Shraddha Gupta vs State of Uttar Pradesh and Others

Shraddha Gupta vs The State of Uttar Pradesh and Others

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले



REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 569-570 OF 2022
Shraddha Gupta …Appellant
Versus
The State of Uttar Pradesh and Others …Respondents
J U D G M E N T
M.R. SHAH, J.
1. Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned order dated
27.09.2019 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad in
Criminal Miscellaneous Writ Petition No. 21964 of 2019 and the
subsequent order dated 10.11.2020 passed in Criminal Miscellaneous
Review Application No. 2/2019, the original accused, Shraddha Gupta,
against whom an FIR has been filed under Section 2/3 of the Uttar
Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986
1
(hereinafter referred to as the ‘Gangsters Act, 1986’), has filed the
present appeals.
2. The facts leading to the present appeals in nutshell are as under:
That a written report was made by respondent no.4 herein (original
informant) on 24.05.2016 to the effect that her sister and her family
members had previous enmity with the accused persons, namely, (1)
Shravan Kumar (husband of the appellant herein), (2) Guddu @
Sudhanshu, (3) Munna @ Brajendranth Sharma, (4) Kamal Sharma and
(5) Bhure. That on 23.5.2016, her sister Kumari Sadhna Sharma, Incharge, DGC(Crl.) in the Court of the District Judge, Badaun, had gone
to the Court on her scooty to pursue the cases on behalf of the
Government. Bhure and others had a hearing date in the Court of
District Judge, Badaun for appearance. At about 5:30 p.m. her sister was
returning from Badaun to Ujhani, sitting on the rear seat of the scooty
being driven by her servant Bihari. When the scooty reached near Balaji
temple, they saw a car parked near the temple in which all the abovenamed accused were present. The car followed the scooty of her sister
Sadhna and when she reached near Jiorlia village, the car of the
accused rammed into her sister’s scooty with the result both Sadhna and
Behari fell on the road. Then the accused drove their car towards her
sister, stopped it near Behari and shouted, ‘kill this fellow also otherwise
2
he may also give evidence’. The accused, however, ran away on the
arrival of the people. The incident was witnessed by the passer-by and
with their help Behari took her sister to Badaun hospital in a vehicle. Her
sister Sadhna died in the hospital. The complainant further stated that
she had come to the hospital at 11:00 on getting the information and lost
her consciousness on seeing the dead body of her sister. The autopsy
of the deceased was conducted in the night. When she regained her
consciousness, Behari told her the entire incident. After making
arrangements for the last rites of her sister, she came to the police
station to lodge the report. The complainant alleged that she
apprehends the association of the former BJP MLA Yogender Sagar in
the entire conspiracy. On the basis of this report, a case under Section
147, 304, 504, 323, 506, 120-B IPC was registered against the above
named six accused persons at P.S. Ujhani, District Badaun, vide Case
Crime No. 337/2016 dated 24.05.2016.
2.1 That subsequently on 27.05.2017, a case under Sections 2/3 of
the Gangsters Act, 1986 was registered against eight accused persons
vide Case Crime No. 268/2017. The charge sheet was filed against the
said eight accused persons on 26.5.2018 and the cognizance of the
same was taken by the learned Special Judge under the Gangsters Act,
Badaun on 2.7.2018.
3
2.2 It appears that thereafter on further investigation and on the basis
of the call recordings between the co-accused, handed over to the
Investigating Officer by the complainant, the names of the appellant –
Shraddha Gupta, her husband Sharvan Gupta and Kamlesh Sharma,
came to light and accordingly they were arrayed as accused in Case
Crime No. 337/2016.
2.3 That in the course of investigation, it also revealed that the
appellant – Shraddha Gupta, her husband – Sharvan Gupta and
Kamlesh Sharma were also involved in the offence pertaining to the
conspiracy of murder of deceased Sadhna Sharma. Therefore,
supplementary charge sheet was also filed against the aforesaid three
accused persons, namely, Shraddha Gupta, Sharvan Gupta and
Kamlesh Sharma. That subsequently, it was brought to the notice of the
Senior Superintendent of Police, Badaun, that the case under the
Gangsters Act, 1986 has been registered only against eight accused
persons and the charge sheet has been filed against eleven accused
persons in Case Crime No. 337/2016.
