Miscellaneous Part 5

Summary of Question-    Maintainability of Writ petition against private body / person

 Question –  Whether a writ petition would generally be maintainable against a private body or person.  

Answer-  No.  A writ petition is maintainable  if the opposite party is   “State” or “Authority” or an “Instrumentality” or “Agency” of the State   within the meaning of  Article  12 of the Constitution of India.  A private body or a person is, ordinarily, NOT amenable to writ jurisdiction. There are certain exceptional circumstances in which such a writ petition  may be maintainable e.g., where it may become necessary to compel such body or association to enforce any  obligation of public nature casting positive obligation upon it.

 

Rationale:

 

 1. The test propounded in Ramana Dayaram Setty vs. International Airport authority of India [1979 (3) SCC 489] for determining as to when the Corporation would  be said to be an instrumentality or agency of the Government for maintainability of Writ Petition has been followed in Pradeep Kumar Biswas’s (2002) 5 SCC 111  Case at para 31. The test given in Ramana’s case at para 14 to 16 are  summarized as under:

 “One thing is clear that if the entire share capital of the corporation is held by Government, it would go a long way towards indicating that the corporation is an instrumentality or agency of Government”(vide para14 of Ramana’s case)

 

    “Where the financial assistance of the State is so much as to meet almost entire expenditure of the corporation, it would afford some indication of the corporation being impregnated with governmental character” (vide para 15 of Ramana’s case).

 

 “It may also be a relevant factor . whether the corporation enjoys monopoly status which is State-conferred or State-protected”( vide para 15 of Ramana’s case)

 

 “If the functions of the corporation are of public importance and closely related to governmental functions, it would be a relevant factor in classifying the corporation as an instrumentality or agency of Government.”( vide para 16 of Ramana’s case)

 

2. The decision in General Manager, Kisan Sahkar Chini Mills Limited, Sultanpur, UP vs. Satrughan Nishad and Ors.  (2003) 8 SCC 639 is also relevant. In this case  the appellant  was engaged in the manufacture of sugar. The respondents were the workers of the appellant and they filed  writ petitions contending that they had to be treated as permanent workmen. Short fact of the case was  that the appellant  was  Co-operative Society   and Uttar Pradesh Co-operative Sugar Factories Federation Limited, which is the apex body of cooperative sugar mills in the State and whose  function being  advisory in order to safeguard operational and financial interest of the sugar mills, on 22nd November, 1999, Chairman-cum-Managing Director of the Federation, who was also Secretary to the Government of Uttar Pradesh in the Department of Sugar Industry and Cane Development, had sent a letter to General Manager of the Mill in which it was mentioned that during the course of discussion the Managing Director had with the General Manager and other officers of the Mill, it transpired that out of 708 workmen working in the Mill, 401 were surplus whose services were required to be dispensed with in view of the deteriorating financial condition of the Mill. By the said letter the Mill was advised to consider the desirability of dispensing with services of its surplus workmen. Thereupon, services of surplus workmen were dispensed with without giving any notice and paying retrenchment compensation as required under Section 6N of Uttar Pradesh Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. The Hon’ble  Single Judge of the High Court held that the Mill was State within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution as it was instrumentality of the State. The Division Bench of the Hon’ble High Court affirmed by the decision. The Apex Court observed and held at para 8 as quoted below:

