Amar Saran, J.
1. Heard learned Counsel for the applicant and learned AGA.
2. An order dated 27.11.2007 passed by the Judicial Magistrate, Garhmukteshwar, Ghaziabad, in Case No. 451 of 2007, summoning the applicants to face trial under Sections 302/364/201/120B IPC, PS Babugarh, District Ghaziabad, has been challenged by means of this application.
3. It has been observed in the impugned order that although the FIR based on the informant Smt. Jaitoon @ Laila's 156(3) Cr.P.C. application under Section 364 IPC dated 21.2.2007 mentioned that the applicants had taken away her son Gaffar on 15.8.06 from her house in a Maruti car and since then her son was not traceable, the police did not charge-sheet the applicants, but only charge-sheeted Ishtakhar and Mansar.
4. This was supported by Smt. Jaitoon's statement under Section 161 Cr.P.C. where she stated that the accused had taken away her son for the purpose of committing his murder. Her version was also supported by the statement under Section 161 Cr.P.C. of Bhim Singh.
5. The eye-witness Ummed Ali saw Ishtakhar and Mansar talking to Gaffar and then taking him in the direction of the fields by the side of canal culvert. Later, he learnt that Istakhar and Mansar had shot dead Gaffar and thrown his dead body into the canal. Others had also noticed the dead body floating in the canal. Hence, according to the learned Judicial Magistrate, whilst the co-accused Istikhar and Mansar were prima facie responsible for the murder of the deceased but the complicity of the three applicants was disclosed in hatching the conspiracy to commit the crime in the statements of the complainant and the other witnesses. Thereafter the learned Magistrate observed that thus although the prima facie complicity of the applicants was revealed in the offence, for some extraneous considerations the police had not charge-sheeted them and he was therefore taking cognizance of the case against the applicants also under Sections 302, 364, 201 and 120B IPC and issuing summons for their appearance.
6. It is argued by the learned Counsel for the applicants that as the charge-sheet had only been submitted by the police on 21.10.2007 against the co-accused Ishtikhar and Mansar, the learned Magistrate was not justified in summoning the applicants by the impugned order and the applicants could only been summoned when and if evidence was adduced in the Court under Section 319 Cr.P.C. He has placed reliance for this contention on the decision of the Apex Court in Ranjit Singh v. State of Punjab 1998 SCC (Cri) 1554 and later in Kishori Singh and Ors. v. State of Bihar and Anr. (2006) 1 SCC (Cri) 275, which was based on the former case. A contrary view to the decision of the three-judge Bench in Ranjit Singh's and Kishori Singh's cases (supra) has been taken by the two-judge decisions of the Apex Court in the cases of Kishun Singh v. State of Bihar 1993 SCC (Cri) 470 , SWIL Ltd. v. State of Delhi and Anr. 2001 SCC (Cri) 120, and Raghubans Dubey v. State of Bihar . However the view taken by the two judge decisions in Kishun Singh and the other cases adopting that view has been preferred to the the three judge decision in Ranjit Singh's case by a subsequent three judge bench, in Dharam Pal and Ors. v. State of Haryana and Anr. (2006) 1 SCC (Cri) 273, and which has referred this matter to a larger bench. Dharampal has categorically observed as follows in paragraph 3:
3. Prima facie, we do not think that the interpretation reached in Ranjit Singh case is correct. In our view, the law was correctly enunciated in Kishun Singh case. Since the decision in Ranjit Singh case is of three-Judge Bench, we direct that the matter may be placed before the Hon'ble the Chief Justice for placing the same before a larger Bench.
