Can’t conduct mini trial at the stage of framing of charge: Delhi High Court reiterates that prosecution need not prove case beyond reasonable doubt when charges are being framed
Justice Navin Chawla [22-03-2024]




Tulip Kanth


New Delhi, April 2, 2024: The Delhi High Court has reaffirmed that at the stage of framing of charge, the prosecution is not to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt but only on the yardstick of suspicion of a prima facie case being made out against the accused.


It was the case of the prosecution that the FIR u/s 420 IPC was registered on the complaint of Suryadeep Ahluwalia stating that his father had an FDR with Canara Bank, East of Kailash, New Delhi with maturity value of Rs 2,00,527. It was alleged that though the photocopy of the FDR was with the complainant, the original FDR was not traceable. The Complainant alleged that when he went to the Canara Bank to inquire about the FDR, he came to know that the said FDR had already been encashed by the petitioner, who is the elder brother of his father, in connivance with the bank officials by forging his signature.


The prosecution, on investigation, alleged that the said FDR contained the signatures of the petitioner on the backside of the same. The employees of the bank were examined and it came to record that the original FDR in question is with the bank but there was no marking on the back of the certificate of the FDR that the said FDR was under any lien, guarantee, or security with the said bank. It was alleged that the FDR was enchased by the bank in the name of the Company- M/s Suntime Energy Limited on the mandate of the petitioner herein.


The prosecution further alleged that the bank officials maintained that the FDR had been encashed strictly in accordance with the banking guidelines and in the discharge of the loan transaction which was taken by the abovementioned Company. The proceeds from the FDR were also credited to the account of the said Company.


The prosecution did not find any evidence regarding the allegation of forging the signature of complainant’s father. The Trial Court, proceeded to frame a charge under Section 420 of the IPC against the petitioner. The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Navin Chawla was considering a petition filed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 challenging the Order passed by the Additional Sessions Judge dismissing the Revision Petition.


The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the Bank had certified that the Company had availed of the loan/credit facility from the Bank for about 10 years and all the directors, had offered their personal guarantees and FDRs for repayment of the said loan amount. In the year 2009, the loan account became irregular and, in order to recover the overdue amount, the bank was compelled to adjust the FDR of the directors to the loan amount of the said Company in the year 2011and that the signatures of the petitioner on the back of the subject FDR in the name of his father was irrelevant, inasmuch as the bank had the full authority to encash the said FDR even otherwise.


At the outset, the Bench said, “I would remind myself of the parameters that govern the proceedings at the stage of framing of charge. At this stage, the prosecution is not to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt but only on the yardstick of suspicion of a prima facie case being made out against the accused. It is not the stage to conduct mini trial.”


The Bench opined that it was evident that the FDR in question did not bear an endorsement that it was being produced before the bank as a lien or guarantee for the loan/credit facility availed by the Company from the said bank. It was the case of the prosecution that other FDRs had such an endorsement. “The reason why the present FDR does not bear this endorsement can be determined once the parties lead their respective evidence before the learned Trial Court”, the Bench said while further adding, “Though the learned counsel for the petitioner submits that the same was irrelevant as the said FDR could have been encashed even without the same, this again will be a disputed question of fact which can be determined by the learned Trial Court only on the appreciation of the evidence of the parties led before it.”


Reliance was also placed upon State of Rajasthan v. Ashok Kumar Kashyap [LQ/SC/2021/2113] and State of Gujarat v. Dilipsinh Kishorsinh Rao wherein it has been opined that application of judicial mind being necessary to determine whether a case has been made out by the prosecution for proceeding with trial and it would not be necessary to dwell into the pros and cons of the matter by examining the defence of the accused when an application for discharge is filed. Thus, without finding any fault in the impugned order, the Bench dismissed the petition.

Add a Comment