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TRIAL/APPELLATE COURT HAS FULL DISCRETION TO ORDER SENTENCES TO RUN CONCURRENTLY: SUPREME COURT OF INDIA.

This particular decision is upheld by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana through the division bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and JK Maheshwari in the case of Malkeet Singh Gill vs State of Chhattisgarh (CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 915 OF 2022)

FACTS

One Ambika Prasad was the Director of the Company namely Revanchal Vitta and Commercial Vikas Limited Company (herein after referred to as
‘the Company’) and the appellant/accused No.2 was the Area Manager of the Company. The Company was engaged in the activity of collecting money through its agents by deposits like a Bank and assured to give 8 to 10% annual interest to the depositors. The passbook and ledger accounts were also kept and maintained by the Company with respect to deposits. The money deposit receipts were also given to the depositors. The depositors have made deposits with intent to earn interest, as promised. Upon maturity when the return of deposits was asked with interest, it was denied and later the Company was closed. Alleging said fact, the complainant namely Ajay Kumar Meenwal filed a written complaint on 12.06.1998 against Ambika Prasad and the appellant/accused No.2 for deceiving him and the public at large under the guise of wrong information, that their Company is recognized by Reserve Bank of India. They induced the depositors offering attractive return, but on taking deposit the amount of such deposit was not returned at the time of maturity and their deposit amount is misappropriated. On the complaint, as per allegations, initially offence under Section 420 of IPC was registered. Upon further investigation, the passbook, receipt, ledger accounts etc. were seized, statements of witnesses were recorded and offences under Sections 467, 468, 471, 120­B read with Section 34 of IPC were added The Trial Court framed the charges under Sections 409, 420, 467, 468 read with Section 120­B of IPC and examined 24 prosecution witnesses. After detailed deliberation and considering the rival contentions of the parties, the Trial Court convicted the accused persons for the charges under Sections 409, 420, 409 read with 120­B and 420 read with 120 B of IPC as the charges under Sections 467 and 468 of IPC have not been proved beyond reasonable doubt. Being aggrieved, the appellant and other co ­accused challenged their conviction before Additional Sessions Judge, Dhamtari. The Appellate Court vide judgment dated 29.01.2005 dismissed the appeal and upheld the order of conviction and sentences as directed by the Trial Court.­

JUDGEMENT

The Supreme Court observed that Trial court and Appellate Court has full discretion to order sentences for two or more offences at one trial to run co In this case, the Trial Court convicted the accused for the charges under Sections 409, 420, 409 read with Section 120­B and 420 read with 120­B and 420 read with 120­ B of IPC as the charges under Sections 467 and 468 of IPC have not been proved beyond reasonable doubt. The Appellate Court upheld the judgment. The High Court while allowing the Revision in part directed that sentences so awarded shall run concurrently.
While considering the appeal, the Apex Court bench noted that there are concurrent findings of conviction arrived at by two Courts after detailed appreciation of the material and evidence brought on record, The High Court found the finding recorded by the two Courts to serve the sentence consecutively by the appellant and the other co ­accused were not correct,
hence set aside and directed to run such sentence concurrently. In our considered opinion, the finding of fact as recorded by the Trial Court and the Appellate Court has rightly not been interfered while maintaining the conviction against the appellant. On the issue of sentence also the direction as issued by the High Court is in consonance with the provisions of Section 31 of Cr.P.C which confer full discretion to the Trial Court as well as Appellate Court to order the sentences to run concurrently in case of conviction for two or more offences.

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY NAISARGIKA MISHRA

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