To Avail Benefit Of Set Off U/s. 428 CrPC, Detention Undergone By Convict Must Be In 'Same Case'- Supreme Court
The Supreme Court while dealing with a case related to Contempt of Court held that to avail benefit of set off under Section 428 CrPC, the detention undergone by the convict must be in the same case.
The Bench comprising Justice K.M. Joseph and Justice Hrishikesh Roy held –
"As far as Section 428 of Cr.P.C. is concerned, an indispensable requirement to invoke Section 428 of Cr.P.C. is that there must be a conviction. The conviction must be followed by a sentence of imprisonment. It must be for a term and it should not be imprisonment in default of payment of fine. If these requirements exist, then the occasion opens up for applying the beneficial provisions of Section 428 of Cr.P.C. However, for it to be invoked the existence of detention undergone by the convict during investigation, enquiry or trial in the 'same case' is indispensable. If these requirements are satisfied, the convict would be entitled to the set off for the period of detention which he has undergone."
The Bench also stated that "We must bear in mind as has been laid down by this Court in an unbroken catena of decisions that a judgment of a Court is not to be read as the Euclid's Theorem shorn of the facts and the context in which the law has been declared. We must immediately notice that the view was proclaimed in Niranjan Singh (supra) in the context of the question as to whether the Court had jurisdiction to entertain an application under Section 439 of Cr.P.C. which provides for power with the High Court to grant bail."
Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora appeared for the applicant.
Senior Advocate Rajiv Dutta appeared on behalf of the non-applicant i.e., Daiichi Sankyo Company Limited.
In this case, Mr. Malvinder Mohan Singh as well as Mr. Shivinder Mohan Singh, the Directors of Oscar Investments Limited and RHC Holding Private Limited had knowingly and wilfully violated the orders of the Supreme Court as continued on February 23, 2018. Hence, both of them were held to be guilty of committing Contempt of Court. Both the contemnors were present in the Court and brought from judicial custody as they were in jail in respect of some other case.
The counsel appearing for the applicant submitted that it is evident from the facts that the applicant must be treated as being in custody from February 3, 2020. Also, it was submitted that the applicant has already spent more than 30 months in custody beginning from February 3, 2020. On the other hand, the counsel for the non-applicant contended that when the applicant was produced before the Court pursuant to the orders dated November 15, 2019, and February 3, 2020, it was only for the purpose of affording an opportunity to the applicant to purge himself of the contempt which is self evident from the perusal of the proceedings.
The Apex Court noted –
"In this case, the applicant has not undergone any detention in connection with the contempt case. A perusal of the order passed by this Court would reveal that the applicant's stood convicted by order dated 15.11.2019. The Court before sentencing the applicant had to cause the production of the applicant. It so happened that the applicant was already undergoing pre-trial custody in connection with another case. ... the Court was also inclined to give an opportunity to the applicant to attempt to purge himself for the contempt. Since he was produced from custody, he necessarily had to go back to custody in connection with another case."
The Court in the above context further noted that "We are of the view that this circumstance, if it is indeed correct, should not be available to the applicant to convert what was custody which he was undergoing in connection with another case to custody in the contempt of Court case."
Therefore, the Court at last concluded –
"We cannot, therefore, agree with the applicant that a clarification must be issued by this Court that the commencement of period of imprisonment should be treated as from 03.02.2020 instead of 22.09.2022."
Accordingly, the Court dismissed the miscellaneous application and disposed of the pending applications.
Cause Title – Mr. Vinay Prakash Singh v. Sameer Gehlaut & Ors.