7. I may first allude to the case of SWIL Ltd (supra), which stood on a similar footing as the present case, as the Magistrate's power to take cognizance under Section 190(1)(b) Cr.P.C. against certain other accused who had not been charge sheeted by the police on the basis of the FIR and other material collected by the police and other documents tendered along with the charge sheet was upheld and it was pointed out by the Apex Court that the Magistrate takes cognizance of an offence and not the offender, and even at a later stage after taking cognizance he is empowered to decide whether process could be issued under Section 204 Cr.P.C. against other additional accused even if they are not named in the charge sheet. After receipt of the police report under Section 173(2) Cr.P.C. the Magistrate is entitled to take cognizance of an offence under Section 190(1)(b) of the Code even if the police report is to the effect that no case is made out against the accused by ignoring the conclusion arrived at by the investigating officer after independently applying his own mind for reaching a conclusion that certain other non-charge sheeted accused, or accused in whose cases final reports have been submitted by the police are involved in the offence. At this stage there is no question of application of Section 319 Cr.P.C. for the purpose of taking cognizance against these other accused, and the High Court was not right in setting aside the cognizance order against certain non-charge sheeted accused by the Magistrate whose names were mentioned in column 2, on the ground that till that stage the evidence in Court of the witnesses had not been recorded, and that summons could only be issued for other accused after some evidence had been recorded in exercise of powers under Section 319 Cr.P.C. In paragraph 6 in SWIL the following passage from paragraph 9 in Raghubans Dubey v. State of Bihar was cited with approval:
In our opinion, once cognizance has been taken by the Magistrate, he takes cognizance of an offence and not the offenders; once he takes cognizance of an offence it is his duty to find out who the offenders really are and once he comes to the conclusion that apart from the persons sent up by the Police some other persons are involved, it is his duty to proceed against those persons. The summoning of the additional accused is part of the proceeding initiated by his taking cognizance of an offence.
8. Kishun Singh's (supra) case goes even further than SWIL and Raghubans Dubey in holding that even at the post-committal stage the Sessions Judge is empowered to add other accused to the array of the accused who are not named in the police report under Section 173 Cr.P.C., if on the basis of the material collected by the police their complicity comes to light. The Sessions Judge has jurisdiction under Section 193 Cr.P.C to take cognizance and mere exercise of powers under a wrong provision (section 319 Cr.P.C) would not render the order invalid. It is also immaterial that no specific order committing these particular accused has not been passed by the Magistrate under Section 309 Cr.P.C. After an initial order of committal of the case (and not of the accused ) under Section 2 09 Cr.P.C. the restriction on the Court of Session to take cognizance as a Court of original jurisdiction of in respect of additional accused who had not earlier been committed to it, gets lifted.
9. However taking a different view, in the subsequent three-judge decision in Ranjit Singh's case (supra), Kishun Singh's case has been departed from and it has observed that once the Sessions Court takes cognizance of an offence pursuant to the committal order, the only other stage when the Court is empowered to include other persons in the array of the accused is after recording of the evidence in Court in exercise of powers under Section 319 Cr.P.C.
10. I am now faced with the problem of whether to stay the proceedings as suggested by the applicant's counsel until the matter is resolved by a larger bench of the Apex Court to which Dharam Pal has referred the case after expressing disagreement with Ranjit Singh or whether I am entitled to allow the proceedings to continue in case I reach the conclusion that the view expressed in the later decision in Dharam Pal which has upheld the view in Kishun and Swil after dissenting from Ranjit Singh and referring the matter to a larger bench enunciates the legal position in a more accurate and elaborate manner.
11. It may be mentioned that the Full Bench of the Allahabad High Court in Ganga Saran v. Civil Judge 1991 (9) LCD 149 has looked at this dilemma faced by the High Court when there is a conflict of two co-equal decisions of the Apex Court, which cannot possibly be reconciled. In such circumstances the Allahabad High Court Full Bench relying on a Punjab and Haryana High Court Full Bench in the case of Indo Swiss Time Limited, Dundahera v. Umrao and Ors. and a Bombay High Court Full Bench in the case of Special Land Acquisition Officer v. Municipal Corporation ., has held that it is not even necessary in such cases to follow the later view, but this Court is entitled to decide which of the two views states the law more accurately and elaborately. Although it should straight away be pointed out here that Dharam Pal is the later three judge decision and Ranjit, (which in my humble view to be explained hereafter does not express the law as elaborately or accurately as Dharam Pal) is the earlier decision. In this regard the following lines from paragraph 8 of Ganga Saran may be read with advantage:
8. Similar situation arose before a Full bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court in the case of Indo Swiss Time Limited, Dundahera v. Umrao and Ors. . What the Full bench in the said
case held is extracted below:
Now the contention that the latest judgment of a co-ordinate Bench is to be mechanically followed and must have pre-eminence irrespective of any other consideration does not commend itself to me. When judgments of the superior Court are of co-equal Benches and, therefore, of matching authority then their weight inevitably must be considered by the rationale and the logic thereof and not by the mere fortuitous circumstances of the time and date on which they were rendered. It is manifest that when two directly conflicting judgment of the superior Court and of equal authority are extant then both of them cannot be binding on the Court below. Inevitably a choice, though a difficult one, has to be made in such a situation. On principle it appears to me that the High Court must follow the judgment which appears to it to lay down the law more elaborately and accurately. The mere incidence of time whether the judgments of co-equal Benches of the superior Court are earlier or latter is a consideration which appears to be me as hardly relevant.
