AARUSHI MURDER CASE - COGNIZANCE AND BAIL

 

              IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

             CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

              CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.68 OF 2012  ARISING OUT OF      Special Leave to Appeal (Crl) No(s).2982/2011

Dr. MRS. NUPUR TALWAR              ... APPELLANT(S)

                 VERSUS

C.B.I., DELHI & ANR.               ... RESPONDENT(S)

J U D G M E N T

GANGULY, J.

1.      We   have   heard   learned   counsel   for   the parties.

2.      Leave granted.

3.    The   subject   matter   of   challenge   before   this Court   is   an   order   dated   18th  March,   2011   of   the Allahabad  High  Court  Whereby  the  High  Court  on  a petition   under   Section   397/401   of   the   Criminal Procedure   Code   (hereinafter   `Code')   challenging the   order   dated   9th         February,   2011   passed   by Special   Judicial   Magistrate   (CBI),   Ghaziabad   in Special   Case   No.01   of   2011   (Rajesh   Talwar  Vs. Unknown  under   Section   302,   I.P.C.     P.S.     S.C.B. C.B.I.,  Delhi) refused  to   interfere  with Magistrate's order of taking cognizance. 

4.    By   the   said   order   dated   9th  February,   2011, the   Magistrate   had   taken   cognizance   of   the offences   under   Sections   302/34   and   201/34   I.P.C. against   the   appellant   and   one   Dr.   Rajesh   Talwar. The   concluding   portion   of   the   order   of   the Magistrate is:-

           "While   rejecting   the   conclusion   given in   the   Final   Report   by   the   Investigating Officer, cognizance on the basis of Police  report   under   section   190(1)(b)   of   Cr.P.C.  is   taken   under   section   302/34   and   201/34 IPC   against   accused   Dr.   Rajesh   Talwar  and Dr. Nupur Talwar for committing murders of  Arushi   and   Hem   Raj   and   for   tampering   with  the   proofs.     The   accused   be   summoned   for       appearance   on   28.02.2011. Copies   be  prepared."

5.    The entire case arises out of an unfortunate murder   of   a   young   girl   namely,   `Aarushi'   in   her own  residence  and  also  the  murder  of  one  Hemraj, a   domestic   help.   It   appears   that   the   said unfortunate   murder   of   the   young   girl   raised   some kind of a sensation in public mind and an uproar. Be that as it may, sitting in the Courts of law, we have to steer clear   of the public debate and follow the course of law. 

6.    Initially,   the   investigation   was   conducted by   the   Uttar   Pradesh   Police   in which the implication  of   Dr.  Rajesh   Talwar   and   Dr.   Nupur Talwar,   parents   of   the   deceased   victim   girl transpired.   Thereafter,   the   investigation   of   the case   was   handed   over   to   the   C.B.I.   on   29th  May, 2008 on the basis of a notification by the State. Prior   to   that,   on   23rd  May,   2008,   Dr.   Rajesh Talwar   was   arrested.   The   CBI   initially   filed   a closure report of the investigation. On the basis of   that   report,   an   application   was   filed   by   the C.B.I. under  Section 169   of   the   Code   before   the Special   Judicial   Magistrate,  C.B.I.,  Ghaziabad. The contents of the said petition read as under:

     "i.    That         accused Rajesh  Talwar  was arrested   in   the   aforesaid   case   on 3.5.2008.  Subsequently,  following  expiry   of   his   police   remand,   this Hon'ble Court remanded him to judicial  custody   upto   11.7.2008   vide   order dated 2.7.2008.

     ii.    That the investigation of this case is still   pending   and   all   the   facts   and  circumstances   of   the   case   are   being investigated.

     iii. That during investigation, the role of  accused   Rajesh Talwar   was   thoroughly investigated   regarding   the   aforesaid crime.

     iv.    That   during   investigation,   the   poly right   to   psychological   analysis   test  of accused Rajesh Talwar was conducted   and no deception has been found in the  test reports.

      v.     That during investigation, the cloths,   shoes   and   finger   palm/foot   prints   of  accused   Rajesh Talwar  was  forwarded/submitted to CFSL, New Delhi for   examination   and   expert   opinion.  The   Scientific   examination   results could   not   connect   accused   Rajesh              Talwar with the crime.

      vi.    That in   view   of  the above  circumstances,   the   further   judicial              custody   remand   of   accused   Rajesh Talwar is not required in the interest  of justice.