2.4 Thereafter, a gang chart was prepared against the appellant and
other two accused, which was sent to the Senior Superintendent of
Police, District Badaun on 19.03.2019. That thereafter the Joint Director
(Prosecution), Badaun granted approval on 1.4.2019 to register a case
4
against the aforesaid three persons under Sections 2/3 of the Gangsters
Act, 1986. SSP, Badaun, vide communication dated 2.4.2019
communicated to the Investigating Officer and accordingly FIR dated
27.05.2019 in Case Crime No. 268/2017 under Sections 2/3 of the
Gangsters Act has been lodged/registered against the appellant and
other two co-accused. Thus, the FIR for the offences under the
Gangsters Act has been registered against eleven accused in all (eight
accused charged earlier and the three accused including the appellant
herein charge sheeted subsequently).
2.5 That the appellant herein filed the present Criminal Miscellaneous
Writ Petition No. 21964/2019 before the High Court under Section 482 of
the Criminal Procedure Code and prayed for the following reliefs:
i) Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of certiorari
to quash the orders dated 7.6.2019 and 2.4.2019 passed by the
respondent no.3;
ii) Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of certiorari
to quash the impugned FIR dated 27.5.2017 as Case Crime No.
268/2017 under Section 2/3 Gangsters Act, P.S. Ujhani, Dist.
Badaun, only to the extent of the petitioner;
iii) Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of
mandamus commanding respondents no. 2 and 3 not to arrest
the petitioner in case Crime No. 268/2017 under Sections 2/3
Gangsters Act, P.S. Ujhani, District Badaun.
5
2.6 It was the case on behalf of the appellant that she has been falsely
implicated in the case; she was not named in the FIR; in the FIR, no role
has been assigned to her; her name has surfaced in further investigation
under Section 173(8) Cr.P.C.; the Senior Superintendent of Police,
Badaun maliciously submitted the supplementary gang chart against her
approved by the District Magistrate, Badaun; that she is neither a gang
leader nor a member of the gang being a household lady. It was also the
case on behalf of the appellant-accused that solely on the basis of the
single FIR/charge sheet, she cannot be charged for the offences under
the provisions of the Gangsters Act.
2.7 That by the impugned order, the High Court has dismissed the said
writ petition and has refused to quash the criminal proceedings under
Sections 2/3 of the Gangsters Act. A review application was also filed
which has also been dismissed.
2.8 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned orders
passed by the High Court dismissing the writ petition under Section 482
Cr.P.C. and dismissing the review application, the accused Shraddha
Gupta has preferred the present appeals.
3. Shri Divyesh Pratap Singh, learned counsel appearing on behalf of
the appellant has, as such, reiterated what was argued before the High
Court.
6
3.1 It is vehemently submitted by the learned counsel appearing on
behalf of the appellant that in the facts and circumstances of the case,
the appellant has been wrongly booked/charged for the offences under
Sections 2/3 of the Gangsters Act, 1986.
3.2 It is contended that by no stretch of imagination, the appellant can
be said to be a ‘Gangster’ and/or a member of the ‘Gang’. It is submitted
that solely on the basis of a single FIR/charge sheet and that too with
respect to a single murder, the appellant cannot be said to be a
‘Gangster’ and/or a member of the ‘Gang’.
3.3 It is submitted that the allegations against the appellant cannot be
said to be in connection with anti-social activities for which she is to be
charged for the offences under Sections 2/3 of the Gangsters Act, 1986.
3.4 Relying upon the decision of this Court in the case of Piyush
Kantilal Mehta v. Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad City, 1989 Supp
(1) SCC 322, it is submitted that as held by this Court only such activity
which adversely affect and/or likely to affect the maintenance of public
order can be said to be an anti-social activity.