This decision was followed by the Bombay High Court in the case of Special Land Acquisition Officer v. Municipal Corporation . The Majority of Judges in the Full Bench held
that if there was a conflict between the two decisions of equal benches which cannot possibly reconcile, the Courts must follow the judgment which appear to them to state the law accurately and elaborately. We are in respectful agreement with the view expressed by the Full Bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court in the case of Indo Swiss Time Limited v. Umrao and Ors. (supra) especially when the Supreme Court while deciding Qamruddin's case (supra) did not notice the U.P. amendment to Section 115, CPC and earlier decision of the Supreme Court. In the light of the view expressed in this case it is to be examined as to which of the case decided by the Supreme Court lays down the law accurately.
12. To decide on the question as to which of the two co-equal benches in Dharam Pal or Ranjit expresses the law more accurately and elaborately it would be useful to consider a problem posed in Kishan Singh's case in paragraph 15 of the law report:
The learned Counsel for the State, therefore, argued that if two views are possible, this being a matter of procedure not likely to cause prejudice to the person or persons proposed to be summoned, the court should accept the view which would advance the cause of justice, namely, to bring the real offender to book. If such an approach is not adopted, the matter will slip into the hands of the investigation officer who may or may not send up for trial an offender even if prima facie evidence exists, which may in a given situation cause avoidable difficulties to the trial court. Take for example a case where two persons A and B attack and kill X and it is found from the material placed before the Judge that the fatal blow was given by A whereas the blow inflicted by B had fallen on a non-vital part of the body of X. If A is not challaned by the police, the Judge may find it difficult to charge B for the murder of X with the aid of Section 34 IPC. If he cannot summon A, how does he frame the charge against B? In such a case he may have to wait till evidence is laid at the trial to enable him to invoke Section 319 of the Code. Then he would have to commence the proceedings afresh in respect of the added accused and recall the witnesses. This, submitted counsel for the State, would result in avoidable waste of public time. He, therefore, submitted that this Court should place a construction which would advance the cause of justice rather than stifle it.
13. The solution to this problem according to Kishun Singh was to summon the accused in exercise of powers under Section 193 Cr.P.C, and the summons would be considered a part of the process of taking cognizance. This is possible according to Kishun Singh because after alteration in the language of Section 193 Cr.P.C which prohibited a Sessions Court from taking cognizance against an accused unless he was committed to it, whereas under the New Code, as the cognizance was of the case and not of an accused, the embargo on taking cognizance against other accused not initially charge sheeted was lifted. In this connection it would be useful to extract paragraph 16 of the Kishun Singh's case (supra):
We have also pointed out the difference in the language of Section 193 of the two Codes; under the old Code the Court of Sessions was precluded from taking cognizance of any offence as a court of original jurisdiction unless the accused was committed to it whereas under the present Code the embargo is diluted by the replacement of the words the accused by the words the case. Thus, on a plain reading of Section 193, as it presently stands once the case is committed to the Court of Session by a Magistrate under the Code, the restriction placed on the power of the Court of Session to take cognizance of an offence as a court of original jurisdiction gets lifted. On the Magistrate committing the case under Section 209 to the Court of Session the bar of Section 193 is lifted thereby investing the Court of Session complete and unfettered jurisdiction of the court of original jurisdiction to take cognizance of the offence which would include the summoning of the person or persons whose complicity in the commission of the crime can prima facie be gathered from the material available on record.
14. It is noteworthy that Ranjit Singh in paragraph 21 has considered the same problem mentioned in paragraph 15 of Kishun Singh about the police charge sheeting only one of the accused and excluding the other creating difficulties in the application of Section 34 IPC. The solution to this problem mentioned in paragraph 23 in Ranjit Singh was that in such a situation in order to prevent miscarriage of justice it would be open to the Sessions Court to send a report to the High Court describing the situation and the High Court would then in exercise of its inherent or revisional powers direct the committing Magistrate to rectify the committal order by issuing process to the left out accused.