“ From the decisions referred to above, it would be clear that the form in which the body is constituted namely, whether it is a society or co-operative society or a company, is not decisive. The real status of the body with respect to the control of government would have to be looked into. The various tests, as indicated above, would have to be applied and considered cumulatively. There can be no hard and fast formula and in different facts/situations, different factors may be found to be overwhelming and indicating that the body is an authority under Article 12 of the Constitution. In this context, Bye Laws of the Mill would have to be seen. In the instant case, in one of the writ applications filed before the High Court, it was asserted that the Government of Uttar Pradesh held 50% shares in the Mill which fact was denied in the counter affidavit filed on behalf of the State and it was averred that majority of the shares were held by cane growers. Of course, it was not said that the Government of Uttar Pradesh did not hold any share. Before this Court, it was stated on behalf of the contesting respondents in the counter affidavit that the Government of Uttar Pradesh held 50% shares in the Mill which was not denied on behalf of the Mill. Therefore, even if it is taken to be admitted due to non traverse, the share of the State Government would be only 50% and not entire. Thus, the first test laid down is not fulfilled by the Mill. It has been stated on behalf of the contesting respondents that the Mill used to receive some financial assistance from the Government. According to the Mill, the Government had advanced some loans to the Mill. It has no where been stated that the State used to meet any expenditure of the Mill much less almost the entire one, but, as a matter of fact, it operates on the basis of self generated finances. There is nothing to show that the Mill enjoys monopoly status in the matter of production of sugar. A perusal of Bye-Laws of the Mill would show that its membership is open to cane growers, other societies, Gram Sabha, State Government, etc. and under Bye-Law 52, a committee of management consisting of 15 members is constituted, out of whom, 5 members are required to be elected by the representatives of individual members, 3 out of co-operative society and other institutions and 2 representatives of financial institutions besides 5 members who are required to be nominated by the State Government which shall be inclusive of the Chairman and Administrator. Thus, the ratio of the nominees of State Government in the committee is only 1/3rd and the management of the committee is dominated by 2/3rd non-government members. Under the Bye-Laws, the State Government can neither issue any direction to the Mill nor determine its policy as it is an autonomous body. The State has no control at all in the functioning of the Mill much less deep and pervasive one. The role of the Federation, which is the apex body and whose ex-officio Chairman-cum-Managing Director is Secretary, Department of Sugar Industry and Cane, Government of Uttar Pradesh, is only advisory and to guide its members. The letter sent by Managing Director of the Federation on 22nd November, 1999 was merely by way of an advice and was in the nature of a suggestion to the Mill in view of its deteriorating financial condition. From the said letter, which is in the advisory capacity, it cannot be inferred that the State had any deep and pervasive control over the Mill. Thus, we find none of the indicia exists in the case of Mill, as such the same being neither instrumentality nor agency of government cannot be said to be an authority and, therefore, it is not State within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution.”

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  [Underlining Supplied]

2.1. Therefore, merely because a company is  Govt. Company it is not  state within the meaning  of Article 12 of the Constitution of India and not amenable to writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the  Constitution of India. The authority of the Hon’ble e supreme court in (2003) 8 SCC 639 at para 8   is  quoted below :

“   …….  From the decisions referred to above, it would be clear that the form in which the body is constituted namely, whether it is a society or co-operative society or a company, is not decisive. The real status of the body with respect to the control of government would have to be looked into…………….”

 

 

3. In  VST Industries Limited vs. VST Industries Workers' Union and Anr.(2001) 1 SCC 298, the appellant-company was engaged in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes. A petition was filed by the first respondent under Article 226 of the Constitution seeking a writ of mandamus to treat the members of the respondent Union, who were employees working in the canteen of the appellant's factory, as employees of the appellant and for grant of monetary and other consequential benefits. The canteen was provided in the factory premises of the appellant pursuant to Section 46 of the Factories Act, which obliges a factory employing more than 250 workmen to provide such a canteen. The respondent contended that the appellant had been managing the canteen up to the year 1982 and thereafter introduced the contract system for maintaining the canteen so established. As  such, the respondent  contended  that in running a canteen under Section 46 of the Act, the appellant was discharging a public duty and, therefore, a writ of mandamus would lie against it. Speaking for the Bench, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Rajendra Babu,  (as he then was), observed and held as follows:

    "7. In de Smith, Woolf and Jowell's Judicial Review of Administrative Action, 5th Edn., it is noticed that not all the activities of the private bodies are subject to private law, e.g., the activities by private bodies may be governed by the standards of public when its decisions are subject to duties conferred by statute or when by virtue of the function it is performing or possible its dominant position in the market, it is under an implied duty to act in the public interest. By way of illustration, it is noticed that a private company selected to run a prison although motivated by commercial profit should be regarded, at least in relation to some of its activities, as subject to public law because of the nature of the function it is performing. This is because the prisoners, for whose custody and care it is responsible, are in the prison in consequence of an order of the court, and the purpose and nature of their detention is a matter of public concern and interest. After detailed discussion, the learned authors have summarized the position with the following propositions:

(1) The test of a whether a body is performing a public function, and is hence amenable to judicial review, may not depend upon the source of its power or whether the body is ostensibly a "public" or a "private body".

