Kathi Raning Rawat vs The State Of Saurashtra on 27 February, 1952
Equivalent citations: 1952 AIR 123, 1952 SCR 435
|3.||CONSTITUTIONAL LAW AND STATUTORY PROVISIONS|
Kathi Raning Rawat vs. State Of Saurashtra 1952
This case is related to section 302, section 307 and section 392 of the Indian Penal Code.
State government introduced a special court established under Saurashtra State Public Safety Measures Ordinance 1949. The special court followed a special treatment which was raised in question by the appellant on discrimination classification of offences and treatment of such offences. The jurisdiction of the criminal jurisdiction of the court was raised question before the Special Court, subsequent by the High Court, and later a binding judgment was given by the Apex court of India.
In the present, the fact is similar to the facts of the case state of West Bengal vs. Anwar Ali Sarkar 1952. Where the appeal is partly allowed but was adjourned to enable to respondent state to file an affidavit explaining the situation under which the Saurashtra State Public Safety Measures (III amendment) Ordinance 1949, hereinafter will be referred as the impugned ordinance.
Constitution and statutory provision
- Section 7 to section 18 Saurashtra State Public Safety Measures Ordinance 1949.
- Article 14 and 13(1) of the Constitution Of India
- Section – 34 , 302, 307 and 392 of Indian Penal Code
- Section – 423, 426, 427, 428, 491 and 526 Criminal Procedure code
The notified ordinance amends the Saurashtra State Public Safety Measures Ordinance (No. IX of 1948) which was aimed at maintenance of public order and preservation of peace and tranquility in the State of Saurashtra by constituting special Courts of criminal jurisdiction. The special Courts’ procedure was different from normal criminal courts as the special Courts consists of abolition of jury or with the aid of assessors, or the elimination of inquiry at stages before session cases, no commitment proceeding is needed and special judge could take cognizance of case, no court has jurisdiction to transfer the case from Special Judge.
Moreover, neither the distinct procedures are also not mandatory under the normal criminal procedures nor such deviation will imperil the chances of a fair and impartial trial. With the power conferred to government, notification was issued dated 9/11 February, 1950 directing that Special Courts can deal with Sections – 302, 307 and 392 read with Section 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. The person has to approach the High Court for appeal within 15 days of sentence. Sections – 491 and 526 of the Criminal Procedure Code will not apply to any person tried by Special Judges and High Court is having the power to act according to Sections 423, 426, 427 and 428 of the Code.
This case under analysis was preceded by State of West Bengal v. Anwar Ali Sarkar. In the mentioned case, the appellant was convicted under the impugned ordinance with section 302, 207 and 392 read with section 34 of Indian penal code. The criminal jurisdiction of the special Court under the impugned Ordinance was contended to be discriminatory and biased hence, void, in the present case, it was rejected by Special Judge and also by the High court of Saurashtra. The appellant is now seeking the decision of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India through a criminal appeal.
- Whether the impugned law is violation of Article 14 by imposing not a reasonable classification of offences and differential treatment of people in different areas?
- Whether the notified law is a product of excessive delegated legislation?
- Whether the notified law is constitutionally void under Article 13(1) of Constitution of India, 1949?
Contention of appellants
- Section-11 of Saurashtra State Public Safety Measures Ordinance and the notification of dated February, 1950 are discriminatory as the procedures to be followed by the courts and jurisdiction varies depending upon the territory.
- Section-9 and section-11 of the notified ordinance grants power to government to amend section-5 of Criminal Procedure Code which is an excessive delegation to executive government that was beyond the legislative competence and hence void under Article 13(1) of the Constitution of India, 1949.
- Variation of procedure which operates materially detrimental and not advantageous to public was discriminatory and violation of Article 14 of Constitution of India.
- The offence of particular character included-excludes another offence of cognate character; in this situation the selection of offences is of no rational basis which is a clear projection of discrimination.
Contentions of the respondent side
- In case of personal liberty, the constitutional protections were given only in Article 20-22 of constitution of India and in the present case only Article 21 applies. The special procedure of the court satisfies the conditions of Article 21 and thus it cannot be held to be unconstitutional.
- The offences of dacoity, robbery, looting, nose cutting and murder by marauding gangs is in hike in certain areas which necessitates special courts to maintain peace and security of the state.
