|CITATION||AIR 1981 SC 1417|
|DATE OF JUDGEMENT||27.01.1981|
|COURT||THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA|
|APPELLANT||State of Karnataka|
|RESPONDENT||Hemareddy and Ors|
|BENCH||A. Vardarajan and S. Murtaza Fazal Ali, JJ.|
The case of the State of Karnataka v. Hemareddy and Ors revolves around allegations of impersonation, cheating, and forgery, with charges under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 120B, 193, 465, 467, 468, and 420. At its core, this case centers on the forgery of a sale deed related to a mortgaged property.
FACTS OF THE CASE
- This is the legal case involving a dispute over some lands mortgaged by one person and sold by another person to a third person. The mortgagee and the seller were accused of cheating and forgery.
- The lands belonged to Nagappa, who had a brother Thimmaiah and a wife Bhimakka. Nagappa and his wife left the lands and moved to another village. They both died without any children. Thimmaiah also died, leaving his son Narsappa as the family’s only heir.
- Nagappa had mortgaged the lands to Kurbar Bhimayya, who was supposed to return them after 20 years. Kurbar Bhimayya died and his son Hemareddy alias Vemareddy (A-1) took over the lands. Narsappa, the heir of Nagappa, made a will in favour of Narsappa Eliger, giving him the lands. Narsappa Eliger asked Hemareddy alias Vemareddy to return the lands, but he disagreed.
- Hemareddy alias Vemareddy then bought the lands from Pyatal Bhimakka (A-2) and another person, who pretended to be Nagappa’s wife Bhimakka and her brother. Pyatal Bhimakka was unrelated to Nagappa or his wife, and she had no right to sell the lands. They made a fake document to show that Pyatal Bhimakka was the owner of the lands and registered it in the office of the Sub-Registrar.
- Narsappa Eliger filed a suit in the Civil Court to get back the lands from Hemareddy alias Vemareddy. He also found out about the fake document and filed a complaint in the Criminal Court against Hemareddy alias Vemareddy, Pyatal Bhimakka and two others. He accused them of conspiring to cheat him and forge the document.
- The Criminal Court found Hemareddy alias Vemareddy and Pyatal Bhimakka guilty of cheating and forgery and gave them punishments. They appealed to the High Court, which agreed that they were guilty, but reduced the punishment for Pyatal Bhimakka. The High Court also freed Hemareddy alias Vemareddy, because it said that only the Civil Court could complain about the fake document, not Narsappa Eliger. The State appealed to the Supreme Court against this decision.
- Whether Hemareddy alias Vemareddy and Pyatal Bhimakka committed the offences of cheating and forgery by creating and using a fake document to sell the lands that belonged to Nagappa’s family.
- Whether Narsappa Eliger, the legatee of Nagappa’s heir, had the right to file a complaint in the Criminal Court against Hemareddy alias Vemareddy and Pyatal Bhimakka for their alleged crimes.
- Whether the High Court was justified in acquitting Hemareddy alias Vemareddy and reducing the sentence of Pyatal Bhimakka on the ground that only the Civil Court could file a complaint about the fake document.
CONTENTIONS OF APPELLANT
- Validity of the Private Individual’s Complaint: The State contended that Narsappa Eliger’s complaint against Hemareddy alias Vemareddy was legitimate. They argued that there was no legal obligation that the government or Civil Court file the lawsuit in this specific situation.
- Crime under Section 467 read with Section 114 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC): According to the State, Hemareddy alias Vemareddy should have been found guilty of the crime under Section 467 read with Section 114 of the IPC. They emphasized that the prosecution had successfully established that Hemareddy alias Vemareddy had helped create and utilize a counterfeit sale deed, which was a serious violation.
- Court’s Jurisdiction: The State contended that, in situations involving Section 195(1)(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the court’s jurisdiction was not restricted to complaints only brought by the Civil Court or by the government. They thought that while determining whether a crime had been committed, the court might take allegations from private parties into account.
CONTENTIONS OF RESPONDENT
- Non-Maintainability of the case: Hemareddy alias Vemareddy claimed that Narsappa Eliger’s case was not maintainable. He argued that in situations involving Section 195(1)(b) of the CrPC, only the Civil Court or the government should be permitted to submit complaints. Hemareddy alias Vemareddy contended that the complaint should be dismissed because it was brought by a private individual.
- Interpretation of Section 195(1)(b) of the CrPC: The central argument of Hemareddy alias Vemareddy focused on how to interpret Section 195(1)(b) of the CrPC. He claimed that the section’s phrasing made it abundantly apparent that the Civil Court or the government should submit the complaint in cases involving crimes committed during or in connection with legal proceedings. He insisted that private individuals could not register such complaints under the clause.
- Hemareddy alias Vemareddy emphasized that the purpose of Section 195(1)(b) of the CrPC was to prevent private parties from starting criminal proceedings in cases involving the fabrication of evidence because doing so might result in pointless and vexatious lawsuits motivated by retaliation. He maintained that the court’s oversight of such complaints was necessary to preserve the fairness of the legal system
In this case, the Supreme Court’s ruling ultimately found that:
The offense under Section 193 IPC must be alleged to have been committed in or in connection with any court case in order to be considered a violation of Section 195(1)(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
Section 195(1)(b) of the CrPC was not applicable in the instance of Hemareddy alias Vemareddy (A-1) since the fraudulent sale deed was not presented as evidence at any point throughout the redemption process. As a result, the Magistrate was unable to declare Hemareddy alias Vemareddy guilty of a crime under Section 193 IPC. However, a complaint could be made against the accused for a crime punishable under Section 467 read with Section 114 IPC.
The High Court’s conclusion that Hemareddy alias Vemareddy’s complaint could not be upheld was rejected by the Supreme Court. They supported the acquittal of Hemareddy alias Vemareddy under Section 193 IPC and confirmed the adjustment of the sentence for the other defendants (Pyatal Bhimakka, A-2).
The Supreme Court partially upheld the appeal after finding Hemareddy, also known as Vemareddy, guilty of violating Sections 467 and 114 of the IPC. He was found guilty and given a sentence of one year of hard labor and a Rs. 500 fine, with a three-month hard labor sentence by default
The offense under Section 193 IPC must, according to the Supreme judicial’s interpretation of Section 195(1)(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), be alleged to have been committed during or in connection with a judicial process. Hemareddy alias Vemareddy (A-1) was exempt from the section’s requirements because the fake sale deed was never presented as evidence in any proceeding involving the redemption litigation. As a result, the Magistrate was unable to declare Hemareddy alias Vemareddy guilty of a crime under Section 193 IPC.
However, it was determined that a complaint could be made against the accused for a crime punishable under Section 467 read with Section 114 IPC. As a result, the Supreme Court dissented from the High Court’s conclusion that Hemareddy alias Vemareddy’s complaint could not be upheld. As a result, the Supreme Court affirmed Hemareddy alias Vemareddy’s acquittal under Section 193 IPC and confirmed the adjustment of the sentence for the other accused (Pyatal Bhimakka, A-2). They partially upheld the appeal, finding Hemareddy alias Vemareddy guilty of violating Sections 467 and 114 of the IPC, and sentenced him to one year of solitary confinement and a fine of Rs. 500, with a three-month harsh prison term as a fallback.
Pulugam Devaki, an Intern at Legal Vidhiya, writes this Case summary.