(2) The principles of judicial review prima facie govern the activities of bodies performing public functions.

(3) However, not all decisions taken by bodies in the course of their public functions are the subject matter of judicial review. In the following two situations judicial review will not normally be appropriate even though the body may be performing a public function

(a) Where some other branch of the law more appropriately governs the dispute between the parties. In such a case, that branch of the law and its remedies should and normally will be applied; and

(b) Where there is a contract between the litigants. In such a case the express or implied terms of the agreement should normally govern the matter. This reflects the normal approach of English law, namely, that the terms of a contract will normally govern the transaction, or other relationship between the parties, rather than the general law. Thus, where a special method of resolving disputes (such as arbitration or resolution by private or domestic tribunals) has been agreed upon by the parties (expressly or by necessary implication), that regime, and not judicial review, will normally govern the dispute.”

                                                                         

3.1. Applying the above principles, the Apex Court held  the  writ petition  as not maintainable. 

 

                  4.  In 2019 (4) SCALE 600, the Hon’ble Supreme Court, after referring to  the observations  made in the case of Ramesh Ahluwalia v. State of Punjab & Ors. (2012) 12 SCC 331 (observation quoted in  para 4.1 infra) , held that Writ Application is maintainable even as against the private unaided educational institutions. Providing Education to children has been held to be a Public Function.

 

                  4.1. “13. in the aforesaid case, this Court was also considering a situation where the services of a Lecturer had been terminated who was working in the college run by the Andi Mukti Sadguru Shree Muktajee Vandas Swami Suvarna Jayanti Mahotsav Smarak Trust. In those circumstances, this Court has clearly observed as under:(V.R. Rudani case, SCC PP. 700-701, paras 20 & 22)

 

20. The term 'authority' used in Article 226, in the context, must receive a liberal meaning unlike the term in Article 12. Article 12 is relevant only for the purpose of enforcement of fundamental rights Under Article 32. Article 226 confers power on the High Courts to issue writs for enforcement of the fundamental rights as well as non-fundamental rights. The words 'any person or authority' used in Article 226 are, therefore, not to be confined only to statutory authorities and instrumentalities of the State. They may cover any other person or body performing public duty. The form of the body concerned is not very much relevant. What is relevant is the nature of the duty imposed on the body. The duty must be judged in the light of positive obligation owed by the person or authority to the affected party. No matter by what means the duty is imposed, if a positive obligation exists mandamus cannot be denied.

 

22. Here again, we may point out that mandamus cannot be denied on the ground that the duty to be enforced is not imposed by the Statute. Commenting on the development of this law, Professor de Smith states: 'To be enforceable by mandamus a public duty does not necessarily have to be one imposed by statute. It may be sufficient for the duty to have been imposed by charter, common law, custom or even contract. We share this view. The judicial control over the fast expanding maze of bodies affecting the rights of the people should not be put into watertight compartment. It should remain flexible to meet the requirements of variable circumstances. Mandamus is a very wide remedy which must be easily available 'to reach injustice wherever it is found'. Technicalities should not come in the way of granting that relief Under Article 226. We, therefore, reject the contention urged for the Appellant on the maintainability of the writ petition.

 

The aforesaid observations have been repeated and reiterated in numerous judgments of this Court including the judgments in Unni Krishnan and Zee Telefilms Ltd. brought to our notice by the learned Counsel for the Appellant Mr. Parikh.

 

14. In view of the law laid down in the aforementioned judgment of this Court, the judgment of the learned Single Judge as also the Division Bench of the High Court cannot be sustained on the proposition that the writ petition would not maintainable merely because the Respondent institution is a purely unaided private educational institution. The Appellant had specifically taken the plea that the Respondents perform public functions i.e. providing education to children in their institutions throughout India.”

 

5. The Hon'ble Madras High Court in Writ petition No.W.P.No.22234 of 2016 with  W.M.P.Nos.18968 of 2016 and 26265 of 2018, decided on 06.06.2019 (Jasmine Ebenezer Arthur Vs. HDFC ERGO General Insurance Company Limited and ORS.) observed and held :
 

"A reading of Article 226 makes it clear that it can be invoked not only for infringement of fundamental rights, but also for any other purpose. Therefore, as stated above, the question that requires determination is whether the private bodies performing public duties can be brought within the purview of judicial review. If a private body is brought within the purview of Article 12, then it will be subject to constitutional limitations. As happened in this case, lack of effective control has made the private bodies acquire more power similar to public authorities. The public monopoly power is replaced by private monopoly power. Hence, it becomes necessary that the private bodies should be made accountable to judiciary within the judicial review. If any private body has a public duty imposed on it, the Court has jurisdiction to entertain the writ petition."