3.5 Relying upon the decision of the Gujarat High Court in the case of
Karansinh Chetansinh Vaghela v. State of Gujarat, 2021 SCConLine
Gujarat 1260, it is submitted that as held by the Gujarat High Court, a
7
single FIR cannot be said to be sufficient for invocation of the preventive
statutes.
3.6 It is further submitted by the learned counsel appearing on behalf
of the appellant-accused that she cannot be implicated in the FIR in
question under the Gangsters Act solely on the basis of an isolated case.
It is contended that the appellant cannot be said to be a habitual offender
and she does not indulge in anti-social activities.
3.7 That in the present case, as such, the appellant was implicated in
the case on further investigation and by way of supplementary charge
sheet. That prior thereto eight persons were already charge sheeted
including for the offence under the Gangsters Act, 1986 and the learned
Special Court took cognizance against eight accused persons. It is
submitted that subsequently, the appellant and other two co-accused are
implicated along with eight accused persons and also charged for the
offences under the Gangsters Act also. It is contended that once the
Special Court took cognizance against eight persons, thereafter it was
not open to implicate the present accused, who were charge sheeted
subsequently for the offences under the Gansters Act.
4. The present appeals are vehemently opposed by Shri Sanjay
Kumar Tyagi, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the State of Uttar
8
Pradesh and Shri Shuvodeep Roy, learned counsel appearing for
respondent No.4 herein (original informant).
4.1 It is vehemently submitted that in the facts and circumstances of
the case, the appellant and two other accused are rightly charged for the
offences under Sections 2/3 of the Gangsters Act, 1986.
4.2 It is contended that in the present case, the provisions of the
Gangsters Act are invoked after following due procedure under the
Gangsters Act and after the gang chart was prepared and the same was
approved by the higher authority as well as the District Magistrate.
4.3 It is submitted that as such the eight co-accused persons, against
whom the earlier charge sheet was filed, were already charged for the
offences under Sections 2/3 of the Gangsters Act with respect to the
same offence.
4.4 That however after the initial charge sheet was filed against the
eight accused persons, during the course of further investigation, the
names of the appellant and two other accused persons came to surface
and therefore they were also arrayed as an accused. It is submitted that
therefore with respect to the same offence, when the other accused
persons were also charged for the offences under the Gangsters Act,
being co-accused and considering the definitions of ‘Gang’ and
‘Gangster’ under the Gangsters Act, 1986, the appellant and other two
9
co-accused who were charge sheeted subsequently were also required
to be prosecuted for the offences under the Gangsters Act also. It is
urged that therefore the appellant and other two co-accused are rightly
being prosecuted for the offences under the Gangsters Act.
4.5 It is submitted that in the present case, it has been revealed that
the father of the appellant Ramindra Nath Sharma had five daughters
and had no son. The deceased Sadhna Sharma was the eldest
daughter while the complainant Viparna Gaur, respondent no.4 herein is
the youngest. Late Ramindra Nath Sharma had left behind huge
immovable properties and it was found during investigation that there
was a chequered litigation amongst the daughters over the division of the
properties left behind by their father.
4.6 It is submitted that during the course of the investigation, it has
been revealed that the accused Shraddha Gupta, Sharvan Gupta and
Kamlesh Sharma are also involved for the offence pertaining to the
conspiracy of the murder of the deceased Sadhna Sharma.
4.7 It is pointed that the main co-accused P.C. Sharma, who is the
Gang Leader, is a dangerous criminal. He has an organised gang. He
along with his accomplices, with the purposes of making pecuniary gain
indulges and causes to indulge in offences relating to human body and
murder. It is submitted that all the accused now charge sheeted have
10
joined hands, connived and hatched the conspiracy to kill the deceased
with a view to make a pecuniary gain.
4.8 It is submitted that the appellant herein, being a member of the
‘Gang’, as defined under Section 2(b) of the Gangsters Act and is found
to have indulged in anti-social activities, mentioned in Section 2(b) of the
Gangsters Act, is also liable to be prosecuted for the offences under the
Gangsters Act being ‘Gangster’ as defined in Section 2(c) of the
Gangsters Act.
