Chennai, June 1,2022: While observing that all the accused persons were facing the same charges for offences of the same nature pertaining to the same financial institution and within the same period which is less than a year, the Madras High Court has accepted the revision petitions filed by the petitioner seeking framing of a single charge as the offences were alleged to have been committed by the same set of accused.
The Single Bench of Justice N. Seshasayee was considering the revision petitions assailing the orders passed by the TNPID Court, Coimbatore wherein the revision petitioner was arraigned as an accused in three different cases along with a few others. Factual background of the case was such that an unregistered firm named M/s Jenith Herbals had its affairs controlled by one Jagadeesan (second accused). The allegation was pertaining to the deposits made in the firm and for mobilising the same, Jagadeesan engaged several canvassing- agents.
Eventually, when the depositors wanted their money back, he failed to reimburse the same. This led to three sets of depositors preferring three independent complaints before the respondent. Consequently, the respondent- Investigating Agency concluded its investigation in all three cases and separate reports were filed. Subsequently, the Trial Court framed charges against all the accused persons under Sections 120(B), 107, 406 & 420 IPC and Section 5 of TNPID Act.However, the second accused absconded, thus the case against the first and the second accused was split.
The petitioner in the instant case came up with three separate applications under Section 219 of Cr.P.C. seeking the framing of a single charge, since the offences alleged were committed by the same set of accused within a period of one year. The petitioner was arraigned as an accused in all three cases. The aforesaid applications were not taken on record by the Court, and it dismissed the applications. The same were assailed before this Court.
The Court observed that the revision petitioner in the present case was seeking consolidation of charges and a single trial under Section 219 of Cr.P.C ,however the provision permits joinder of charges involving a single accused. It was further opined by this Court that the apposite provisions in the instinct case involving multiple accused persons was Sections 223(d) Cr.P.C. which is different from Section 219 of Cr.P.C in terms that the former does not have any limitation on the number of persons or offences that can be charged against the accused in one trial.
Additionally, the Court stated that the jurisdictional fact for applying Section 223 (d) is the existence of an allegation indicating the commission of offences committed in the course of the same transaction. The Court further placed reliance on the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of State of A.P. v. CheemalapatiGaneswara Rao and Balbir Singh vs. State of Haryana. It was opined by the Bench that all the three cases revolved around criminal complaints of 2013 which must be consolidated and only a single trial must take place. The Cour noted that all the accused persons were facing the same charges for offences of the same nature pertaining to the same financial institution and within the same period which is less than a year.
It was also stated by the Court that since the period during which the offence is said to have been committed is same in all three cases and all the accused faced trial for same offences, thus this case called for consolidation of the different complaints registered. In furtherance of the same the Court opined that a separate trial, apart from waste of public money and judicial time, would also constitute a harassment of the accused persons. Thus, the order passed by the Special Court under the TNPID Act, dismissing the prayer of the revision petitioner for framing a single charge and to hold a single trial was set aside and the revision petitions were accordingly allowed.