 

6. In CIVIL APPEAL No 10003 of  2010 (TRIGUN CHAND THAKUR vs.  STATE OF BIHAR), decided on the 9th. July 2019, against the judgment and order of the Hon’ble Patna High Court   by which the Division Bench  affirmed the judgment of  Single Bench holding that the Management Committee of the private schools is not “State” within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India and hence the writ petition of the petitioner is not maintainable. 

 

6.1.  Short facts pertaining to the matter are:-

 

i.  The appellant was appointed as a Sanskrit teacher. On certain allegations, against the appellant by the School, a show cause notice was issued to him thereafter  the appellant received  communication that he was suspended on account of  his absence on the eve of Independence Day and Teachers’ Day.

 

ii. Being aggrieved, the appellant has filed the writ petition before the High Court. During the pendency of the Writ petition, the service of the appellant was terminated . Hon'ble Single Judge  disposed of the writ petition with the consent of both the parties observing that the appellant may agitate his rights before the Chairman of the Bihar Sanskrit Shiksha Board and the Chairman of the Board shall consider the representation of the appellant and dispose of the same in accordance with law.

 

iii.  The Chairman, Bihar Sanskrit Shiksha Board, considered the matter on the basis of representation of the appellant  and found that the punishment of termination of the appellant from service was disproportionate and directed reinstatement of the appellant. Being aggrieved, Managing Committee filed an appeal before the Special Director, Secondary, Primary and Adult Education  under Section 24 of the Bihar Sanskrit Shiksha Board Act, 1981. The Special Director (Secondary Education)   remanded the matter back to the Chairman, Bihar Sanskrit Shiksha Board, with a direction to reconsider the matter.

 

iv. Being aggrieved by the said remand, the appellant filed writ petition before the High Court. The Hon'ble Single Judge placed reliance upon the Judgment of the Patna High Court in Chandra Nath Thakur v. The Bihar Sanskrit Shiksha Board & Ors., 1999 (1) PLJR 529 and dismissed the writ petition and held that in matters relating to the termination of the teachers by the Managing Committee of the private school, the writ petition is not maintainable. 

 

iv. Being aggrieved, the appellant  filed L.P.A. which was dismissed. 

 

 

6.2. The Hon'ble Supreme dismissed the Appeal filed against the judgment and order of the Division Bench of Hon’ble Patna High Court, and observed and held as under:

 

 "The Division Bench vide impugned order dated 21.01.2008 dismissed the L.P.A. filed by the appellant and affirmed the order passed by learned Single Judge. In the impugned order, the Division Bench of the High Court has also placed reliance on Chandra Nath Thakur v.The Bihar Sanskrit Shiksha Board & Ors., 1999 (1) PLJR 529 and held that a teacher of a privately managed school, even though financially aided by the State Government or the Board, cannot maintain a writ petition against an order of termination from service passed by the Management Committee. The Division Bench also pointed out that the consent order passed by the High Court in C.W.J.C. NO.10698 of 1994 cannot confer Jurisdiction on this Court and does not make the Managing Committee “State” within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India.

 

"Having considered the submissions of learned counsel for the parties and the materials on record, we do not find any ground to take a different view." 

 

7.  In this connection, however, it is noteworthy that in the case reported in 2019 (4) SCALE 600 , decided by the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 14th. Feb. 2019, in which the main question for consideration was as to maintainability of writ petition  against private school receiving grant in aid to the extent of dearness allowance. 