- The differentiation can take place with or without any reason. Though the classification itself will not lead to differential treatment or unequal treatment as different persons are governed by different factors. It is saved and here the aim is to maintain state and ensure security of state and if the classification is based on genuine objective. There must be a nexus with the division and purpose of the Act. The impugned ordinance applies to 49 offences and is directly linked with the maintenance of public order and preservation of peace and tranquility.
- The ordinance has to be read with the meaning of preamble which differentiates the ordinance with the West Bengal Act.
- The Saurashtra government has not referred to certain individual cases but to offences of certain kinds of committed in certain areas and hence it is not discrimination.
- All differentiation is not discriminatory. The word Discrimination is not explained in Article 14 but it is available in Article 15 and 16 and if classification is discriminatory with unfavorable bias within the subjects of Articles 15 and 16. The status of Article 14 is different.
- The power of the State Government to constitute different courts with different procedures in different areas is a part of police power.
- The deviance in procedure is strong enough to repudiate the presumption of constitutionality but it must not deny unfair and partial trial, a part of equal protection clause of Article 14 which remains as the important bulwark against discriminatory procedural laws.
- The notified ordinance lacks the disputable features as that of the West Bengal Act and also does not take away the revision powers of the hon’ble HC of Saurashtra.
- To eradicate the crimes which is a genuine object , state govt cab adopt special procedures
- The appellant is punished with murder under section-302 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 which is the most heinous crime in nature and it cannot be given equal footing even to culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The plea of differential treatment may be succeed for a person who has committed less severe offence where the accused will be getting the advantages of using special treatment but in this case there is no differential disadvantageous treatment in case of murder.
- The classification made has not made against a particular person or a particular class and thus this classification cannot be held to be discriminatory.
- This special treatment results in speedier trial, is in consonance with the constitution.
- Related to classification, it tended only to obscure the factual nature of the problems for which we have to find the solution.
- If the legislative policy is not ambiguity and definite and as an effect method of carrying out the policy which gives discretion upon a body of administrators or officers to make selective application of the law to certain classes or group of persons then the piece of legislation cannot be considered as a discriminatory legislation after all. Such kind of discretion must be guided and it must be for the purpose of fulfilling the object of the policy.
- The dissenting opinion was rendered by Mr. M.C. Mahajan, B.K. Mukherjea and N. Chandrasekhara Aiyar.
- The case was said to be similar to that case of State of West Bengal v. Anwar Ali Sarkar,  S.C.R. 284, where the section 5(1) of the West Bengal Special Courts Act, 1950 which was held unconstitutional.
- Though the classification does not seem to be discriminatory and biased on face, it is discrimination in its effect and operation by conferring exemplary power to the executive government unregulated government discretion. Similarly, section-11 of the impugned ordinance is giving no reasonable classification with respect to offences or cases. As for example, simple hurt of punishment for two-years is included in the list whereas, section 308 of Indian Penal Code which is of heavier punishment is not included in the list which shows that classification is made with proper reasonable basis and gives scope for discrimination.
- 11 of the impugned ordinance are unconstitutional and hence the conviction by the special judge is not good to be practicable and must be quashed and the appellant must be reiterated to Criminal Procedure Code.
- The impugned ordinance gives wide power to the government to take action and these words cannot limit the plain and not ambiguous language of section 11 of the ordinance.
- Sections 9 and 11 of the impugned ordinance are not laying down any classification on itself and thus there exists differential treatment.
- Though the facts are not false pertaining to the rise in crime rates, it doesn’t require a new legal inclusion. There is no need for subjecting the ordinance under division or the classification test as the differentiation travels beyond bounds that are legitimate.
This case was analyzed in detailed regarding the special treatment of certain offences which was in hike. It was an attempt made by state to implement speedy trail and ensure security of the state and maintenance of public order. The court criticized the appeal of the appellant as he was a punished with death penalty and he must not misuse the advantages of differential treatment and also the court established that there must not differential treatment in the present case. Thus the court established that the Special Courts are having the criminal jurisdiction to deal with the offences and the comparison is made with West Bengal Act, 1949 and held that the deviances in the Act are not present in the impugned ordinance. The court also held that there is no delegated legislation as it is the necessary effort to curb crimes and there was a guided discretion given to executive government to fulfill the aims of the ordinance.