                                        Prayer

             It is, therefore, prayed that Judicial  custody   remand   of   accused   Rajesh Talwar may not be extended."

7.    On the basis of the aforementioned prayer of C.B.I.   under   Section   169   of   the   Code,   an   order came   to   be   passed   on   11th  July,   2008   by   the learned   Magistrate   and   Dr.   Rajesh   Talwar   was

released   on   his   furnishing   two   sureties   of   Rs.5 lakh   each   with   a   personal   bond   of   the   same amount.

8.    Thereafter,   the   C.B.I.   filed   another   closure report   on   29th  December,   2010.   Then,   on   a   notice being   issued   by   the   Court,   a   protest   petition came   to   be   filed   by   Dr.   Rajesh   Talwar.   Only

thereafter,   the   impugned   order   of   the   Magistrate dated   9th  February,   2011   came   to   be   passed.   The learned   Magistrate   in   his   detailed   order   after considering   various   aspects   of   the   matter   took cognizance   of   the   offence   and   passed   the   order, quoted above.

9.     It   is   apparent   from   the   detailed   order   that the   Magistrate   rejected   the   conclusion   given   in the   official   report   of   the   Investigating   Officer and   took   cognizance   under   Section   190(1)(b)   of the Code.

10.    Attention   of   this   Court   has   been   drawn   to various   parts   of   the   CBI   closure   report   and certain   other   documents   by   Mr.   Ranjit   Kumar, learned         senior         counsel         appearing         for         the appellant.

11.    Sitting   in   a   jurisdiction   under   Article   136 of   the   Constitution,   we   do   not   feel   inclined   to go   into   all   the   factual   aspects   of   the   case. Obviously at this stage we cannot weigh evidence. Looking   into   the   order   of   Magistrate,   we   find that   he   applied   his   mind   in   coming   to   the conclusion relating to taking of cognizance.  The

Magistrate has taken note of the rejection report and   gave   his   prima   facie   observation   on   the controversy upon a consideration of the materials that   surfaced   in   the   case.   We   reproduce   the conclusions   reached   by   the   Special   Judicial Magistrate.

         "From   the   analysis   of   evidence   of   all  above   mentioned   witnesses   prima   facie   it appears   that   after   investigation,   on   the        basis   of   evidence   available   in   the   case  diary   when   this   incident   occurred   at   that time   four   members   were   present   in   the  house -Dr. Rajesh Talwar, Dr. Nupur Talwar,  Arushi and servant Hem Raj; Arushi and Hem  Raj,   the   two   out   of   four   were   found   dead. In   the   case   diary   there   is   no   such   evidence   from   which   it   may   appear   that        some   person   had   made   forcible   entry   and there is no evidence regarding involvement of   the   servants.   In   the   night   of   the incident, Internet was switched on and off in   the   house   in   regard   to   which   this evidence   is   available   in   the   case   diary that   it   was   switched   on   or   off   by   some person.   Private   parts   of   deceased   Arushi were   cleaned   and   deceased   Hem   Raj   was dragged in injured condition from the flat of Dr. Rajesh Talwar up to the terrace and the         terrace   was   locked.  Prior   to15.5.2008,   terrace was not  locked.