 

7.1.  The Hon'ble Supreme Court, inter alia,  observed and held:

 

"Writ application was clearly maintainable in view of aforesaid discussion and more so in view of the decision of this Court in Ramesh Ahluwalia v. State of Punjab & Ors. (supra) in which this court has considered the issue at length and has thus observed:

 

“13. in the aforesaid case, this Court was also considering a situation where the services of a Lecturer had been terminated who was working in the college run by the Andi Mukti Sadguru Shree Muktajee Vandas Swami Suvarna Jayanti Mahotsav Smarak Trust. In those circumstances, this Court has clearly observed as under:(V.R. Rudani case, SCC PP.700-701, paras 20 & 22) “20. The term 'authority' used in Article 226, in the context, must receive a liberal meaning unlike the term in Article 12. Article 12 is relevant only for the purpose of enforcement of fundamental rights under Article 32. Article 226 confers power on the High Courts to issue writs for enforcement of the fundamental rights as well as non-fundamental rights. The words 'any person or authority' used in Article 226 are, therefore, not to be confined only to statutory authorities and instrumentalities of the State. They may cover any other person or body performing public duty. The form of the body concerned is not very much relevant. What is relevant is the nature of the duty imposed on the body. The duty must be judged in the light of positive obligation owed by the person or authority to the affected party. No matter by what means the duty is imposed, if a positive obligation exists mandamus cannot be denied."

 

Summary of Question-    Writ Petition in case of Alternate Remedy

 Question –  Whether a writ petition would  be maintainable when Alternate Remedy is available.   

Answer-  Yes,  but in certain situation. Mere Existence of Alternative remedy is no bar for Writ Jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution in all cases. Writ petition may be maintainable depending  on the facts and circumstances of the case concerned in the discretion of the High Court.  
 

Rationale:


In Civil  Appeal  No.  5654 of 2019  (Maharashtra  Chess  Association  vs. Union of India), decided on 29th. July 2019, the Hon’ble Supreme observed and held :                      

'The  existence of   an   alternate   remedy,   whether   adequate   or   not,   does   not   alter   the fundamentally   discretionary   nature  of  the  High  Court’s  writ  jurisdiction  and therefore  does  not  create  an  absolute  legal  bar  on  the  exercise  of  the  writ jurisdiction  by  a  High  Court.    The  decision  whether  or  not  to  entertain  an  action under  its  writ  jurisdiction  remains  a  decision  to  be  taken  by  the  High  Court  on  an examination  of  the  facts  and  circumstances  of  a  particular  case.'


' This  understanding  has  been  laid  down  in  several  decisions  of  this  Court. In  Uttar  Pradesh  State  Spinning  Co  Limited  v  R  S  Pandey * this  Court  held:

 

"11.Except  for  a  period  when  Article    226  was  amended  by  the Constitution  (Forty-  Second  Amendment)  Act,  1976,  the  power relating  to  alternative  remedy  has  been  considered  to  be  a  rule of  self  imposed  limitation.  It  is  essentially  a  rule  of  policy, convenience  and  discretion  and  never  a  rule  of  law.  Despite the   existence   of   an   alternative   remedy   it   is   within   the jurisdiction  or  discretion  of  the  High  Court  to  grant  relief  under Article  226  of  the  Constitution.  At  the  same  time,  it  cannot  be lost  sight  of  that  though  the  matter  relating  to  an  alternative remedy  has  nothing  to  do  with  the  jurisdiction  of  the  case, normally  the  High  Court  should  not  interfere  if  there  is  an adequate  efficacious  alternative  remedy." '
* (2005)  8 SCC 264

 


' The  principle  that  the  writ  jurisdiction  of  a  High  Court  can  be  exercised where  no  adequate  alternative  remedies  exist  can  be  traced  even  further  back  to the  decision  of  the  Constitution  Bench  of  this  Court  in  State  of  Uttar  Pradesh  v Mohammad  Nooh,* where  Justice  Vivian  Bose  observed:  
 


"10.In  the  next  place  it  must  be  borne  in  mind  that  there  is  no rule,  with  regard  to  certiorari  as  there  is  with  mandamus,  that it  will  lie  only  where  there  is  no  other  equally  effective  remedy. It  is  well  established  that,  provided  the  requisite  grounds  exist, certiorari  will  lie  although  a  right  of  appeal  has  been  conferred by  statute.  (Halsbury's  Laws  of  England,  3rd  Ed.,  Vol.  11,  p. 130  and  the  cases  cited  there).  The  fact  that  the  aggrieved party  has  another  and  adequate  remedy  may  be  taken  into consideration  by  the  superior  court  in  arriving  at  a  conclusion as  to  whether  it  should,  in  exercise  of  its  discretion,  issue  a writ  of  certiorari  to  quash  the  proceedings  and  decisions  of inferior  courts  subordinate  to  it  and  ordinarily  the  superior court  will  decline  to  interfere  until  the  aggrieved  party  has exhausted  his  other  statutory  remedies,  if  any.  But  this  rule requiring  the  exhaustion  of  statutory  remedies  before  the  writ will  be  granted  is  a  rule  of  policy,  convenience  and  discretion rather  than  a  rule  of  law  and  instances  are  numerous  where  a writ  of  certiorari  has  been  issued  in  spite  of  the  fact  that  the aggrieved  party  had  other  adequate  legal  remedies.” '
*13  1958  SCR 595
 


