Section 195(1)(b)(i), CrPC will not bar prosecution by the investigating agency for offence punishable under Section 193, IPC, which is committed during the stage of investigation. A bench comprising of Mohan M. Shantanagoudar J. and Vineet Saran J. have answered the question of law of whether there was an overlapping of certain words across sections 193 IPC and S. 195(1)(b)(i), CrPC, and whether they encompass production of false evidence at a certain stage of judicial proceedings in Bhima Razu Prasad Vs. State, rep. by Deputy Superintendent of Police, CBI/SPE/ACUII [Criminal Appeal No. of 2021 arising out of S.L.P. (Criminal) No. 5102 of 2020]
The various accused parties were involved in an agreement of sale dated 24.01.2001 to purchase properties from the other, for which a sum of Rs 80 lakhs was to be paid in advance. Since Accused No. 2 was not available on that date for execution of the written agreement, he had entrusted the seized currency, along with a duplicate copy of the agreement signed by him, to the Appellant. The agreement was to be executed by Accused No. 3 in the presence of Appellant. The accused no.2 also presented documents to present his financial capability to purchase the property. The High Court confirmed the Trial Court’s finding that the Accused had conspired to fabricate false evidence for shielding Appellant/Accused No. 1 from prosecution in the disproportionate assets case; following which the appeal lay before the Court.
The Court framed the contended question of law as, whether an offence under Section 193, IPC committed at the stage of investigation, prior to production of the false evidence before the Trial Court by a person who is not yet party to proceedings before the Trial Court, is an offence in relation to a “proceeding in any court” under Section 195(1)(b)(i), CrPC? 6.2 Whether the words “stage of a judicial proceeding” under Explanation 2 to Section 193, IPC can be equated with “proceeding in any court” under Section 195(1)(b)(i), CrPC?
The court turned to the decision in Bandekar Brothers Pvt. Ltd. and Another v. Prasad Vassudev Keni and Others [AIR 2020 SC 4247] wherein it was noted that it was important that once these Sections of the Indian Penal Code are attracted, the offence should be alleged to have been committed in, or in relation to, any proceeding in any Court. Thus, it was made clear that the offence punishable under these Sections does not have to be committed only in any proceeding in any Court but can also be an offence alleged to have been committed in relation to any proceeding in any Court.
The court in relation to the second question of equating the terms “proceeding in any court” and “stage of a judicial proceeding” concluded that, “It can be seen from the above discussion that this Court has, in some instances, opined that where the law deems proceedings before a certain authority to be “judicial proceedings”, the same would be considered as “proceedings in any court” under Section 195(1)(b)(i), CrPC. Therefore, if the offence under Section 193, IPC is committed before such an authority, the written complaint of that authority is mandatorily required for trial of the offence.”
Thus, Court rendered the judgement that, “Section 195(1)(b)(i), CrPC will not bar prosecution by the investigating agency for offence punishable under Section 193, IPC, which is committed during the stage of investigation. This is provided that the investigating agency has lodged a complaint or registered the case under Section 193, IPC prior to commencement of proceedings and production of such evidence before the trial court. In such circumstance, the same would not be considered an offence committed in, or in relation to, any proceeding in any Court for the purpose of Section 195(1)(b)(i), CrPC”