4.9 It is contended that even in case of a single FIR/charge sheet but
with respect to anti-social activities mentioned in Section 2(b) of the
Gangsters Act, there can be a prosecution under the Gangsters Act. It is
urged that under the Gangsters Act, there is no bar like in the other
statutes, such as, Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act, 1999
and the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organized Crime Act, 2015.
4.10 Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents -State
has heavily relied upon the various decisions of the High Court of
Allahabad in which the High Court had an occasion to consider a similar
issue and had taken the view that considering the provisions of the
Gangsters Act, more particularly Sections 2(b) and 2(c), even in case of
a single FIR/charge sheet for the anti-social activities mentioned in
Section 2(b) of the Gangsters Act, an accused can be prosecuted for the
11
offences under the Gangsters Act. (Reference is made to Criminal
Miscellaneous Application No. 2226/2002, titled ‘Vishnu Dayal
Vishwanath v. State of UP’, decided on 15.06.2007; Writ Petition No.
4936/1999, titled ‘Rinku @ Hukku v. State of U.P.’, decided on 12.1.2000;
Application u/s 482 No., 32940/2015, titled ‘Mohit Chaudhary v. State of
U.P.’, decided on 10.12.2015; Criminal Miscellaneous Writ Petition No.
3938/2021, titled ‘Ritesh Kumar @ Rikki v. State of U.P.’, decided on
5.8.2021; and Criminal Miscellaneous Writ Petition No. 16164/1994, titled
‘Ajay Rai v. State of U.P.’, decided on 22.11.1994).
4.11 Making the above submissions and relying upon the above
decisions, it is prayed to dismiss the present appeals.
5. We have heard the learned counsel for the respective parties at
length.
6. The short question which is posed for the consideration of this
Court is, whether, a person against whom a single FIR/charge sheet is
filed for any of the anti-social activities mentioned in section 2(b) of the
Gangsters Act, 1986 can be prosecuted under the Gangsters Act. In
other words, whether a single crime committed by a ‘Gangster’ is
sufficient to apply the Gangsters Act on such members of a ‘Gang’.
7. While considering the aforesaid issues/questions, the relevant
provisions of the Gangsters Act, 1986 are required to be referred to. The
12
object and purpose of enactment of the Gangsters Act, 1986 is to make
special provisions for the prevention of, for coping with, gangsters and
anti-social activities and for matters connected therewith or incidental
thereto. Section 2(b) defines ‘Gang’ and Section 2(c) defines ‘Gangster’.
Sections 2(b) and 2(c) read as under:
“2(b) “Gang” means a group of persons, who acting either singly or
collectively, by violence, or threat or show of violence, or intimidation, or
coercion or otherwise with the object of disturbing public order or of
gaining any undue temporal, pecuniary, material or other advantage for
himself or any other person, indulge in anti-social activities (Act no. 2 of
1974), namely—
(i) offences punishable under Chapter XVI, or Chapter XVII, or Chapter
XXII of the Indian Penal Code (Act no. 45 of 1860), or
(ii) distilling or manufacturing or storing or transporting or importing or
exporting or selling or distributing any liquor, or intoxicating or
dangerous drugs, or other intoxicants or narcotics or cultivating any
plant, in contravention of any of the provisions of the U.P. Excise Act,
1910 (U.P. Act no. 4 of 1910) or the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic
Substances Act, 1985 or any other law for the time being in force, or
(iii) occupying or talking possession of immovable property otherwise
than in accordance with law, or setting-up false claims for title or
possession of immovable property whether in himself or any other
person, or (Act no. 61 of 1985)
(iv) preventing or attempting to prevent any public servant or any
witness from discharging his lawful duties, or
(v) offences punishable under the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in
Women and Girls Art, 1956, or
(vi) offences punishable under section 3 of the Public Gambling Act,
1867 (Act no. 104 of 1956), or
(vii) preventing any person from offering bids in auction lawfully
conducted, or tender, lawfully invited, by or on behalf of any
Government department, local body or public or private undertaking for
any lease or right or supply of goods or work to be done, or
13
(viii) preventing or disturbing the smooth running by any person of his
lawful business profession, trade or employment or any other lawful
activity connected therewith, or
(ix) offences punishable under section 171-E of the Indian Penal Code,
or in preventing or obstructing any public election being lawfully held, by
physically preventing the voter from exercising his electoral rights, or
(x) inciting others to resort to violence to disturb communal harmony, or
(xi) creating panic, alarm or terror in public, or
(xii) terrorising or assaulting employees or owners or occupiers of public
or private undertakings or factories and causing mischief in respect of
their properties, or
(xiii) inducing or attempting to induce any person to go to foreign
countries on false representation that any employment, trade or
profession shall be provided to him in such foreign country, or
(xiv) kidnapping or abducting any person with intent to extort ransom, or
(xv) diverting or otherwise preventing any aircraft or public transport
vehicle from following its scheduled course;
(c) “gangster” means a member or leader or organiser of a gang and
includes any person who abets or assists in the activities of a gang
enumerated in clause (b), whether before or after the commission of such
activities or harbours any person who has indulged in such activities.”