'The  mere  existence  of  alternate  forums  where  the  aggrieved  party  may secure  relief  does  not  create  a  legal  bar  on  a  High  Court  to  exercise  its writ jurisdiction.    It  is  a  factor  to  be  taken into consideration  by the High Court amongst several factors..... '

 

Summary of question- DNA Test  

Question-   Can a prayer for DNA Test be ordered in all cases.

Answer –  Not in all cases. It (DNA Rest) can be ordered only , if there is strong prima facie case  based on materials on record.

Rationale-

1. Following observation of a three Judge Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in a case reported in AIR 2003 SC 3450 are ralevant:

 

“1. A matrimonial court has the power to order a person to undergo medical test.

2. Passing of such an order by the court would not be in violation of the right to personal liberty under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution

3. However, the Court should exercise such a power if the applicant has a strong prima facie case and there is sufficient material before the Court. If despite the order of the court, the respondent refuses to submit himself to medical examination, the court will be entitled to draw an adverse inference against him.”

 

2. Hon’ble supreme Court observation in the case reported in AIR 2010 SC 2851 are :

“In a matter where paternity of a child is in issue before the court, the use of DNA is an extremely delicate and sensitive aspect. One view is that when modern science gives means of ascertaining the paternity of a child, there should not be any hesitation to use those means whenever the occasion requires. The other view is that the court must be reluctant in use of such scientific advances and tools which result in invasion of right to privacy of an individual and may not only be prejudicial to the rights of the parties but may have devastating effect on the child. Sometimes the result of such scientific test may bastardise an innocent child even though his mother and her spouse were living together during the time of conception.

In our view, when there is apparent conflict between the right to privacy of a person not to submit himself forcibly to medical examination and duty of the court to reach the truth, the court must exercise its discretion only after balancing the interests of the parties and on due consideration whether for a just decision in the matter, DNA is eminently needed. DNA in a matter relating to paternity of a child should not be directed by the court as a matter of course or in a routine manner, whenever such a request is made. The court has to consider diverse aspects including presumption under Section 112 of the Evidence Act; pros and cons of such order and the test of `eminent need' whether it is not possible for the court to reach the truth without use of such test.”

 

3. In view of the Hon'ble Supreme Court decision in CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1186 OF 2019 (KATHI DAVID RAJU vs  THE STATE OF ANDHRA PRADESH), decided on the 5th. August 2019, a Court can order for DNA Test only if the court is satisfied on the basis of  materials on record. The following observations / findings of the Hon'ble Supreme Court are noteworthy :

 

"There  can  be  no  dispute  to  the  right  of  police  authorities  to seek   permission   of  the  Court  for  conducting  DNA  test  in  an appropriate  case.    In  the  present  case,  FIR  alleges  obtaining  false caste   certificate   by  the  appellant  by  changing  his  name  and parentage.    The  order  impugned  itself  notices  that  investigation  is not  yet  completed  and  material  evidence  are  yet  to  be  collected. The   police   authorities   without   being   satisfied   on   material collected  or  conducting  substantial  investigation  have  requested for  DNA  test  which  is  nothing  but  a  step  towards  roving  and  fishing enquiry  on  a  person,  his  mother  and  brothers.    It  is  a  serious matter  which  should  not  be  lightly  to  be  resorted  to  without  there being appropriate satisfaction for requirement of such test."