According   to   documents   available   on   the case diary, blood stains were wiped off on the staircase, both the deceased were slit with   the   help   of   a   surgical   instrument   by surgically   trained   persons   and   shape   of injury   on   the   head   and   forehead   was   V shaped   and   according   to   the   evidence available   in   the   case   diary   that   appeared to   have   been   caused   with   a   golf   stick.   A person   coming   from   outside,   during   the presence   of   Talwar   couple   in   the   house could   have   neither   used   the   Internet   nor could have taken the dead body of deceased Hem   Raj   to   the   terrace   and   then   locked when   the   Talwar   couple   was   present   in   the house.   On   the   basis   of   evidence   available in   the   case   diary   footprints   stained   with blood were found in the room of Arushi but outside   that   room   bloodstained   footprints were   not   found.   If   the   assailant   would   go out after committing murder then certainly his footprints would not be confined up to the   room   of   Arushi   and   for   an   outsider   it is   not   possible   that   when   Talwar   couple were   present   in   the   house   he   would   use liquor   or   would   try   to   take   dead   body   on the   terrace.   Accused   after   committing   the offence would like to run away immediately so that no one could catch him.On   the   basis   of   evidence   of   all   the   above witnesses   and   circumstantial  evidence available                         in  case dairy  during investigation   it   was   expected   from   the Investigating   Officer   to   submit   charge-sheet   against   Dr.   Rajesh   Talwar   and   Dr. Nupur   Talwar.  In such  type   of  cases,   when offence is committed inside a house, there direct   evidence   cannot   be  expected.   Here it is pertinent to mention that CBI is the highest  investigating                              agency of  the country in which the public of the country has full confidence. Whenever in a case if any   one   of   the   investigating   agencies   of the   country   remained   unsuccessful   then that         case                 is  referred  to CBI for investigation.   In   such   circumstances,   it is   expected   of   CBI   that   applying   the highest   standards,   after   investigation   it should   submit   such   a   report   before   the Court   which is just  and reasonable   on   the basis  of  evidence                  collected   in investigation,   but   it   was   not   done   so   by the   CBI   which   is   highly   disappointing.   If I draw a conclusion from the circumstances of case diary, then I find that in view of the  facts,                     the conclusion   of    the investigating   officer   that   on   account   of lack of evidence, case may be closed; does not   appear   to   be   just   and   proper.   When offence   was   committed   inside   a   house,   on the   basis   of   evidence   received   from   case diary,  a  link  is made  from             these circumstances,   and  these links    are indicating   prima   facie   the   accused   Dr. Rajesh   Talwar   and   Dr.   Nupur   Talwar   to   be guilty.   The   evidence   of   witness   Shoharat  that   Dr.   Rajesh   Talwar   asked   him   to   paint the   wooden   portion   of   a   wall   between   the rooms   of   Arushi   and   Dr.   Rajesh   Talwar, indicates   towards   the   conclusion   that   he wants   to   tamper   with   the   evidence.   From  the   evidence   ...   so   many   in   the   case   diary,  prima   facie   evidence   is   found   in   this  regard.   Therefore,   in   the   light   of   above  evidences    conclusion                of  Investigating Officer given in the final report deserves  to   be   rejected   and   there   is   sufficient basis   for   taking   prima   facie   cognizance       against   Dr.   Rajesh   Talwar   and   Dr.   Nupur  Talwar   for   committing   murder   of   deceased   Arushi   and   Hem   Raj   and   for   tampering   with the proof. At this stage, the principle of  law   laid   down   by   Hon'ble   Supreme Court  in  the  case   of Jagdish   Ram  Vs. State of       Rajasthan   and   another,  reported   in   AIR 2004 SC 1734 is very important wherein the   Hon'ble  Supreme  Court   held   that  investigation   is   the   job   of   police   and  taking       of   cognizance  is   within   the  jurisdiction   of   the   Magistrate.   If   on   the record, this much of evidence is available  that   prima   facie   cognizance can be  taken then  the  Magistrate should  take        cognizance.   Magistrate   should   be   convinced  that   there   is   enough   basis   for   further proceedings   rather   for   sufficient   basis  for proving the guilt."

12.    Assailing    the said  order, a Criminal Revision   was   filed   before   the   High   Court   under Sections   397   and   401   of   the   Code,   not   by   Dr. Rajesh Talwar, father of the girl but by Dr. Mrs. Nupur Talwar, her mother.