15. In my view this is an extremely dilatory and roundabout way to overcome the problem posed in paragraph 15 in Kishun Singh's case, and the answer to the problem suggested in Kishun Singh's case mentioned above that as cognizance is of a case and not of an accused, hence there was no fetter in view of the amended Section 193 Cr.P.C to summon the additional accused who was not charge sheeted appears to be the more logical and rational solution.
16. The later three judge bench in Dharam Pal has considered another fall out of the approach taken in Ranjit Singh in paragraph 2. I am quoting the relevant part of the said paragraph in Dharam Pal below:
Ranjit Singh case has disapproved the observations made in Kishun Singh case which are to the effect that the Sessions Court has power under Section 193 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (for short the Code) to take cognizance of the offence and summon other persons whose complicity in the commission of the trial can prima facie be gathered from the materials available on record. According to the decision in Kishun Singh case the Sessions Court has such a power under Section 193 of the Code. As per Ranjit Singh case, from the stage of committal till the Sessions Court reaches the stage indicated in Section 230 of the Code, that court can deal with only the accused referred to in Section 209 of the Code and there is no intermediary stage till then for the Sessions Court to add any other person to the array of the accused. The effect of this conclusion is that the accused named in column 2 and not put up for trial cannot be tried while exercising power under Section 193 read with Section 228 of the Code. This means that even when the Sessions Court applies its mind at the time of framing of charge and comes to the conclusion from the material available on record that, in fact, offence is made out against even those who are shown in column 2, it has no power to proceed against them and has to wait till the stage under Section 319 of the Code reaches, namely, commencement of the prosecution evidence. The effect is that in less serious offences triable by a Magistrate, he would have the power to proceed against those who are mentioned in column 2, if on the basis of material on record he disagrees with the police conclusion, but, as far as serious offences triable by the Court of Session are concerned, that court will have to wait till the stage of Section 319 of the Code is reached.
17. In my opinion permitting the Sessions Court to implead accused at the stage of framing of charges if their impleadment is sought for minor offences not requiring commitment by the Court of Magistrate, and disallowing the same for major offences which require commitment by a Magistrate will give rise to an anomalous situation and this anomaly indicated by Dharam Pal is another reason for preferring the view taken by Kishun Singh to Ranjit Singh.
18. I have chosen to refer to the controversy between Kishun Singh and Ranjit and to concur with Dharam Pal which has preferred the interpretation given in Kishun, because I was considering the question whether the proceedings ought to be stayed only because the three judge later decision in Dharam Pal has referred the question to a larger bench, whilst explicitly stating that the view taken by the two judge bench in Kishun was a better exposition of the legal position than the view taken by the three judge decision in Ranjit Singh. As I envisage that this contention seeking stay of proceedings on the ground that Dharam Pal has referred the question to a larger bench will be raised in other cases, I thought it would be useful to explain why in my opinion the later decision in Dharam Pal was a more accurate and elaborate exposition of the legal position, so that this Court would not be called upon to stay the proceedings only because the matter has been referred to a larger bench, and that there was no illegality in an order permitting a Magistrate to summon additional accused (who may not have been charge sheeted) after cognizance had been taken against the charge sheeted accused. Likewise there was no fetter on the learned Sessions Judge to implead additional accused after committal of the case to it, for whose complicity there was material in the police papers even though these particular accused had not been committed to the Court of Session by the Magistrate, and there was no necessity to implead these additional person as accused only in exercise of powers under Section 319 Cr.P.C after recording of some evidence by the Sessions Court.
19. However in the present case it needs to be pointed that this exercise was to some extent academic, because it is apparent that by the order dated 27.11.07 the learned Magistrate has simultaneously taken cognizance of the applicants Arshad, Mahboob and Ahsan against whom the police did not find a prima facie case and also against the charge sheeted accused Ishtakhar and Mansar, after perusing the police papers, and considering that there was sufficient material to take cognizance also against the applicants who were named as accused in the initial application of the complainant Smt. Jaitoon under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C on 15.8.06.