 

" It  is  the  submission  of  learned  counsel  for  the  respondent that  Section  53  Cr.P.C  empowers  the  police  authorities  to  request  a medical  practitioner  to  conduct  examination  of  a  person.    There cannot   be   any   dispute   to   the   provision   empowering   police authorities  to  make  such  a  request.    Present  is  a  case  where without  carrying  out  any  substantial  investigation,  the  police authorities  had  jumped  on  the  conclusion  that  DNA  test  should  be obtained. It  was  too  early  to  request  for  conduct  of  DNA  test without   carrying   out   substantial   investigation   by   the   police authorities.   The  Additional  Junior  Civil  Judge  also  failed  to notice  that  in  the  investigation  conducted  by  the  Investigating Authority  no  such  materials  have  been  brought  on  the  basis  of  which it  could  have  been  opined  that  conducting  DNA  test  is  necessary  for the appellant on his mother and two brothers."

 

Summary of question- Seizure of Immovable property by Police under section 102 Cr. P.C .  

Question-   Whether Police is empowered to seize Immovable Property under section 102  Cr.P.C.

Answer –  No.

Rationale-


1. A three Judge Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Criminal Appeal No. 1481 of 2019 (NEVADA PROPERTIES  PRIVATE  LIMITED Vs STATE  OF  MAHARASHTRA), decided on 24th. September 2019 along with other criminal appeals, held that police is not empowered to seize Immovable property under section 102 Cr.P.C because the phrase "any property" appearing in section 102 Cr.P.C mean only movable property ; it does not include Immovable property.

2. Some observations / findings of the Apex court are quoted below :

"Section   102   postulates   seizure   of   the   property.   Immovable property  cannot,  in  its  strict  sense,  be  seized,  though  documents of  title,  etc.  relating  to  immovable  property  can  be  seized,  taken into  custody  and  produced.    Immovable  property  can  be  attached and  also  locked/sealed.  It  could  be  argued  that  the  word  ‘seize’ would  include  such  action  of  attachment  and  sealing.    Seizure  of immovable  property  in  this  sense  and  manner  would  in  law  require dispossession   of  the  person  in  occupation/possession  of  the immovable  property,  unless  there  are  no  claimants,  which  would be  rare.  Language  of  Section  102  of  the  Code  does  not  support the   interpretation   that   the   police   officer   has   the   power   to dispossess  a  person  in  occupation  and  take  possession  of  an immovable  property  in  order  to  seize  it.    In  the  absence  of  the Legislature  conferring  this  express  or  implied  power  under  Section 102  of  the  Code  to  the  police  officer,  we  would  hesitate  and  not hold  that  this  power  should  be  inferred  and  is  implicit  in  the  power to   effect   seizure.   Equally   important,   for   the   purpose   of interpretation  is  the  scope  and  object  of  Section  102  of  the  Code, which  is  to  help  and  assist  investigation  and  to  enable  the  police officer  to  collect  and  collate  evidence  to  be  produced  to  prove  the charge  complained  of  and  set  up  in  the  charge  sheet.  The  Section is  a  part  of  the  provisions  concerning  investigation  undertaken  by the  police  officer.  After  the  charge  sheet  is  filed,  the  prosecution leads  and  produces  evidence  to  secure  conviction.  Section  102  is not,  per  se,  an  enabling  provision  by  which  the  police  officer  acts to  seize  the  property  to  do  justice  and  to  hand  over  the  property  to a  person  whom  the  police  officer  feels  is  the  rightful  and  true owner.    This  is  clear  from  the  objective  behind  Section  102,  use  of the  words  in  the  Section  and  the  scope  and  ambit  of  the  power conferred  on  the  Criminal  Court  vide  Sections  451  to  459  of  the Code.  The  expression  ‘circumstances  which  create  suspicion  of the  commission  of  any  offence’  in  Section  102  does  not  refer  to  a firm   opinion  or  an  adjudication/finding  by  a  police  officer  to ascertain  whether  or  not  ‘any  property’  is  required  to  be  seized. The  word  ‘suspicion’  is  a  weaker  and  a  broader  expression  than ‘reasonable   belief’   or   ‘satisfaction’.   The   police   officer   is   an investigator  and  not  an  adjudicator  or  a  decision  maker.  This  is  the reason  why  the  Ordinance  was  enacted  to  deal  with  attachment  of money  and  immovable  properties  in  cases  of  scheduled  offences. In  case  and  if  we  allow  the  police  officer  to  ‘seize’  immovable property  on  a  mere  ‘suspicion  of  the  commission  of  any  offence’,  it would  mean  and  imply  giving  a  drastic  and  extreme  power  to dispossess  etc.  to  the  police  officer  on  a  mere  conjecture  and surmise,   that   is,  on  suspicion,  which  has  hitherto  not  been exercised.   We   have   hardly   come   across   any   case   where immovable  property  was  seized  vide  an  attachment  order  that  was treated  as  a  seizure  order  by  police  officer  under  Section  102  of the  Code.  The  reason  is  obvious.    Disputes  relating  to  title, possession,  etc.,  of  immovable  property  are  civil  disputes  which have  to  be  decided  and  adjudicated  in  Civil  Courts.    We  must discourage  and  stall  any  attempt  to  convert  civil  disputes  into criminal  cases  to  put  pressure  on  the  other  side  (See   Binod Kumar  and  Others  v.  State  of  Bihar  and  Another).    Thus,  it  will not  be  proper  to  hold  that  Section  102  of  the  Code  empowers  a police  officer  to  seize  immovable  property,  land,  plots,  residential houses,  streets  or  similar  properties.  Given  the  nature  of  criminal litigation,  such  seizure  of  an  immovable  property  by  the  police officer  in  the  form  of  an  attachment  and  dispossession  would  not facilitate  investigation  to  collect  evidence/material  to  be  produced during  inquiry  and  trial.  As  far  as  possession  of  the  Immovable property  is  concerned,  specific  provisions  in  the  form  of  Sections 145   and  146  of  the  Code  can  be  invoked  as  per  and  in accordance  with  law.    Section  102  of  the  Code  is  not  a  general provision  which  enables  and  authorises  the  police  officer  to  seize immovable  property  for  being  able  to  be  produced  in  the  Criminal Court  during  trial.  This,  however,  would  not  bar  or  prohibit  the police  officer  from  seizing  documents/  papers  of  title  relating  to immovable  property,  as  it  is  distinct  and  different  from  seizure  of immovable  property.  Disputes  and  matters  relating  to  the  physical and  legal  possession  and  title  of  the  property  must  be  adjudicated upon  by  a  Civil  Court."