7.1 Section 3 of the Gangsters Act, 1986 provides for punishment,
which reads as under:
“3. (1) A gangster shall be punished with imprisonment of either
description for a term which shall not be less than two years and which
may extend to ten years and also with fine which shall not be less than five
thousand rupees:
Provided that a gangster who commits an offence against the person of
a public servant of the person of a member of the family of a public
servant shall be punished Kith imprisonment of either description for a
term which shall not be less than three years and also with fine which
shall not be less than five thousand rupees,
(2) Whoever being a public servant renders any illegal help or support
in any manner to a gangster, whether before or after the Commission of
14
any offence by the gangster (whether by himself or through others) or
abstains from taking lawful measures or intentionally avoids to carry out
the directions of any court or of his superior officers, in this respect,
shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term
which may extend to ten years but shall not be less than three years
and also with fine.”
7.2 Section 5 of the Gangsters Act provides for constitution of Special
Courts for the speedy trial of the offences under the Act. Section 6
provides that a Special Court may, if it considers it expedient or desirable
so to do, hold its sitting for any of its proceedings at any place, other than
the ordinary place of its sitting or seat. Section 8 of the Act provides that
when trying any offence punishable under the Gangsters Act, a Special
Court may also try any other offence with which the accused may, under
any other law for the time being in force, be charged at the same trial.
Under Section 9 of the Gangsters Act, the State Government shall
appoint a person to be the Public Prosecutor for every Special Court.
Section 10 provides that a Special Court may take cognizance of any
offence triable by it, without the accused being committed to it for trial
upon receiving a complaint of facts which constitute such offence or upon
a police report of such facts. Section 12 provides that the trial under the
Gangsters Act of any offence by Special Court shall have precedence
over the trial of any other case against the accused in any other court
(not being a Special Court) and shall be concluded in preference to the
trial of such other case and accordingly the trial of such other case shall
15
remain in abeyance. Section 13 of the Gangsters Act provides that
where, after taking cognizance of any offence, a Special Court is opinion
that the offence is not triable by it, it shall, notwithstanding that it has no
jurisdiction to try such an offence, transfer the case for trial of such
offence to any other court having jurisdiction under the Code and the
court to which the case is transferred may proceed with the trial of the
offence as if it has taken cognizance of the offence.
8. From the aforesaid, it can be seen that all provisions are to ensure
that the offences under the Gangsters Act should be given preference
and should be tried expeditiously and that too, by the Special Courts, to
achieve the object and purpose of the enactment of the Gangsters Act.