13.    The   High   Court   passed   its   order   dated   18th  March, 2011 after a detailed consideration of the factual   aspects   and   legal   questions   involved   in the   matter   of   taking   cognizance   and   the   same order is impugned before us.

14.    In the concluding portion of its order, High Court held:

               "However, considering the facts of the case   it   is   directed   that   in   case   the revisionist   surrenders   before   the   Special Judicial   Magistrate   (C.B.I.),   Ghaziabad  and   applies   for   bail   within   a   period   of two   weeks   from   today   her   bail   application  shall be dealt with in accordance with the  law expeditiously."

15.    On   the   next   day   i.e.   19th  March   2011,   which was a Saturday, a Bench of this Court entertained at   7   P.M.   an   SLP   against   the   High   Court's   order and passed the following order:-

       "List   on   the   notified   date.   In   the  meanwhile,   there   shall   be   stay   as   prayed for. However, the  petitioners  shall  deposit   their   passports   with   the   trial  Court on Monday i.e. 21.03.2011."

16.    Since   then,   the   matter   has   remained   pending before this Court.

17.    Now   the   question   is   what   should   be   the extent  of  judicial  interference  by  this  Court  in connection  with  an  order  of  taking  cognizance  by a   Magistrate   while   exercising   his   jurisdiction under Section 190 of the Code.

18.    Section   190   of   the   Code   lays   down   the conditions which are requisite for the initiation of a criminal proceeding.

19.    At   this   stage   the   Magistrate   is   required   to exercise   sound   judicial   discretion   and   apply   his mind   to   the   facts   and   materials   before   him.   In doing   so,   the   Magistrate   is   not   bound   by   the

opinion   of   the   investigating   officer   and   he   is competent to exercise his discretion irrespective of   the   views   expressed   by   the   Police   in   its report   and   may   prima   facie   find   out   whether   an offence has been made out or not.

20.    The   taking   of   cognizance   means   the   point   in time  when  a  Court  or  a  Magistrate  takes  judicial notice   of   an   offence   with   a   view   to   initiating proceedings   in   respect   of   such   offence   which appears to have been committed.

21.    At   the   stage   of   taking   of   cognizance   of offence,  the  Court  has  only  to  see  whether  prima facie   there   are   reasons   for   issuing   the   process and   whether   the   ingredients   of   the   offence   are there on record.

22.    The  principles  relating   to    taking  of cognizance   in   a   criminal   matter   has   been   very lucidly   explained   by   this   Court   in  S.K.   Sinha, Chief         Enforcement  Officer  Vs. Videocon  International   Ltd. and Ors.  - (2008) 2 SCC 492, the relevant observations are set out:

    "19. The   expression   "cognizance"   has   not  been   defined   in   the   Code.   But   the   word  (cognizance)   is   of   indefinite   import.   It     has   no   esoteric   or   mystic   significance   in  criminal   law.   It   merely   means   "become   aware   of"   and   when   used   with   reference   to a   court   or   a   Judge,   it   connotes"   to   take  notice   of   judicially".   It   indicates   the point   when   a   court   or   a   Magistrate   takes  judicial   notice   of   an   offence   with   a   view to   initiating   proceedings   in   respect   of  such   offence said to  have   been   committed  by someone."

    20.         "Taking   Cognizance"   does   not   involve  any   formal   action   of   any   kind.   It   occurs as   soon   as   a   Magistrate   applies   his   mind to the suspected commission of an offence.  Cognizance   is   taken   prior   to commencement  of  criminal  proceedings. Taking of  cognizance   is   thus   a   sine   qua   non   or  condition   precedent   for   holding   a   valid  trial.   Cognizance   is   taken   of   an   offence  and   not   of   an   offender.   Whether   or   not   a  Magistrate   has   taken   cognizance   of   an offence  depends   on  the facts  and  circumstances   of   each   case   and   no   rule   of  universal   application   can   be   laid   down   as  to   when   a   Magistrate   can   be   said   to   have   taken cognizance."                (para   nos.   19   and   20   at   page   499   of  the report)   