" In  view  of  the  aforesaid  discussion,  the  Reference  is  answered  by holding  that  the  power  of  a  police  officer  under  Section  102  of  the Code   to   seize   any   property,   which   may   be   found   under circumstances  that  create  suspicion  of  the  commission  of  any offence,  would  not  include  the  power  to  attach,  seize  and  seal  an immovable  property."

3. Hon'ble Mr. Justice Deepak Gupta, one of the three Judges, agreed with the judgment but gave his additional reasons. Some of the reasons are quoted below :

" Subsection  (1)  of  Section  102  empowers  a  police  officer  to seize  any  property  which  may  be  alleged  or  suspected  to  have  been stolen.  Theft  can  take  place  only  of  movable  property  and  not  of immovable  property.    In  my  view,  the  word  ‘seized’  has  been  used in  the  sense  of  taking  actual  physical  custody  of  the  property. Subsection  3  of  Section  102  provides  that  where  it  is  difficult  to conveniently   transport   the   property   to   the   court  or  there  is difficulty  in  securing  proper  accommodation  for  the  custody  of  the property,  then  the  property  can  be  given  to  any  person  on  his executing  a  bond.    This  per  se  indicates  that  the  property  must  be capable  of  production  in  court  and  also  be  capable  of  being  kept inside  some  accommodation.    This  obviously  cannot  be  done  with immovable property."

" Section  102  has  been  in  the  statute  book  for  more  than  a century.    Section  102  corresponds  to  Section  550  of  the  Code  of Criminal  Procedure,  1898.    For  more  than  a  century  the  courts have  read  the  words  ‘any  property’  to  mean  movable  property and  no  decision  to  the  contrary  was  brought  to  our  notice. Reliance  is  only  placed  on  the  judgment  of  this  Court  in  State  of Maharashtra  vs.    Tapas  D.  Neogy.    In  that  case,  the  question was  totally  different  and  this  court  only  decided  that  a  bank account  of  an  accused  was  property  within  the  meaning  of  Section 102.    The  Court  did  not  go  into  the  question  of  movable  or immovable  property  and,  therefore,  this  judgment  would  not  be applicable."