December 16, 2021 In Uncategorized


A Two Judge Bench of the Hon’ble #SupremeCourt of India comprising of Justices K.M. Joseph vs S. Ravindra Bhat passed a Judgment dated 09-12-2021 in the case of The State By S.P. Through The SPE CBI vs Uttamchand Bohra {Criminal Appeal No. 1590 Of 2021 (@ Special Leave Petition (CRL.) No. 9608 of 2021 (@SLP (CRL.) Diary No. 42589 Of 2018} and held that mere #suspicion is not sufficient to enable framing of a #charge.

In the present case, the CBI, through its Investigating Officer (IO) filed a Final Report dated 20-02-2012 under Section 173 Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC) against five (out of seven) Accused. The CBI alleged that the Accused had committed offences punishable under Section 120B and Section 109 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 13(2) read with Section 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (PCA). It was alleged in the Final Report that during the period of 01-01-20005 and 29-08-2011, A-1, in collusion with the other Accused amassed wealth in his and his wife’s name (A-2) to the tune of Rs. 2,32,20,296/- which was disproportionate to his known sources of income. It was also alleged that A-1 had also purchased Properties through the sources arranged by him, however, the income tax returns did not reflect those Properties. The Properties were purchased in Chennai in the name of M/s Raviteja Trading Co. Pvt. Ltd., Hyderabad (the Company). Sale Deed dated 13-07-2011 (Sale Deed), of the Property, Flat No.4/3 (old No.28/3), measuring 2108 sq. ft. in second floor at AIL-Ahad Apartment No.28 (present No.4) Nageswara Rao Road (Old No.13, Krishnamcahari Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai-34) was executed and registered under Document No.669/2011 in the name of the Company. However, the original Deed of the said Property was seized from the possession of one Uttamchand (Respondent), who was the financier and close associate of A-1.

In the present case, the allegation against Uttamchand was that he was a close associate and financer of A-1 and his family. The original Sale Deed was executed in the name of the Company. The Sale Deed was in his custody as per the directions of A-1. The Respondent thereby had rendered his active assistance to A-1 to acquire assets in his name as well as in the name of his wife A-2 and in the name of the Company, during the period of 01-01-2005 to 29-08-2011 which was disproportionate to the known sources of income of A-1 to the tune of Rs. 2,32,20,296/-.

On the basis of the same, the CBI alleged that Respondent’s role as the holder of title documents of Property established a conspiracy between him and A1, who was a public servant. He was a facilitator for the purchase of Benami Property by A-1 in the name of the Company.

The Trial Court vide Order dated 29-12-2015, rejected Crl.M.P.No.6873/2015, which was an Application under Section 239 CrPC seeking Respondent’s discharge.

Before the High Court of Madras (High Court), Respondent averred that the only evidence relied upon by the prosecution against him was possession of the Sale Deed. The High Court in exercise of the jurisdiction under Section 397 and Section 401 of the CrPC quashed the charge sheet against the Respondent.

Aggrieved, the CBI approached the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. After taking into consideration, the facts of the case and the arguments advanced by the Parties to the dispute, the Apex Court observed that the Respondent was not a Public Officer or Public Servant and therefore cannot be charged with committing an offence under Section 13(1)(e) read with Section 13(2) of the PCA. Further, the Bench noted that there was no such allegation against the Respondent, that he received any monetary or other benefit, or that he held the property in his name for the benefit of A-1. “There is no evidence against the respondent linking him to the transaction relating to the execution of the sale deed, or alleging that he had an agreement with A-1 and others to commit an illegal act. Further, there is no allegation of a legal act being done in an illegal manner. Therefore, the alleged offence under Section 120-B IPC against the respondent is also not made out from the charge-sheet. The chargesheet further does not contain any allegation which can amount to an offence under Section 109 IPC.”

While placing reliance on the case of Deepak Surana v. State of M.P. 2011 SCC OnLine MP 2368 the Court emphasized that suspicion is not sufficient to enable framing of a charge. Thus, the Apex Court held that the Appeal lacks merit and dismissed the same with the following observation:

“An entire overview of the material produced before the trial court, with the charge sheet and final report, as well as deposition of the 74 witnesses who were examined during the trial, does not support CBI’s allegation of (sic) Uttamchand. He did not directly or indirectly finance the transaction by which property was sold to M/s Raviteja Trading Co. Pvt. Ltd, which, according to that prosecution, was in fact by A-1.”

Editor’s Comments:

In this case, the Apex Court has upheld the general principle of law in criminal matters that a person is deemed to be innocent unless proven guilty. In all criminal matters, the Accused has to be held guilty beyond any reasonable doubt.

Suchitra Upadhyay


The Indian Lawyer & Allied Services


Edited by

Sushila Ram Varma

Chief Consultant

The Indian Lawyer & Allied Services

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