint has been quashed) the original proceeding arising within a different territorial jurisdiction deserves to be quashed.
  • Once the complaint petition is quashed in entirety because of lack of allegations against the accused persons, the same benefit has to flow in favour of the co-accused, the Editor of the Magazine.

Respondent/Complainant’s contention:

  • The complaint may not meet the standards but there is some allegation which may be considered for the purpose of offence.

Held:

  • The complaint was quashed. (Applying the principles stated in State of Haryana & Ors. v. Bhajan Lal & others (1992 Supp.(1) SCC 335))
  • The reasons for which the complaint is quashed shall squarely apply to the co-accused, who is the Editor of the magazine.
  • Therefore, applying the same principle, the complaint even against the co-accused in was quashed.

Ratio:

  • Relying upon the decision of the Constitutional bench in Ramji Lal Modi v. State of U.P (AIR 1957 SC 620), which adverted to the multiple aspects and various facets of Section 295A IPC:
    • It is clear as crystal that Section 295A does not stipulate everything to be penalised and any and every act would tantamount to insult or attempt to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of class of citizens.
    • It penalises only those acts of insults to or those varieties of attempts to insult the religion or religious belief of a class of citizens which are perpetrated with the deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of that class of citizens.
    • Insults to religion offered unwittingly or carelessly or without any deliberate or malicious intention to outrage the religious feelings of that class do not come within the Section.
    • The said provision only punishes the aggravated form of insult to religion when it is perpetrated with the deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of that class.
    • Emphasis has been laid on the calculated tendency of the said aggravated form of insult and also to disrupt the public order to invite the penalty.
  • The allegations made in the complaint petition remotely do not satisfy the essential ingredients of the offence.
  • The benefit granted in an appeal to one of the accused persons, the similar benefit should be extended to the co-accused also. (Harbhajan Singh v. State of U.P (1982) 2 SCC 101)
  • A word of caution from the Apex Court:
    • “Magistrates who have been conferred with the power of taking cognizance and issuing summons are required to carefully scrutinise whether the allegations made in the complaint proceeding meet the basic ingredients of the offence; whether the concept of territorial jurisdiction is satisfied; and further whether the accused is really required to be summoned. This has to be treated as the primary judicial responsibility of the court issuing process.”

 

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