9. Now so far as the main submission on behalf of the accused that
for a single offence/FIR/charge sheet with respect to any of the antisocial activities, such an accused cannot be prosecuted under the
Gangsters Act, 1986 is concerned, on a fair reading of the definitions of
‘Gang’ and ‘Gangster’ under the Gangsters Act, 1986, it can be seen that
a ‘Gang’ is a group of one or more persons who commit/s the crimes
mentioned in the definition clause for the motive of earning undue
advantage, whether pecuniary, material or otherwise. Even a single
crime committed by a ‘Gang’ is sufficient to implant Gangsters Act on
16
such members of the ‘Gang’. The definition clause does not engulf
plurality of offence before the Gangsters Act is invoked.
A group of persons may act collectively or anyone of the members
of the group may also act singly, with the object of disturbing public order
indulging in anti-social activities mentioned in Section 2(b) of the
Gangsters Act, who can be termed as ‘Gangster’. A member of a ‘Gang’
acting either singly or collectively may be termed as a member of the
‘Gang’ and comes within the definition of ‘Gang’, provided he/she is
found to have indulged in any of the anti-social activities mentioned in
Section 2(b) of the Gangsters Act.
10. On a fair reading of the definitions of ‘Gang’ contained in Section
2(b) and ‘Gangster’ contained in Section 2(c) of the Gangsters Act, a
‘Gangster’ means a member or leader or organiser of a gang including
any person who abets or assists in the activities of a gang enumerated in
clause (b) of Section 2, who either acting singly or collectively commits
and indulges in any of the anti-social activities mentioned in Section 2(b)
can be said to have committed the offence under the Gangsters Act and
can be prosecuted and punished for the offence under the Gangsters
Act. There is no specific provision under the Gangsters Act, 1986 like the
specific provisions under the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime
Act, 1999 and the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organized Crime Act,
17
2015 that while prosecuting an accused under the Gangsters Act, there
shall be more than one offence or the FIR/charge sheet. As per the
settled position of law, the provisions of the statute are to be read and
considered as it is. Therefore, considering the provisions under the
Gangsters Act, 1986 as they are, even in case of a single
offence/FIR/charge sheet, if it is found that the accused is a member of a
‘Gang’ and has indulged in any of the anti-social activities mentioned in
Section 2(b) of the Gangsters Act, such as, by violence, or threat or show
of violence, or intimidation, or coercion or otherwise with the object of
disturbing public order or of gaining any undue temporal, pecuniary,
material or other advantage for himself or any other person and he/she
can be termed as ‘Gangster’ within the definition of Section 2(c) of the
Act, he/she can be prosecuted for the offences under the Gangsters Act.
Therefore, so far as the Gangsters Act, 1986 is concerned, there can be
prosecution against a person even in case of a single offence/FIR/charge
sheet for any of the anti-social activities mentioned in Section 2(b) of the
Act provided such an anti-social activity is by violence, or threat or show
of violence, or intimidation, or coercion or otherwise with the object of
disturbing public order or of gaining any undue temporal, pecuniary,
material or other advantage for himself or any other person.
18
11. In the present case, it is alleged that the main accused P.C.
Sharma was a gang leader and who was the mastermind and he
hatched the criminal conspiracy along with other co-accused including
the appellant herein to commit the murder of the deceased Sadhna
Sharma for a pecuniary benefit as there was a property dispute going on
since long between the family members. It is also to be noted that the
other co-accused were already charge sheeted/prosecuted for the
offence under the Gangsters Act and therefore the appellant and the
other two co-accused being members of the ‘Gang’ were also required to
be prosecuted for the offences under the Gangsters Act also like other
co-accused. Therefore, in the facts and circumstances of the case, it
cannot be said that no prosecution could have been initiated against the
appellant-accused for the offences under Sections 2/3 of the Gangsters
Act, 1986.
12. In view of the above discussion and for the reasons stated above,
the High Court has rightly refused to quash the criminal proceedings
against the appellant-accused under Sections 2/3 of the Gangsters Act,
1986, in exercise of powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. We are in
complete agreement with the view taken by the High Court. Under the
19
circumstances, the present appeals fail and the same deserve to be
dismissed and are accordingly dismissed.
………………………………….J.
[M.R. SHAH]
NEW DELHI; …………………………………J.
APRIL 26, 2022. [B.V. NAGARATHNA]
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