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Section 227 CPC – Indisputable Authority of Judge to sift and weigh the Evidence: Bombay High Court

When assessing whether or not to charge the accused under Section 227 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the Judge has indisputable authority to sift and weigh the evidence for the limited purpose of determining whether or not a prima-facie case against the accused has been established. This was held in a judgement passed by Hon’ble Shri Justice Sandeep K. Shinde in the matter of Kalpesh Jayram Koshti Vs Central Bureau Of Investigation And Anr (Criminal Revision Application No. 6 Of 2020) on 06/12/2021.

On the basis of a written complaint filed by Shri. D.G. Kallatti, Deputy General Manager of CBI, against M/s. Ashoka Property Developers and M/s. Ashish Communication Systems, its Directors/Guarantors, and thirteen others, including two bankers and the applicant, the Central Bureau of Investigation, Economic Offences Wing, Mumbai registered a FIR under Section 120B read with Sections 420, 465, 467, 468, 471 of the Indian Penal.

The complainant alleged that the accused engaged in a criminal conspiracy in 2011 to defraud the Central Bank of India, Peddar Road Branch, Mumbai, of Rs.17 crores by fabricating false documents and dishonestly suppressing material information in respect of immovable properties that were offered as collateral security either by overvaluation or otherwise for the purpose of obtaining credit and misusing the same.

Prosecution is the owner of M/s. Ahmadabad Express Newspaper based in Ahmedabad, where he employs eight people. One of them, Ravikumar Ashok kumar Bhil, worked in the Press as an Office Boy opened two bank accounts in the names of M/s. Ahmedabad Sales Corporation and M/s. Hindustan Enterprises at ING Vyasa Bank. Ravikumar Bhil used to transfer money into various bank accounts, withdraw cash, and hand over to various angadiyas (cash couriers) on the applicant’s orders.

The prosecution claims that M/s. Aashish Communication Systems, which belonged to Ashish Singh (accused no. 2), fraudulently obtained a cash credit limit of Rs.2.25 crores, an overdraft of Rs.5 crores, and a term loan of Rs.5 crores from the complainant bank. M/s. Aashish Communication Systems moved a large sum of money to numerous accounts, one of which was opened by Ravikumar Bhil on the applicant’s instructions.

Learned Counsel has relied on decision in the case of Laxmi Koli Babita vs. Maharashtra State, 2005. All MR (Cri.) 571, as the facts given therein show, there was no evidence against the petitioner except the statement of the co-accused, which was forced into service on behalf of the prosecution. In the lack of credible proof, there is no basis for proceeding against the application. As a result, counsel argue that the contested order be quashed and set aside, and the applicant be discharged.

Despite the fact that the witness statement recorded under Section 164 of the Code is not substantive evidence and can only be used to corroborate or contradict witness, the reality remains that the petitioner is the owner of Ahmedabad Express Newspapers and Mr. Bhil was his employee. Mr. Bhil open two bank accounts, one in the name of Ahemdabad Sales Corporation and the other in the name of Hindustan Enterprises, and would immediately receive lacs and crores of rupees. As a result, given the facts of the case and the surrounding circumstances, there is no reason to dismiss and doubt Mr. Bhil’s statement, which clearly reveals applicant’s involvement in the crime. Therefore, Revision Application deserves no consideration, hence, rejected.

Click here to read the judgment

Judgement reviewed by – Pooja Lakshmi

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