20. So as far as the right of the Magistrate also to take cognizance on a protest petition or otherwise even against those accused accused against whom the police choses not to submit a charge sheet or records a finding that no case against them is disclosed, but on an independent consideration of the material collected by the police, the Magistrate is satisfied that a prima facie case for cognizance was made out against these additional accused, this is question is no more res integra. After relying on the earlier cases of Abhinandan Jha v. Dinesh Mishra and H. S. Bains v. State , it
has clearly been observed in India Carat Pvt. Ltd. v. State of Karnataka that even if the police finds no case
against particular accused the Magistrate is free to disagree with the conclusions of the police if it is satisfied that on the material collected by the police a prima facie case is disclosed against the particular accused and to take cognizance and to issue process for the appearance of the said accused. It is not mandatory in such situations to follow the procedure of a complaint case and to examine the complainant and his witnesses under Sections 200 and 202 Cr.P.C. It would be useful to quote paragraphs 14 and 16 of the aforesaid law report in this connection:
14. Since in the present case the Second Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate has taken cognizance of offences alleged to have been committed by the second respondent and ordered issue of process without first examining the appellant and his witnesses, the question for consideration would be whether the Magistrate is entitled. under the Code to have acted in that manner. The question need not detain us for long because the power of a Magistrate to take cognizance of an offence under Section 190(1)(b) of the Code even when the police report was to the effect that the investigation has not made out any offence against an accused has already been examined and set out by this Court in Abhinandan Jha v. Dinesh Mishra and H. S. Bains v. State .
In Abhinandan Jha v. Dinesh Mishra (supra) the question arose whether a Magistrate to whom a report under Section 173(2) had been submitted to the effect that no case had been made out against the accused, could direct the police to file a charge-sheet, on his disagreeing with the report submitted by the Police. This Court held that the Magistrate had no jurisdiction to direct the police to submit a charge-sheet but it was open to the Magistrate to agree or disagree with the police report. If he agreed with the report that there was no case made out for issuing process to the accused, he might accept the report and close the proceedings. If he came to the conclusion that further investigation was necessary he might make an order to that effect under Section 156(3) and if ultimately the Magistrate was of the opinion that the facts set out in the police report constituted an offence he could take cognizance of the offence, notwithstanding the contrary opinion of the police expressed in the report. While expressing the opinion that the Magistrate could take cognizance of the offence notwithstanding the contrary opinion of the police, the Court observed that the Magistrate could take cognizance under Section '190(1)(c)'. The reference to Section 190(1)(c) was a mistake for Section 190(1)(b) and this has been pointed out in H. S. Bains (supra).
16. The position is, therefore, now well settled that upon receipt of a police report under Section 173(2) a Magistrate is entitled to take cognisance of an offence under Section 190(1)(b) of the Code even if the police report is to the effect that no case is made out against the accused. The Magistrate can take into account the statements of the witnesses examined by the police during the investigation and take cognisance of the offence complained of and order the issue of process to the accused. Section 190(1)(b) does not lay down that a Magistrate can take cognisance of an offence only if the investigating officer gives an opinion that the investigation has made out a case against the accused. The Magistrate can ignore the conclusion arrived at by the investigating officer and independently apply his mind to the facts emerging from the investigation and take cognizance of the case, if he thinks fit, in exercise of his powers under Section 190(1)(b) and direct the issue of process to the accused. The Magistrate is not bound in such a situation to follow the procedure laid down in Sections 200 and 202 of the Code for taking cognizance of a case under Section 190(1)(a) though it is open to him to act under Section 200 or Section 202 also. The High Court was therefore, wrong in taking the view that the Second Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate was not entitled to direct the registration of a case against the second respondent and order the issue of summons to him.
21. The view taken in India Carat has again been relied on in , Hemant Dhasmana v. Central Bureau of Investigation and Anr. (paragraph 18), and in , Minu Kumari v. State of Bihar (paragraph 10).
22. It may also be pointed out that the applicant had earlier filed a Criminal Revision before this Court, but after a single Judge permitted the applicant to withdraw the Criminal Revision with liberty on 13.2.08 he has filed the present application under Section 482 Cr.P.C.
23. For all these reasons, there is absolutely no illegality in the impugned order of the learned Magistrate taking cognizance also against the non-charge-sheeted accused/applicants or in the continuation of criminal proceedings against them.
24. In view of the aforesaid, there is no force in this application which is dismissed. The Courts below are now directed to proceed expeditiously in the matter. Copy of this order be sent to the Court concerned within a fortnight.