23.    The   correctness  of    the  order  whereby cognizance   of   the   offence   has   been   taken   by   the Magistrate, unless it is perverse or based on no material, should be sparingly interfered with. In the instant case, anyone reading the order of the Magistrate   taking   cognizance,   will   come   to the conclusion that there has been due application of  mind by the Magistrate and it is a well reasoned order.   The   order   of   the   High   Court   passed   on   a Criminal   Revision   under   Sections   397   and   401   of the code (not under Section 482) at the instance of   Dr.   Mrs.   Nupur   Talwar   would   also   show   that there has been a proper application of mind and a detailed speaking order has been passed.

24.    In   the   above   state   of   affairs,   now   the question   is   what   is   the   jurisdiction   and specially   the   duty   of   this   Court   in   such   a situation under Article 136?

25.    We   feel   constrained   to   observe   that   at   this stage, this Court should exercise utmost restrain and   caution before interfering with an order of taking cognizance by the Magistrate,otherwise the holding of a trial will be stalled.  The superior Courts   should   maintain   this   restrain   to   uphold the   rule   of   law   and   sustain   the   faith   of   the common man in the administration of justice.

26.    Reference   in   this   connection   may   be   made   to a three Judge Bench decision of this Court in the case   of  M/s.   India   Carat   Private   Ltd.  Vs.  State  of Karnataka & Anr.  (1989) 2 SCC 132. Explaining the relevant principles in paragraphs 16, Justice Natarajan, speaking for the unanimous three Judge Bench,   explained   the   position   so   succinctly   that we would rather quote the observation: as under:-

       "The   position   is,   therefore,   now   well  settled   that   upon   receipt   of   a   police  report   under   Section   173(2)   a   Magistrate   is  entitled to   take   cognizance   of   an offence   under     Section   190(1)(b)     of   the  Code   even   if   the   police   report   is     to   the effect   that   no   case   is   made   out   against  the   accused. The Magistrate can take into       account   the   statements   of   the   witnesses  examined   by   the   police   during  the investigation   and     take   cognizance   of   the  offence complained of and   order the issue  of  process   to  the   accused.      Section 190(1)(b)   does   not     lay     down   that   a  Magistrate   can   take   cognizance     of     an  offence   only   if   the   investigating   officer       gives an   opinion that   the   investigation  has   made   out   a     case   against   the   accused. The   Magistrate   can   ignore   the   conclusion        arrived   at   by     the   investigating   officer;  and   independently     apply   his   mind     to   the facts   emerging   from   the   investigation  and  take   cognizance   of   the   case,   if   he   thinks  fit,   in   exercise   of   his   powers   under  Section   190(1)(b)   and   direct     the     issue   of process to the accused..."

27.    These   well   settled   principles   still   hold good.    Considering  these  propositions  of  law,  we are of the view that we should not interfere with the   concurrent   order   of   the   Magistrate   which   is affirmed by the High Court.

28.    We   are   deliberately   not   going   into   various factual   aspects   of   the   case   which   have   been raised before us so that in the trial the accused persons   may   not   be   prejudiced.   We,   therefore, dismiss  this  appeal  with  the  observation  that  in the   trial   which   the   accused   persons   will   face, they  should  not  be  prejudiced  by  any  observation

made   by   us   in   this   order   or   in   the   order   of   the High   Court   or   those   made   in   the   Magistrate's order  while  taking  cognizance.    The  accused  must be given all opportunities  in the trial they are to   face.     We,   however,   observe   that   the   trial should be expeditiously held.

29.    The appeal is accordingly disposed of.

                                                                 .............................J.

                                                              (ASOK KUMAR GANGULY) 

                                                                   .............................J.

                                                             (JAGDISH SINGH KHEHAR)  

NEW DELHI,

06-01-2012

 

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